Manners named Nitro Jam Sportsman of the Year; Lagana Pro Driver of the Year

NORWALK, Ohio (November 17, 2010) -- With the 2010 season officially over, Nitro Jam officials are pleased to announce the winners of the top awards in Nitro Jam professional competition.

Topping that list is Pro Fuel racer Michael Manners who has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the Sportsman of the Year award recognizing the person that most embodies the Nitro Jam spirit, while Bobby Lagana Jr. has been named the Professional Driver of the Year for his championship season in Top Fuel.

"We are certainly grateful and honored to receive this award. It symbolizes the strides we made as a team over the past year and that means a lot to us," Manners said. "When we came into this season we weren't even sure what to call the car and now we see the 'Shredder' name everywhere. It is a great feeling."

Manners received the Sportsman of the Year award for his immediate and positive impact on the new Nitro Jam format and for his openness to the new entertainment policies. In addition to taking on a creative and eye-catching theme for his Pro Fuel dragster, Manners took it a step further by incorporating the "Shredder" theme into his entire pit area.

With an increase in fan interest in the "Shredder" pit space, Manners and his team incorporated numerous fan-friendly activities including miniature "Shredder" dragsters and motorcycles for fans to take their pictures with, in addition to other elements making the "Shredder" Pro Fuel team one of the most popular on the tour.

Manners carried over his fan-friendly act onto the track with long burnouts and a great show. It also didn't hurt that Manners set numerous records in the new class and finished with four wins in seven finals, finishing just four points shy of the championship to Bill Evans and the "Black Pearl" team.

"I appreciate IHRA making this a pro class. The fan response is unbelievable. I talk too many who know when and where I raced and what I ran. They know more about my races than I do," Manners said. "It is really nice that the fans enjoy what we are doing, but when they keep coming back to say thank you and tell you again how great the show was it really touches me a great deal.

"I also can't believe how tiring it is to sign 300 autographs, but I wouldn't change it for anything."

Manners joins an elite class of drivers who have won the most prestigious award in Nitro Jam competition.

The other professional award recently handed out is the Professional Driver of the Year award, this year given to Top Fuel competitor Bobby Lagana Jr.

Lagana produced his best season to date with eight wins in 12 finals, narrowly edging Bruce Litton for the 2010 title with a career-defining victory at the World Finals Nitro Jam last month. Lagana, who has competed on the Nitro Jam tour for the past 13 years, finally hoisted his first championship Ironman after a previous best finish of third in 2009 and 2006.

"It feels great to be recognized for all the hard work this team put in all year. We had a great season with a lot of wins, a championship and success all across the board, we couldn't have asked for a better ending to the perfect year," Lagana said. "This championship means a lot to me and this award means just as much. We look forward to representing the IHRA next year and putting together another great season."

Handed out earlier this year, Nitro Jam's other major award winner from this past season went to Michael Beard who claimed the Sportsman Driver of the Year award. Congratulations to all award winners on an incredible year.

-source: ihra