Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DW becomes voting member of the SPEED Performer of the Year panel


Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip, recently inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has agreed to become a voting member of the SPEED Performer of the Year panel, giving the distinguished group six Hall of Fame racers, including Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Sir Stirling Moss, Don Prudhomme and Scott Russell.

The winner of the annual award is presented the Mario Andretti Trophy on a special episode of SPEED Center in February.

“Adding Darrell certainly gives the panel one of the definitive voices in all of NASCAR,” said Andretti. “One of the best in the business on the track during his driving career, he continues to maintain a connection with the sport through his television work and keeps an active link with race fans. His perspective during the selection process for this award will be invaluable.”

Waltrip, whose career spanned nearly 30 years, won championships in 1981, ’82 and ’85, finishing second in 1979, ’83 and ’86. He won the Daytona 500 in 1989 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway a record five times. The first driver to win $10 million in career earnings, Waltrip is a two-time winner of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver of the Year award (1989 and ’90) and was named NASCAR’s Driver of the Decade for the 1980s.

“Joining Mario and the other distinguished members of the voting panel is an honor,” Waltrip said. “I look forward to helping select the next SPEED Performer of the Year. Choosing a winner from all disciplines of motor sports makes that person the best of the best. Let's go racing boys!”

After finishing his racing career in 2000, Waltrip immediately became a leader in the television booth, becoming the face of the NASCAR on FOX broadcasting lineup and contributing to multiple SPEED programs, including Trackside and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

For more information on Waltrip, please visit: http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/page/AllWaltrip-Darrell-Waltrip-NASCAR-on-FOX

The SPEED Performer of the Year award, now in its seventh season, is presented annually to the racer who puts a premium on winning races, shines on motor sports’ biggest stages and does it all with a measure of sportsmanship and class.

The SPEED Performer of the Year panel includes racing legends named above, as well as "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen and Leigh Diffey, SPEED.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen, versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder and a select group of SPEED motor sports producers.

The trophy, a true work of art created by bronze sculptor Elie Hazak, stands 38 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds. It features eight cars, including six of the most important in Mario’s rise to superstardom, as well as an array of artistic symbolism that captures the essence of the trophy’s namesake.

Mario Andretti Trophy winners and runners-up:

• 2006 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR. Nicky Hayden, MotoGP
• 2007 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Donny Schatz, WoO
• 2008 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Tony Schumacher, NHRA
•2009 – Tony Schumacher, NHRA; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
• 2010 – Sebastian Vettel, F1; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
• 2011 – Tony Stewart, NASCAR; Casey Stoner, MotoGP