Jim France and the France Family Receive IMRRC's Argetsinger Award

CORNING, N.Y. (June 29, 2018) - International racing stars, captains of the motorsports industry, local dignitaries and race fans gathered on Thursday to honor one of the founding families of American racing at the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass. The family received the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports.

Jim France, Chairman of ISC and IMSA and NASCAR Vice Chairman/Executive Vice President; Lesa France Kennedy, ISC CEO/Vice Chairperson and NASCAR Vice Chairperson; and Ben Kennedy, General Manager of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, were honored by the International Motor Racing Research Center for the family's generations-long outstanding commitment to the sport of auto racing. This was the fifth year the glass trophy has been presented. Previous honorees were Chip Ganassi, Richard Petty, Roger Penske and Mario Andretti.

The event allowed for attendees to intermingle and trade stories about racing. During one of the more poignant moments at the dinner Jim France said, "I would like to say that for us and our family, it's a special honor to be recognized by the Argetsinger family. They have done for sports-car racing what my father did for stock-car racing."

"It's very special," France went on to say after being presented with the Award by J.C. Argetsinger and Louise Argetsinger Kanaley, two of nine children of the late Cameron and Jean Argetsinger. "It's a family honor and (the IMRRC) is also a very good cause."

Throughout the evening salutes were given in person and by video. Among them were previous Argetsinger recipients Penske and Ganassi, in the audience, as well as Petty and Andretti via video. Those made by racers from all corners of motorsports included Juan Pablo Montoya, Rick Hendrick, Scott Goodyear, Hurley Haywood, Don Emde and David Hobbs.

Speaker after speaker told stories of the intense commitment and passion that the France Family has shown while shepherding the sport for 70 years. Many of the tributes spoke of relationships, both professional and personal, with Bill Sr., Bill Jr., Brian and now Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy, that have shaped many of their early careers, and, more importantly, benefited the fans of the sport.

Ganassi, recipient of the inaugural Argetsinger Award in 2014, told about family dinners with the Frances when he was in his early teens. He said those days inspired him to become the success that he is today. "The word steady comes to mind," he said. "Whether it was Big Bill down to Bill Jr. or to Lesa and Brian and now on to Ben, steady's the word." He continued, "The family has been steady over the years in a custodial capacity of the sport, which, I think, is the best anybody could possibly do in any business that survives for so many years."

Andretti, who was unable to attend in person, provided one of the many video tributes shown throughout the night. "To have built NASCAR into the tremendous success that it is today is no small feat, as we all know." he said. "The France family has grown NASCAR into an exciting fan-friendly, family-friendly sport and always are seeking to improve the product."

Some of the lighter moments of the evening were provided by David Hobbs, racer and TV commentator. Hobbs shared stories of early meetings with Bill Sr. in the late 1950s and early '60s. Hobbs emphasized the strength of the family's commitment and particularly of Jim France's success of the resurgence of sports-car racing in the U.S. "Really, the appeal of IMSA is absolutely extraordinary and that's all down to the France family and obviously under the leadership of Jim."

Michael Printup, WGI President, summed up the way the France Family has achieved unparalleled success. "When I think of the France Family, it's leadership, stewardship, mentorship, creativity, innovative and visionary."

A heartfelt question-and-answer session between the Frances and the event's Master of Ceremonies Dr. Jerry Punch was the highlight of the evening.

When asked about the family's legacy, Lesa France Kennedy summed it up in two pointed sentences. "I think it goes back to my grandparents and just their overall passion for motorsports and family entertainment. I think if we continue to be true to that the future will play out as well."

The evening was presented by Sahlen's, NASCAR, the International Speedway Corp., Watkins Glen International and IMSA, and supported by Corning Incorporated, Team Penske, Bosch, Michelin, Acura Motorsports, Action Express Racing, Hilliard Corp., Welliver, Elmira Savings Bank, Chip Ganassi Racing, SCCA Inc., Gorsline Company, Ray Evernham Enterprises, Larry Kessler, Archie Urciuoli, Bob Newman, and Glenora Wine Cellars.

On display at the reception were three cars and a motorcycle representing unique moments in history: a 1982 Pontiac J2000 NASCAR Modified, Rusty Wallace's 2005 Dodge NEXTEL Cup car, and a 2009 Porsche Cayman. Alongside was a 1972 Yamaha 350cc motorcycle that won the 1972 Daytona 200. Each represented a different racing series that was directly influenced by involvement of Jim France and part of the pinnacle of the sport during its time.

An original painting by famed artist Randy Owens, depicting Bill France's car as it speeds through a turn in the sand portion of the course at Daytona Beach in 1940, was auctioned off at the end of the evening.

The Racing Research Center, located in Watkins Glen, N.Y., is an archival library dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the history of motorsports, all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials. The IMRRC is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

For more information about the Center's work and its programs, visit  www.racingarchives.org or call 607-535-9044. 

Article Photos: Brian Cleary

 

Bobby Rahal Named Recipient of the 2017 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 26, 2018) – Bobby Rahal, a principal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which runs BMW Team RLL in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence, presented by Gorsline Company.

The announcement was made by Bob Snodgrass’ son Harris during the Road Racing Drivers Club annual members’ dinner, held at the Daytona 500 Club on Wed, Jan. 24.

From a short list of three successful team owners/managers who competed in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a panel of motorsports professionals selected Rahal.

“I’m here on behalf of my family, to present an award that is very important to me,” said Harris, “and a long-running tradition that means so much to me. Not because of what it is, but because of what it reminds me of and the characteristics I don’t ever want to forget about my father as time passes.

“I would like to thank Rolex, Gorsline Company and Mr. John Gorsline for continuing to make this award possible.

“As most of you know, my dad was a really cool guy. He was a car nut, like most of us, a strong-willed giant with a teddy-bear heart, and a strength for keeping his word. The fact that his impact on people is still relevant now and has been for over a decade is so important to me; it will always keep me grounded.

“He was my best friend, my mentor, and someone whom I look up to more and more each day, even though he is gone. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a story or see a picture, and get reminded of who he was.

“The award acknowledges a team owner or manager who has demonstrated the qualities of honesty, integrity, passion for the sport, and an infinite, passionate love of cars altogether. These are characteristics that made my dad who he was, so the basis for the award is perfectly fitting.

“I am proud to name Bobby Rahal as the winner of this year’s award.” The other candidates for the 2017 award were Doug Fehan and Ben Keating.

As a driver, Rahal has competed in F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA and CART, notching three CART championships, including a win at the 1986 Indy 500, and wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring.

After retiring from driving in 1998 he spent time with Jaguar’s F1 effort, then became the interim boss of CART.

Along with former late-night talk show icon David Letterman and businessman Michael Lanigan, he is a principal in the IndyCar and IMSA teams. BMW Team RLL won the 2010 ALMS GT team and manufacturers titles and swept the top two spots in the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring, securing the ALMS GT drivers’ championships, and winning again at Sebring in 2012.

To date, BMW Team RLL has scored 17 wins, 23 poles and 68 podiums. In 2017, the team won four races, the most in one season in the team’s nine years with BMW Motorsport, and finished second in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships.

Rahal was presented with a specially engraved Stainless Steel and Platinum Rolex Yacht-Master by Rolex Watch USA. “My dad’s loyalty to Rolex as a watch brand was concrete, and this particular watch was one that he loved so much. It was used as an incentive for many of the employees at Brumos (in Jacksonville, Fla.),” said Harris.

“To be in the company of people like Doug and Ben, wow,” said Rahal, upon accepting the award. “Thank you, everybody.

“I swear it wasn’t rigged,” he quipped, referring to his being the evening’s M.C. and the president of the RRDC. “I got to know Bob in ’79 or ’80, when I first started driving Porsches in IMSA racing. He was just a wonderful guy, always open. When we were racing in Watkins Glen (N.Y.), he took me around Elmira (N.Y.) where he was from, showed me his upbringing and we went and had lunch at a greasy spoon that he always frequented. I did buy a few cars from Bob, too.

“This is a real thrill, so thank you Harris, thank you Susan (Snodgrass-Wilkinson, Harris’ mom) and thank you to everyone from Rolex.”

The Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence was created to recognize the team owner or team manager who has demonstrated the qualities of integrity, passion for the sport and the love of cars for which Bob Snodgrass was known during his life and career. The award – supported by Gorsline Company, the premier insurer of high-risk professionals – has been presented to Bob Stallings (2010), Joe Sahlen (2011), Peter Baron (2012), John Stevenson (2013), Alex Job (2014), and Chip Ganassi (2015), Mike Shank (2016).

About Bob Snodgrass – Snodgrass, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 64, was president of Brumos Racing and president and CEO of the Brumos auto dealerships in Jacksonville, Fla., where he lived for 35 years. As a team-owner he had three Rolex 24 At Daytona wins (Brumos Racing has eight) and a total of 10 wins at Daytona. He was a driving force behind the formation of the Grand American Road Racing Association and the Daytona Prototype class. Born in Elmira, N.Y., he saw his first race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., and was hooked. Famous for his humor and wit, accomplished vintage car racer, Snodgrass (along with Peter Gregg, who owned Brumos Porsche from 1965 until his death in 1980) was instrumental in Brumos’ entry into motor sports.

About Rolex – Rolex, the Swiss watch brand headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. The company is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programs.

About Gorsline Company – Gorsline Company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., pioneered the business of providing insurance for high-risk professionals. The company specializes in providing racing drivers and owners creative, custom-designed insurance packages and estate planning strategies.

Ford Performance, Gurney and Foyt to join in RRDC's Celebration of Emerson Fittipaldi

Ford Performance, Gurney and Foyt to join in RRDC's Celebration of Emerson Fittipaldi

HILLIARD, Ohio (April 3, 2017) - Ford Performance will support the RRDC Evening with Emerson Fittipaldi Presented by Firestone on April 6. Ford will also commemorate its historic victory at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans by reuniting drivers A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney 50 years after Ford became the first and only all-American team to win the French endurance classic.

A two-time winner of both the Formula 1 World Championship and the Indianapolis 500, Fittipaldi said it will be "an honor" to share the limelight with "these two auto racing legends."

The race-winning Ford GT Mark IV that was entered by Carroll Shelby under the Shelby American Inc. banner in '67 will be displayed by Ford Performance at the cocktail reception, along with the "long-lost" trophy from that victory.

Edsel B. Ford II and Henry Ford III will also be in attendance.

This event marks the Road Racing Drivers Club's ninth consecutive annual banquet honoring auto racing's most influential leaders and champions, and will be held prior to the 43rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

"Ford Performance is happy to be joining other members of the industry in supporting the RRDC dinner this year," said Henry Ford III, global marketing manager, Ford Performance. "The opportunity to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt's Le Mans victory with the Ford Mark IV, as well as help honor Emerson Fittipaldi will make it a special evening. All three drivers have a history of winning with Ford power and we're pleased to be part of the celebration."

Ford returned to Le Mans in 2016 with Chip Ganassi Racing and the Ford GT in the LMGTE Pro Class, capturing the class victory. Ford will attempt to defend its title at Le Mans in 2017.

"We at the RRDC are thrilled to be part of this historic moment, as A.J. and Dan are reunited after 50 years to celebrate their outstanding Le Mans victory for Ford in 1967," said RRDC President Bobby Rahal. "We welcome Ford's support of the Evening with Emerson Fittipaldi and look forward to this momentous occasion."

The dinner's proceeds will 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 and has been providing opportunities for talented young American race-car drivers since 1990.

The RRDC Evening with Emerson Fittipaldi Presented by Firestone will be held on Thursday, April 6, at the Hilton Hotel, 701 West Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, Calif., with cocktails at 6 p.m., and dinner at 7:15 p.m. The event is very close to being sold out, and all tickets MUST be purchased in advance. For those who wish to attend, please contact Jeremy Shaw at rrdc2@cox.net as soon as possible to be placed on the waiting list.

Other supporting partners for the RRDC Evening with Emerson Fittipaldi include Firestone, American Honda, Team Penske, 3GT Racing, Porsche Motorsport North America, Doug Mockett & Company, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Trefethen Family Vineyards, Pruett Vineyard and TranSystems.

About Ford Performance
Ford's racing program is part of the Ford Performance organization based in Dearborn, Mich. It is responsible for major racing operations globally, including NASCAR (Monster Energy Cup Series, Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series), IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship, Chinese Touring Car Championship, Formula Ford (Formula Four), and NHRA sportsmen drag racing. In addition, Ford's action motorsport programs involve FIA World Rallycross and Formula Drift. The organization also oversees the development and marketing of Ford's racing engines and performance parts, as well as the outreach programs with all Ford Clubs and Ford enthusiasts. For more information regarding Ford racing's activities, please visit www.fordperformance.com, www.facebook/FordPerformance, FordPerformance on Instagram and @FordPerformance on Twitter.

About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club's membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.

In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar - SAFEisFAST.com - featuring more than 30 RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers' questions on the site in a feature called "Ask a Pro."

Bobby Rahal is President, John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer, and Tom Davey is Secretary.

The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. The RRDC also honors icons of the sport at its annual dinner at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Honorees have been Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and George Follmer.

Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. For more information, visit www.rrdc.org.

Mike Shank Named Recipient of the 2016 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence

Wednesday, 01 February 2017

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2016) - Michael Shank Racing owner Mike Shank, of Etna, Ohio, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence. The announcement was made during the traditional prelude to the Rolex 24 At Daytona – the Grand Marshal Dinner – which was held at the Daytona 500 Club on Friday, Jan. 27. From a short list of three successful team owners who competed in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a panel of motorsports professionals selected Shank.

"It's always a pleasure when the Rolex 24 comes around because I get an opportunity to continue a tradition that means a lot to me," said Harris Snodgrass, Bob's son, in introducing Shank as the winner. "First and foremost, I would like to thank Gorsline Company, the premier insurer of high-risk professionals, for continuously helping make this award possible. And, of course, Rolex, for supporting this award and providing the commemorative watch.


"The fact that my father's impact on people is still relevant 10 years after his death, and his legacy is staying alive, is more than I could ask for for my best friend and mentor.

"The Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence acknowledges a team owner or manager who has demonstrated the qualities of honesty, integrity, passion for the sport of automobile racing and an infinite love of cars altogether. These are all characteristics that made my father who he was, as most of you might know, so the basis for this award is very fitting."

The other candidates for the 2016 award were Jon Bennett and Giuseppe Risi.
 
Mike Shank began racing professionally in 1989, winning the 1996 Toyota Atlantic C2 Championship before moving into the Indy Racing League. He earned 30-plus national victories in a variety of series before retiring as a driver, and was named the Formula Atlantic Championship Car Owner of the Year two times.

In 2004 he moved his team into the IMSA series, winning the 2012 Rolex 24 overall in Daytona Prototype. In 2016 the team made its 250th Prototype start at Road Atlanta, starting on the pole and winning the event. It marked longtime team driver John Pew's final race with the team before retiring from IMSA racing.

Other highlights of the 2016 season include a ninth-place finish in their first LeMans start, after leading for two laps. The team and driver Ozz Negri finished the season fourth in the standings, while Pew was eighth.

In all, the team has led 1335 laps over its 2004-2016 IMSA career.


"It's amazing to me every year to be granted the opportunity to present an award in Bob Snodgrass's name, my dad," Snodgrass continued. "It makes me happy becuase he would be so honored to know that the ethics he lived by were worthy of such an honor, especially with Rolex involved, Gorsline Company, and Daytona international Speedway, which is like a second home, and all the people involved.


"His word was his bond, he always did the right thing, and he was passionate about motorsports. I believe our winners carry the same intrinsic values through life."
 
Shank was presented with a specially engraved Stainless Steel and Platinum Rolex Yacht-Master by Stewart Wicht, President and CEO of Rolex Watch USA, "a watch my father would have picked personally for this award as he loved giving the exact timepiece to deserving employees," added Snodgrass.
 
"Michael, wear this watch in good health. Congratulations," said Wicht.
 

"I think about Bob a little bit because I met him in 2005," said Shank. "It was funny. Bob, toward the end of when I knew him, had a big pedestal he sat on. I mean, it was like 20 feet in the air. I thought this was the coolest thing, I need to get one of these. So one day in 2005 our car was running really well, one of his was not. I went to him and I'm looking up at him (on the pedestal) and saying, Bob, let me through, we need to get through, give me two seconds. And he's like, Who the hell are you?


"The other thing I want to say and this is what's important," he added. "I was there in 2007 at VIR where they honored Bob and his family. I was in the pit lane in my pit box getting ready before the race, and they did a lap of honor to Bob. They did it with the two Brumos cars. When i looked out there I could see the family. Hurley Haywood was out there, David Donohue and Darren Law were out there and it struck me about the respect and the love [that was shown]. It actually hit me right there, and i thought if some day i could have that respect I'd actually have done something, and that's not b.s. I thank the Snodgrasses very much."
 
The Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence was created to recognize the team owner or team manager who has demonstrated the qualities of integrity, passion for the sport and the love of cars for which Bob Snodgrass was known during his life and career. The award – supported by Gorsline Company, the premier insurer of high-risk professionals – has been presented to Bob Stallings (2010), Joe Sahlen (2011), Peter Baron (2012), John Stevenson (2013), Alex Job (2014), and Chip Ganassi (2015).


About Bob Snodgrass - Snodgrass, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 64, was president of Brumos Racing and president and CEO of the Brumos auto dealerships in Jacksonville, Fla., where he lived for 35 years. As a team owner he had three Rolex 24 At Daytona wins (Brumos Racing has eight) and a total of 10 wins at Daytona. He was a driving force behind the formation of the Grand American Road Racing Association and the Daytona Prototype class. Born in Elmira, N.Y., he saw his first race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., and was hooked. Famous for his humor and wit and an accomplished vintage car racer, Snodgrass (along with Peter Gregg, who owned Brumos Porsche from 1965 until his death in 1980) was instrumental in Brumos' entry into motor sports.

About Rolex - Rolex, the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva and enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programs.

About Gorsline Company - Gorsline Company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., pioneered the business of providing insurance for high-risk professionals. The company specializes in providing racing drivers and owners creative, custom designed insurance packages and estate planning strategies.

Chip Ganassi Garners RRDC's 2017 Phil Hill Award

Thursday, 26 January 2017

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chip Ganassi, a former race-car driver who is now one of the most successful and innovative race team owners in the world, was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club with the 2017 Phil Hill Award. RRDC president Bobby Rahal made the presentation at the annual RRDC members' dinner on Jan. 25 prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person who the RRDC feels has rendered outstanding service to road racing. The recipient may be a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body.

It is named in honor of America’s first Formula 1 World Champion (in 1961), and is not only a tribute to his masterful accomplishments on the race track, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for more than 30 years. Today his teams include two cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, two cars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, four cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and two cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2012, he was was named by Complex Magazine as one of the “50 most influential people in the Auto Industry." 
 
Overall, his teams have won 18 championships and over 180 races, highlighted most recently by an historic win in their first trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016. As a result, Ganassi is the only owner in history to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
 
In 2010, Ganassi’s teams turned in an historic season by setting an organization record with 19 wins across the three touring series in which they competed, including victories in the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, making him the only team owner in history to win all three crown jewels of racing– and he accomplished it in a single season. In addition, in early 2011 his IMSA team finished off the “Grand Slam” by also winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ganassi became the first owner to hold all four titles at one time.
 
Following a strong career as a driver, Ganassi created his own one-car Indy car team in 1990. Through the years, his open-wheel teams have amassed 11 championships and over 100 wins -- including five in the Indianapolis 500. His NASCAR teams have over 20 wins, including one in the Daytona 500, one in the Brickyard 400 and five trips to NASCAR’s Chase rounds. He manages his teams from state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis, Ind., and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.
 
The Duquesne University graduate was formerly part owner of his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates and is a strong supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, to which his teams have donated over half a million dollars.

“Phil Hill represented everything that was great about the American spirit internationally,” said Rahal. “He was the first U.S. Formula 1 champion and multi-time winner of Le Mans. He was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word.

"He was very much a class guy, and he let his driving speak for him. He wasn't a braggart. He just did his thing and he won a lot of races, including Le Mans in the '50s and '60s. He drove for Chaparral, and pretty much did it all.

"We think the Phil Hill Award represents something that's very special in motorsport. And Chip Ganassi clearly lives up to that example. He is indeed a worthy recipient of the Phil Hill Award."


"I want to thank everybody at the RRDC here tonight for giving me this Phil Hill Award," said Ganassi. "The list of past winners includes a number of my friends and mentors, people like Danny Sullivan, Bill France Jr., Roger Penske, Rick Mears, Hurley Haywood, Scott Pruett and MIke Hull. Oh, wait, Mike Hull ddn't get this award, did he? He certainly deserves it," said Ganassi, jokingly, about his longtime friend and Chip Ganassi Racing's Managing Director.


"Winning an award that has Phil Hill's name on it is certainly something that you have to be proud of. Anybody who has been around racing for any length of time and understands the history of the sport would certainly have Phil Hill on their list of heroes. Yes, this is truly an honor, I can tell you.


"As a lot of ou know, I'm filled with a passion for motorsports and, most importantly, for road racing and for the cars themselves. Although I couldn't be more honored to get this award tonight, I will also congratulate the RRDC for the tireless work of so many people who help maintain the history of road racing. It's great to be here to kick off the racing season."


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

About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club’s membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.

In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar – SAFEisFAST.com – featuring more than 30 RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers’ questions on the site in a feature called “Ask a Pro.”

Bobby Rahal is President, John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer, and Tom Davey is Secretary.

The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. The RRDC also honors icons of the sport at its annual dinner at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Honorees have been Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and George Follmer.

Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. For more information, visit www.rrdc.org.

Neil Verhagen, 15, Earns RRDC Mark Donohue Award at SCCA National Runoffs

Friday, 20 January 2017

Breaking News: It was announced today that Neil Verhagen was named to the 2017 Red Bull Junior Program and will drive in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup series on the MP Motorsport team. http://www.redbulljuniorteam.com/article/red-bull-junior-team-announcement-2017, http://www.redbulljuniorteam.com/athlete/neil-verhagen

HILLIARD, Ohio (Jan. 18, 2017) - Neil Verhagen, a 15-year-old high school student from Mooresville, N.C., was named the 46th recipient 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 SCCA National Championship Runoffs. It is voted on by RRDC members attending the Runoffs and/or viewing them live on the Internet.

Verhagen became the youngest SCCA National Champion in history, winning the Formula F class during the SCCA Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Sept. 19-25, 2016. Before this win, IndyCar racer Graham Rahal, a full year older than Verhagen, was the youngest when he captured the Formula Atlantic National Championship at Mid-Ohio in 2005.

The teenager also claimed the SCCA Super Sweep Award, winning his U.S. Majors Tour Conference, the national points championship, a key regular season race, and, finally, the Runoffs.

The award is named for RRDC member and former president Mark Donohue, who won his first National Championship in the SCCA E Production class in 1961, and then went on to become one of the U.S.A.’s greatest racing drivers. He won the Indy 500, the Can-Am Championship, three Trans-Am Championships, and the IROC Championship.

Verhagen will be officially presented the award at the annual RRDC members’ dinner at the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 25th.

Driving in his first Runoffs in the No. 3 K-Hill Motorsports/Hoosier Mygale SJ11/Honda, Verhagen started from pole position and built a 15-second lead before a full-course caution brought the field back on his tail. He quickly moved ahead after the restart and took the checkered flag with a 5.51-second margin of victory.

He covered the 21-lap race, which was shortened to a 40-minute time limit, at an average of 77.266 mph. His fast lap of 1:30.133 (90.187 mph) topped the field by nearly a second.
 
"I definitely knew that it was going to be hard, but I got a little bit lucky at some points in the race, because I built an early lead, enough for the draft not to affect me any more," he said. "And then from there they started battling behind me. I got a decent lead, but the full-course caution scared me quite a bit because it bunched the pack back together. There was a lapped car that kind of interfered in the race and blocked the No. 2 position after the restart. I got lucky on that too.

"We had quite a good pace the whole weekend after qualifying on pole," added Verhagen. "I knew I had the pace to win it at least; it was just a matter of how the draft played out."

As for earning the RRDC Mark Donohue Award, “I knew about the RRDC Donohue Award, but I had no idea I was even in contention to receive it until I got the phone call from Bobby Rahal. I am extremely honored and very happy to receive this award," said Verhagen, who won the 2016 F1600 Series championship and was named the only American on the FIA's 20 Under 20 list.

"It's obviously not easy to win the Runoffs or the F1600 Series championship. I got done what I came to do and it was a very good year for me," said the driver who's won two karting championships since starting his racing career in 2010.

Verhagen credits his family for allowing him to pursue his dream. "My family has no relation to racing at all, which makes it quite difficult because at the same time that I'm going through it for the first time, it's also their first time," he said. "My dad had a group of friends at work who had BMWs and would take them to track days but not to race. I thought that was kind of cool and I wanted to try it, and then he got me into a go-kart eight-nine years ago, and here we are today.

"My family has been absolutely amazing. Even my brother races, and that makes it even more difficult to try to support two kids. And it's because of their support that I'm here."

His racing heroes include Will Power, who spurred Verhagen's interest in open-wheel racing after meeting him at an IndyCar race, Michael Schumacher, Mark Donohue, and Dale Earnhardt Sr., with whom he shares an unfortunate connection. Verhagen was born on Feb. 18, 2001, the same day that Earnhardt lost his life at the Daytona 500.

Even though he lives in the heart of NASCAR country, he has a clear goal. "I'm determined to get a professional ride in either IndyCar or F1," he said.

RRDC president Bobby Rahal, a Runoffs champion (’74 B Sports Racing and ’75 F Atlantic) 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.

“The RRDC honors Neil not only for his outstanding drive to win, but for his natural ability and skill at such a young age to safely win a championship against other outstanding drivers and cars in the field.”

Every year, the RRDC Mark Donohue trophy is an engraved glass top mounted on a special, racing-experienced wheel, provided by an RRDC member. This year’s wheel was donated by Roger Penske and Team Penske, celebrating its 50th year in the sport. It came from the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford driven by Joey Logano at the Nov. 13 Phoenix NASCAR race, where he shredded the tire performing a victory burnout. That race represented a key victory in the Chase as it allowed the team to advance to the championship at Homestead the next week.

About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club’s membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.

In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar – SAFEisFAST.com – featuring more than 30 RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers’ questions on the site in a feature called “Ask a Pro.”

Bobby Rahal is President, John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer, and Tom Davey is Secretary.

The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. The RRDC also honors icons of the sport at its annual dinner at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Honorees have been Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and George Follmer.

Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. For more information, visit www.rrdc.org.

Bennett, Risi and Shank are Candidates for 2016 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence

Thursday, 12 January 2017

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Three sports car team owners – Jonathan Bennett (Charlotte, N.C.), Giuseppe Risi (Houston, Texas) and Michael Shank (Etna, Ohio)  – have been named as candidates for the 2016 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence, presented by Gorsline Company, based on their team’s success on the track during the 2016 race season. The award recipient will be chosen by a panel of motor sports professionals and announced on Friday, January 27, 2017, during the Grand Marshal dinner at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The 2016 honoree will be presented with a specially engraved Rolex Stainless Steel and Platinum Yacht-Master timepiece.

The Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence was created to recognize the team owner or team manager who has demonstrated the qualities of integrity, passion for the sport, and love of cars for which Bob Snodgrass was known during his life and career. The award, supported by Gorsline Company, the premier insurer of high-risk professionals, has been presented previously to Bob Stallings (2010), Joe Sahlen (2011), Peter Baron (2012), John Stevenson (2013), Alex Job (2014) and Chip Ganassi (2015).

Backgrounds on candidates for the 2016 Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence follow:

Jonathan Bennett - CORE Autosport
After years of SCCA Club Racing, Jonathan Bennett moved into IMSA Prototype Lites, where he was named Rookie of the Year in 2010. The same year he became a team owner and created CORE autosport. In its first season of IMSA Prototype Challenge competition CORE earned the PC team championship and collected the honor for the next four seasons (2011-2015). Within CORE's five-year streak of team titles, Bennett earned the PC Drivers Championship in 2014 and 2015.

CORE also earned the 2014 and 2015 GTLM Manufacturer's Championship for Porsche and the 2015 GTLM Team and Driver's Championship.

In 2016, with Bennett co-driving with Colin Braun, the team and drivers earned wins in Sebring, Fla., and Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. That same year Bennett expanded CORE into the Red Bull Global Rallycross series with two GRC Lites cars.

Giuseppe Risi - Risi Competizione
An Italian national, Risi is the President and CEO of Ferrari Maserati of Houston, Texas, and Ferrari of Austin, Texas. Fluent in several languages, he came to the U.S. in 1979 at the suggestion of Enzo Ferrari specifically to open a Ferrari dealership, founding his first dealership in 1980.

He was one of the dealers who organized the Ferrari Challenge Race Series in the U.S., winning three championships. His Risi Competizione team won the LMP1 class at LeMans in 1998, the 1998 World Sports Car championship and the 2003 IMSA Cup for the best private team in ALMS, and placed second overall twice at the Rolex 24.

Highlights of the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM team in 2016 feature 12 top-10 finishes, which include a second-place finish at LeMans and a victory at Road Atlanta. The team and drivers Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella finished fifth in the standings.

Mike Shank - Michael Shank Racing
Mike Shank began racing professionally in 1989, winning the 1996 Toyota Atlantic C2 Championship before moving into the Indy Racing League. He earned 30-plus national victories in a variety of series before retiring as a driver, and was named the Formula Atlantic Championship Car Owner of the Year two times.

In 2004 he moved his team into the IMSA series, winning the 2012 Rolex 24 overall in Daytona Prototype. In 2016 the team made its 250th Prototype start at Road Atlanta, starting on the pole and winning the event. It marked longtime team driver John Pew's final race with the team before retiring from IMSA racing.

Other highlights of the 2016 season include a ninth-place finish in their first LeMans start, after leading for two laps. The team and driver Ozz Negri finished the season fourth in the standings, while Pew was eighth.

In all, the team has led 1335 laps over its 2004-2016 IMSA career.

About Bob Snodgrass - Snodgrass, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 64, was president of Brumos Racing and president and CEO of the Brumos auto dealerships in Jacksonville, Fla., where he lived for 35 years. As a team owner he had three Rolex 24 At Daytona wins (Brumos Racing has eight) and a total of 10 wins at Daytona. He was a driving force behind the formation of the Grand American Road Racing Association and the Daytona Prototype class. Born in Elmira, N.Y., he saw his first race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., and was hooked. Famous for his humor and wit and an accomplished vintage car racer, Snodgrass (along with Peter Gregg, who owned Brumos Porsche from 1965 until his death in 1980) was instrumental in Brumos' entry into motor sports.

About Rolex - Rolex, the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva and enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programs.

About Gorsline Company - The Gorsline Company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., pioneered the business of providing insurance for high-risk professionals. The company specializes in providing racing drivers and owners creative, custom designed insurance packages and estate planning strategies.