Make a note: Tuesday, Feb. 14 is the day when RACER.com will announce the first of our reader-voted winners in the 17th annual RACER of the Year presented by Mobil 1 – and it's the big one, the overall RACER of the Year.
The RACER of the Year is open to any driver from any category of four-wheeled motorsports who impressed you during the last 12 months and, ahead of tomorrow's announcement, here's a sneak peek at the main contenders.
As always, your choices covered a wide range of series, with standouts from the worlds of Formula 1, the IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup, sports cars, NHRA drag racing and the World Rally Championship all showing well. But, in the end, three guys dominated the polls, together earning almost 50 percent of the votes cast. They are, in alphabetical order…
TONY STEWART (NASCAR Sprint Cup)
Entering the 10-race Chase for the 2011 Sprint Cup, Tony Stewart pulled no punches when he said that he and his winless Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 team didn't even deserve to be taking up one of the 12 starting spots. As a motivational catalyst, it seemed to work wonders. Stewart won five Chase races, including a never-give-up, charge through the field at Martinsville and a nerveless, winner-takes-all shootout victory over title rival Carl Edwards at the Homestead finale. It all added up to a third Cup title for “Smoke,” and his first as an owner-driver.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL (Formula 1)
Going into the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship, the big question was whether the sport's youngest-ever champ, Sebastian Vettel, could repeat for Red Bull Racing. The quick answer is: yes, he could, and did. But the manner in which he achieved it took his dominance of the sport to a whole new level, with 11 race wins and a record-breaking 15 pole positions putting his single-season accomplishments right up there with the best that greats like Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher posted in their pomp.
DAN WHELDON (IZOD IndyCar Series)
It's bittersweet that Dan Wheldon was the choice of so many RACER and RACER.com readers. Not only are your votes celebrating Wheldon's extraordinary skills on racing's biggest stage, the Indianapolis 500, but they're also a poignant reminder that we've lost a much loved and charismatic star. His dramatic, last-lap victory at the 2011 “500” is fitting testament to a driver who reveled in the history and heritage of the Brickyard and is now, quite rightly, remembered as one of its very best.
And the winner is…? All is revealed on RACER.com, Feb. 14.
For much more coverage of the 17th annual RACER of the Year, presented by Mobil 1, check out the March issue of RACER magazine. Not a subscriber? To start receiving the world's fastest magazine, CLICK HERE.
This year, we are proud and excited to once again welcome Mobil 1 as the presenting partner of RACER of the Year.
Like all of the candidates for RACER of the Year, the family of Mobil 1 fully synthetic lubricants is competition proven in the most challenging race series in the world, including Formula 1 and NASCAR.
Mobil 1 competes not just to win races, but to test its lubricants in the most demanding environments in order to develop cutting-edge products that benefit customers in their everyday road cars. Mobil 1 is designed to exceed industry performance specifications and continues to set new standards in lubrication technology.
To find out more on Mobil 1 in racing, and how its lubricants can benefit your road car, go to mobil1.com.