The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) paid tribute to its past, honored the present and proudly looked forward to the future at Monday’s inaugural TUDOR Night of Champions at Cipriani 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.
The six driver champions of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in Prototype (P); Kuno Wittmer in GT Le Mans (GTLM); Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in Prototype Challenge (PC); and Dane Cameron in GT Daytona (GTD) received the Bishop-France Awards, replicas of the series’ new perpetual trophy also announced during the evening.
The Bishop-France Award recognizes IMSA co-founders John Bishop and Bill France Sr. Their sons – Mitch Bishop and Jim France – unveiled the impressive sterling silver trophy that includes the names of the 288 drivers who have won titles in IMSA, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón competition.
The six champions also received specially engraved TUDOR Grantour Chrono Fly-Back timepieces marking the championship year and class category, presented by Russell Kelly, Brand Manager of TUDOR Watch USA.
“By nearly all measures, the 2014 TUDOR Championship was a success,” said IMSA President and Chief Operating Officer, Scott Atherton. “We had full fields of world-class race cars throughout the season. Competition on the racetrack was close and got even closer as the season progressed. … This is a testament to the quality of our race teams, drivers and manufacturers, that so many different combinations could produce victories.
“Having all of North America’s most historic events and prestigious sports car racing venues on one calendar paid immediate dividends, and the fact that we announced our 2015 schedule two months ago shows tremendous stability as we look to the future. We made significant strides on our television product this season, and closed out the year with tremendous momentum.”
The TUDOR Championship team champions in the P, PC and GTD classes – Action Express Racing (P), CORE autosport (PC) and Turner Motorsport (GTD) – also received paintings of their race cars commissioned by Continental Tire. Motorsports artist Bill Patterson executed the painting of the Action Express Corvette DP on the main stage while the capacity crowd filed into the Cipriani banquet hall. SRT Motorsports was awarded the GTLM team championship.
Chevrolet (P) and Porsche (GTLM and GTD) were recognized as winners of the manufacturer championships. Michelin was the GTLM tire manufacturer winner, while Coyote won the Prototype constructor championship award.
Porsche also was presented with the IMSA Green Challenge Award by Reuben Sarkar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation from the US Department of Energy.
The winners of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup – crowned at the season-ending Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta – were officially recognized.
Action Express Racing with drivers Barbosa and Fittipaldi (P); Porsche North America with Michael Christensen and Patrick Long (GTLM); CORE autosport with Braun, Bennett and James Gue (PC); and AIM Autosport with Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell (GTD) were champions of the unique standalone competition that encompassed the four endurance races on the TUDOR Championship, awarding points at different segments of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
Sweedler also received the Bob Akin Award as the top Pro-Am driver in the GTD class, while Bennett was presented the Jim Trueman Award as the top Pro-Am driver in PC. Bob Akin’s son, Bobby, made the presentations to honor two of the top gentlemen drivers in the early IMSA years.
Winning the TOTAL Pole Awards were Alex Brundle (P), Colin Braun (PC) and James Davison (GTD).
The Continental Tire “Driving Confidence Award” for most racing miles completed went to Action Express (P), a perfect 6,807.319 miles, remarkably completing every lap of the season; CORE autosport (PC), 6,345.091 miles; and AIM Autosport (GTD), 6,546.339 miles.
The VP Fuels Front Runner Award, presented to the team leading the most laps during the second half of the season, went to Turner Motorsport (112 laps).
John Ondrasik, better known by his stage name Five For Fighting was the musical guest. The piano-based rocker performed hit songs, “Chances”, “100 Years” and “What If.”
The 2015 season for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship kicks off in less than 90 days with the annual Roar Before the Rolex test, Jan. 9-11 at Daytona International Speedway.