Peter Cunningham holds daughter Audrey while addressing his peers at the SPEED World Challenge banquet (Weber image).
Family played an important
role in the night's festivities. Peter Cunningham was accompanied by daughter
Audrey to the stage to accept his 2008 SCCA SPEED Touring Car Drivers'
Championship. With his trophy in one hand, and daughter in the other,
Cunningham thanked his wife Rainey and RealTime crew for their support
throughout the season, with special emphasis on teammates Kuno Wittmer and
Pierre Kleinubing, who fought hard for the 2008 Championship all the way to the
To accept his
second-consecutive SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship, Randy Pobst brought his
father Gene with him to the podium. Gene Pobst made a point to thank the SPEED
World Challenge competitors and staff for the excellent jobs they do before
handing the mic over to Randy for his acceptance speech, which he closed by
encouraging all drivers to always race with the utmost respect for each other
and keep racing clean.
No strangers to the SPEED
World Challenge banquet stage, Porsche and Acura both had representatives on
hand to accept their SPEED World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championships
Presented by RACER Magazine. It was the seventh Championship for each.
A year after accepting his
2007 Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship trophy, Jason Saini
climbed the steps to the SPEED World Challenge banquet stage to accept his
SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year prize. Saini expressed his gratefulness to
Mazda for their MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder program and his
eagerness to return to the series next season.
Gunter Schaldach made his
way to the podium with daughter Lala in hand, for whom his team is named. Upon
accepting his SPEED GT Rookie of the Year trophy, Schaldach reflected on his
roots as a club racer, and the importance of a good crew when making the
transition to professional racing.
As voted on by the teams of
the paddock, Tindol Motorsports was awarded the SPEED Touring Car Crew of the
Year Award and Team Remington Cadillac the SPEED GT Crew of the Year Award.
Advancing more positions from
grid to checkered flag than anybody else, Tony Gaples and Seth Thomas were
presented with the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Year Awards in SPEED GT and SPEED
Touring Car, respectively.
Tindol Motorsports owner
Chris Tindol received the Zimmermann Cup, awarded in memory of
Championship-winning RealTime crew chief Jerome Zimmermann. Tindol was selected
for his limitless enthusiasm and passion for World Challenge racing. A
surprised Tindol thanked the paddock for the great competition and reminded the
room that only a couple years ago, he was watching them all on TV, wishing for
his own World Challenge team.
The Jim Cook Memorial Trophy
was presented to Woodhouse Performance team owner and WCVision Co-Chairman Bob
Woodhouse. The honor is annually bestowed upon a participant who has gone above
and beyond the call of duty to promote the series and has made significant
contributions to the success of the series. In addition to the way in which he
motivates the entire paddock to strive for their best, it’s hard to imagine
WCVision could have come together without Woodhouse’s charismatic personality.
The night, which was
presented by Toyo Tires®, closed with a toast to the champions by Tom Hnatiw,
the banquet emcee and voice of World Challenge. The paddock and fans now wait
anxiously for the 2009 season to begin.