American Le Mans Series Banquet Held at Paris Hotel After Season Finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by Lindsay Walkup
Las Vegas, Nev. (Nov. 7, 1999)—It was a full house at the Paris Hotel's Ballroom Sunday, Nov. 7, as teams, sponsors, officials and fans gathered to crown the champions of the inaugural American Le Mans Series season. The awards banquet, held after the final race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, was hosted by Bob Varsha.
Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series, welcomed everyone by sharing his favorite Irish expression, "it's like all of my birthdays have come at once."
It was apparent later in the program that the fans of the American Le Mans Series share the same respect for Panoz as he does for them when he was awarded the "From the Fans" award. Fans from around the world voted on this award via the American Le Mans Series Web page.
The battle for all of the awards in the Prototype class were a mirror to the on-track battle seen by fans all year - BMW vs. Panoz vs. Dyson. Team Panoz managed to come out on top in the Manufacturer and Team of the Year awards, but it was Dyson Racing, Riley & Scott Mk III/Ford driver Elliott Forbes-Robinson who took top driving honors despite not winning a race all season.
Panoz mechanic Tony Leith was named Mechanic of the Year in the Prototype class.
Dodge Viper Team Oreca, all adorned in their red crew shirts, nearly swept away all of the awards for the GTS category. Olivier Beretta was honored as the driver's champion, while Christian Guilheim took home the Mechanic of the Year award. Team Oreca was also named Team of the Year, but Porsche managed to grab the Manufacturer of the Year award.
In the GT class, Porsche 911 driver Cort Wagner took home the driver's championship. Wagner accepted his award and gave special thanks to Dirk Müller, factory driver for Porsche, for his help in winning the championship. Alex Job Racing mechanic Mike Evans was awarded GT Mechanic of the Year. Porsche took home another Manufacturer of the Year award for the GT class after winning six of eight races in 1999.
Prototype Technology Group, a GT competitor, won the Team of the Year award. The BMW M3's mechanic David Gahagan, who worked on the #10 car, was honored with the GT3 Mechanic of the Year award.
1999 was also the inaugural season for the Women's Global GT Championship. Cindi Lux of Portland, Ore., was honored as the driver's champion. Divina Galica, a former Formula One driver, placed second, just 13 points behind Lux in the championship. As Galica accepted her award she thanked the Women's Global GT crew for all of their help. She looked their way and said, "thank you for making me feel young again."
Autosport Magazine Personality of the Year awards were given in each class as well. A stunned Lyn St. James accepted the honor for the Women's Global GT Championship. St. James assumed a driver would be given the honor. In the GT class, Prototype Technology Group driver Hans Stuck was awarded Personality of the Year. Corvette Racing driver Ron Fellows took home the honor of GTS Personality of the Year. Eric van de Poele, driver for Team Rafanelli SRL, was given the award in the Prototype class.
An Appreciation Award was also presented to Professional Sports Car Racing for their hard work and dedication to making the first season of American Le Mans Series so successful.