Ohio (Nov. 3, 2011) - Kevin Fandozzi, of St. Joseph, Mich., was selected as the
41st annual recipient of the prestigious Road Racing Drivers Club Mark Donohue
Award for his outstanding Touring 3 class victory at the 2011 SCCA National
Championship Runoffs at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., in September. He
will be officially presented the award at the 2012 SCCA National Convention on
March 1-3, 2012, at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas.
Fandozzi, 41, a mechanical
engineer, formerly with General Motors and now running his own company, Insight
Driven, won his first SCCA National Championship after four straight
appearances at the Runoffs, racing his Insight Driven/Carbotech/Hoosier 2008
Chevy Cobalt SS.
Starting from pole position
on dry tires in damp and changing racing conditions, while the majority of his
competitors were competing on rain tires, he outlasted them all in the 13-lap
event to take the win, despite a last-lap passing attempt by Chris Puskar, of
Charlotte, N.C. Fandozzi won by a margin of 1.278 seconds, both impressing and
confounding his competitors with his performance in the rain.
"I will be
honest," said Fandozzi, who is also, ironically, working technical support
for a tire company in a professional series. "I was struggling out there.
There's a lot of races that are uncomfortable and obviously we put ourselves in
these situations. But it was very uncomfortable out there.
"After a lot of
discussion with (RRDC members and fellow racers) John Heinricy and Don Knowles,
we decided that running the dry tires was the way to go," added Fandozzi.
"Heinricy was on the radio giving me the lap times I needed to run to stay
in the lead. Unfortunately, to run those kind of lap times I was very unstable
entering the turns and very unstable exiting the turns, sliding and drifting
and hoping it was going to stick, going sideways quite a few times. I knew that
if I kept doing that I'd be too slow to keep Chris off. In hindsight, if I'd
had rain tires it would have eased the burden."
Fandozzi was selected to
receive the Mark Donohue Award by the RRDC members attending and/or competing
in the SCCA Runoffs, who watched the action in all 25 classes. He was chosen
not only because of his outstanding performance in winning his first National
Championship in a close race under adverse conditions, but also because of his
determination, sportsmanship, competitiveness and humility, the traits which
best exemplify the spirit of the multi-talented champion and road-racing legend
for whom the award is named.
"Winning my first
National Championship is wonderful, of course," he said, "but earning
the Mark Donohue Award is beyond that. I don't deserve it. After reading Mark's
book ("The Unfair Advantage") when I first got into racing I
realized, wow, we shared a lot of similarities. I was from New Jersey, an
engineer working through college, racing, and trying to find a way to integrate
it into my life.
"I went to Detroit and
figured, OK, let me give automotive engineering a try and fell in love with
road racing at a little track called Waterford Hills. I met some great people
in racing and realized what a special sport it is.
"And, at the end of
the day, we always look for those little advantages that Mark Donohue would
always try to find. Conceptually, I always thought I was doing it, but when you
meet drivers of the highest caliber you realize that these guys are working at
a whole different level. It signals to me that I'm doing some of the right
things and it really gives me a great motivation to achieve."
Every year, the RRDC Mark
Donohue Award trophy is an engraved glass top mounted on a special,
racing-experienced wheel, provided through the efforts of an RRDC member. This
year's wheel was donated by Chip Ganassi. It was mounted on the Target Chip
Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley that won both the 2007 and 2008 Rolex 24
Hours of Daytona races. In 2007 the car was driven by Scott Pruett (RRDC
member), Salvador Duran, and Juan Pablo Montoya. In 2008 RRDC members Pruett
and Dario Franchitti co-drove to the win with Montoya and Memo Rojas.
RRDC President Bobby Rahal,
a Runoffs champion long before he won the Indianapolis 500, emphasized the Mark
Donohue Award is "about personal spirit and performance behind the wheel.
Those qualities are more important for this award than winning the race. This
year Kevin Fandozzi excelled at both.
"Mark Donohue would
have been proud to see Kevin win this award," said Rahal. "There are
few racing driver/engineers who excel in both disciplines. Mark
was definitely unique, and Kevin appears to share those qualities. And to win
in the rain on dry tires against a field of drivers on rain tires, demonstrates
the kind of focus every racing champion possesses."
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 Clubıs 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 - www.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
President Bobby Rahal is
the 1986 Indy 500 winner and is co-owner, with David Letterman, of the 2004
Indianapolis 500 winning Rahal Letterman Racing team. Ten-time SCCA National
champion John Fergus is the Clubıs Vice President/Treasurer, and five-time
SCCA National champion Tom Davey is the Secretary.
In addition to RRDC members
lending their expertise to up-and-coming drivers, the Club presents three
annual awards: the Phil Hill Award for rendering outstanding service to road
racing; the Mark Donohue Award for personal spirit and performance at the SCCA
National Championship Runoffs; and the Bob Akin Award the top award
presented to amateur and semi-professional racers for speed with style,
passion, sportsmanship and contribution to motorsports.
RRDC also supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young
Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. Membership in the
RRDC is by invitation only. Additional information on the organization may be
found at www.rrdc.org.