SPEED World Challenge Honors the Best of 2004 at Awards Ceremony SEASIDE, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2004) -- The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge honored the best of the best Sunday night at the year-end awards banquet held at the Embassy ...
SPEED World Challenge Honors the Best of 2004 at Awards Ceremony
SEASIDE, Calif. (Oct. 19, 2004) -- The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge honored the best of the best Sunday night at the year-end awards banquet held at the Embassy Suites-Seaside.
The evening, hosted by series announcer Tom Hnatiw and SPEED Channel broadcast play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey, honored outstanding accomplishments of the season, highlighted by the SCCA SPEED GT and SCCA SPEED Touring Car Champions in both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships.
Tommy Archer (No. 22 c3controls/Whelen Engineering/3R-Racing Dodge Viper Competition Coupe took home top honors in the SCCA SPEED GT Drivers' Championship, earning a total of 240 points over the 10-race season that began in March at Sebring International Raceway and ended Sunday, Oct. 17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Archer won the Championship with consistency, scoring 10 top-10 finishes and four podiums. His best weekend of the year was at Portland, where he scored both the pole and the win. Archer was able to leapfrog leader Michael Galati in the season finale, battling back from a startline stall that dropped him to 14th, eventually finishing third and finishing six points ahead of Galati in the final standings. Archer earned a total of $87,100 in year-long earnings including prize money and contingencies.
For the second-straight year, Bill Auberlen won the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Drivers' Championship in his Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i. Auberlen's second title was admittedly more difficult in 2004 than in 2003, with the Californian clinching in the final round, as opposed to the eighth round of 10 like last year. Auberlen finished the season 15 ahead of Nic Jonsson, with 251 off the strength of nine top-10 finishes, five podiums and three wins from the Air Force Reserve Pole (Sebring, Lime Rock Park and Infineon Raceway). Auberlen amassed a total of $69,200 in year-long earnings including prize money and contingencies.
One of the most publicized battles of the season was for the SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, where Audi and Cadillac went down to the wire with their factory-backed teams tied going into the finale. Randy Pobst's lead Audi RS 6 was able to finish three positions ahead of Max Angelelli's lead Cadillac CTS-V at Laguna, giving Audi its second-consecutive title and third in four years. Audi, which won four of the 10 races, finished with 51 points to Cadillac's 48, Dodge's 36 and Chevrolet's 35.
Mirroring Audi's success over the last four years, BMW captured its second-straight Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine for SPEED Touring Car, clinching the title at Road Atlanta, one race before the season finale. BMW recorded four wins en route to a 15-point win over Acura (69 to 54). Nissan (34 points) and Mazda (27 points) completed the top four.
Mike McCann (No. 82 McCann Plastics Dodge Viper Competition Coupe) was honored as the 2004 SPEED GT Rookie of the Year after finishing a solid seventh in the overall standings with six top-10 finishes. McCann bested brother Jim for the award by 30 points (149 to 119).
Dino Crescentini (No. 3 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs/Centric Parts BMW 325i) was honored as the 2004 SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the year after finishing 10th in the overall standings, 25 points ahead of Chip Herr. Crescentini recorded six top-10 finishes in 2004, with a best finish of fourth at Infineon Raceway.
Peter Cunningham (No. 4 NISMO/Nissan Motorsports Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V) received the Air Force Reserve Pole award year-end bonus of $5,000 for recording the most SPEED Touring Car poles in 2004. Cunningham and Auberlen tied with three each, and the tiebreaker had to go all the way down to most seventh place starts, in which Cunningham had two to Auberlen's none.
While the drivers and manufacturers were honored for the points they scored and the races they won throughout the season, several awards were given out for accomplishments behind the scenes.
Tim Wiens, owner and driver of 3R-Racing was presented the Jim Cook Award, the highest non-competition honor in the series, presented to the individual, or group, for contributions to the series' overall success. In just three years, Wiens, along with team manager Bob Raub, successfully built an independent team that challenged and persevered over factory-funded efforts in SPEED GT.
Jason Marks, Crew Chief of the SPEED Touring Car Bimmerworld three-car BMW 325i team, was presented with the Zimmermann Cup for outstanding crew chief efforts in the series. Marks leadership and effort in the repetitive repairing of crash damage on the team's three cars in the middle of the season was awarded with their first podium finish, with all three cars in the top five at Road Atlanta. Dax Raub, the inaugural winner of the award in 2003, received a replica of the perpetual award that Bimmerworld and Marks will keep until the 2005 season-ending awards ceremony.
Additionally, Team Cadillac and Bimmerworld Racing were voted on by the SCCA SPEED World Challenge teams as the Crew of the Year for GT and Touring Car, respectively.
The season finale races, which aired on Sunday, will be re-broadcast on SPEED Channel, Thursday, Oct. 21 at 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. (Eastern).
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