Peter Shadowen, of Loxahatchee, Fla., was selected as the 40th annual recipient of the prestigious Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC) Mark Donohue Award for his remarkable victory at the 2010 SCCA National Championship Runoffs. He will be officially presented the award at the 2011 SCCA National Convention at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Feb. 10-12, 2011.
Shadowen, 37, raced his No. 72 Road 'n' Race/Goodyear/HPD/Red Line Oil-sponsored Honda CRX to his first national championship at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., last September, winning the GT-Lite class from pole position. This was his highest placing in five Runoffs appearances. Prior to this win, his best result was a second in 2008.
His achievement was even more impressive because among the top four qualifiers for the race 12 national championships were represented. Two of those qualifiers were RRDC members Jim Dentici (five-time champion, who qualified third) and Kent Prather (six-time champion, who qualified fourth). It was a tough, close-fought race which saw Shadowen trade the lead several times with Dentici, but held him off on the final lap to take the win by a mere 0.211sec margin.
"I was just flabbergasted to have been picked out of 600 drivers at the Runoffs," said Shadowen. "It just blew me away. I don't know which was a bigger deal, winning the Runoffs or getting the award. I certainly am aware of Mark Donohue's achievements and what the RRDC has done over the years, and I'm honored to be receiving this award."
"Obviously, I'm disappointed that I didn't win the race," said Dentici, "but we had an absolutely great race and a great week. To run a race like that for 13 laps nose to tail, with two or three guys, was a really great race."
Dentici made a strong run at Shadowen exiting the carousel on the last lap, pulling almost alongside him as they approached the kink. "The first thing I thought was 'I hope we both make it,'" said Shadowen after the victory, "but he's a former National Champion and I've seen this guy race before. If there was anyone I'd feel comfortable doing that with, it'd be one of these guys up here (on the podium) with me today. There was a lot of adrenaline there at the end." The podium included Shadowen, Dentici and Prather.
A member of the Southeast Division, Florida Region, of the SCCA, Shadowen was selected by a large contingent of RRDC members attending and/or competing at the Runoffs, who watched the action in all 25 classes. Shadowen was chosen not only because of his outstanding performance in winning a tight race and his first National Championship, but because of his determination, sportsmanship, competitiveness and humility, the traits which best exemplify the spirit of the multi-talented champion and road-racing legend for whom the award is named.
Every year, the RRDC Mark Donohue Award trophy is an engraved glass top mounted on a special, racing-experienced wheel, provided through the efforts of an RRDC member. This year's Porsche 962 wheel was donated by RRDC member Duncan Dayton from his historic collection. Dayton's Highcroft Racing team won the LMP-1 Team Championship in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), while Highcroft driver David Brabham took the Drivers' Championship.
RRDC President Bobby Rahal, a Runoffs champion long before he won the Indianapolis 500, emphasized the Mark Donohue Award is "about personal spirit and performance behind the wheel. Those qualities are more important for this award than winning the race. This year Peter Shadowen excelled at both.
"Peter is exactly the type of winner Mark would have been proud of," added Rahal. "He built his own car, beat two of our most distinguished members to win his first title, and had to sustain a tremendous challenge in the last few laps to prevail."
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.
President Bobby Rahal is the 1986 Indy 500 winner and is co-owner, with David Letterman, of the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winning Rahal Letterman Racing team. Six-time SCCA National champion John Fergus is the Club's Vice President/Treasurer, and five-time SCCA National champion Tom Davey is the Secretary.
In addition to RRDC members lending their expertise to up-and-coming drivers, the Club presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award for rendering outstanding service to road racing; the Mark Donohue Award for personal spirit and performance at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs; and the Bob Akin Award – the top award presented to amateur and semi-professional racers – for speed with style, passion, sportsmanship and contribution to motorsports.
The RRDC also supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990.
Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. Additional information on the organization may be found at www.rrdc.org.