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Oct 02, 2012 - 06:34 AM
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Grand-Am Recognizes Top Rolex Series Drivers And Teams
Posted by: newsla on Oct 02, 2012 - 06:30 AM
Grand Am News
Grand-Am Recognizes Top Rolex Series Drivers And Teams With Rolex Series Champions Awards Presented By Suntrust

GRAND-AM Road Racing basked in the bright lights of Broadway in Monday evening’s Rolex Champion Awards presented by SunTrust at Gotham Hall in downtown Manhattan.


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Winning top honors with their third consecutive Daytona Prototype championship were drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas with TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. AIM Autosport Team FXDD with Ferrari celebrated the first championship for the Ferrari 458 Italia in GRAND-AM competition, with drivers Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato winning the GT title.

Pruett and Rojas celebrated their fourth DP championship in five years. It was the fifth DP title for Pruett, and sixth team championship in the class for the Ganassi organization. The DP and GT champions were presented Rolex watches by Colette Bennett of Rolex Watch USA and GRAND-AM President and CEO Ed Bennett. The championship teams were also presented with paintings of their cars by noted motorsports artist Bill Patterson, commissioned by Continental Tire.

“Racing and winning never get old – even though I do,” said the 52-year-old Pruett, who earned his 11th championship dating back to 1986. “They say that with adversity comes strength. We had our share of adversity this year, and I believe it made our team even stronger and closer.”

While celebrating the many accomplishments of the past season, the banquet had a forward-looking tone following the recent merger of GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series – which will run as a single entity beginning in 2014.

“We’ve come a long way since GRAND-AM was first announced here in New York City in 1999,” said sanctioning body founder Jim France. “The strides we’re making have gotten stronger and faster with each passing year. I would like to propose a toast to the future of North American sports car racing.”

Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, presented honors to the top Pro-Am drivers in the respective classes. Alex Popow – winner of GRAND-AM’s inaugural race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July for Starworks Motorsport – won the Jim Trueman Award as top Pro-Am driver in the Daytona Prototype class, while Assentato won the Bob Akin Award in GT.

“What an honor to be with you tonight, on the heels of last month’s announcement that the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM are merging,” said Atherton, who was joined at the affair by ALMS founder Dr. Don Panoz. “But being on this stage is also very special for me on a personal level. I was very fortunate to know Jim Trueman and Bob Akin, two great men who left us far too soon.”

Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, accepted the DP manufacturer championship. Ferrari North America President Marco Mattiaci accepted the GT manufacturer championship for Ferrari. Bill Riley received the DP constructor award on behalf of Riley Technologies for the ninth consecutive year.

Also recognized throughout the evening included the Monticello Motor Club Rookie of the Year award, Dr. Jim Norman; TOTAL Performance Specialties Pole Award given to the top pole winners in the DP (Jon Fogarty) and GT (John Edwards) classes; Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli won the SunTrust Improve Your Position Award in DP with Segal and Assentato winning the award in GT; and Starworks Motorsport won the Sunoco Fuel 5000 accolade for having the most combined entries in 2012 competition.

Winner of the first leg of the North American Endurance Championship, Michael Shank Racing, was voted by GRAND-AM fans for the Rolex Moment of the Year for its victory in the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III, Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup and Indianapolis Motor Speedway vice president of operations Mel Harder came on stage to discuss the inaugural first season and the exciting possibilities ahead.

SPEED’s Leigh Diffey was the master of ceremonies with musical entertainment was provided by singer/songwriter Edwin McCain. Brian Williams from NBC Nightly News welcomed guests with a special video.

The 2013 Rolex Series season will open in January with the 51st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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