Dallara receives Autosport Award
Dallara Automobili founder Gian Paolo Dallara thanked Enzo Ferrari for providing the opportunity in 1960 to start his race car design career and for contributing to the vision that continues today with the introduction of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car.
Dallara, who joined the Ferrari racing staff in 1959 and started his design company in 1972, accepted the John Bolster Award for technical achievement during the annual Autosport Awards on Dec. 4 in London. IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Chip Ganassi won the award in 2010, while Honda received the award in 2004.
"Without Ferrari, I would be doing another job today," said Dallara, whose company has been supplying INDYCAR since 1997 and next week will begin delivery of the universal chassis to teams for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season. "After a few years, I was beginning to believe I could do something by myself and I moved to Maserati. My first activity as a race engineer was with Bruce McLaren and with Roger Penske driving a Cooper Maserati at Sebring. It was a long time ago and so much has happened since.
"We are looking forward to the new IndyCar taking the racetrack in the coming months and the competitive season."
“Dallara has been a mainstay of Indy car racing, and specifically a supplier of reliable and safe cars to INDYCAR since 1997, for nearly 40 years," INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said. "We congratulate Dr. Gian Paolo Dallara and Dallara Automobili on their receiving this honor, and look forward to additional technical achievements from Dallara on the racetrack in the upcoming season.”
Dallara received the nod in July 2010 to design, build and supply the new IndyCar, which meant a tight timetable to deliver for the 2012 season. Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport were selected to provide the on-track validation of the chassis over the summer, and engine manufacturer development continues through the end of this month.
"Much of the credit for the (development) of the car goes to Dan Wheldon," Dallara said of the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series champion who died of injuries suffered in a race crash in October. "We had the opportunity to work with Dan at the simulator (at the company's European headquarters in Parma, Italy) and we got to know him well. We realized how fantastic a person he was -- not only very fast, but a person with a precise understanding of how to develop the car. It was unbelievable how nice staying with him after a day of work was. I will miss him greatly."
The publishers of Autosport honored posthumously the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion with the Gregor Grant Award -- named in honor of the magazine's founder -- for his lifetime achievements in motorsports. The new Dallara chassis has been dubbed the DW12.
Clive Wheldon, Dan's father, and reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti accepted the trophy to a standing ovation from the crowd at the Grosvenor House Hotel.
"A special thank you for what everyone's done for our family over the last few weeks," Wheldon said. "Dan in his early days are the ones I'll always remember. From 8 years of age when we were racing all over the country, Friday morning setting off in the motorhome, I was the chef, mechanic. Those are the days I'll treasure for the rest of my life."
Ferrari was a Gregor Grant recipient in 2009, as was Franchitti in 2007.
"He was so full of energy," said Franchitti, a teammate at then-Andretti Green Racing along with being a competitor. "(My fondest racing memory) would be Indianapolis this year. Dan and that little team showed up and kicked our arse basically. To me, it was when he was coming down to do the parade lap in the Pace Car afterward with his little sister, with Bryan Herta and his wife. They drove up and I stopped the car and I could see the pure emotion. He was in tears and it meant so much to him. I will always remember the pure joy he had, the emotion of winning Indianapolis for a second time under difficult circumstances."
Added Formula One driver Jenson Button: "I raced against Dan since he was 8 years old. He was so competitive. If you had the chance to beat him, it was quite a triumph."
Franchitti was a nominee in the British Competition Driver category, which he won in 2010 and was awarded to Button this year. He also was an International Racing Driver of the Year nominee, which was won by Sebastian Vettel.
Force India driver Paul di Resta accepted the Rookie of the Year Award as voted in an online poll. Franchitti, his cousin, won the award in 1992.
IZOD IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year James Hinchcliffe and Indianapolis 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand also were among the nominees. Hinchcliffe will join Franchitti and fellow series drivers Mike Conway and James Jakes in participating in the Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race on Dec. 5 at Daytona Milton Keynes in England. The charity race will raise funds for the Wheldon family’s chosen charity, the Alzheimer’s Society.
The documentary "Senna," which was reviewed on indycar.com by fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan this fall, received the Pioneering and Innovation Award. IndyCar.com