Star Mazda Champions Honored At Unique Banquet

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sunday, Oct. 14 -- At the Star Mazda banquet, held Sunday evening at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, more than $225,000 as well as various contingency prizes were handed out to the top drivers in the North American and West Coast championship series, thanks to the support and generosity of series sponsors Mazda USA, Goodyear, BBS, Bosch and VP Fuel.

Banquet guests were encouraged to "stroll" within the aquarium where they found varied food stations that included everything from sushi to carved prime rib to a fresh pasta bar as well as a beautiful assortment of fruit and desserts. Attendees were even invited by aquarium personnel to hand "feed" the batrays during the evening. Star Mazda racing videos played against the backdrop of the mesmorizing displays of ocean creatures and plants. About halfway through the evening, guests were invited to the aquarium's auditorium where series administrator Gary Rodrigues emceed the
distribution of the trophies and awards.

With eight top-seven finishes that included two wins, Scott Bradley was crowned North American champion and received a $20,000 check (not including the $2,410 winnings from finishing 14th in the West Division), a new 2002 Mazda Miata, as well as a test drive with BMW Team PTG in a BMW M3. "I just can't thank everyone enough for the effort they made to help me achieve this," Bradley said. "My primary sponsor Polycom showed faith in me last season and put up the budget for me to compete this year. My secondary sponsor Shames Construction and Barry Shames came through for me and gave us the last portion of sponsorship we needed to get things rolling for the season. Without his help I wouldn't have been there this year. My engineer, Mikel Miller, who gave me a great car every weekend. My data engineer, Eric McCombs, who spent countless hours doing his best to make our data acquisition system work. My mechanics, Darren and Rich for spending all the late nights at the track and some times entire weekends without sleep to make sure the my car rolled onto the track the best it could be. Last, but not least, my family and friends who supported me through this year and especially those who attended the race on Sunday."

Finishing second in the North American Championship with three wins was Canadian driver Marc De Vellis, who earned $25,000 (including $3,807.09 from placing eighth in the West Division). De Vellis was also named the North American Championship's rookie of the year and recevied a new set of BBS wheels. Third place earnings of $15,000 went to Chad Block, whose points tally included a win and four trips to the podium, as well as $3,737.24 winnings from his ninth-place finish in the West Division series. Block was also named the recipient of World Speed Motorsports' Rising Star pro Atlantic test opportunity.

For the West Division series, Team Bucknum Racing's Scott Jenkins was crowned the champion, earning $7,491.94. Jenkins also received $12,000 from finishing fourth in the North American Championship, in addition to the $3,000 prize he'd won earlier in the year after being crowned the Red Line Oil Oval champion. Moses Smith, of SierraSierra, received $6,636.22 for his second-place finish in the West Division and $6,000 for his 10th-place finish in the North American series. Rounding out the top three in the West Division points was Jim Hall II, who earned $5,797.96, plus $1,000 for this third-place finish in the Red Line Oil Oval Championship. Scott Kusy, driving from under the Valley Motor Center tent, was named the Master Series champion for both the North American Championship and West Division series.

In other awards, Terri Negron, crew chief for her husband, Bob Negron, was the recipient of the Brian Wilson Memorial Crew Member of the Year Award. Wilson, crew chief for Formula Mazda driver and long-time series supporter Barry Shames, died three years ago while testing at Sears Point Raceway.

The Motec-sponsored most improved driver award went to a very enthusiastic and grateful Tim Jennings of Jennings Motorsports, who also received $8,000 for his eighth-place finish in the North American Champioship.

The Star Mazda Series President's Award was given to North American and West Division series steward Jack Brabban for his dedication and commitment to the series. Brabban, whose stewarding background includes more than 40 years with the SCCA, has been the series steward since the inception of the Star Mazda Series in 1991. --Jane Anderson

2001 Star Mazda Series Prize Payouts

North American Championship Western Championship
1 Scott Bradley $20,000 + 2002 Mazda Miata 1 Scott Jenkins $7491.94 + $3,000 + driver's suit
2 Marc De Vellis $25,000 + BBS Wheels (Rookie of Year) 2 Moses Smith $6,636.22 + BBS Wheels (Rookie of Year)
3 Chad Block $15,000 + WSM Atlantic Test 3 Jim Hall II $5,797.96 + $1,000 + driver's suit
4 Scott Jenkins $12,000 4 Scott Kusy $5,745.57
5 Oliver Rowen $11,000 5 Bob Negron $5,728.14 + $2,000 + new driver's suit
6 Michael Stephens  $10,000 6 Bob Hatle  $5,012.28
7 Ed Zabinski  $9,000 7 Pierre Ehret  $4,103.98
8 Tim Jennings  $8,000 + Motec Most Improved Driver 8 Marc De Vellis  $3,807.09
9 Scott Kusy  $7,000 + Master's champion 9 Chad Block $3,737.24
10 Moses Smith  $6,000 10 Larry Couture  $3,667.38
11 Rob Walker  $5,000 11 Chris Emanuel  $3,405.43
12 Tom Nastasi  $4,000  12 Rob Walker  $2,689.41
13 J.J. Fisher  $3,000 13 Frank Bain  $2,654.49
14 Bryan Willman  $2,000 14 Scott Bradley  $2,410.00
15 Matt Beardsley  $1,000 15 Aaron Ogus $2,113.11