Each year, Sports Car Club of America recognizes Summit Racing Equipment SCCA Road Racing program standouts for their hard work, dedication and skill. The following individuals made the most of a challenging 2020 and stood out among our wonderful members. They were virtually presented with their awards during Zoom ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The recording of that presentation is included below.
John McGill Award
Noteworthy in 2020 is the John McGill Award, bestowed for significant contribution to the SCCA Club Racing Program. Winners are chosen annually by the Club Racing Board in conjunction with the head of Road Racing, and the list of previous recipients contains SCCA and motorsport luminaries. Keeping in mind that 2020 was such a “distinct” year, SCCA Director of Road Racing Deanna Flanagan noted the John McGill Award presentation would be equally unique this time around.
“The 2020 John McGill Award goes to each SCCA region that hosted an SCCA Road Racing event during a very tumultuous year,” Cobb said. “Conducting race weekends is complex and requires a lot of work and dedication. Hosting race weekends during a pandemic? That increases the complexity tenfold or more. It is only proper to recognize each Region, each volunteer, each competitor, and every single person who made 2020 SCCA Road Racing possible. The words ‘thank you’ can’t do justice for what SCCA members contributed to the Club this year. Our hope is the John McGill Award begins to convey our true appreciation.”
The President’s Cup is awarded to a driver demonstrating ability, competitiveness and success at the National Championship Runoffs. The winner is selected by the Stewards of the Meeting, the National Championship Race Director, President and CEO of SCCA, and the head of Road Racing. Spec Miata (SM) racer Preston Pardus, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is the 2020 President’s Cup recipient.
Having claimed his first national championship in Spec Miata at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017, and a runner-up Runoffs finish at VIRginia International Raceway in 2019, Pardus started eighth this year at Road America in a field consisting of 77 competitors. An exciting, action-packed opening lap dropped Pardus back in the field, but the seasoned racer and member of SCCA’s Central Florida Region was not out of the hunt. On the last lap, Pardus entered Road America’s Turn 5 in seventh place, and exited in fourth place. That momentum carried him into third as the lap progressed. Exiting Turn 12, Pardus found the front and held on for a victory of only .079-seconds. With that win, Pardus also claimed Super Sweep honors thanks to his Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour Points Championship in SM, and an SM points championship in the U.S. Majors Tour Southeast Conference.
Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year
The Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year honor is presented to an SCCA Road Racing competitor showing the greatest promise and is based on driving ability demonstrated during a first season of National competition or rookie Runoffs appearance. Winners are selected by the Club Racing Board based on nominations submitted by Executive Stewards. The 2020 Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year is Simon Sikes of Augusta, Georgia.
In his rookie SCCA National Championship appearance, Sikes came out strong and earned a Tire Rack Pole Award in the Formula F (FF) class. The Atlanta Region driver backed up that performance with an FF Runoffs victory in a hard-fought battle with other top-notch drivers. Sikes then managed a runner-up finish in the Formula Continental National Championship race later that same day, further solidifying the fact he is someone to keep an eye on in the future.
Awarded to an SCCA road racing competitor who has shown the greatest improvement in the past year, the Kimberly Cup recipient is selected by the Club Racing Board. The 2020 Kimberly Cup recipient is American Sedan racer Amy Aquilante of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
A member of SCCA’s Philadelphia Region, Aquilante joined the Club more than 15 years ago. And with nine Runoffs under her belt, she’s no stranger to road racing. Her 2019 National Championship appearance at VIRginia International Raceway, however, was rocky as her race ended early with an incident that culminated with a trip to the hospital. But she was back with a vengeance in 2020 at Road America, starting seventh in a talent-filled American Sedan field. Showing tremendous grit, Aquilante methodically moved up through the field, ultimately positioning herself for a thrilling last-lap, last-turn pass for the third position and her very first Runoffs podium finish.
David Morrell Memorial Award
Presented to encourage continued participation in the Road Racing Steward’s Program, the David Morrell Memorial Award recognizes an active National Chief Steward who exhibits outstanding performance and dedication to the sport and the highest principles. The winner is selected by the Chairman of the Stewards and the Executive Stewards. The 2020 David Morrell Memorial Award recipient is Dan Miklovic of St. Louis, Missouri.
While technically a member of SCCA’s Northwest Region, Miklovic has notably worked in a national effort to organize the SIT training program at the Runoffs over the last several years. He also served as Midwest Division Executive Steward from 2016-2018, was Editor of Stewards Notes from 2015-2018, contributed to the Safety Steward Training Guidelines, and served on the Steward Training Development Committee for the last couple of years. Dan exemplifies what it means to serve the member and he has generously shared his knowledge and experience to develop future stewards of the SCCA.
Mechanic of the Year
And finally, the Mechanic of the Year honoree is chosen by the technical staff at SCCA and the Club Racing Board based on submissions received through a survey of National road racing participants. The recipient must demonstrate a strong commitment to their craft and to the drivers they support. The 2020 Mechanic off the Year is Bob Pisarek of Chicago, Illinois.
Part of the Advanced Autosports team for many years now, those who are lucky enough to be associated with Pisarek consider him to be “undoubtedly the best mechanic you can find both at the track and at the shop.” He works swiftly to get drivers out on track and has an unwavering ability to make the impossible possible during any given race weekend. He wants all drivers under his care to do well, and contributes actively and meaningfully to their success. A member of Chicago Region, Pisarek also possesses a wealth of expertise and is willing to share that knowledge. Always smiling or cracking a joke, he has a true love for the SCCA racing community.
Photo by: Rick Corwine