The event is the ninth annual West Coast banquet hosted by the Road Racing Drivers Club to honor auto racing’s most influential leaders and champions. It will be held prior to the 43rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
“The RRDC dinners at Daytona and Long Beach have become the events of the year to attend," said Gentilozzi, who's partnered with sons John and Tony Gentilozzi in the operation of 3GT Racing. "Their focus on our sports history and future stars gives great credibility to its members and honorees. Everyone in our sport knows 'Emmo' just as they know Parnelli, A.J., Mario and Dario. We are here to give tomorrow’s stars a firsthand view of our history."
In late 2015 Lexus announced its motorsports partnership with Gentilozzi and the newly-formed East Lansing, Mich.-based racing team, 3GT Racing, to field the Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, beginning with the 2017 season. This marked the luxury brand's return to racing for the first time since 2009.
The drivers for the two cars being campaigned are Scott Pruett, Sage Karam, Jack Hawksworth and Robert Alon.
Notably, Pruett and Karam are also RRDC members, and Pruett is contributing his award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon "Driven" for the Evening's cocktail reception from the Pruett Vineyard located in California's Sierra foothills.
"Having a successful businessman and driver/team owner such as Paul Gentilozzi, as well as Lexus, support the Evening with Emerson Fittipaldi is very much appreciated by all of us at the RRDC." said RRDC President Bobby Rahal. "We thank 3GT Racing and Lexus for coming on board and we wish the team a rewarding 2017 season."
Brazilian-born Fittipaldi, a two-time winner of the Indy 500 and the Formula 1 World Championship, made his racing debut for Team Lotus at the 1970 British Grand Prix. He went on to win the 1972 World Drivers' Championship at the age of 25, which at the time made him the youngest F1 world champion. He held that record for 33 years.
Racing for McLaren, he won the title once again in 1974, and in 1980 he announced his retirement at age 33. Four years later he made a comeback in IMSA competiton, then moved into IndyCar racing, winning the 1989 Indy 500 and the IndyCar championship that year. He later joined the Marlboro Team Penske, with whom he won another Indy 500 at the age of 46, making him the third oldest 500 winner ever, behind only Al and Bobby Unser.
The dinner’s proceeds will help support the RRDC’s young driver initiatives, including its groundbreaking SAFEisFAST.com program and the Team USA Scholarship, which the RRDC has backed since 1997 and has been providing opportunities for talented young American race-car drivers since 1990.
The RRDC Evening with Emerson Fittipaldi Presented by Firestone will be held on Thursday, April 6, at the Hilton Hotel, 701 West Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, Calif., with cocktails at 6 p.m., and dinner at 7:15 p.m. Some tickets are still available at $200 per person ($175 for RRDC members). Please contact Jeremy Shaw at email@example.com as soon as possible to secure a place at what promises to be a memorable evening.
About 3GT Racing:
3GT Racing was formed to race the Lexus RC F GT3. Owned and operated by five-time Trans-Am Series Champion Paul Gentilozzi and his longtime partners, Tony and John Gentilozzi, the East Lansing, Mich.-based team principals have been involved in motorsports for more than 45 years.
About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club’s membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.
In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar – SAFEisFAST.com – featuring more than 30 RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers’ questions on the site in a feature called “Ask a Pro."
Bobby Rahal is President, John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer, and Tom Davey is Secretary.
The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. The RRDC also honors icons of the sport at its annual dinner at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Honorees have been Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and George Follmer.