Mark Raffauf, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Senior Director of Competition, was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club with the 2022 Phil Hill Award. The 2019 recipient, RRDC President Bobby Rahal, made the presentation at the annual RRDC members’ dinner on January 25 prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.The Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person who the RRDC feels has rendered outstanding service to road racing. The recipient may be a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body.It is named in honor of America’s first Formula 1 World Champion (in 1961), and is not only a tribute to his masterful accomplishments on the rac track, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.Born in 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Raffauf worked SCCA regional and National events in New England as a tech inspector at the age of 14, tagging along with his older brother Martin, while attended high school in Boston,
By the age of 16 he was holding a National SCCA Tech license and was introduced to New England SCCA workers John and Peg Bishop, Charlie Rainville and Bob Raymond, all of whom would become the core of the original race staff at IMSA, founded in 1969 by the Bishops.
Raffauf joined IMSA full time in 1978 following four years at the University of Florida, and held a variety of positions in the company, including industry support, technical and car regulation development and enforcement, event creation, sport and racing operations and as race director. Upon John Bishop’s retirement in 1989, Raffauf took over as President of IMSA. He also served on the ACCUS-FIA board of directors and on several international FIA commissions in Europe.
He left IMSA in the 1990s to work with MOMO Racing, then returned to the sanctioning body to help launch the Grand American Road Racing Association in 1999. He’s been based in Daytona Beach ever since, through the acquisition/merger of the ALMS and the return of the IMSA name.
Raffauf’s position with IMSA today encompasses both sporting and technical regulation oversight and development. He was instrumental in creating the Daytona Prototype category and was race director for the entire history of Grand-Am for over a decade. Currently, he oversees all seven of IMSA’s series and all of IMSA’s Race Direction, and is on the IMSA Technical committee.
His insight into every aspect of the decades of IMSA cars, their development, how they raced and the people who raced them, is an important part of IMSA’s history. Raffauf is one of the few remaining individuals who was there near the very beginning and has worked for the company for more than 45 years.
Raffauf was then “interrogated” by the evening’s M.C. Leigh Diffey, discussing his decades-long tenure in the sport.
“It’s an honor I never expected,” said Raffauf, in front of an audience of nearly 200 RRDC members and guests. “Looking out at this room it’s like five decades of driver meetings where everybody is in the wrong clothes.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have worked with people like John Bishop, who was the first winner of this award, and I believe I’ve had the opportunity to work with every recipient of the award in some way or another and, more importantly, learn something about this sport from them.
“Whether they were drivers, officials, industry people, it’s just been a great opportunity. I appreciate the recognition and I will still be doing this more. It’s just amazing to look at the room at this dinner over the years after becoming a member and seeing old friends – people who raced with us, people who raced under my race direction, people who were with IMSA in the 1970s, to today where we have a whole new generation in the sport.
“It’s about passion and that passion for me started very, very early, obviously, because I’m still here and I’ve survived this long in the industry. I’ve always been on the other side of the fence from the drivers, but I think, to have the opportunity to work with you and people who have won the award before me, my best comment would be that without everybody who came before me I wouldn’t be standing here.
“I thank all of you and all of those who aren’t with us anymore who gave me the opportunity. It’s great. Thank you. Appreciate it.”