Grand-Am Road Racing has revised and expanded its awards programme ahead of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 30-31 to provide greater recognition for the efforts and achievements of the racers who do not derive their primary income from racing cars professionally.
The Grand-Am Pro-Am Championship will recognise drivers in the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype and GT classes.
Competitors in both classes will accumulate points throughout the season for a pair of redesigned awards, the Jim Trueman Award for Daytona Prototype Pro-Am drivers and Bob Akin Award for Pro-Am drivers in GT.
"Grand-Am has long recognised the passion and commitment of these businessmen/drivers, who have been the backbone of American sports car racing," said Grand-Am chief operating officer Tom Bledsoe. "For 2010, we are launching a programme which will not only enhance the experience of our Pro-Am drivers, but also provide opportunities for teams with a Pro-Am driver the same opportunities to race for the victory as the teams running two professional drivers."
In addition to staging separate grids for the Daytona Prototypes and GT cars at all events, Grand-Am will also split the two classes on restarts following each caution period in 2010. Race control will also have the ability to decide the implementation of the 30-minute rule at all races, with competitors required to drive at least 30 minutes in order to score points. In addition, Pro-Am drivers will also be recognised at each event on the victory podium.
"I really like the new rules, and I think they are very practical ways to help guide teams with Pro-Am drivers to remain competitive," said Mark Patterson, the only two-time winner of the Jim Trueman Award.
"I think the flexible 30-minute rule is very practical. Last year, we had two races where the caution flag waved at around 29-and-a-half minutes. As a result, I had to come in on the restart, and that was a pretty severe penalty - one I don't think Grand-Am was trying to impose. It's a good change."
Grand-Am launched the Trueman and Akin Awards in 2005. Patterson - who also won the honour in 2006 - and Leh Keen were recipients in their respective divisions last season; Keen also shared the driving title with Dirk Werner. The trophies for the respective awards will be redesigned for the awards ceremony at the end of the season.
The 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Series season begins January 30-31 with the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.