The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series gathered one final time on Monday evening at Gotham Hall in Manhattan to put the wraps on 14 years of outstanding competition and honor its deserving champions and award winners.
Second-generation driver Jordan Taylor was feted for his first Daytona Prototype driver championship, while his No. 10 Velocity Worldwide/Toshiba Corvette DP co-driver Max Angelelli celebrated his second DP title. Angelelli co-drove to his first DP championship with Jordan’s father, Wayne Taylor, in 2005. Wayne Taylor owns the No. 10 team.
“It’s amazing,” said Jordan Taylor. “I’ve been coming to these banquets since 2005, when my dad won the championship. I’ve still got the DVD from that evening and I still watch it every now and then. To be here and to be going on the stage as a champion in the last year of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series is pretty special. Looking to the merger next year, it’s pretty exciting to be with Max, going into it as the reigning champion is pretty cool. I’m just kind of savoring the moment.”
Angelelli joined his teammate in looking ahead to the 2014 season and the debut of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“It’s a great way to finish an era with GRAND-AM,” Angelelli said. “I’m really looking forward to next year. It’s going to be a new challenge starting from zero, the ground floor. It’s going to be great. The schedule is fantastic. The class is going to be fantastic, great looking and great performance. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Italian driver Alessandro Balzan, who piloted the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458, was honored as the 2013 GT driver champion, while No. 38 Calcium Pro/BGBmotorsports.com Porsche Cayman GX.R driver Jim Norman received the GX driver championship. All four driver champions received Daytona Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Rolex timepieces.
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates owner Chip Ganassi accepted the team’s seventh DP team championship. The GT team championship was presented to Giacomo Mattioli of Scuderia Corsa, while BGB Motorsports owner John Teece accepted the GX team championship. Continental Tire presented all three championship team owners with original paintings by renowned motorsports artist Bill Patterson.
For the second consecutive year, the DP manufacturers’ championship went to Chevrolet and was presented to Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports. Riley Technologies Vice President Bill Riley accepted the DP constructors’ championship, which the company won for the 10th consecutive year.
The GT manufacturers’ title went to Ferrari and was presented to Ferrari North America President Marco Mattiacci. The diesel-powered Mazda 6 GX won the GX manufacturers’ championship, which was presented to John Doonan, director of motorsports for Mazda North American Operations.
Mazda played a central role in a number of other award winners on Monday night. Joel Miller, driver of the No. 00 VISITFLORIDA Racing/SpeedSource Mazda 6 GX, was the 2013 Monticello Motor Club Rookie of the Year, while No. 70 MAZDASPEED/Castrol Mazda 6 owner/driver Sylvain Tremblay received the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award.
Tremblay’s season-long co-driver, Tom Long, earned the TOTAL Performance Lubricants Pole Award for the GX class, while No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GT.R driver John Edwards took Pole Award honors in the GT class and Jordan Taylor won the DP Pole Award.
Edwards also played a role in the Rolex Moment of the Year. He and co-driver Robin Liddell earned the most votes from GRAND-AM fans for their run of three consecutive GT victories at Barber Motorsports Park, Road Atlanta and Detroit Belle Isle.
Edwards, Liddell and Stevenson Motorsports were also recognized for their GT driver and team titles in the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC) presented by VISITFLORIDA.com, along with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and No. 01 Telcel/TELMEX BMW/Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the DP class. SpeedSource earned NAEC team honors in the GX class, while Norman claimed the driver title.
The Bob Akin Award for the top sportsman driver in the GT class went to No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 owner/driver John Potter, and No. 42 Team Sahlen BMW/Riley driver Wayne Nonnamaker was the recipient of the Jim Trueman Award for the top DP sportsman driver.
The evening began with a special video presentation by television personality Regis Philbin, host of “Crowd Goes Wild” on FOX Sports 1 and The Voice winner Cassadee Pope performed two songs during the three-hour program.