ROGER BAILEY IS SUBJECT OF GORDON KIRBY’S LATEST BIOGRAPHY – “BOOST!”, DR. SIMEONE PASSES

Racemaker Press has announced that “Boost! Roger Bailey’s Extraordinary Motor Racing Career” – the latest biography from author Gordon Kirby – is now available at Racemaker.com.

Perhaps nobody in the history of automobile racing enjoyed a career of wider reach and diversity than Roger Bailey. Over the course of 52 years, from 1959-2012, Bailey competed as a mechanic, engine builder, crew chief, sanctioning body technical inspector and, finally, co-founder and administrator of the Indy Lights series. 

“Boost!” details Bailey’s life and career, documenting the many skills that made him so successful. “Roger was such a great guy,” said Roger Penske, founder and chairman of Penske Corporation and decades-long owner of multiple race teams. “He worked with us in the SCCA Can-Am Series in 1967 and you could see that his passion for racing was as strong as anyone’s. He brought a lot of good ideas to us and was one of the hardest workers we ever had in our organization.

“You could see that when he took over running the Indy Lights series. He had a wide wing span of what he could do and people liked him as a person to be their leader. If you can lead people like Roger has done over the years you build real momentum and he was at the top of that list.” 

“In ‘Boost!’ I’ve tried to capture not only Roger Bailey’s talents but his ability to work with a variety of different personalities in this sport to achieve success and maintain lifetime relationships based on his tactful straightforwardness. He made it work, and it worked well,” said Kirby, who now counts eight books that he’s authored for Racemaker Press of the 17 of his career.

Bailey started his career in 1960 with the Jim Russell School in England. He then worked for the Cooper Car Company, winning the 1961 British Saloon Car Championship with Sir John Whitmore’s Mini-Cooper and the 1964 British Formula 3 Championship with Jackie Stewart’s Ken Tyrrell Cooper. He worked on Bruce McLaren’s F1 Cooper in 1965, then worked on Ford’s Le Mans program, building Ford GT mk 2s for the 1966 and ’67 Le Mans 24 Hours. After a season in the Can-Am with George Follmer’s Penske/Lola T70, Bailey spent two years at Ferrari preparing Chris Amon’s Formula 1, Tasman, sports cars and Can-Am cars. He was the first non-Italian to work for Ferrari’s race team.

In 1970 Bailey worked on George Eaton’s BRM Can-Am cars then spent five years with McLaren Engines in Detroit building turbo Offenhausers for Johnny Rutherford’s McLaren Indy cars, twice winning the Indy 500 with Rutherford. He moved on to run at McLaren turbo BMW 320i in IMSA for David Hobbs before spending four years with IMSA as the sanctioning body’s technical director. 

His career as a mechanic came to its culmination in 1986 when he co-founded the American Racing Series with Pat Patrick. In 1991, the ARS became the Indy Lights series with Bailey at the helm of the category through its heydays until his retirement in 2012.

“Boost!” Is a large format, hard-backed book filling 210 pages with 120 photographs. The book retails for $60 plus shipping and is available from Racemaker Press at 39 Church St., Boston, MA 02116. The book may be ordered at Racemaker.com.

 

DR FREDERICK SIMEONE PASSES

Dr. Frederick Simeone, founder of Philadelphia’s Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum housing one of the world’s more eclectic automobile collections, passed away June 11, three days after his 86th birthday. The museum’s frequent Demo Days highlight events, people and machinery from across the motoring spectrum. RRDC members have been honored over the years during the Museum’s annual festival. Dr. Simeone will be sorely missed.

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ROB WALTON BUYS THE BRONCOS; BILL AUBERLEN WINS BMW M LEGENDS INVITATIONAL

Rob Walton and the Walton-Penner Group have purchased the Denver Broncos for a reported $4.65 billion, a record for the sale of an American professional sports franchise, far surpassing the $2.4 billion paid for the New York Mets in 2020.

Walton-Penner is headed up by Walton’s daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner. The sale is subject to approval by the NFL finance committee and team owners.

“We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos!” Walton read in a statement. “Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans. Having lived and worked in Colorado, we’ve always admired the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has only grown as we’ve learned more about the team, staff and Broncos Country over the last few months.”

Walton, a member of RRDC since 2006, has one of the world’s most valuable and eclectic post-1950 automobile collections consisting mostly of racing cars, many uniquely famous like Lance Reventlow’s Scarab MKI.

Rob Walton nestles into his Maserati Tipo 60 birdcage. [SportsCarDigest.com image]

 

BILL AUBERLEN WINS BMW M LEGENDS RACE AT THE NURBURBRING

To celebrate the golden anniversary of BMW M Motorsport, a very special 30-minute invitational race was held to kick off the annual 24-Hours of Nurburgring race weekend. Twelve legendary BMW pilots, both car and motorcycle, from the past five decades competed in identically prepared BMW M2 CS race cars.

Bill Auberlen led qualifying and started last in the inverted grid which included a second American, Eddie Cheever. In addition, there were German drivers Jochen Mass, Dirk Adorf, Harald Grohs, Olaf Manthey and HRH Prince Leopold of Barvaria; Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto; Italian Arturo Merzario; Brit Steve Soper; Dutchman Franciscus van Meel; and Belgian Eric van de Poele.

Auberlen battled to the front, taking the checkered flag from FIA President Jean Todt who helped van Meel and Jochen Neerspasch hand out the trophies to Auberlen and runners up Cecotto and Soper.

“That was so much fun,” enthused Auberlen. “I had a superb time on the track with these guys. I knew Johnny Cecotto would be the toughest nut to crack – and he did shove me into the gravel once. Once I passed him, I simply enjoyed watching his duel with Steve Soper in the rear-view mirror. Overall, a fantastic event from BMW M. Thanks for letting me be part of it.”

 

A scrambling start for the 30-minute BMW M Motorsports Legends race at the Nurbringing. [BMW M Motorsport image]

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STROPUS NAMED GREENWICH CONCOURS GRAND MARSHAL

Hagerty has named the RRDC’s Judy Stropus as Grand Marshal for the 2022 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park overlooking Greenwich Harbor on June 3-5, 2022.

Judy Stropus’ talent, passion, precision and creativity have been a pivotal part of American and international motorsports for over half a century, she literally wrote the book on race timing and scoring. In an era before computers were tasked with the job, race timing and scoring would require doctoral thesis-level intellectual poise under extreme and unrelenting pressure in a noisy and often dangerous environment. Her text “The STROPUS GUIDE to Auto Race Timing & Scoring: Modern Sports Car Series” is often recognized as the standard on the disciplined and cerebral art.

“Judy’s accomplishments are only overshadowed by her incredible spirit,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “She has been a key player, often behind the scenes, at the Greenwich concours for many years. We can’t think of a more fitting occasion to celebrate her inspiring motorsports story and life-long passion for driving.”

Most recently honored by selection to the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America, Stropus’ storied career is summed up in the RRDC’s membership directory.

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ST. JAMES AND REDMAN ARE “GRAND” IN CHATTANOOGA

Lyn St. James – 1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, member of the ACCUS board on the FIA Women Motorsports Commission, RRDC member and most recently inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame – has been named Grand Marshal of the third annual Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, to be held this October 14-16 in the heart of the city, aka Gig City.

Lyn St. James, the 1992 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. [LSJ Collection image]

St. James becomes the third Grand Marshal since the Festival was established in 2019, following former RRDC President Brian Redman and Corky Coker in those roles, respectively. The Festival was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Redman returns this year as Grand Ambassador, and Coker has been named Grand Marshal Emeritus.

“We at the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival are proud to have Lyn St. James as Grand Marshal of our third annual Festival,” said Byron DeFoor, founder of the event. “She is a great ambassador to the sport and an outstanding spokesperson for the Festival. Her racing achievements and contributions to the sport are recognized around the world.”

DeFoor added: “We’re also privileged to have Brian Redman continue to support the Festival. He’s been an integral part of the operation since the beginning, and his input is invaluable. And, what can I say about Corky Coker? He’s our local hero whose knowledge about the business of collector cars is unsurpassed. He’s one of us, and we’re honored to have him on board.”

Anyone reading St. James’ resume would be awed by her accomplishments since starting her career in 1973 as an amateur Sports Car Club of America competitor while living and working in Florida. Today she resides in Arizona.

She eventually turned pro and went on to race in 53 SCCA Trans-Am races, scoring seven top-five finishes; 62 IMSA GT races, earning seven wins; and became the only woman to win an IMSA GT race driving solo (Watkins Glen in 1985). St. James found her niche in Indy Car competition, racing in the Indy 500 seven times in nine years, claiming the 1992 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors in her first Indy Car race.

The former piano teacher and business owner (Dynasales of Florida and Autodyne) held 21 international and national closed circuit speed records over a 20-year period. She’s competed at the 24 Hours of LeMans, the Bonneville Salt Flats, Goodwood Revival, among other major events, and has been recognized by Sports Illustrated and numerous publications throughout her career.

Highlighting St. James’ career were her three invitations to the White House to meet with Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton.

“After attending the 2021 Chattanooga Motorcar Festiva,l I was so impressed with how many different activities and events they had going on for anyone and everyone!,” said St. James, a celebrity guest at last year’s Festival. “It’s difficult to do that, and they did it well. 

“It was my first time in Chattanooga, and I’m looking forward to being back as the 2022 Grand Marshal. Byron DeFoor is passionate about the event and having it make a positive impact on the community, and those are the things that make for a successful event,” adding, “I was also quite impressed with the mega-screens located throughout the Festival venues last year.”

Brian Redman (left) shakes hands with Corky Coker at the Inaugural Chattanooga Motorcar Festival in 2019. AC/DC’s Brian Johnson looks on. [CMF image]

Redman, born in England and now residing in Florida, has claimed nine sports-car road-racing championships in his 60 years of competition, retiring as a pro driver following the 1989 season. He continues to race in vintage/historic events and is the owner of Targa 66, a club for owners of high-performance road and race cars, organizing competitive events around the country. He was inducted into the 2002 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the 2011 International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

“I am delighted to return as Grand Ambassador to the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, a truly amazing event,” said Redman. “In a short space of time Byron DeFoor and his team have created a world-class event bringing thousands of people to beautiful Chattanooga.”

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HERSHEL McGRIFF SELECTED FOR NASCAR HALL OF FAME, GORDON MacKENZIE PASSES

Hershel McGriff will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next January 20. McGriff joins Matt Kenseth and Kirk Shelmerdine in the 13th HoF class.

McGriff met Bill France Sr. while competing in the Carrera Panamericana in 1950. McGriff won that inaugural Mexican Road Race while France and co-driver Curtis Turner crashed. France was impressed with the Oregon lumberman and talked him into running the inaugural Southern 500 later that year where McGriff finished 9th.

McGriff, winner of the Inaugural Carrera Panamericana.

It took a lot of more France persuasion to get McGriff over east for a partial NASCAR Grand National season – 1954 where he won four of the last nine races of the season. Offered a fulltime ride by Carl Kiekhaefer the following season, McGriff declined, returning to the West Coast to be closer to his family. Tim Flock took the seat with Kiekhaefer, winning 18 races and the Grand National Championship.

McGriff’s presence in NASCAR West Coast stock car racing has been long and successful. He competed in parts of 35 seasons, winning 37 races, third all-time, was the 1986 NASCAR Winston West Champion, the oldest driver at 61 to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race, and the oldest at 90 to compete in a NASCAR-sanctioned race.

McGriff leads Ron Grable during a late caution in the 1969 Permatex 200 at Riverside . McGriff won. [Steve Smith image]

Prior to his entering the NASCAR Hall of Fame, McGriff was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame (2002) and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2006). He has been a frequent panelist at Bill Warner’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

 

Gordon MacKenzie [Barclay Boys image]

GORDON MacKENZIE PASSES

Long time member Gordon C. MacKenzie, Sr. recently passed. He was 96 and lived in Millbrook, N.Y. He organized one of the first SCCA driver’s schools back in 1953. MacKenzie had competed in vintage racing well into his 80s.

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SAFEisFAST IS SEEKING A NEW PRESENTING PARTNER

The RRDC’s SAFE Is Fast program (safeisfast.com) needs your guidance and assistance.

Please help us find our next Presenting Partner by reaching out to your friends in motor sports and introducing safeisfast.com by sharing our 2022 sponsorship pitch with them: https://bit.ly/sif-sponsor-deck.

Over the last ten years, the RRDC’s Daytona and Long Beach banquets have featured films celebrating the club’s success in building safeisfast.com into the most influential online driver development program in the world. The program’s tutorial videos receive 30,000 to 50,000 views the first day each new film is released. There are obvious Presenter benefits to gaining the loyalty of millions of kart, SIM and adult amateur racers when they are just getting started.

What will help us most are personal introductions to companies who know you and might consider us. If you simply prime the pump, we will take it from there.

These new presenters would join two distinguished racing supporters: the FIA that funded SIF’s launch and first next three years, and Honda America that stepped in for another five. As Honda’s John Mendel put it, “The RRDC is a leadership organization, safeisfast.com is a leadership initiative, and Honda is a leadership automotive and motor sports racing company.” 

We are deeply grateful to the FIA and Honda but those relationships have run their natural course. Safeisfast.com needs a new leadership company to help promote our sport. 

A Presenting sponsorship is under $200,000 a year with participating sponsors represented for $50,000 a year. The funding flows through the Mark Donohue Foundation, a 501( C)(3) organization, providing charitable deductions to commercial and private contributors.

The attached PowerPoint presentation documents the invaluable time and expertise donated by nearly 300 championship drivers and industry luminaries who teach our tutorials and, together, constitute “The Faculty That Money Can’t Buy.” Now, they and we need your help in spreading their message and growing racing instruction that is free to all throughout the world.

Contacts needing further information can get in touch with me directly: jim@safeisfast.com. Thank you for considering this critical request.

Jim Mullen, Executive Director, SafeIsFast.com

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OLVEY AND TRAMMELL IN 2023 MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME OF AMERICA CLASS

Motorsports safety pioneers Steve Olvey (left) and Terry Trammel are to be 2023 MSHFA inductees.

Long Beach, Calif. (April 9, 2022) – The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA) announced its 2023 Induction Class during the Stand 21 Racing Goes Safer seminar at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Class of ’23 includes two honorary members of the RRDC – Drs. Stephen Olvey and Terry Trammell. The pair revolutionized racetrack emergency services, in doing so setting new standards for every form of motor racing, resulting countless lives saved.

In the 1970s, Olvey developed the first US traveling motorsports medical team for what is today’s IndyCar Series. During their tenure in open-wheel racing, the only deaths were from non-survivable injuries. No driver was paralyzed or failed to return to competition. Many were saved from amputation. Both remain consultants to IndyCar. Trammell won the 2021 Louis Schwitzer Award for biomedical engineering advances for driver safety.

The induction ceremonies for the 2023 MSHFA Class are set for March 6-7, 2023, at the Hall’s home in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Current RRDC members in the MSHFA include: Mario and Michael Andretti, Derek Bell, Geoff Brabham, Emerson Fittipaldi, George Follmer, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Dario Franchitti, Chip Ganassi, Janet Guthrie, Jim Hall, Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs, Jacky Ickx, Parnelli Jones, Tommy Kendall, Arie Luyendyk, Hershel McGriff, Rick Mears, Leo Mehl, Augie Pabst, Roger Penske, Ed Pink, Sam Posey, Scott Pruett, Bobby Rahal, Brian Redman, Johnny Rutherford, Ken Squier, Judy Stropus, Danny Sullivan, Bob Tullius and Al Unser Jr.

A number of deceased RRDC members are also among the MSHFA honorees: John Bishop, Bob Bondurant, Briggs Cunningham, Mark Donohue, Chris Economaki, John Fitch, Richie Ginther, Peter Gregg, Masten Gregory, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Al Holbert, Bruce McLaren, Peter Revson, Carroll Shelby, Al Unser, Bobby Unser and Brock Yates.

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RICK MEARS HONORED BY RRDC AT LONG BEACH

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 8, 2022) – Four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club in front of a capacity crowd at the April 7 RRDC Evening with Rick Mears Presented by Firestone. The audience included auto racing dignitaries, corporate executives and champion race-car drivers, and was held prior to the running of the 47th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach at the Hilton Hotel.

Also in attendance were representatives from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and other vintage, amateur and semi-professional series.

Rick Mears, left, was interviewed by RRDC president Bobby Rahal, a la “David Letterman style.” [Albert Wong image]

It was the RRDC’s 12th annual banquet honoring auto racing’s most influential leaders, and the organization is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Originally scheduled for 2020, the event was postponed for two years due to the pandemic.

Previous honorees were Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, George Follmer, Emerson Fittipaldi, Johnny Rutherford and David Hobbs. Andretti, Penske and Hall were in the audience to help recognize the newest member of this elite group.

On behalf of Firestone Racing, which has been the presenting sponsor of the RRDC “Evenings” for 11 years, Lisa Boggs, Director, Bridgestone Americas Motorsports, said, “I guess the third time is really the charm. Rick is legendary. One of the best to ever pilot an Indy Car. But it’s really his grace and kindness to the fans and to everybody in the sport that sets him apart. That’s what a legend really is.”

Rick Mears received an original painting by Randy Owens of his Gould Charge Special from Bobby Rahal. [Albert Wong image]

RRDC President Bobby Rahal recognized event sponsors Firestone, INDYCAR, Lexus Racing, Arrow McLaren SP, Doug Mockett & Company, Jimmy Vasser’s V12 Vineyards, Jeff O’Neill’s Robert Hall Winery, and Chris Locke’s Checkered Past Productions.

A short video written and voiced by Sam Posey, chronicled Mears’ career and personality. “Outside the cockpit the quiet Californian drew little attention to himself and then in victory he was subdued – as if for him it was nothing exceptional. And it wasn’t,” Posey narrated. “Roger Penske’s confidence in Rick was a testament to the kind of driver he was. All go and no show. After their first season together, Rick never drove for anyone else.”

“We tried to have this event two years ago, then one year ago,” said Rahal. “And now we’re here and I want to thank you all for staying the course, not just to come together tonight to honor Rick but also to have a great time amongst friends in the industry that we love so much and care so much about.

“I’m really pleased and appreciative that Rick didn’t get bored over the last three years and decide not to come. So, thanks, Rick.”

Rahal continued, “There’s no question that Rick, aside from being a four-time Indy 500 champion, was clearly one of the greatest drivers in INDYCAR history. I am privileged to have counted Rick as one of my fellow competitors at the time and I’m really pleased that he’s here tonight to talk racing with all of us.”

Rahal then “interrogated” Mears on his dynamic career in the style of “Late Night with David Letterman,” covering the gamut of Mears’ racing history, including the challenges of switching from ovals to road courses, his recovery from his 1984 and 1992 crashes, his longtime and continuing association with Roger Penske, his life-changing decision to finally retire from racing, and ‘life lesson’s learned’ from Bobby Unser.

Roger Penske, for whom Mears drove from 1978-1992 and with whom he continues to this day as a member of Team Penske, joined Mears and Rahal on stage, talking about their successes, failures and enduring respect for each other.

A champagne toast ended the “RRDC Evening with Rick Mears,” with Bobby Rahal, Roger Penske and Rick Mears on stage. [Albert Wong image]

On receiving this recognition, Mears said, “I’m just honored, honored, honored. This is a great event for a great cause. Just to have all your friends, race friends and peers come together like this is just a great opportunity for me. I don’t know how to explain it; it’s just a great feeling.”

As for the RRDC’s third attempt to honor him, “The third time’s the charm,” he said. “I’m glad everybody was persistent and came back. It’s a real racer’s deal all the way through.”

Featured on the patio during the cocktail reception sponsored by INDYCAR was the 1977 Porsche 934.5 which Bruce Canepa, Mears and Monte Shelton took to a podium finish in the 1979 Daytona 24 Hours. The Porsche resides in the Canepa Motorsports Museum in Scotts Valley, California.

Penske drivers Helio Castroneves (l) and Mears, both 4-time winners of the Indianapolis 500. [Albert Wong image]

Auctioned off at the dinner was a selection of photos contributed by some of racing’s leading photographers — all autographed by Mears — as well as the massive Randy Owens stage banner, depicting the Gould Charge Special that Mears took to the first of his four Indy 500 wins in 1979 — and the original artwork that Owens produced for the evening. Also included was a new hard-back edition of the Racemaker Press book, “Rick Mears — Thanks,” signed by the author, Gordon Kirby, as well as Mears and Penske, a 1:18-scale collectable die-cast model of Mears’ Indy 500 winner from 1979, plus original artwork from RACER Magazine’s in-house artist Paul Laguette.

The dinner’s proceeds help support the RRDC’s young driver initiatives, including its groundbreaking SAFEisFAST.com program, and the Team USA Scholarship, which the RRDC has backed since 1997. 

 

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MARTY KAUFMAN, 1939-2022

Longtime race director and competition official Marty Kaufman passed away March 31 at his home in Parrish, Florida. Here is what Marshall Pruett wrote about Kaufman on RACER.COM:

Cloaked in immense respect from those who competed under his command, the sight of Marty Kaufman at an American Le Mans Series or IMSA event brought a sense of calm and confidence. The veteran race director, whose steady hand and warm character ensured the spotlight stayed on the stars of the sport, died Thursday night at the age of 82 after myriad health issues.

Brought home from hospice during the recent 12 Hours of Sebring, the native of Fresno, California, died at peace with his wife Jan and other family members at his side.

The son of a performance auto parts store owner, Kaufman was an avid drag racer in his youth before turning his attention to volunteering at Sports Car Club of America events as a race steward. By 1962, he joined USARM — the United States Auto Race Marshals organization – while contributing as a member of the San Francisco SCCA region’s board of directors.

Through the SCCA, Kaufman was appointed as race director for its pro racing Trans Am series in the mid-1980s, and in 1986 he was courted by IMSA to oversee its wildly popular championship. Before retiring in 2010, Kaufman would ascend to considerable heights, spending 25 years as the race director for IMSA and the ALMS, and in an honor for an American at a distinctly French event, he earned the trust of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest — organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and was installed as its assistant race director for a decade.

Kaufman’s approach to presiding over a motor race was decidedly ‘old school.’ He held firm to remaining in the background and making calls without the intrusion of cameras and microphones being inserted into the process. He also embraced another time-proven method of governance by limiting his time in race control to only the periods where the cars were on track. As endurance racing’s top referee, Kaufman spent the majority of his days in the paddock, fellowshipping with the drivers and mechanics and team owners to form strong bonds that ensured his decisions — often to their detriment — came from someone they knew and understood on a personal level.

Despite wielding considerable power to judge and penalize, Kaufman was well-received by the paddock as a result of his continual efforts to erase any notion that he was different or more important than the men and women competing in the races.

“Marty was the face of IMSA way back when I began,” said Bill Auberlen, whose Hall of Fame driving career began around the same time Kaufman arrived in the series. “He was a quiet supporter of mine and would always send a congratulations after an event. I’m sure he did that for the majority and that gives you an idea of how always thoughtful a person he was. The world has lost a great man.”

Rob Dyson’s teams were a fixture in IMSA and the ALMS where the championship-winning Dyson Racing program became part of both series’ lore.

“Marty Kaufman was a man who was always consistent, paid attention to detail and was fair–key ingredients to being a race director,” Dyson said. “He was always available and was easy to discuss issues that occur every racing day. I have to admit, however, I don’t think I won one argument over the decades of his stewardship, which for me and my fellow competitors, was probably a good thing. He was unflappable under the pressures any race director experiences. Never lost his cool. And was a dear friend for the rest of his life. We share our deepest condolences to his family and all of our mutual racing friends. Rest in peace, Mr. Kaufman.”

Doug Fehan led the iconic Corvette Racing institution in the ALMS, and beforehand, he was involved with other efforts dating back to Trans Am and the glory days of IMSA GTP where Kaufman’s touch was felt across hundreds of events. It was a disagreement between the program manager and race director that revealed another important aspect of Kaufman’s character.

“We butted heads on more than one occasion and we had one big issue where Marty made a ruling that adversely affected the program on which I was working; it was a serious issue,” Fehan said. “And as time went forward, he found out that he was incorrect and that my position was actually the correct position on the matter. He could have just said, ‘OK,’ and left it there, but he didn’t. He came to me and apologized profusely and said, ‘You know, I’ve got to learn to listen better.’

“From that point forward, we had a great friendship. Our bond grew after that to the point where I can tell you this right up until his retirement, we communicated after every race. Every race that Corvette raced, we would communicate and we remained friends after he retired. That’s how our relationship deepened, and that’s the respect that that that we had for each other. It came from the respect he had for competitors.”

Renowned crew chief and race engineer Brad Kettler was a big part of the ALMS with the Champion Audi and Audi Sport prototype efforts. Like Dyson and Fehan, he got to know Kaufman from semi-frequent visits for reckonings with the person running the show.

“I was still pretty young in the business when I made crew chief and engineer status,” Kettler said. “This included going to the tower to see the race director. The walk to the tower was the right amount of time to compose oneself and prepare your argument. Marty always met me with civility and reason. This can come off wrong to someone who is mad as a hornet. Nevertheless, I always appreciated his manner and even though I seldom got what I came for, I was usually satisfied with the outcome, or had to be. My appreciation for him grew during the formative time of the ALMS.

“Introducing a whole new set of rules and actions was quite a transition for sports car racing here in the States, and our wild pair of drivers in 2003 were Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto, which brought frequent trips to the tower for myself or Mike Peters. These would occasionally end up in some spirited discussions with the race director and stewards. This led to the invention of the ‘anger management’ program as we called it at Champion. Patches were made for the drivers suits and the back of their gloves. The logo was a clenched fist in a racing glove.

“This was a symbol to the drivers to temper their actions just a little and to everyone else to make sure they were aware of the scrutiny we’d receive. The drivers had some fun with it practicing their deep breathing exercises, and in the end, it was all a reaction to a strong set of rules fairly applied. Marty Kaufman was a big part of that.”

Adding to the thoughts from those in the paddock, Kaufman was steeped in respect and appreciation by those who worked alongside him, including the man he succeeded.

“In the late 1980s, John Bishop, George Silbermann and I chose Marty to take George and my place as IMSA’s race director in race control, allowing us the opportunity to grow into larger roles within IMSA,” said Mark Raffauf, IMSA’s senior director of competition.

“Marty had worked with us for many years already supporting us at West Coast events and we knew he had the right stuff. In a time where the race director made all of the calls by himself, and directed all of IMSA’s series at each event, Marty met that challenge seamlessly by maintaining IMSA’s ‘racing with a difference’ philosophy. For over a decade, he steered IMSA through all of the events with integrity, consistency and calmness. Even those who may have been on the wrong side of a decision would admit after the fact that Marty was fair, which is the highest compliment one can give a race official with that high level of responsibility. He always knew what the ‘right thing to do’ was. May he rest in peace.”

And before he became the president of IMSA in its modern guise, John Doonan ran Mazda’s factory ALMS prototype campaigns and credits the Army veteran’s philosophy and style of race management that carries on today in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“He always had a reverent tone on the radio, which earned respect – respect that he deserved,” Doonan said. “I thought that he was very common sense in his decisions and the way he managed the races, and I think he was the ultimate teacher on what we do and why we do it the way we do it.

“I know maybe specific regulations have changed over the years, but for the most part, we’re still using and applying many of the lessons we learned from him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jan, his family and his many friends and colleagues throughout the IMSA paddock.”

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INDYCAR SUPPORTS RRDC EVENING WITH RICK MEARS IN LONG BEACH

INDYCAR will support the RRDC Evening with Rick Mears presented by Firestone by hosting the pre-dinner reception at the Road Racing Drivers Club’s annual West Coast banquet, held prior to the 47th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) on April 7, 2022.

Rick Mears, four-time Indianapolis 500 champion, winner of 29 INDYCAR SERIES races in his career, and an enduring member of Team Penske following his retirement, will be honored by his peers at the RRDC’s 12th annual legends dinner.

“The members of the RRDC are honored to have INDYCAR host the reception at this year’s RRDC Evening with Rick Mears,” said RRDC president Bobby Rahal. 

“With RRDC member Roger Penske’s new role with INDYCAR, the level of awareness of such a dynamic racing series and organization has been raised,” added Rahal. “We at the RRDC are proud to have INDYCAR support our RRDC Evening with Rick Mears, and we look forward to a continuing productive association.”

“Rick Mears was simply magical on the racetrack,” said Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles. “His first of three INDYCAR SERIES championships in 1979 set the stage for what would become a stellar career. At Indianapolis, Rick’s record-tying four victories in the Indianapolis 500, record six pole positions and 11 front row starts are iconic accomplishments. Additionally, his popularity during his annual return to Indianapolis is a shining example of how he remains a rich part of the fabric of the Brickyard. We are pleased to support the RRDC and their much-deserved recognition of a true legend in our sport.”

The RRDC Evening with Rick Mears Presented by Firestone will be held on Thursday, April 7, at the Hilton Hotel, 701 West Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, Calif., with cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $300 per person ($280 for RRDC members), although there are very few available seats remaining. No walk-ups. Please contact Jeremy Shaw for details at rrdc2@cox.net.

The dinner’s proceeds will help support the RRDC’s young driver initiatives, including its groundbreaking www.SAFEisFAST.com presented by Honda program and the Team USA Scholarship, which the RRDC has backed since 1997. Previous banquets have honored Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Unser, George Follmer, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford and David Hobbs, drawing fans and luminaries from all forms of motorsports.

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PATO O’WARD NEW SAFEisFAST “ASK A PRO” + LATEST TEAM USA VIDEO

Patricio O’Ward, driver for Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar, is the latest online driving instructor for SAFEisFAST.com.

In 2017 he made the jump to Indy Lights and in his second season he won the championship with Andretti Autosport in 2018. He made his IndyCar debut with Harding Steinbrenner Racing at the end of 2018, before joining for half the season with Carlin in 2019. 

Alongside his IndyCar commitments, he raced in Super Formula in Japan and raced in a one-off round in the FIA Formula 2 Championship at the Red Bull Ring after signing as a Red Bull Junior Driver. 
 
In 2020 he joined Arrow McLaren SP and achieved a top three finish in the championship in 2021, which earned him a test drive of their Formula One car at the end-of-season rookie test at Abu Dhabi. 
 
For the 2022 season he continues to race for Arrow McLaren SP alongside LMP2 team Dragon Motorsport in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. 

Send your questions to Pato here

 

 

CHECK OUT THE LATEST TEAM USA SCHOLARSHIP VIDEO HERE.

 

 

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SAFEisFAST COMPARES SIM RACING TO KART RACING

Fellow Racers, for years Karting has been considered the best path to becoming a race driver. 

But recently top iRacer Max Esterson showed there’s another route. Switching to cars, he won a Team USA Scholarship and then finished first and second in the world’s two most prestigious Formula Ford races.

Has Sim Racing now become the best way to break into the sport?

In our latest video, Max explains why he thinks so. 

And a group of top drivers including IndyCar’s Pato O’Ward and Le Mans winner Loic Duval express their doubts. Plus Conor Daly, Spencer Pigot, Nick Tandy and Zak Brown offer their perspectives.

Check it out

Enjoy,

Bobby Rahal
SAFEisFAST.com

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VIC ELFORD, 1935-2022

Vic Elford, among the world’s most versatile race drivers ever, passed away Sunday (March 13) after a long bout with cancer. He was 86. Elford excelled in every form of motorsport he attempted from pavement to dirt to sand and gravel. Marshall Pruett penned a wonderful remembrance of the Londoner on Racer.com – a must read with the heartfelt recollections of Patrick Long, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya.

STATEMENT FROM RRDC PRESIDENT BOBBY RAHAL ON THE PASSING OF VIC ELFORD:

I, like so many people worldwide, was saddened to learn of Vic Elford’s passing earlier this week. Vic, perhaps alone amongst his peers, took on any challenge, from Formula 1 to Can-Am; from sports cars to rallying, from Trans-Am to NASCAR! 

“The RRDC had the honor and privilege to award Vic the Phil Hill Award at Daytona in 2015 and, as expected, he entertained us all that evening with tales of conquering the Porsche 917 and other driving experiences.

“In 1970-71 I had the personal experience to see Vic practice his craft at Sebring, culminating in his great victory alongside his partner Gerard Larrousse…and then going on to wheel Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2J. And who could forget Vic bravely wrestling the AVS Shadow? Vic impressed everyone with his courage, bravery and skill.

“On behalf of all of us at the RRDC, we extend our deepest sympathies to Vic’s family.”

Bobby Rahal
President
Road Racing Drivers Club

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RICK MEARS RRDC HONOREE AT LONG BEACH

Road Racing Drivers Club President Bobby Rahal cordially invites you to attend the RRDC Evening with Rick Mears Presented by Firestone:

Long Beach Hilton, Thursday, April 7
Seats $280 ($250 for paid-up RRDC members only) in advance (or $300/$270 after March 28)
Reservations Required (to rrdc2@cox.net)

RICK MEARS – THANKS!

Google “Rick Mears” and, by rights, you should be directed to multiple Wikipedia entries: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner of course, but also racer and gentleman. For his singular fusion of scrupulously clean racing and modest grace made Rick not just a racer’s racer, but one of motorsports’ finest ambassadors; one who autographed countless hats and tee shirts “Rick Mears – Thanks!” And meant it.

Although he didn’t make the show in his first go-round at Indianapolis, Rick caught the eye of Roger Penske who offered him a part-time ride the following season. All the kid from Bakersfield did was qualify on the front row at Indianapolis and collect the first three of his 29 IndyCar wins later that season, securing a job with The Captain.

 

The next year Mears captured his first Indy 500 and National Championship. Two more Indy wins, a pair of national titles, even a promising F1 test followed. But all was not milk and champagne. In ’84 a crash resulted in terrible lower extremity injuries. Following an agonizing rehabilitation, he returned to action, winning the Pocono 500 less than a year after his accident.

Victorious from Phoenix to Brands Hatch, Milwaukee to Laguna Seca, Rick had a special affinity for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When a defective wheel nut sent him into the wall during practice in ’91, it was the first time he had so much as spun at The Brickyard. Undaunted, he rebounded to secure a record sixth pole before besting Michael Andretti in an heroic duel to join A.J. Foyt and Al Unser in one of racing’s most exclusive clubs.

While Rick Mears the driver retired after the following season, Rick Mears the racer and gentleman did not. As spotter/advisor he has contributed mightily to the eight championships and 10 Indianapolis 500 wins earned by Team Penske since ’92 – not to mention mentoring Helio Castroneves, the newest member of the four-time Indy winner club – as he has continued signing ever more hats and tee shirts “Rick Mears – Thanks.”

When we first decided to honor Rick in 2020, little could anyone have known he was destined to become the first (and we hope, only) member of the thrice-delayed RRDC dinner honoree club.

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s been worth the wait, and I hope you’ll join me at the RRDC dinner for our turn to say “Thank you – Rick Mears.”

Outdoor cocktails will commence at 6:00 p.m. Dinner is at 7:15 p.m. sharp.

Tickets for our 12th Annual Legends Dinner are expected to sell out quickly, so don’t get left behind.

RRDC President Bobby Rahal

RSVP to Jeremy Shaw at rrdc2@cox.net, then complete the attached form and mail it, along with a check made out to RRDC, to:

John C. Fergus, RRDC Treasurer, 8377 Green Meadows Drive N, Suite A, Lewis Center, OH 43035.

All proceeds go toward the RRDC’s young driver initiatives:        

Our thanks to Dan R. Boyd, Racemaker Press, Gordon Kirby, David Phillips and Paul Laguette.

 

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KUDOS TO TEAM USA SCHOLARSHIP; BONDURANT SCHOOL REORGANIZING

AUTOSPORT GIVES HUGE PLUG TO TEAM USA SCHOLARSHIP

The Feb. 18, 2022 issue of Autosport National featured a five-page cover story on Team USA Scholarship, Jeremy Shaw’s on-going venture to introduce promising young American talent to the caldron that’s the European open-wheel ladder. This year, 19-year-old New Yorker Max Esterson dominated 21st Annual Walter Hayes Trophy Grand Final at Silverstone. Team USA also competes in the annual Formula Ford Festival, usually at Brands Hatch.

Shaw, the 2020 recipient of the RRDC’s Bob Aiken Award, has spent the past 32 years developing Team USA Scholarship with participants including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Memo Gidley, Jerry Nadeau, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Connor De Phillippi, Tristan Nunez. Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood.

 

 

 

 

The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving lost its venue with the passing last November of its founder and namesake. The remaining core of the organization has been working tirelessly since to secure a new facility and plans to make a major announcement in that regard in the near future.

 

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DOONAN AND PRILL ON IMSA/SCCA COOPERATION; JUSTIN BELL LAUNCHES LEGENDS PODCAST

IMSA President John Doonan (right) and SCCA VP of Road Racing Eric Prill were guests on Brian Bielanski’s RacingWire Network Podcast, Feb. 4. They discussed how the two organizations are working together and how that partnership can expand. The two have worked together for many years when Doonan was head of Mazda’s motorsports department, the company was a stout supporter of the SCCA’s competition programs. Click here and then click on the Feb. 4 podcast: “Inside the SCCA – IMSA and the Future of Motorsports”.

 

JUSTIN BELL LAUNCHES “LIFE. WITH LEGENDS” PODCAST

Justin Bell, who has spent a lifetime in motor racing either behind the wheel winning, the 1997 FIA GT2 Championship and a class victory at the 24 Hour of Le Mans, and as a broadcaster from the world’s largest races over the past 12 years, today announced the launch of “Life. With Legends,” a bi-weekly podcast premiering in February on Patreon.

Kicking off the “Life. With Legends” series, JB sits down with his father Derek Bell, five-time Le Mans Winner and two-time world sportscar Champion. They cover everything from Derek’s relationship with Enzo Ferrari to how he really felt about Justin’s racing career. Also this month, Justin got to spend time with former Ferrari and McLaren driver Stefan Johansson in his beautiful art studio in Santa Monica.

Over the years, Justin’s friendships with some of the biggest names in the sport, has given him many memories of great conversations that sadly, will never be heard by most of us. For example, Jacky Ickx and his father Derek Bell at dinner during Le Mans in 2021, sharing stories about the behind-the-scenes moments of their Le Mans wins together (some funny, some rude, some sad).

“The inspiration for ‘Life. With Legends,’ is for me to capture the stories of these motor racing legends, through an intimate conversation, talking about the moments that occurred (often) between the big race wins,” said Bell. “The podcast will bring a unique perspective to some of the most famous (and sometimes hilarious) moments in motor sports and share with a wider audience just how incredible these men and women really are”.

Justin is also using the opportunity to sit down with his heroes to indulge his passion for portrait photography, the results of which will be for sale on a new photography website as a series of limited edition signed prints. (Details coming soon)

Life. With Legends will be launching in early February on Patreon with two guests per month, for a nominal subscription of $4 for the audio version only, and $5 for the video version.

 

 

 

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SPENCER BROCKMAN AND SCOTT TWOMEY PRESENTED 2020 AND 2021 RRDC MARK DONOHUE AWARDS

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 26, 2022) – Spencer Brockman and Scott Twomey were named the 50th and 51st recipients of the RRDC Mark Donohue Award. This unique award is presented annually by the Road Racing Drivers Club for outstanding performance, competitiveness and sportsmanship during the Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs®. It is voted on by RRDC members attending the Runoffs and/or viewing them live online.

There was no RRDC members’ dinner held in 2021, due to the pandemic, so both awards were presented at this year’s event at the 500 Club at Daytona International Speedway on January 26, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Brockman, of Westport, Connecticut, was first up to receive the honor from Calvin Stewart, the 2015 Mark Donohue Award winner and award committee chairman. Driving the No. 34 Mazda of Milford/Hoosier Swift 014a Mazda at the 2020 Runoffs, Brockman had started from the Formula Atlantic class pole and after a spirited 13-lap race swapping the lead with two other drivers, he claimed his first Runoffs win by a 2.216-second margin on Road America’s 4.048-mile circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Brockman recognized his father, Mike Brockman, an RRDC member who died in 2019, in the winner’s circle. “This win is for my dad,” he said.

“With my father having a career in racing and his personal relationship with Mark, I grew up knowing about Mark, reading about him. He was one of those drivers who seemed to be a step above everyone else in the field. He was achieving things that others weren’t. It was something I could always look up to. Just to be mentioned in the same conversation with him and to receive the Mark Donohue Award, I can’t even explain what it means to me. It’s a very special award for me tonight, absolutely,” said Brockman.

From left, Spencer Brockman, RRDC President Bobby Rahal, RRDC Mark Donohue Award committee chairman Calvin Stewart, and Scott Twomey. [Brian Cleary image]

Twomey’s victory, from second place on the GT-Lite grid, came at the 2021 SCCA Runoffs held on the 2.592-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Twomey, from Tacoma, Washington, earned his first career gold medal driving the No. 11 Poulsbo RV/Pat’s Autosport/Top Tech Nissan Tercel. He and pole sitter Chris Bovis were side by side entering the final turn following a race-long battle, with Twomey taking the win after 19 laps by a 1.033-second margin.

“I follow a lot of racing history and I know what Mark Donohue meant to the sport and so it’s a really big honor to have my name affiliated with his on the award. Very, very special,” said Twomey.

RRDC president Bobby Rahal, a Runoffs champion (1975 Formula B) long before he won the 1986 Indianapolis 500, emphasized the RRDC Mark Donohue Award is “about personal spirit and performance behind the wheel. Those qualities are more important for this award than winning the race,” he said. “The RRDC honors Spencer and Scott not only for their outstanding drives to win, but for their passion for the sport they’ve embraced and for being so cool under pressure.”

Every year, the RRDC Mark Donohue trophy is an engraved glass top mounted on a special, racing-experienced wheel, provided by an RRDC member. The wheels for the 2020 and 2021 awards were donated by RRDC member Wayne Taylor.

One of the wheels was from the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05, driven by Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves, the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech DPi champions and race winners that year at Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio and twice at Road America.

The other wheel was from the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05, driven to victory by Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves at the 2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona and at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca. They also became the 2021 Michelin Endurance champions.

Spencer Brockman celebrates his 2020 Formula Atlantic National Championship at Road America. [Rick Corwine image]

Scott Twomey holds the 2021 GT-Lite National Championship hardware in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Rick Corwine image]

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JEREMY SHAW IS BOB AKIN AWARD RECIPIENT

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2022) – Jeremy Shaw, motorsports writer, commentator and founder of the Team USA Scholarship, was named the 2020 recipient of the RRDC Bob Akin Award. He was honored at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club members’ dinner on January 26, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

A recipient of the Bob Akin Award was not selected for 2021. The next presentation will be made in 2023 recognizing the 2022 honoree.

Each recipient of this honor, considered the top prize in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers, is selected by Akin’s son Bobby, RRDC members Brian Redman and Judy Stropus, and approved by RRDC president Bobby Rahal.

The distinctive trophy was conceived by the RRDC in 2003 to honor the memory of longtime RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life following a testing accident in 2002.

It was designed by Steuben Glass in Corning, N.Y., and is given to a driver who best exemplifies the extraordinary qualities and characteristics that Akin represented, including a passion for motorsports and automobiles, a high level of sportsmanship and fair play, and who has contributed to the sport of motor racing and the community at large.

The primary award, etched with the names of the recipients, is displayed at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Each honoree receives a smaller replica.

Jeremy Shaw [Mike Levitt image]

Jeremy Shaw has been writing and commentating about motorsports since the early 1970s, developing a passion in his native England while attending school just a few miles from the Silverstone circuit. He began as a contributor to Motoring News, and, after several years on the staff at Autosport, moved to California in 1985 to be editorial director at On Track Magazine.

He later branched out into commentary, initially on the Indy Car Radio Network. After the demise of CART/Champ Car in 2008 he joined IMSA Radio.

Shaw co-authored “Nigel Mansell’s Indy Car Racing” in 1993 and was the editor of the Autocourse Champ Car Yearbook from 1993 until 2006. He continues to provide editorial content for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires driver development.

He’s competed in a variety of cars and races since the late 1970s, scoring two wins and a lap record in English saloon car races, a class victory in the Snetterton 24 Hours, and an ice racing class win at Eau Claire, Wis. He also enjoyed success in SCCA Racetruck, Sports 2000, American City Racing League, vintage Formula Ford, and claimed over 50 awards in the “Masters” class in the Pacific F2000 Championship in 2006 and 2008.

Seeing an opportunity to give back to the sport, Shaw launched the highly acclaimed Team USA Scholarship program in 1990 to assist young American drivers during the early stages of their careers. To date, more than 50 drivers have been Team USA Scholarship recipients, including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Kyle Kirkwood, Andy Lally and Oliver Askew. The RRDC supports the Team USA Scholarship.

Judy Stropus and RRDC President Bobby Rahal presenting the Bob Akin Award on behalf of Jeremy Shaw. [Brian Cleary image]

Although unable to attend the dinner, Shaw was presented the award by Committee Chairman Judy Stropus. and a video was shown of Shaw’s acceptance.

Stropus read comments from Bobby Akin, also not in attendance, during the presentation. “One of my dad’s big things was helping young people. Both in racing, like getting tires at Lime Rock for a young Sam Posey, or his tireless work for Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y., where he had attended as a kid and wanted to give others a chance,” said Akin.

“Our winner exemplifies those traits. He is also a world-class motorsports writer, and I had the pleasure of watching him develop as an on-air talent at SPEED Channel.

“His work with young drivers is the stuff of legend. Many of the talent in this room owe our winner a huge debt of gratitude. The Team USA Scholarship has been bringing some of the best young American drivers to Europe for many years and none of that would have been possible without Jeremy Shaw.

“As a driver, well, he was modest, but the one thing he can say, which not many can, is that he beat David Hobbs!”

“Wow, what an honor!” said Shaw. “Bob Akin was a proper old-school gentleman, someone I always looked up to and enjoyed seeing around the racing paddocks. It’s hard to believe almost 20 years have flown by since his passing.

“He was truly a class act and even to be mentioned in the same sentence as him means the world to me.

“I know he would approve of what we have done with the Team USA Scholarship over the past three decades. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a great many people in the racing community for making it possible and for sustaining it over all these years. It has been a great pleasure to point some very talented youngsters in the right direction.

“In particular, I would like to thank Bobby Akin, Judy Stropus and Brian Redman for this tremendous honor, and thanks also to the many members of the Road Racing Drivers Club for their continued support and encouragement.”

Shaw resides in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

 

Past RRDC Bob Akin Award honorees:

2003 – Sam Posey

2004 – Charlie Gibson

2005 – John Fitch

2006 – Jim Haynes

2007 – Cameron Argetsinger

2008 – Jim Downing

2009 – Steven J. Earle

2010 – Augie Pabst

2011 – Don Knowles

2012 – Miles Collier

2013 – Peter Sachs

2014 – Bill Warner

2015 – Judy Stropus

2016 – Murray Smith

2017 – Archie Urciuoli

2018 – Jeff Zwart

2019 – Rob Dyson

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SCOTT ATHERTON IS 2021 RRDC PHIL HILL AWARD RECIPIENT

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2022) – Scott Atherton, former President of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club with the 2021 Phil Hill Award. The 2019 award recipient, RRDC President Bobby Rahal, made the presentation at the annual RRDC members’ dinner on January 26 prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Phil Hill, 1927-2008 [Image by ©Al Satterwhite]

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 race track, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Scott Atherton was best described by the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Bob Varsha, as “a four-decade veteran of motorsports with a unique perspective on the entirety of road racing: as a race-car driver, track General Manager, CEO at Panoz Motor Sports Group overseeing the creation of championship-winning race cars, building the American Le Mans Series, spending two decades as President of the International Motor Sport Association, and so much more.”

The “so much more” includes racing go-karts and Formula Fords, working with Tom Gloy’s three-car Formula Atlantic team, and taking on CART team and event title sponsorship responsibilities for Domino’s Pizza, “where I first met Bobby Rahal, among others, in 1985,” he said.

“I spent a total of nine years with Domino’s Pizza, but my real passion was not the pizza business, it was road racing,” Atherton said. He soon became President and General Manager of Laguna Seca Raceway until “Roger Penske called and I left to become President/General Manager of Nazareth (Pa,) Speedway, a part of Penske Motorsports, and eventually ended up as President of California Speedway in Fontana.”

Penske Motorsports Inc. was soon acquired by International Speedway Corporation. “After Penske Motorsports was acquired by ISC I left California Speedway in 2000 to join Don Panoz.” Atherton added. He became President and CEO of Panoz Motor Sports Group, which consisted of IMSA, the American Le Mans Series, Road Atlanta, Sebring Raceway, Mosport, GForce (an IRL constructor), Van Diemen, Elan Composites and Elan Power.

Scott Atherton (left) receives the 2021 Phil Hill Award from RRDC president Bobby Rahal. [Brian Cleary image]

“The ALMS became the premier professional sports-car racing championship in North America, the tracks thrived and we earned multiple Indy 500 wins and IRL Championships with Chip Ganassi, Rahal Letterman and Team Penske.

“In 2012 I worked directly with Jim France and Ed Bennett to negotiate the sale of Panoz Motor Sports Group to NASCAR, merging the ALMS and Grand-Am Series into the IMSA Tudor (Now WeatherTech) SportsCar Championship. It was the most difficult process I’ve ever experienced, but it was the catalyst that enabled sports-car racing to be where it is today – stronger than ever.”

Finally, after 38 years in professional motorsports and 20 years as President of IMSA, Atherton retired in 2019. He remains on the Board of Directors of IMSA, is on the Board of Directors of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and has a motorsports consulting business currently involved in several projects.

He lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, with Nancy, his wife of 35 years.

“I can’t put into words how thrilled I am to have been chosen to receive the Phil Hill Award,” he said. “I was literally shaking when Bobby called me with the news. While I consider myself a race fan across many genres, road racing has always been at my core and my only true passion. And to be recognized by my peers for making a contribution to the betterment of road racing is truly a dream come true for me.”

“When you think of class and of accomplishment, you think of Phill Hill. He was a fantastic person who gave a lot back to the sport we love,” said Rahal.

“I don’t know how many trophies you have in your cabinet, Scott, but they’re going to be second to this one. This is the coolest award going.

“When we discussed who’s really deserving of this award, it really became clear to us that Scott was the guy. We’ve been friends since the early ’80s. He went to work at Nazareth for Roger (Penske), then he went to Fontana to work for Roger, and then he came here with ALMS. Every step of the way he’s had tremendous positions of responsibility, and he did a great job.

“Scott, this is a very well-deserved award. I thank you for all you’ve done.”

Past RRDC Phil Hill Award Winners include:

1993 John Bishop

1994 Juan Manuel Fangio II

1995 Leo Mehl

1996 Charlie Slater

1997 Danny Sullivan

1998 Rob Dyson

1999 Bob Fergus

2000 Elliott Forbes Robinson

2001 Bill France

2002 Jim Downing

2003 Derek Bell

2004 Brian Redman

2005 Jim France

2006 Roger Werner

2007 Skip Barber

2008 Roger Penske

2009 Bob Bondurant

2010 Nick Craw

2011 Rick Mears

2012 George Follmer

2013 Peter Brock

2014 Hurley Haywood

2015 Vic Elford

2016 Scott Pruett

2017 Chip Ganassi

2018 David Hobbs

2019 Bobby Rahal

2020 Jack Roush

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NEW SAFEisFAST VIDEO: THE FASTEST (SAFEST) WAY THRU TRAFFIC; PARKING FOR RRDC DINNER WEDNESDAY

Fellow Racers, I’ll bet you that every Team Manager in this weekend’s Rolex 24-Hours at Daytona will tell their drivers the same thing before the race: “Go fast, but don’t wreck the car”.

But how do you do that?

In our latest video, a very elite group of champion endurance drivers (Patrick Long, Tommy Milner, Loic Duval, Nick Tandy, Filipe Albuquerque and Spencer Pigot) reveal their secrets of getting through traffic quickly – and safely.

And I think their “secrets” might surprise you a bit.

Enjoy,

Bobby Rahal
SAFEisFAST.com

 

PARKING INFORMATION FOR RRDC DINNER WEDNESDAY EVENING

  • Please enter at Gate 40 off Williamson Blvd. Security/guest services will have a list with your name on it.
  • Let them know you are attending the Annual RRDC Dinner in the Daytona 500 Club.
  • There will be directional signage to lot 2A and parking staff with golf carts to assist you before and after the event. 
  • The 500 Club is in the infield tower building located at Victory Circle.

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CHIP GANASSI AMELIA HONOREE; RRDC DAYTONA DINNER REMINDER; CUNNINGHAM AT SIMEONE

Hagerty announced this week that racing legend Chip Ganassi will serve as Honoree of The 27th Annual Amelia on March 3-6, 2022. Tickets for the 2022 event are available online now through the recently launched ameliaconclours.com website.

Ganassi has touched every major form of North American motorsport plus the ultimate international road race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi’s legacy extends far beyond being an accomplished driver, he is a decorated race team owner that has fielded highly successful teams in INDYCAR, NASCAR, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Extreme E.

Chip Ganassi with the Borg-Warner Trophy, Brickyard 400 Trophy, LeMans 24 hour trophy, Sebring 12 hours trophy, Astor Cup (IndyCar championship), PPG Cup (CART Championship) and Rolex Daytona 24 hour, and the Harley Earl trophy for the winner of the Daytona 500.

Ganassi made his racing debut in the 1981 Robert Bosch Super Vee Championship. In 1982, Ganassi graduated with a finance degree from Duquesne University and started his first Indianapolis 500 in Mario Andretti’s year-old 1981 Wildcat/Cosworth. He was the fastest of a star-studded rookie class qualifying ahead of future “500” winners Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan. A year later Ganassi logged two podium finishes and was voted Most Improved Driver, ultimately ranking ninth in the INDYCAR Championship.

Ganassi retired from the Indy car cockpit following a brutal high-speed accident at Michigan International Raceway in 1984. His final race in the cockpit would be at the 1987 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1990, Chip Ganassi founded Chip Ganassi Racing, the only team to win the crown jewels of North American racing: the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 and the 24 Hours of Daytona in a 12-month span. Chip Ganassi Racing’s incredible success on the track includes eight victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona (2006-2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018), four consecutive INDYCAR Championships twice (1996 through 1999 and 2008 through 2011) and four Indianapolis 500 victories (2000, 2008, 2010, 2012) including a one-two finish in 2012.

Chip with his six-time IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon.

Ganassi would return to Le Mans in 2016, this time as an owner flying the Stars and Stripes. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing did not disappoint, scoring another historic Le Mans Ford victory, first, third and fourth in GTE LM Pro, leading all but 26 laps from the pole on the team’s first Le Mans attempt. The landmark victory came on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s historic first overall Le Mans victory in 1966.

Ganassi is also well known for his transformational charitable work for St Jude Children’s Hospital. In 2011 Chip received an honorary Doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in his hometown Pittsburgh. In 2016, the year of the Le Mans victory for Ford, Chip was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

“Honoring a hero from the racing community is an important component of The Amelia DNA. From the inaugural honoree, Sir Stirling Moss, to the recent celebration of Lyn St. James, The Amelia has anchored the celebration of the automobile to the incredible people who have devoted their lives as ambassadors for driving,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “We are thrilled that Chip Ganassi accepted our invitation. His racing legacy represents Hagerty’s love of driving and passion for the wellness of others.”

 

 

 

IT’S TIME FOR THE “ANNUAL” RRDC MEMBERS DAYTONA DINNER

PARKING and TRACK ENTRY:

  • Please enter at Gate 40 off Williamson Blvd. Security/guest services will have a list with your name on it.
  • Let them know you are attending the Annual RRDC Dinner in the Daytona 500 Club.
  • There will be directional signage to lot 2A and parking staff with golf carts to assist you before and after the event. 
  • The 500 Club is in the infield tower building located at Victory Circle.
 

WHEN: 

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022 – in advance of the Rolex 24 At Daytona

5:00 p.m. cocktails

6:15 p.m. RRDC member photo

6:30 p.m. dinner

 

WHERE:

Daytona 500 Club (infield) 

Daytona International Speedway

1801 W. International Speedway Blvd.

Daytona Beach, Fla. 32114

 

INVITEES: 

All RRDC members in good standing and personal guests ONLY. 

Please make sure you’ve paid your 2022 dues! A link to the dues invoice is at the bottom of this page.

 

DRESS: 

Business casual

 

COST:

$150 per person, payable by check in advance; or

$175 at the door – cash or check only; no credit cards please

Tables of 10 are available for $1500 each

 

PARKING and TRACK ENTRY:

We will provide parking and entry details soon. 

 

EVENT PASSES:

We will advise soon regarding availability of event passes.

 

CUNNINGHAM FEATURED AT SIMEONE MUSEUM, JAN. 22

In 1950, Briggs Cunningham became the first American since the ’20s to field cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Newspapers of the day called him the leader of “the brave little band of millionaires who carry America’s sports car hopes abroad.” Join us as we take a closer look at one of our nation’s most historically significant “gentleman sportsmen” and examine his life and impact on the world.

Featuring the following Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum (6825 Norwitch Drive, Philadelphia) collection automobiles:

* 1948 Cadillac Series 61
* 1952 Cunningham C-4R Roadster
* 1956 Jaguar D-Type

Tickets are $10-$12 dollars and are free for all Simeone Museum members and children under 18.

 

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REDMAN’S TARGA 66 SET; BOB BOIG PASSES

The 31st annual Targa 66 gathering for high-performance sports cars and race cars returns to Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway on February 11-13, 2022.

Founder and host Brian Redman has extended an invitation to owners of modern high-performance road cars and racing cars of all ages to exercise their cars on the 10-turn, 2.2-mile state-of-the art road course featuring some of the fastest and most challenging corners and straightaways.

Three days of track use are offered, and entrants can expect 6-8 hours of track time on the weekend. “Targa 66 is a relaxed event to get race cars ready for the 2022 racing season or to just exercise them at an interesting track,” said Redman, the world-renowned racing champion who founded Targa 66 in 1991.

“For those in the colder climates, it is a nice time of year to visit Florida, with temperatures expected to be in the high 70s for Palm Beach in February.” Redman added.

The event’s host hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn in PGA Gardens, Florida.

For more information and to register, go to www.gorace.com.

 

 

BOB BOIG, 1946-2022

Bob Boig, a four-time SCCA National Champion and 1990 President’s Cup recipient, passed away January 7th at age 75. Boig was proprietor of Boig Motorsports, LLC, specializing in competition parts for a variety of small-displacement race cars, and was a direct supplier of Miata racing parts to Mazda Competition. An engineer by education and experience, Boig developed and marketed muffler systems (Quiet Tubes) and cooling system aids (Cool Tubes). He was a Certified Quality Engineer.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held on Wednesday January 26th from 1-3 pm with a service at 3 pm at the Davis Life Celebration Funeral Home, 619 State Rd. Plymouth (Manomet). In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. 

 

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RRDC ANNUAL DAYTONA DINNER; JEFF O’NEILL HONORED BY MMR

Thanks to the organizational skills of member Lisa Noble, the RRDC will hold its “annual” members’ dinner at the Daytona 500 Club in advance of the 60th Rolex 24 At Daytona. Although we missed having a dinner in 2020 because of the pandemic, we’re back this year in full sway, with awards and recognitions.

The RRDC members’ dinner has become the perfect venue for members and their guests to bench race, meet, and enjoy an evening filled with camaraderie, nostalgia and awards presentations.

The featured award of the evening will be the 28th Phil Hill Award (for rendering outstanding service to road racing).

Also, the 20th Bob Akin Award and the 50th and 51st RRDC Mark Donohue Awards will be presented. 

We will also welcome a number of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshals, thanks to IMSA, all of whom are RRDC members.

The program is scheduled to end before 10 p.m., so that those participating in the Rolex 24 will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for morning practice. 

If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Noble at noblerace@aol.com.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Thank you,

Bobby Rahal

President

 

 

JEFF O’NEILL MMR 2021 PERSON OF THE YEAR

Vintage racer and vintner Jeff O’Neill has been named 2021 “Person of the Year” by Motorsports Marketing Resources. O’Neill’s 2019 Sonoma Speed Festival featured original vintage racecars, effectively upgrading the quality of the field while reducing the number of entries. The event was well received by the vintage community. After COVID-19 prevented holding the 2020 event, O’Neill moved the 2021 running to Laguna Seca, renaming the festival The Velocity Invitational, again receiving kudos from participants and supporters of vintage racing.

It’s been a good year for O’Neill who also was named 2021 “Person of the Year” by Wine Star Magazine, recognizing his efforts in sustainability in the wine industry with a new groundbreaking waste water treatment system for his Fresno winery and installation of solar panels at his warehouses.

O’Neill is an associate member of the RRDC.

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T. E. McHALE PASSES AT 68

Thomas Eugene McHale, T.E. to all who knew him, died Monday, Dec. 21, from the ravages of colon cancer. He was 68. Marshall Pruett remembered him fondly as “our anchor – our center – in a loud and noisy paddock filled with wanton self-importance.

“Honda’s longtime manager of motorsports communications, the personification of calm and class, was the closest thing we had to a village elder. T.E., with a face that was made to smile, was among the most human and relatable figures in the sport. His keen observations on racing, and life, and music, shared on pit lane, in media centers, or at his beloved Honda hospitality bus, connected us in communal ways.”

Pruett’s remembrance of McHale is at racer.com.

 

STATEMENT FROM RRDC PRESIDENT BOBBY RAHAL ON THE PASSING OF T.E. McHALE:

 
“All of us at the RRDC are so sad to hear of the passing of our friend, T.E McHale. I first met T.E. when he worked at the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal, following the racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for many years. His professionalism, knowledge of the sport and integrity in telling the many stories of our sport were unquestioned.
 
“Later, he would commit his skills to Honda in publicizing the many successes Honda was to have in North American motorsports. T.E.’s infectious personality and humility set him apart from many and everyone who met him counted him as a friend.
 
“T.E. was instrumental in facilitating Honda’s support of SAFEisFAST, helping make possible this unique portal to young racer training and nurturing.
 
“He would often wish a driver ‘Godspeed’ before a race, and I know many would wish him the same now.
 
“RIP, T.E., and Godspeed to you.”
 

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AL UNSER PASSES AWAY AT AGE 82; RAHAL REMEMBERS BOB BONDURANT

Al Unser, the second of four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, passed away Thursday at his home in Chama, New Mexico, after a 17-year battle with liver cancer brought on by hemochromatosis, a hereditary blood disease resulting in excess iron in the body.

The Indy 500 Four-Time Winners Club: A. J. Foyt, Jr., Al Unser, Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. [IMS image]

Unser is memorialized in numerous publications with remembrances by Roger Penske and numerous competitors. Here is what Penske told Racer.com:

“We have lost a true racing legend and a champion on and off the track,” said Roger Penske, whose car Unser drove to his fourth Indy victory. “Al was the quiet leader of the Unser family, a tremendous competitor and one of the greatest drivers to ever race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“From carrying on his family’s winning tradition at Pikes Peak to racing in NASCAR, sports cars, earning championships in IndyCar and IROC and, of course, becoming just the second driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, Al had an amazing career that spanned nearly 30 years. He produced two championships and three wins for our race team, including his memorable victory in the 1987 Indy 500 when he famously qualified and won with a car that was on display in a hotel lobby just a few days before. We were honored to help Al earn a place in history with his fourth Indy victory that day, and he will always be a big part of our team. Our thoughts are with the Unser family as they mourn the loss of a man that was beloved across the racing world and beyond.”

 

 

BOBBY RAHAL REMEMBERS BOB BONDURANT

 

 

 

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SAD NEWS: SIR FRANK WILLIAMS AND ART EVANS PASS; BOOKS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST; ANNUAL DINNER REMINDER

SIR FRANK WILLIAMS, 1942-2021

Although not a member of the RRDC, Sir Frank Williams is known to most of our membership and fondly remembered by those who called him a friend. His is a remarkable story of perseverance and sheer determination where his wife Virginia kept his doctors pulling the plug on the machine that was sustaining his life after his neck was broken in a road accident in France in 1986.

His career is chronicled in numerous articles, including racer.com and motorsport.com with remembrances and testimonials from racing royalty.

Daughter Claire Williams managed the team in recent years.

A couple of personal remembrances of Sir Frank Williams: my boss at Goodyear Leo Mehl used to grumble at being called at ungodly hours of the morning by Sir Frank. “He’s awake most of the time so his mind is constantly working. ‘Frank, it’s 2 a.m.’ and he always apologized but then told me what he’d just thought of.”

Sir Frank and Patrick Head came to Akron to cut the Williams’ F1 tire deal for the upcoming 1990 season. Leo always took visiting dignitaries up to “Mahogany Hall” – the fifth floor of the Goodyear headquarters building on East Market – to meet the Chairman, in this case Stanley Gault. I accompanied with our photographer. Knowing our annual racing budget was around $100m at the time, Mr. Gault asked Frank about his annual budget. “I’m one of the mid-level teams really. Our expenditures are around $70 million. Ron (referring to Dennis at McLaren) has a bit more than twice that.” So, Mr. Gault asks about Ferrari. “At Ferrari, there is no budget,” leaving all but Leo agape. – Bill King, Editor

Williams and his longtime friend and collaborator Patrick Head were the heart and soul of Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

 

ART EVANS, 1934-2021

Art Evans was a man-for-all-seasons. He did a little bit of everything in motorsports, a lot of which was significant and all splendidly done. Art was a racer in the golden era of 1950s west coast road racing, a car builder (Devin), a professor, an award-winning photographer, illustrator, writer/author and event organizer. He passed away Nov. 11. The Fabulous Fifties newsletter chronicles Art’s journey. – Bill King, Editor

The many faces of Art Evans.

 

BOOKS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST

 

ED SWART – FROM ZANDVOORT TO DAYTONA

“As a longtime member of the RRDC, I am sending you this email to let you know that after 6 years in the works, we finally have my book “ED SWART from Zandvoort to Daytona” printed and available.

“I have raced 60 years (1961-2021) in 602 race weekends. Finally retiring at age 84. Born in the Netherlands, raced in Europe till 1980 when we emigrated to the USA to continue there. That is why we decided on this title for the book …from Zandvoort to Daytona.

“The book has 192 pages, a hard cover and over 300 pictures. The foreword is by Brian Redman.

“My publisher William Taylor has the book available on his website; www.coteriepress.com” and below are some links with more information on the book and how to order it.

“Kind regards, Ed Swart”

 

A CHECKERED PAST – AL UNSER JR.

We’ve all heard of the hold that alcohol and drugs had taken on Al Unser, Jr.’s life – to the detriment of his career and family. It was inevitable that at some point he would publicly face these personal demons. That time has come. Unser sat down with Jade Gurss, a writer of exceptional skill and sensitivity, to unwrap his life in and out of the limelight. Al Unser, Jr., A Checkered Past is available at Amazon.com.

His splendid racing career, made possible by a rare blend of genetic talent and intensity, thrust him into the top echelon of motorsports, where he lived and excelled for several decades. It was away from the racetrack where his downward spiral began to strip away the foundations of his life – his marriage, his financials, his image, his inner core. It’s commonly thought that “rock bottom” is the springboard to recovery. Unser found it.

Al talked. Jade listened and recorded. The result is this remarkable story of demon-battling, an unblinking-assessment of a life in shambles and plotting a way out of the pit. This a must-read for all friends and fans of Al Unser, Jr.; and for any that may be facing a similar abyss, it’s a ray of hope. – Bill King, Editor

 

LE MANS: TOM KRISTENSEN

Between 1997 and 2014, Tom Kristensen won the world’s toughest automobile race, the Le Mans 24 Hours, a record nine times and finished on the podium on five more occasions. Every time his car made it to the finish, in fact, he was in the top three. It is no wonder that this great sports car driver is known as “Mr. Le Mans” to motorsports fans around the world.

Now retired from racing, Kristensen shares in this book his deepest personal reflections and insights from inside and outside the cockpit. He looks back on more than 30 years spent striving for perfection in racing and tells of the battles and setbacks that sometimes seemed impossible to overcome, including a terrible accident in 2007.

Voted “Sports Book of the Year” when originally published in Kristensen’s native Denmark, this thoughtful memoir is now available in English – 432 pages with 125 photos – with Dan Philipsen and foreword by Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

Evro Publishing books are distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group USA. Books can be ordered from Quarto by email: sales@quarto.com; phone number: 800-328-0590; or website: quartroknows.com. Please use the relevant ISBN number when ordering – 978-87-972603-0-2. Also available at Amazon.com.

 

WILLIAM JEANES’ THE ROAD TO PICKLETOWN

The Road to Pickletown – A Southerner Confronts Cowbells, Clowns, Cuba, Christmas, and Mississippi; written by longtime automotive and auto racing journalist William Jeanes, is not what one would expect to come from the pen of a car guy. It’s a selection of the many columns Jeanes has written over the years, including for the Northside Sun, a “prosperous and principled” weekly newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Being a newspaper or magazine writer in Mississippi is like being the possum in a petting zoo – people know you’re there but don’t want much to do with you,” Jeanes said in his introduction. “Some of the columns draw on my experiences as an advertising executive, an editor, a diesel mechanic, a bartender, an amateur actor, a veteran of the Cannonball coast-to-coast race, and a traveler who has seen all seven continents and more than one hundred countries.” 

The Road to Pickletown is available on Amazon Kindle. Paperback production began March 24, 2021. Order from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

THE STAINLESS STEEL CARROT NOW AN eBook

The definitive tale of Peter Brock’s BRE team and its star driver, John Morton, is chronicled in The Stainless Steel Carrot. It’s a chronicle written by motorsports journalist Sylvia Wilkinson over the course of two years while she was embedded with the team throughout the 1971-1972 seasons. It tells the story of how Brock, Morton, and the rest of the crew poured their entire lives into making sure they secured victory, fending off capable rivals and risking it all for a chance at greatness. 

The book was originally published in 1973, with an expanded version released in 2012. Both versions are hard to come by, with used examples routinely fetching up to $300 through online marketplaces, according to Carrara Media. 

Released April 5, 2021, the eBook is available on CarraraBooks.com or wherever eBooks are sold.

 

 

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GREG PICKETT AND PAUL PFANNER TO SCCA HALL OF FAME

Two RRDC members – Greg Pickett and Paul Pfanner – are among the five-member 2022 SCCA Hall of Fame Class which also includes Charlie Clark, Howard Duncan and Mark Weber.

 

GREG PICKETT

There is longevity, and then there’s Greg Pickett. No other driver can claim to have won a Trans Am Championship race in six different decades, with his first coming in 1978 and carrying through into 2021 as a 73-year-old. Pickett was the 1978 Category II Drivers’ Champion, and went on to win two championships as a team owner in the American Le Mans Series. A multiple race winner as a driver, Pickett and his Muscle Milk brand were instrumental in reviving the Trans Am Championship in 2009 after a three-year hiatus. Pickett began his driving career as an SCCA Club Racer, entering his first Trans Am race in 1975 using his A Sedan car.

 

PAUL PLANNER

Paul Pfanner’s contributions to the Club are not difficult to quantify. Though his SCCA career began as a Formula Ford racer in the early 1970s, his longer-lasting contribution came first as the publisher of his local Cal Club Region newsletter, which opened the door for his company, now RACER Media & Marketing, to publish SportsCar Magazine and become the official monthly record of the Club’s activities. Under Pfanner’s guidance since 1984, SportsCar Magazine became the Club’s most visible marketing piece, covering the Club’s activities and highlighting its members to make SCCA more attractive. Through SportsCar, RACER Magazine and RACER.com, Pfanner and his organization continue to promote the SCCA to the motorsports world and beyond.

 

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BOB BONDURANT – 1933-2021

My life has been lived in two halves. The first was becoming a world champion race driver. The second was teaching the world to become champions. – Bob Bondurant

Bob Bondurant, iconic racer and performance driving mogul, passed away Friday in Paradise Valley, AZ. He was 88 and survived by his wife Patricia. Racer.com traced his life story:

Pat and Bob Bondurant. [Bondurant Collection image]

“Robert Lewis Bondurant was born on April 27, 1933, to John Roper Bondurant and Ruth Williams Bondurant of Evanston, Ill. His father owned two luxury car dealerships named ‘Bondurant Motors.’ When Bob turned two years old, the family moved to Westwood Village, Calif.

“Bob began his fascination with speed as a three-year-old on his first tricycle with playing cards clothes pinned on his spokes for the sound of the rush. At age 8, his father introduced him to racing by taking him to Thursday night midget races.

“By 12 years old, his parents were divorced, and he persuaded his mother to purchase a Whizzer electric bike to deliver his newspapers faster. By 14, he owned his first Indian motorcycle, and after the devastating death of his mother at 16 years old, he started racing flat track and even bigger Indians and Harleys. His mother’s death left him inconsolable, which is where the seed of his fearlessness was realized.

“Bob was then inducted as the youngest member of the ‘Galloping Gooses’, which eventually became ‘Hell’s Angels’. At 23 years old, he discovered that he had more control with four wheels than he did with two, and his racing career began in a Morgan Plus 4.

Bondurant Collection image.

“From the age of 23 to 34, Bob became one of the most iconic race car drivers in the world. He had won the National Corvette Title, Le Mans GT, the World Championship, and the Baja 500… Between 1961 and 1963, he won 30 out of 32 races in Corvettes. Bob is the first and only American to bring the World SportsCar Championship trophy home to America in the legendary Shelby Daytona Coupe No. 26. He then rose to the highest level in racing with Ferrari in Formula 1 and prototypes.

Bondurant Collection image.

“Bondurant left the Formula 1 race series to race the even faster Can-Am cars with best friend and team driver, Peter Revson, in the Lola T70 Mark II. In 1967, a fateful race at Watkins Glen changed his entire career, and the Bondurant School was born. His steering arm broke at 150mph, and, lying in traction at the hospital, he vividly remembers his conversation with God explaining to Bob that he was needed more on Earth and to start a driving and safety school to save thousands of lives of those otherwise dying on the highways and in motorsports.

“Answering the call, on February 14, 1968, Bob founded The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. For 50 years, it earned and held a reputation as the number-one racing school in the world, crediting Bob as ‘the global expert authority on driver training and safety.’ Using his notorious racing skills, he copyrighted The Bondurant Method©. Personally, he taught his hand-selected instructors how to educate the world to be better drivers.

“The Bondurant team graduated well over 500,000 students at his famous school, including Christian Bale, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, and Tom Cruise, to name a few. Bondurant was actively at the track every day, enthusiastically greeting his new students until he was well over 85 years old. He kept racing, too. Bondurant’s last championship was 1997 for the World Cup Challenge, racing for Steve Saleen. Bondurant retired from racing at 79 after winning his last race at Pomona Raceway in his No. 72 ERA GT40.”

Bob Bondurant has had a worldwide impact on the motorsports industry, and his legacy will live on as the Bondurant Racing School moves forward into the future, a vow made by his wife, Pat, president and CEO of the organization.

The family has requested privacy at this time; and in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the attention of Jeremy Shaw at Team USA Scholarship – jshaw@teamUSAscholarship.org

Click here to view Vintage Motorsport’s appreciation of the amazing life of Bob Bondurant.

 

 

 

 

 

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2nd ANNUAL RACE INDUSTRY WEBINAR ANNOUNCED; ED SWART’S NEW BOOK

2ND ANNUAL ONLINE RACE INDUSTRY WEEK ANNOUNCED

EPARTRADE and RACER are providing 55 hours, over 5 days, of Live Technical and Business Webinars from leading Industry Suppliers and Race Industry Leaders from around the world.

The live webinars will run from 7:00am to 6:00pm PST, November 29 through December 3, 2021. The full schedule will be released soon.

No charge to attend. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

The impressive, growing list of featured webinar speakers includes, Michael Andretti, McLaren’s Zak Brown, IndyCar’s Mark Miles, Roush Yates’s Doug Yates, SRX’s Ray Evernham, Formula One’s Pat Symonds, Toyota Racing Development’s David Wilson, Meyer Shank Racing’s Mike Shank, IMSA’s John Doonan, Ford Performance’s Mark RushbrookMario Andretti and The First Lady of Motorsports, Linda Vaughn, GM Performance’s Jim Campbell, Trans Am’s John Clagett, Paretta Autosport’s Beth Paretta, Mazda Motorsport’s Mo Murray, SVRA’s Tony Parella, NHRA’s Brad Gerber, Music City Grand Prix’s Jason Rittenberry, Global Time Attack’s Jason Dienhart, SRO Motorsports America’s Greg Gill, America Rally Association’s Preston Osborn, Utah Salt Flats Racing Association’s Dennis Sullivan, MIA’s Chris Aylett, SCCA’s Michael Cobb, Chili Bowl’s Emmitt Hahn, SCORE’s Jim Ryan, Have Blue’s John Waraniak, Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Doug Boles, Dallara’s Stefano de Ponti, Center for Automotive  Research’s Dr. Dave Cole, Junco-Hollinger Racing’s Ricardo Juncos, King Of The Hammers’ Dave Cole, Gridlife’s Chris Stewart, Hypercraft’s Jake Hawksworth, Papadakis Racing’s Stephan Papadakis, BHA’s Bryan Herta, FIA WEC’s Frederic Lequien, Speed Sport’s Ralph Sheheen, Xtrac’s Peter Digby, Racer’s Paul PfannerMarshall PruettChris Medland Laurence Foster, SiriusXM ch 90, Late Shift’s Jeff Hammond & Brad Gillie, WFO Radio’s, Joe Castello, and more to be announced soon…

 

                                                                                                       

ED SWART – FROM ZANDVOORT TO DAYTONA NOW AVAILABLE

“As a longtime member of the RRDC, I am sending you this email to let you know that after 6 years in the works, we finally have my book “ED SWART from Zandvoort to Daytona” printed and available.

“I have raced 60 years (1961-2021) in 602 race weekends. Finally retiring at age 84. Born in the Netherlands, raced in Europe till 1980 when we emigrated to the USA to continue there. That is why we decided on this title for the book …from Zandvoort to Daytona.

“The book has 192 pages, a hard cover and over 300 pictures. The foreword is by Brian Redman.

“My publisher William Taylor has the book available on his website; www.coteriepress.com” and below are some links with more information on the book and how to order it.

“Kind regards, Ed Swart”

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ESTERSON VICTORIOUS IN SILVERSTONE WALTER HAYES TROPHY THRILLER

New York Teenager Becomes the Fourth Team USA Scholarship Driver to Scoop Top Honors since 2008

SILVERSTONE, England (Nov. 7, 2021) – Max Esterson produced a master class to seal victory in today’s 21st Annual Walter Hayes Trophy Grand Final at Silverstone, the home of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix. Esterson, 19, from New York, N.Y., swept the weekend aboard his Low Dempsey Racing Ray GR18, winning his Heat race yesterday and continuing his rich vein of form this morning in the Semi Final round. He started on pole for the 15-lap Grand Final and controlled the race from the front, despite intense pressure from an array of competitors.

Max Esterson celebrates historic Walter Hayes Trophy victory. [Jakob Ebrey image]

Esterson’s performance capped several tremendoug weeks which included a second-place finish in last weekend’s 50th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. After finishing close behind Esterson in third place one week ago, teammate Andre Castro, 22, also from New York, N.Y., ran out of luck in today’s chilly conditions and was forced to retire his Ray GR14 early in the Grand Final.

Last year’s winner, Oliver White (Medina JL17) finished hot on Esterson’s heels, less than a quarter of a second behind. He was followed by Ben Mitchell (Van Diemen JL16) and 2021 Avon Tyres British Formula Ford Champion Chris Middlehurst (Van Diemen LA10), who lost two places on the final lap after leading the chase of Esterson for most of the way.

Esterson became the fourth Team USA Scholarship driver to take top honors at the Walter Hayes Trophy, following in the wheel tracks of Conor Daly (2008), Connor De Phillippi (2009) and Tristan Nunez (2012).

Esterson holds point. [Jakob Ebrey image]

The first of two 12-lap Semi Final races this morning saw Esterson starting from pole position following his Heat One race win yesterday. Heat Two winner Chris Middlehurst (Van Diemen) lined up alongside. The pair waged a thrilling battle for the first half of the race, with Matt Cowley (Van Diemen), Joey Foster (Firman) and Lucas Romanek (Van Diemen) also in contention, along with Thomas Mills (Spectrum) who quickly moved up after having started 13th.

An incident on Lap Five between Mills, Cowley and Foster left Mills as the only survivor in the lead pack, while up front it was still Esterson who maintained a slender lead over Middlehurst. Mills and Romanek crossed the line in third and fourth, although Mills later received a time penalty following the contact with Cowley which relegated him to 12th.

“I got a good launch off the line and took the lead into Copse,” related Esterson. “We made a bit of a gap after Matt Cowley and Joey Foster tangled, but Tom Mills soon caught up. I lost the lead to Middlehurst into Becketts but got it back around the outside of Brooklands a few laps later. I had some breathing space with two laps to go and just weaved down the straights to try to break the tow. I couldn’t quite drop the pack behind me but managed to defend well on the last lap to take the win. It’s nice to be starting on pole for the Grand Final, although I will definitely have my hands full!”

Stampede. [Jakob Ebrey image]

Shortly afterward, Castro lined up 13th for his Semi Final round. An inadvertent nudge from a rival at the Becketts hairpin on the second lap dropped him far down the order, but Castro (left) fought back impressively to finish seventh and ensure a starting position within the top half of the field for the all-important Grand Final.

The second Semi Final was won by two-time Walter Hayes Trophy winner Michael Moyers (Spectrum), with Mitchell and a pair of Medinas driven by Rory Smith and White hot on his heels.

“It was a really eventful Semi Final race for me,” said Castro. “I gained a few places on the first lap, but on the following lap I was hit in the right rear which sent me up in the air and off the track. I was lucky to continue, having to come back from outside the top 20 to P7 at the end of the 12 laps. We know we have the speed for the final, so we’ll be looking to move forward.”

After a lengthy delay following a protest lodged on behalf of Mills – and with shadows lengthening rapidly and dusk fast approaching – the competitors finally took up their grid positions for the Grand Final with Esterson and Moyers sharing the front row.

Esterson held off the attentions of Moyers on the opening lap (below) and soon began to inch away as the Silverstone favorite fought to keep a huge train of cars, led by Smith, behind him.

Checkered flag. [Jakob Ebrey image]

The Team USA driver’s lead grew to 1.4 seconds after five laps, assisted by a coming together between Moyers and Smith in his mirrors, but once established in second place, Middlehurst gradually began to whittle away at the deficit. Esterson’s lead had shrunk to virtually nothing with five laps remaining, but despite briefly losing his advantage on the final lap at the exit of Copse Corner, he regained it on the long straightaway toward Brooklands and held on for a famous victory (above).

“Walter Hayes Trophy winners!” exclaimed Esterson. “What a team and group of supporters behind me. The car was just on rails. It really was a perfect weekend: pole, heat win, semi win, and led all 15 laps of the final. It was not easy though. I held the lead around the outside of the first corner and weaved down the straights to try to break the draft. I actually got a 1.5-second lead at one point after Rory Smith and Michael Moyers tangled. Even though I had the gap I knew it was inevitable that the pack behind would catch back up; the slipstream is very powerful at Silverstone.

“Chris Middlehurst was right on my gearbox with three laps left and I had to be super defensive into Copse, Becketts and Brooklands. On the last lap Chris nearly got fully into the lead into Becketts but I was able to brake later and stay ahead. It was a drag race down the Wellington Straight but luckily for me Chris missed a gear which made my life a bit easier; however, last year’s winner Ollie White was not far behind and tried to go around the outside of Brooklands.

“Thank you to Low Dempsey Racing, Ray Race Cars, iRacing, Max Papis Innovations, and of course Jeremy Shaw, the Team USA Scholarship, and all of its supporters. Winning the Walter Hayes Trophy means the world to me, especially after being so close last week at the Festival. It’s been nine years since an American has won it so hopefully this is the start of another successful run!”

Castro, of course, was disappointed after his early exit, caused by a mechanical failure perhaps brought about by some shifting difficulties, but was delighted to see his teammate earn the victory.

“It’s not how I wanted to finish my tenure over here in British Formula Ford,” said Castro. “After recovering from being hit to last place in my Semi Final, I had a decent start to my final, until the car slowed on Lap 2. Last week at Brands Hatch, we had some luck on our side, but this week it simply wasn’t there. Congratulations to Max on his great win – it honestly couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”

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DOUBLE PODIUM FINISH FOR TEAM USA SCHOLARSHIP IN FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL FINAL

BRANDS HATCH, England (Oct. 31, 2021) – The 50th Formula Ford Festival ended in sensational style this afternoon with a thrilling 20-lap Grand Final in which Team USA Scholarship drivers Max Esterson and Andre Castro finished second and third behind Englishman Jamie Sharp. It was the first time two Team USA drivers had finished on the podium, although Josef Newgarden won the Kent Final in 2008 in Team USA Scholarship colors, and Brett Smrz and Neil Alberico gained third-place finishes in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

Max Esterson is joined on the podium by Scott Dixon, [Gary Hawkins image]

Esterson provided one of the drives of the event by climbing from 13th on the grid to third at the checkered flag. Castro finished hard on Esterson’s tail after starting from eighth. Both drivers later benefited when Scotsman Neil Maclennan was disqualified for overtaking under yellow flags during a frenetic final race.

It was the second runner-up finish in as many years for Low Dempsey Racing. Ireland’s Jonathan Browne, the winner in 2019, finished in second place last year, with Team USA Scholarship representative Bryce Aron taking fifth.

As was the case yesterday for the Heat races, the fickle English weather played its hand to the fullest effect with heavy rain in the morning causing the start of the two Semi Final races to be delayed by half an hour. Ironically, after a short period during which conditions improved significantly, the rain returned with a vengeance just as the 28 starters for the opening race of the day ventured out for a pair of sighting laps before forming up on the starting grid.

Castro lined up sixth on the grid for the first Semi Final in his Ray GR19. He lost a place on the opening lap and, after an early Safety Car interruption, became involved in an intense battle for fourth place with Jonathan Browne which was settled on the last lap at Clearways, the final corner, when Castro dived past in what had now become a trademark inside-line pass.

Irishman Niall Murray (Van Diemen), Formula Ford Festival winner in 2013 and 2016, won handsomely from Maclennan (Spectrum), with Sharp (Medina Sport) finishing third.

Race action. [Gary Hawkins image]

Esterson lined up on pole position for the second Semi Final, which was also held in very wet conditions. Right away it became apparent that the race would be a struggle for the young New Yorker as poor traction caused him to lose a place on the run toward the first corner, Paddock Hill Bend. He slipped back to seventh place inside the first five laps, and battled hard in the closing stages of the 14-lap race to maintain that position ahead of Low Dempsey Racing teammate – and 2010 Formula Ford Festival winner (and 2021 British GT Champion) – Dennis Lind, from Denmark.

The race was won by another former Festival winner, veteran Englishman Joey Foster (Firman).

Foster and Murray duly lined up on the front row for the Grand Final, sponsored by Clapham North, by which time the track was almost completely dry. The action was hot and heavy from the outset with Oliver White (Medina) and Tom Mills (Spectrum) also part of leading quartet that was blanketed by inches. Esterson, meanwhile, was immediately on the move, climbing inside the top 10 by the completion of Lap Two.

An unfortunate clash of wheels between Murray and White at the exit of the daunting Paddock Hill Bend saw both drivers crash out of contention, with Mills also involved. The Safety Car was scrambled while the track was cleared, and soon after the resumption, Foster also made a mistake when he slid off the road at Clearways. Thereafter, a snake of 11 cars waged a spectacular battle for the top places for the remaining 10 laps.

Wild finish with podium runners in a cluster. [Gary Hawkins image]

Esterson climbed quickly to third by the half-distance mark, making a series of excellent passes. He was demoted briefly by Chris Middlehurst (Van Diemen) before regaining the position with five laps remaining. Esterson stayed glued to the two leaders, with Castro fighting his way past Irishman Jordan Dempsey for fifth place on Lap 15. Middlehurst also was still hot on their heels. With one lap remaining, the top six cars were blanketed by less than a second. Ultimately, though, a jubilant Sharp held on to take the checkered flag less than a tenth of a second clear of Maclennan. Esterson, Castro, Dempsey, Middlehurst, Northern Irishman Ivor McCullough, another former Festival winner, plus the recovering Foster, Browne and Lind completed the top 10, all separated by just over two seconds.

“I’m thrilled with a podium finish at the Festival, especially after starting 13th,” said Esterson. “I just kept my head down and pushed forward with a few wild moves into Clearways and Paddock. Thanks for everyone’s support this weekend and hopefully we make it to the top step next week at Silverstone!”

“I can’t put into words what it means to podium at my first Formula Ford Festival,” added Castro. “We worked on our speed all week and when it came time for the races, we gained spots every time. We kept moving up from our grid slot every race, and persevered in the final after being 12th at one point. To have Max on the podium with me is incredible, as he had an amazing drive as well. The Walter Hayes next week should be exciting and I can’t wait. Thanks so much to the guys at Low Dempsey Racing and all of Team USA’s partners for making this experience a success.”

“What a fantastic weekend,’ said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw. “The racing was intense and it was so cool to see stars such as Scott Dixon, the six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, and ex-F1 drivers Jonathan Palmer and Bruno Giacomelli present at the post-race celebrations. All of them agreed the quality of the competition was absolutely outstanding. It truly was. It was also fun to see former F1 and long-time Corvette factory driver Jan Magnussen having such a good time – and finishing a strong 11th in the Final – in another Low Dempsey Racing Ray. He’s already plotting his return in 2022!”

 

 

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YOUNG RRDC MEMBER KYLE KIRKWOOD WINS INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP; REDMAN TO BE HONORED BY SIMEONE FOUNDATION

Twenty-two-year-old Kyle Kirkwood from Jupiter, Florida became the first driver to win titles in Indy Lights, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Road to Indy program.

Along the way, he won thirty out of fifty races for an astounding 60% winning percentage. His ten wins in Indy Lights ties Greg Moore’s record.

A former Karting Champion, Kyle got his first car racing break with the RRDC-supported Team USA Scholarship program where he and compatriot Oliver Askew showed their stuff in in England’s top Formula Ford Championship races – finishing 2-3 in the Walter Hayes trophy

Both Kyle and Oliver have also been active participants in the RRDC’s Safe is Fast program, providing driving tips for even younger aspiring drivers.

As a result of winning the Indy Lights Championship, Kyle wii receive $1.3 million toward a three-race IndyCar ride in 2022 – including the Indy-500. However, several IndyCar Teams including Andretti Autosport are reported to be looking at young Kyle for a full-time ride next year.

Another former Team USA scholarship-winner to keep your eye on is Josh Green who scored his first Road to Indy win in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship finale at Mid-Ohio. – Tom Davey

 

 

 

 

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AL UNSER JR.’S CHECKERED PAST; A ROBIN MILLER RETROSPECTIVE

A CHECKERED PAST – AL UNSER JR.

We’ve all heard of the hold that alcohol and drugs had taken on Al Unser, Jr.’s life – to the detriment of his career and family. It was inevitable that at some point he would publicly face these personal demons. That time has come. Unser sat down with Jade Gurss, a writer of exceptional skill and sensitivity, to unwrap his life in and out of the limelight. “Al Unser, Jr. – A Checkered Past” will go on sale Oct. 1.

His splendid racing career, made possible by a rare blend of genetic talent and intensity, thrust him into the top echelon of motorsports, where he lived and excelled for several decades. It was away from the racetrack where his downward spiral began to strip away the foundations of his life – his marriage, his financials, his image, his inner core. It’s commonly thought that “rock bottom” is the springboard to recovery. Unser found it.

Al talked. Jade listened and recorded. The result is this remarkable story of demon-battling, an unblinking-assessment of a life in shambles and plotting a way out of the pit. This a must-read for all friends and fans of Al Unser, Jr.; and for any that may be facing a similar abyss, it’s a ray of hope. – Bill King, Editor

 

ROBIN MILLER – A RETROSPECTIVE

About as many bytes have been scurrying around cyberspace the past few weeks about Robin Miller as his prolific brain spilled onto keyboard in the average couple of months. The public learned of his terminal condition about a month before his passing in late August via a farewell column on Racer.com. In typical Miller fashion, there were no regrets. He’d lived his life the way he wanted to and had written what he thought about what he heard and observed. He was as deep inside motorsports, particularly IndyCar racing, as anyone; but he was NOT an “insider”. Nobody owned Robin Miller.

He was deeply, visibly moved by the outpouring of admiration and respect during the Indy/NASCAR combo weekend at the Speedway which had been his hunting ground for more than four decades. He could not have scripted a more meaningful send-off.  – Bill King, Editor

 

 

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TEAM USA SCHOLARSHIP SHOOTOUT HOSTED BY POLECAT TRAINING CENTER

Six talented young American drivers will assemble this week at the new Polecat Training Center facility in Lynchburg, Tenn., as part of a continuing process to select two Team USA Scholarship winners for 2021. Following two days of assessments, which will include driving on the technical 2.1-mile road course aboard the Polecat Racing Academy’s well proven 2.0-liter formula cars, as well as a fitness evaluation with industry expert Jim Leo, president of Indianapolis, Ind.-based PitFit Training, a pair of winners will contest the 50th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England, on October 30/31, and the following weekend’s equally prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone, held in honor of the founding father of Formula Ford.

The finalists have been chosen from a group of 12 candidates, each of whom was invited to submit a variety of assignments to be evaluated by a 20-strong panel of auto racing insiders representing virtually every aspect of the sport.

The six finalists are:
•    Jason Alder, 18, from Cooksville, Md. – competing in the F4 United States Championship powered by Honda
•    Andre Castro, 22, from New York, N.Y. – partial season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship
•    Nicholas d’Orlando, 18, from Hartsdale, N.Y. – leads the FRP F1600 Championship Series
•    Max Esterson, 18, from New York, N.Y. – second in the BRSCC Avon Tires British Formula Ford Championship
•    Ayrton Houk, 18, from McCordsville, Ind. – leads the Mel Kenyon Midget Series and races in SCCA FF/F1600
•    Bryson Morris, 16, from Mt. Juliet, Tenn. – leads the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series

Matt Christensen, 16, from Orlando, Fla., Arias Deukmedjian, 16, from Merritt Island, Fla., Ax Kametches, 20, from Atlanta, Ga., Jonathan Lee, 20, from Miami, Fla., Colin Queen, 16, from Coto de Caza, Calif., and Thomas Schrage, 16, from Bethel, Ohio, also were part of the original selection process.

“We at Polecat Training Center are so excited that the Team USA Scholarship chose PTC Driving Academy to host this prestigious talent search,” said Polecat Racing Academy Owner Keith Watts. “I am honored to contribute back to young aspiring racing drivers through this program, and track owner Paul Arnold is delighted to help further these young racers’ careers.”

The final decision will be made by a panel of judges which will include former Team USA Scholarship winners Josef Newgarden, Andy Lally and Aaron Jeansonne, as well as Kelly Jones, proprietor of RaceCraft1 Simulator Training, Honda/Acura Public Relations representative Dan Layton, author and RACER Marketing and Media editor Steve Nickless, and Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw.

“I can’t wait to meet this year’s candidates and I am honored to play a small role in the 2021 scholarship program,” said Lally. “Jeremy has worked so hard for so many years to search for and assemble the best young driving talent the United States has to offer and then give them a stage to show off their talents and potential. It is such a fun alumni to be a part of and this year’s crop of drivers are chomping at the bit to fulfill a lifelong dream of a career in auto racing.”

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JIM PACE TO BE HONORED; NEWEY ON VERSTAPPEN; PENSKE ON JENKINS

JIM PACE TO BE HONORED AT CHATTANOOGA

The late Jim Pace will be honored Oct. 16 in pre-race ceremonies for the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival’s Pace Grand Prix at the Bend to be run on a two-mile street circuit he designed inside a bend in the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. Pace was event chair and chief operating officer for the inaugural Festival in 2019. He passed away Nov. 13, 2021, the victim of COVID-19. Pace was a member of the RRDC class of 2014.

 

ADRIAN NEWEY ON MAX VERSTAPPEN

Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s chief technical officer and RRDC member, analyses the titanic battle for the 2021 F1 world championship between team driver Max Verstappen and 7-time and defending titlist Lewis Hamilton:

“He has the same steely grit as any world champion, the stuff they need to dig in and keep going in the face of adversity,” Newey said of young Verstappen. “He can put the past behind him and look forward to the next race. His driving ability is obviously superb, and he’s matured into a great racer. He’s really not made any mistakes this year. The races where he hasn’t scored heavily – Baku, Silverstone and Hungary – have been no fault of his, but he’s kept his head and bounced back from all of those.

“I don’t think the pressure of the situation will affect him. He’s very easy to chat to and has a wide range of interests, which I think is very important for an F1 driver. If your only interest is F1, that can almost make it too important when the pressure comes on. Max has a very good balance in that respect.”

There are possibly 13 races remaining on the 2021 F1 schedule.

 

ROGER PENSKE ON THE PASSING OF BOB JENKINS

“To an entire generation, the sound of Bob’s voice simply meant it was time to go racing. That legendary voice became the soundtrack for the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will miss Bob’s kindness, his professionalism and his unique ability to bring us all closer to the track with his stories and insights.”

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CASTRONEVES, BROCK, ROUSH, McCLUGGAGE SET FOR MSHFA

Four RRDC members are among the nine motorsports luminaries comprising the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America induction class for 2022: Helio Castroneves, Peter Brock, Jack Roush and the late Denise McCluggage (left to right, below)

Castroneves, the latest member of the 4-WIN Club at Indy, is the open-wheel category inductee. Brock, designer of the Cobra Daytona Coupe and champion team owner, is the sports car category honoree. Roush, an RRDC member from his championship road racing days, is the stock car inductee, while the McCluggage was selected in the media category.

Induction ceremonies for the 2022 class will be held in Daytona Beach next March 7 and 8.

 

ROGER PENSKE ON THE PASSING OF BOB JENKINS THIS WEEK

“To an entire generation, the sound of Bob’s voice simply meant it was time to go racing. That legendary voice became the soundtrack for the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will miss Bob’s kindness, his professionalism and his unique ability to bring us all closer to the track with his stories and insights.”

 

 

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MEMBER NEWS: LIME ROCK LUNCH; SHARBRAL PRUETT; MENDEZ FOUNDATION

The Annual Lime Rock Members’ Lunch is set for Sept. 5th during the running of the Historic Festival 39. Here are the details:

WHAT:

RRDC Members’ Lunch

WHERE:

Lime Rock Park, Conn.

At the Historic Festival 39

In the Lime Rock chalet – on the infield hill above the paddock

WHEN:

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021 – Noon

During the Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance

COST:

$40 per person – payable at the door, cash or check – GUESTS ARE WELCOME!

RSVP:  

Please RSVP to jstropus@earthlink.net by Wednesday, Aug. 25, letting us know if you will attend and, if yes, please provide the names of your guests.

PASSES:

TBD. We will advise if one-day passes will be available to RRDC members. When sending in your RSVP, please let us know if you’ll need passes.

 

Join us at what has become our annual luncheon at the Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park. Thanks to Skip Barber and everyone at Lime Rock Park for their help and support to make this happen.

 

MEDICAL UPDATE: A SETBACK FOR SHARBRAL PRUETT

Marshall Pruett’s wife Sharbral has been fighting breast cancer since 2018. The disease has been beaten back twice; but Molly Binks (who manages Sharbral’s Go Fund Me page) reports that there’s been another recurrence. Binks says a new Go Fund Me page will be launched from racer.com – the current page to be closed soon.

 

WHAT’S UP THIS SUMMER AT THE MENDEZ FOUNDATION

Got this from Charles Mendez on Too Good, the foundation’s comprehensive family of substance use and violence prevention curricula designed to mitigate the risk factors associated with risky behavior and build protection within the child:

“Summer is a wonderful time of year to introduce children to healthy foods. It’s a great time to take a bread from the daily routine and stop to enjoy the world outside of school, try new things, set new goals and expand our daily habits. Introducing new healthy foods to young ones before school starts can make the transition back to school an easier one, as healthy habits are kicked off before the school year starts. Instilling healthy habits early on will not only support children’s mental and physical states but will also empower them to nourish themselves and be better prepared for life’s goals and challenges. Read our latest blog post to discover ways to encourage choosing a healthy, nutrient dense diet.”

Too Good develops a framework of Social Emotional skills through the development of goal-setting, decision-making, and effective communication skills in addition to peer pressure refusal, pro-social bonding, conflict resolution, and media literacy. Too Good builds the basis for a safe, supportive, and respectful learning environment.

 

 

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RRDC WELCOMES THE 16 NEW MEMBERS OF ITS CLASS OF 2020

The RRDC Class of 2020 included eight regular members, four associate members and four honorary members. Here are the new REGULAR MEMBERS:

ERIC BACHELART – Indianapolis, Ind. Is the 1982 Belgian Formula Ford 1600 Junior Champion; 1984 Benelux Formula Ford 1600 Champion and placed second in both the European and Belgian Formula Ford 1600 Championships; won a French Formula 3 Championship race at Croix-en-Ternois and finished third in the championship behind Jean Alesi and Eric Bernard; finished second in the 1988 Belgian ProCar Championship for Peugeot; competed in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship in 1989 before switching to North America; won the 1991 Firestone Indy Lights Championship; was the second-placed rookie in the 1992 PPG IndyCar World Series; competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona (Chrysler GTS-R) and the Le Mans 24 Hours (Ferrari 333 SP) in 1996; established his own team, Conquest Racing, in 1997 and has continued to succeed in a variety of race series.

 

WAYNE BAKER – San Diego, Calif. Started racing career with local Porsche Club of America in a highly modified 914/4 Porsche. Eventually joined SCCA and became regional champ in D Production. In 1980 raced a Porsche 914/4 2.0-liter in IMSA. At Sears Point, was the first to win an overall race in a 4-cylinder Porsche 914. In 1982 his sponsor bought the Bob Garretson 935 which was converted into a 934 single-turbo. This car would make history in 1983 with a 1st overall and 1st in GTO at the 12 Hours of Sebring with co-drivers Jim Mullen and Kees Nierop – the first time in IMSA history that a smaller displacement car became an overall winner. Won the IMSA GTO Championship that year. Since 1998 has raced in Vintage and Historic races, driving an RSK, Porsche 910 and 904. Won the Tour Auto in France and races at tracks in Magny Cours, Monza and Nurburgring. Organized a 2.0- liter Porsche Challenge with HSR-West and mentored new drivers and introduced them to the sport. Is currently racing a Porsche 1967 911S in SVRA and HSR vintage races.

 

JON BEEKHUIS – Meadow Vista, Calif. Is the 1972-73 Western United States Quarter Midget Champion; 1978 Jim Russell Racing School World Scholarship winner; fourth in 1980 Esso (British) Formula Ford 1600 Championship; competed in the 1981 British Formula 3 Championship with Argo before returning to the U.S. and gaining experience in a variety of cars including Super Vee, IMSA GTO and GTP and the IMSA RS program with the Ford Motor Co.; 1986 Russell Pro Series Champion; fourth in 1987 SPI Formula Atlantic Championship; 1988 HFC American Racing Series (Indy Lights) Champion (beating Tommy Byrne into second place); made 14 INDYCAR starts between 1989 and 1992; later built a successful second career as a TV pit reporter/analyst, working extensively with ESPN and, more recently, NBCSN.

 

ROSS BENTLEY – Federal Way, Wash. USRRC Champion GT-3 1998; Won SRPII Class 24-Hours of Daytona 2002; raced in ALMS for PPG/BMW; raced in CART Championship Series 1990-95; author of more than two dozen instructional books on racing; highly sought-after Driving Coach; contributor to the RRDC’s Safe is Fast program.

 

 

 

CONNOR DE PHILIPPI – Charlotte, N.C. Began karting at age 5, and by age 14 had won 21 National championships, becoming the only driver ever to win four SKUSA SuperNats titles. That same year, 2007, was invited to the prestigious Granja Viana 500-mile kart race in Brazil alongside Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa and Tony Kanaan. Moved to cars in 2008, winning the following year’s Skip Barber Racing National Championship, and graduated directly into the Pro Mazda (now Indy Pro 2000) Championship in 2010 as part of the Mazda Road to Indy. Also earned a Team USA Scholarship, becoming the youngest-ever – and only the second American – winner of the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford event at Silverstone. After placing second and third in the championship in two years of Pro Mazda, started sports car racing and was accepted as a Porsche Junior driver – only the second American to do so after Patrick Long. Continued to flourish during two years as an Audi factory driver, winning the ADAC Masters GT Championship and the VLN Nurburgring Speed Trophy in 2016 and adding victories at the Nurburgring 24 Hours and Petit Le Mans (IMSA) in 2017. Has been a BMW factory driver since 2018, with a Rolex 24 At Daytona victory and a pole position for the Sebring 12 Hours with BMW Team RLL in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

 

ERNIE FRANCIS JR. – Southwest Ranches, Fla. Made his Trans-Am full-time debut in 2014 at age 16. Won six of 10 races and the TA3 American Muscle class championship and began a streak of six-consecutive championships, repeating TA3AM in 2015 (8 wins); and TA4 in 2016 (9). Moved to the lead TA category in 2017, winning the first of three straight titles. Won 10 races in 2017, five in 2018, and four in 2019. Also won the SCCA GT-1 National Championship in 2019. In 2020 he won his fourth straight TA title, his seventh championship in seven years. He’s also competed in limited NASCAR events, placing second at New Jersey in a K&N Pro Series East race in 2018.

 

MIKE PINNEY – Phoenix, Ariz. Has an extensive racing background in both sports cars and midgets. Won the SCCA Rookie of the year in first Runoffs attempt in 1976, then won two Runoffs Championships in the years that followed, including 42 National wins. When funds ran out, crewed on RRDC member Joe Huffaker’s team and participated in six of their championships. Has maintained a lifetime interest in motorsports and now works for Penske Automotive in Phoenix.

 

 

DAVID L. TENNEY – Greenwich, Conn. Has competed in karts, sports cars, and outboard racing boats. Raced karts 1975-81; Sports Renault in ‘80s, numerous poles and wins; 1988 Central Division Sports Renault Champion and 1988 and ’89 Chicago Region Driver of the Year; 1989 Runoffs Champion in SR; 1991 and ‘92 Runoffs Champion in Shelby Can Am and SCCA Shelby Can Am Pro Series Champion in ‘91; raced in IMSA’s World Sports Racer Pro Series in ‘90s, two wins; raced WKA and Stars of Karting 1999-2007; In 2008-19 actively involved in Pro Outboard racing; US Title Series National Champion 125cc Hydro Championship four times between 2015-19; Kilo world record for 125cc Runabout; retired in 2020 from racing boats; owns and sponsors team in 125cc and 175cc hydro classes; board member US Title Series, that promotes and manages Pro Outboard racing.

 

NEW ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

SIMON KIRKBY – South Egremont, Mass. Has worked 20 years at Skip Barber Racing School starting as Instructor, followed by 12 years as EVP Director of the Skip Barber Racing Series; started and managed Formula BMW USA; past manager and mentor to many drivers including Santino Ferrucci; director of The Lime Rock Drivers Club. Previous racing includes: two-time runner-up in the British FF 2000 Championship; factory driver for Alfa Romeo and Chrysler in the BTCC. Is currently racing in Historics and PCA.

 

 

TONY PARELLA – Southlake, Tex. Started racing on dirt tracks in the northeast. Later began racing in vintage cars driving a Corvette. Is now President and CEO of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Assoc. (SVRA) and is the majority owner of the Trans Am Race Company. After purchasing SVRA, acquired the Historic Sportscar Racing-West and consolidated it into SVRA.

 

 

LES PHILLIPS – San Luis Obispo, Calif. Started racing FF with Cal Club in 1986. Switched to FC in 1987 and continued to race FC and F2000 until retirement in 2018. Claimed dozens of SCCA Regional and National wins along with FC track records at Riverside, Laguna Seca, Buttonwillow and Auto Club Speedway. Continues to ride motorcycles on track days. In 1987 a small group of racers met in a garage at Riverside and realized that with the track’s imminent closure there would only be one other local track to race. A group was formed to build what turned out to be Buttonwillow Raceway with Cal Club being the majority owner. The track was finally completed in December of 1995. Has served as entity President and CEO since the beginning, with plans to open a second track.

CASS WHITEHEAD – Wilsonville, Ala. Has been road racing for more than 30 years. Was named SCCA Rookie National Driver of the Year. Moved into pro racing in early 1990s. Made living driving race cars and teaching others the art of racing. Won the 1991 IMSA International Sedan Manufacturers Championship and was runner up in the drivers championship driving a Nissan. Was a factory-supported driver for Nissan in the IMSA Supercar Series driving a 300ZX Turbo. Has driven for factory-supported teams from Nissan, Porsche, Ferrari, Oldsmobile and Ford. Was responsible for Porsche winning a GT Championship in the Rolex Grand Am series driving a Porsche GT3RS. Has also raced many Prototype cars over the years including WSC in IMSA, and Sports Racing Prototypes in Grand Am highlighted by a third-place finish at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Has driven many GT cars including BMW M3 GT, Porsche GT3RS and the Ferrari 360GT in ALMS. Is currently the Chief Instructor for the Porsche Track Experience – USA, and has been a lead instructor with Panoz Racing School, Saab Viggen Driving School, Audi Driving Experience, Skip Barber Racing School. Has held licenses with FIA- Grade B, Grand Am, IMSA GTP, SCCA Pro Racing, SCCA National & Regional. Is also available for private coaching.

 

NEW HONORARY MEMBERS

LISA BOGGS – Nashville, Tenn. Is considered one of the most influential women in racing as the Bridgestone Americas Director of Motorsports; is responsible for all things Firestone Racing, from marketing and communications to budgets and logistics; in ‘90s worked for Leo Burnett ad agency in Chicago on Marlboro account; left agency in ‘97 to work with Team Penske as a consultant to Philip Morris; from 2006-13 was VP of Matter-Edelman Sports and Entertainment, managing IndyCar and NASCAR accounts; took over from Al Speyer at Firestone in 2013; attends most IndyCar races and is longtime supporter, with Firestone brand, of RRDC’s Long Beach Legends Dinner.

 

 

JOHN CLAGETT – Miami, Fla. Was with SCCA Trans Am from 1984 (publicity director) through 2005 (became executive director in 2000); Champ Car 2006-2007 (VP of venue development); formed Trans Am Race Company and served as president from 2011 to present; formerly youngest (at 23) Sports Information Director of Division I school in the country (Colorado State).

 

 

 

TERRY “PIGGY” MALONE – Sandpoint, Idaho Teen-age Hot Rodder (1955-59) in Southern California in a ‘34 Ford Victoria (5-window) with ‘48 Mercury Flathead; in 1959-1963, Flight engineer with the US Air Force – also raced a ’58 MGA Twin Cam in Club events in the Panama Canal Zone; in 1963-1967, Flight Test Mechanic flying new DC-8 and DC-9 aircraft at McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, CA; In 1967-1975, mechanic for Dan Gurney and Bobby Unser at Dan Gurney’s All American Racers; In 1975-1979, mechanic for Mario Andretti at F1 Team Lotus; In 1980-1984, a continuing association with Team Lotus for six months each year and the other six in the Antarctic program as the Airport Site Manager at McMurdo Station Antarctica for the National Science Foundation; In 1984-2011, because of relationship with Mario and a 40-year friendship with Paul Newman, was able to help out at several IndyCar events a year.

 

 

CAL WELLS III – Charlotte, N.C. Former owner of Toyota factory-sponsored Precision Preparation Inc., stadium and desert off-road truck race team; 11 MTEG manufacturer and 10 MTEG driver championships plus numerous Baja 500 and Baja 1000 victories; former Toyota Atlantic Championship and NASCAR team owner; former executive at Michael Waltrip Racing; former Indycar team co-owner of Arciero-Wells Racing; 2020 Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee.

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SAFEisFAST – AVOIDING CRASHES

If you watched this past Sunday’s British Grand Prix, I think you’ll find our latest video most interesting. The title “How to Stay out of Crashes”

In the video, five Champion Drivers from top racing series around the world explain the key to racing wheel-to-wheel without crashing: “Know who you’re racing against.”

As IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward comments in the video, “It takes two to tango.”

Enjoy,

Bobby Rahal

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