ANDRETTI, GURNEY HEAD 19-MEMBER VOTING PANEL TO SELECT SPEED PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
Tony Stewart’s unprecedented five-win run in the Chase to capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title … Sebastian Vettel’s record-setting performance in Formula One … Casey Stoner’s total domination of MotoGP … and that’s just three names on the list.
Stewart, Vettel and Stoner are joined by Ryan Villopoto (Supercross/Motocross), Dario Franchitti (IndyCar), Scott Pruett (Grand-Am) and Kyle Larson (USAC/WoO) as nominees for the Sixth Annual SPEED Performer of the Year award. The winner receives the Mario Andretti Trophy, a 100-pound bronze sculpture created by artist Elie Hazak, to be presented as part of a special edition of SPEED Center.
“There were several extraordinary performances in motor sports this season,” said Andretti, the only driver to ever win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship. “In fact, this may be one of the most difficult seasons ever for the SPEED voting panel. As much as it rewards winning, this award is designed to honor the heart and soul of a racer and all of the nominees certainly put both on display all season long.”
Representing both four-wheel and two-wheel efforts across the globe, the Mario Andretti Trophy goes to the racer who puts a premium on winning races, shines on the sport’s biggest stages and does it all with a measure of sportsmanship and class.
Vettel, last year’s winner of the Mario Andretti Trophy, scored 11 wins in 19 races to win the Formula One Drivers title, erasing Nigell Mansell’s 19-year-old record by qualifying fastest 15 times. Stewart won five times in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship playoff format, passing 118 drivers in the final race of the season to earn his third Cup title. Stoner completely dominated MotoGP, winning 10 of 17 events, qualifying first 12 times and finishing on the podium in all but one event.
Villopoto won the AMA Supercross championship (six wins in 17 events), the AMA Motocross title (10 wins in 24 motos and three overall wins in 12 starts) and the inaugural Monster Energy Cup, where he won all three motos and the $1 million bonus. At 19, Larson swept the USAC 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora (Ohio) and became the youngest winner of the WoO World Cup at Chico (California). He became the first driver in history to win a World of Outlaws race, an ASCS National and score victories in all three USAC divisions in the same year.
Franchitti collected four wins, his third consecutive IndyCar title and his fourth championship in the last five years, and Pruett scored his second consecutive Grand-Am Rolex Series title, becoming the all-time wins leader with 36 career victories.
In addition, IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, who lost his life in the season-ending IndyCar race at Las Vegas, earned several honorable mentions from the nominating panel.
The 2011 SPEED Performer of the Year is selected by a panel including racing legends Andretti, Dan Gurney and Sir Stirling Moss, "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen and Leigh Diffey, SPEED.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen, versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder and a select group of SPEED motor sports producers.
Mario Andretti Trophy winners and runner-ups:
2006 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR. Nicky Hayden, MotoGP
2007 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Donny Schatz, WoO
2008 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Tony Schumacher, NHRA
2009 – Tony Schumacher, NHRA; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
2010 – Sebastian Vettel, Formula One; Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)