John Force top honoree of auto racing media group’s 2013 All-America teams

Leave a comment

Legendary NHRA 16-time Top Fuel champion John Force earned his fifth Jerry Titus Memorial Award to highlight the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s 2013 All-America Team, announced earlier this week.

The Titus award recognizes the top vote-getter in the overall balloting. Force has won the honor more times than any other driver; no other driver has won it more than three times.

“It is always an honor to be recognized as an All-America First Team driver,” Force said. “This award is very special because the media is so important to growing our sport.

“You want to win every race and that is always my focus. Winning the championship last year was a great team accomplishment and we need to keep winning so we can keep chasing corporate America.

“I want to keep racing with my kids for as long as possible. My health good and I have the fire to keep chasing after these young kids.”

The All-America Team honored some of the best and most successful drivers across several motorsports series including open-wheel, drag racing and NASCAR for their achievements during the past racing season.

It marks the 43rd year that AARWBA has presented of the All-America Team, voted upon by media members who cover motorsports on a regular basis on both the local and national levels. Founded in 1955, AARWBA is composed of writers, broadcasters, photographers and other media professionals.

Honors were divided into first and second teams.

AARWBA’s All-America First team featured:

* Stock Car division winners: Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Johnson won for earning his sixth Sprint Cup championship and sixth in the last eight years driving. Kenseth was chosen for his seven wins in his first full season for Joe Gibbs Racing after more than a decade at Roush-Fenway Racing.

* Drag Racing division winners: John Force and Shawn Langdon. Force with his record 16th NHRA Funny Car championship in 2013, while Langdon won the Top Fuel class for the first time in his career.

* Open-wheel division winners: Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. Dixon won the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship for the third time in his career, driving for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team. Castroneves, meanwhile, finished second in the series racing for Team Penske.

* Road Racing Team division winners: Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor earned the most votes based on winning the Grand-Am title. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won for finishing runner-up on the Grand Am circuit and in the Road Racing division votes.

* Short Track division winners: Bryan Clauson and Bobby East. Clauson captured the 2013 Sprint Car championship, while East won the Silver Crown title.

* Touring Series winners: Danny Schatz and Frank Kimmel. Schatz recorded 23 World of Outlaws Sprint Car A-Main wins in 2013, while Kimmel claimed his 10th career ARCA championship.

* At-Large winners: Sage Karam and Johnny O’Connell. Karam claimed the 2013 Indy Lights championship, while O’Connell won the Pirelli World Challenge GT title.

* Rising Star winner: Carlos Munoz. Driving for Andretti Autosport, Munoz finished third in the Indy Lights championship, winning a series-high four races, as well as pulled off an outstanding runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500.

AARWBA also continued its tradition of naming a Second Team. Winners were:

Open Wheel: Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power.

Road Racing: Klaus Graf/Lucas Luhr and Doug Peterson.

Short Track: Daryn Pittman and Christopher Bell.

Stock Car: Kevin Harvick and Sam Hornish, Jr.

Drag Racing: Antron Brown and Jeg Coughlin, Jr.

Touring Series: Matt Crafton and Alessandro Balzan.

At Large: Drag racers Frank Manzo and Jim Whitely.

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
Leave a comment

Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.