Fran-Am celebrates successful first year and honors champions.
(24/11/2002) Phoenix, Arizona -- Fran-Am drivers, teams and staff got together Sunday night for an awards banquet to celebrate the conclusion of a highly successful inaugural year. At the beautiful Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix, Arizona Fran-Am honored their best of the year.
Prior to handing out the awards, Thierry Burckhart and Arden Weatherford of Fran-Am Sport detailed plans for 2003 including full schedules. Fran-Am will run three Fran-Am 2000 series as well as five Fran-Am 1600 regional series next year. The Fran-Am 2000 Pro Series schedule includes stops at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, and Molson Indy Montreal.
In the tradition of the Fran-Am driver development program, the first awards of the night were given to the winners of the Fran-Am Sport "Shootout in the Desert". Twelve karters from the US and Canada were invited to Phoenix to compete for the first-ever Fran-Am Sport North American Karter award.
Although only one karter could win the grand prize, two runner-ups were awarded test drives in a Fran-Am 1600 car. Rob Howden of Shifter Kart Illustrated magazine presented the third place award to Nick Bussell of Portland, Michigan while Jim Murley, president of SKUSA (SuperKarts USA!), handed out the second place prize to David Jurca of Federal Way, Washington.
Didier Theys, two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona and newly crowned Grand Am 2002 Champion presented the winner of the "Shootout in the Desert" with the prize of a brand-new Fran-Am 1600 car, 17 sets of Michelin tires and an XAP Data Acquisition system. And the overall winner, by a unanimous vote, was Matt Champagne of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
"This is a great honour for me," said Champagne, 18. "especially to win this prize over some of the best karters in North America. I fully intend to make use of this award to further my career through the Fran-Am development system."
The awards presentations then moved on to honour the best in the Fran-Am 1600 West Coast Championship series. Fran-Am 1600 Race Director Steve Henry presented trophies to third place finisher Mike McDowell of World Speed Motorsports and to runner-up John Knudsen of Knudsen Racing. 2002 Fran-Am 1600 Champion Tim Barber of Conversion Techniques Motorsports was given his trophy as well as the "keys" to a brand-new Fran-Am 2000 car by Fran-Am Sport president and CEO Thierry Burckhart.
"I have to thank my entire team for this honour," said Barber. "If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be up here tonight. Also, I have to thank my fellow competitors who always kept the racing exciting but clean. I just want to know where I can pick up the keys to my new car so I can get ready for Sebring and the Winter Series!"
Awards for the top five drivers in the Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship series were the last to be handed out Sunday night. Fifth place finisher Michael Brooks of Gelles Racing and fourth place Sean McIntosh of American TCS Racing were acknowledged while Fran-Am Sport Director of Operations accepted the third place trophy on behalf of TCS American Racing driver Scott Jenkins. Dan McMullen of Phillips Motorsports then accepted his second place trophy.
"I have to extend my thanks to Fran-Am for putting on a fabulous racing season," said McMullen. "And of course, my thanks to my team for giving me a great car to drive. I wish Bruno (Spengler) the best of luck next year in the Formula Renault V6 series and I hope to join him there soon." McMullen was also awarded a test drive in the new Formula Renault V6 as the runner up prize.
It was then time to present Fran-Am 2000 Champion Bruno Spengler with the biggest award of the night. As a result of his championship with Fran-Am Spengler was awarded a fully funded ride in the Euro-Cup Formula Renault V6 series in 2003. He accepted the award with the graciousness of a champion.
"I must thank my team, American TCS Racing, for giving me a great car every weekend," said Spengler. "I also want to thank my parents for all of their support this year and the people at Fran-Am for giving me this great opportunity."
Fran-Am will begin their second year with the first race of the Fran-Am 2000 World Championship Winter Series at Sebring International Raceway on January 24, 2003.