LOS ANGELES (Nov. 13) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus was named the National Hot Rod Association's Rookie of the Year for the 2000 season Monday night during the annual post-season awards ceremony at Universal Amphitheatre. The 36-year-old from Dallas is the 12th recipient of the Rookie of the Year trophy, which is given annually to the NHRA newcomer who has the biggest impact on the sport of drag racing.
Rick Hauser, R.J. Reynolds' senior manager of operations in the Winston Drag Racing Series, presented Lampus with a trophy and a check for $20,000 from Winston. Hauser and his staff selected Lampus for the award from a talented pool of first-year drivers.
"I have an overwhelming feeling of pride for my team and what we accomplished this year," an emotional Lampus said. "This is such an honor for all of us. We set a goal at the beginning of the season to run well enough to be considered for this prestigious award. To actually realize that goal is an awesome feeling. My thanks goes out to Winston, R.J. Reynolds, the NHRA, my crew, mom and dad, and all the other drivers out here that made me feel so welcome this year. This is a night we will never forget."
Lampus joins an impressive list of past winners including three-time Winston Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi, newly-crowned Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Matt Hines, Larry Dixon, Kurt Johnson, Bob Vandergriff Jr., Del Worsham, Scotty Cannon, Mike Edwards, Dannielle DePorter, and K.C. Spurlock.
"To have my name on the same trophy with guys like Gary Scelzi, Jeg Coughlin, and Matt Hines is hard to believe," Lampus said. "Even though I've been thinking about this all year I don't think I ever considered the magnitude of actually winning this award. I only hope that we can continue to improve and prove ourselves worthy of this honor."
The always-smiling Lampus, who won the International Hot Rod Association Top Fuel title in 1999 before switching to the NHRA full-time this season, competed in all 23 national events on the 2000 schedule. He successfully qualified for 21 races and won eight elimination-round battles. He was a part of the top 10 of the Winston championship points standings for 17 races and finished the year in 11th place in the rankings.
"My undying thanks goes out to ExpressAutoParts.com, American Racing Wheels, Red Line Oil, Craftsman, the R. I. Lampus company, and all of our associates," Lampus said. "I also share this award in equal parts with the best team in racing: my crew chief Wayne Dupuy, John Ferguson, Jeff Twitchell, Kevin Sampson, Randy Green, and Steve Dodd."