DSC Awards 2004 – North America – Part 2

Race of The Year
The topsy-turvy rain-interrupted Rolex 24 and ALMS races at both Lime Rock and Laguna Seca - “the series needs more races like this one,“ - featured here but the runaway winner was a race which returned to the calendar after a two year gap - and produced drama by the bucketload.

dailysportscar.comThe DSC 2004 Race of the Year for North American racing was the ALMS Portland Grand Prix
“The expression on Chris Dyson’s face when he got out of the #20 Dyson Lola was priceless. JJ’s repeated chases of the #20 were the absolute highest level of motorsport entertainment.” Malcolm Cracknell

“I’m going to remember this race for a long, long time,” JJ Lehto said after the race. The Finn, veteran of Formula 1, CART, and an overall winner at Le Mans, admitted this one was unique, even in his extensive experience. “I think that is the first time in my racing experience that so much has happened in one race. Never before; that was something new today.” JJ / Tom Kjos

“Portland, hands down. Cut and thrust action, taps and spins worthy of any roundy-rounder, Chris Dyson's stepping to the front and staying there far longer than anyone ever expected; all the bodywork askew!” Regis Lefebure.

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The ‘Spirit’ Award
Dick Barbour’s ceaseless efforts to “make the impossible happen”, JJ Lehto’s outgoing and approachable attitude and BAM!’s good time approach to racing all gained plaudits, but here there is a tie for the honours between a driver and a team owner, the common factor between the two being their simple love of racing.

The DSC ‘Spirit’ award for 2004 in North American racing goes to Bryan Willman and Dave Maraj
dailysportscar.comBryan Willman - “He was the best interview in the paddock, and his friendly grin during a very trying season communicated everything that is right about this sport – or any other for that matter.” Tom Kjos

Dave Maraj – “A man who loves the sport so much, he was calling the shots for the #2 car in the Monterey dark and rain - a car which, by the way, won overall that day after coming from the back of the grid. A former racer and rally driver, his race calling had very much to do with the win.” Regis Lefebure.

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Non Driver of the Year
Creation Autosportif team owner Mike Jankowski, Intersport’s “behind the scenes genius” Mike Johnson and the “oh my god, did you see that” style of the ALMS Radio Web team all figured here, but it was two very different individuals who topped the poll.

dailysportscar.comSecond place was Grand Am’s Roger Edmondson, “Agree with his vision for sportscar racing or not, he has laid out a plan and stuck with it” (Russell Wittenberg).

The winner though was an unashamedly personal vote for a man who has always made ALMS races that bit easier and better for us to cover both on dsc and is predecessors. We’ll miss him in 2005.

The DSC Non-driver of the Year for North American racing is the ex Director of Media and Communications for the ALMS – Andy Hall
“Andy represented a calming influence to all of the loonies who are a part of the media circus. His efforts were and still are greatly appreciated by me and I’m sure many others.” Gary Horrocks.

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Surprise of 2004
The pace of Jon Fogarty - “He’s going to really stir up the GT Class in the ALMS in ’05” - Intersport’s LMP2 form in the ALMS and at Le Mans, and the rapid growth of the Daytona Prototype class all got a mention here. The winner though is something of a mixed bag, with mentions for the team which ran a car in selected races and the inability or unwillingness of any US-based outfit to field the car for a full season:

dailysportscar.comThe DSC 2004 Surprise of the year is Creation Autosportif and the DBA Zytek
“Nice guys can give it a stunning shot. Was there anyone not taken with the guys and gals (yes, Fiona was here, too) at Creation Autosportif? We saw the results in the LMES, but we were still surprised when they took it to the field at PLM. And they did it all with the British (and Californian and French) equivalent of “aw shucks, we’uns jus’ ordnary folk.” Y’all come back, hear?” - Tom Kjos

“The Zytek - but not because of its speed, rather it's because no US-based team purchased one to beat the R8. Seems they'd rather putz around in faux-sportscars that would have been hard-pressed to win in the '60s. If prospective ALMS team owners (okay, are there any?) had paid attention at Monza, they'd likely experienced an ALMS win in '04.” - Regis Lefebure.

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Disappointment of 2004
The inability of Goodyear to produce new and more competitive rubber figured here, together with some of the Dyson anti-climax moments. The Rolex 24 ‘pr’ machine - “Not enough tyres, but not man enough to admit it. Do they think we're just plain daft?” - provided disappointment of an altogether different sort, while the underperformance from The Racers Group in the GT class gave other panel members reasons to be uncheerful. The reduction in ALMS Protoype grid numbers was also on the list, but the winner (or should that be the loser?) was an effort which promised much but delivered ultimately very little.

The Disappointment of 2004 in North American racing was the Krohn-Barbour Lamborghini Murcielagos
“So much hope initially, but so much despair in the end.” Malcolm Cracknell

“Let's hope the 2005 European GT1 hype doesn’t finish like this.” Graham Goodwin.

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Moment of 2004
Oddly Dyson Racing is mentioned in every single nomination in this category. Lets review all of them.

OK it’s a peripheral Dyson mention here! The crowning moment in ‘04 has to be just that - JJ's long-overdue ALMS P1 drivers championship, so deservedly earned but not garnered in 1999, due to the simple act of an ACCUS licence application not carried out, prior to his Sebring victory. Irony bitter yet sweet, as it was Dyson's Elliott Forbes-Robinson who carried the ALMS' premiere prototype crown home in '99.“ Regis Lefebure

dailysportscar.com“James Weaver’s pole position at Petit Le Mans. He had the Goodyears coming up to temperature, the flag had already fallen so it was this lap or never, John Hindaugh was doing his nut over the Radio Web, and ‘Jimmy’ Weaver made it, by a whopping three tenths. This was the qualifying experience at its very best.” Malcolm Cracknell

“LMP1 qualifying at the Petit Le Mans: James again shows why he is the man.” Russell Wittenberg

“Dyson's superb win at Mosport. Watching those blue and white wings sweeping through turns two and four while carving lines around the lower classes was matched only by watching Marco and JJ doing the same, in a bigger, more broad beast! Take notice, Butch is every bit as quick on race pace as the Master Weaver.” Regis Lefebure

The winner though was not just a fine racing performance it was a coming of age, and for one of the Dyson racers who often gets less of the media attention

The 2004 DSC Moment of the Year for North American racing was Chris Dyson’s performance at the Portland Grand Prix
“I don’t know if I have ever seen a happier moment in racing than an exhausted but exhilarated Chris Dyson after his stint at Portland.” Tom Kjos

“Watching Chris hold off all of the attacks by Champion at Portland was simply an amazing series of moments, and as fine a race between two cars as I have seen for a long time. It even had my wife engrossed in the battle, and she was at home watching it on television.” Gary Horrocks

”Chris Dyson's coming of age at Portland - did you witness Lehto's respect granted to Chris for his superstar effort? A very happy mob on P1's podium, exhilarated from a fantastically topsy-turvy event. “ Regis Lefebure.

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