Posts Tagged ‘ Awards

Dean Smith wins the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award; stand by for ‘Venison-gate’

Formula Renault UK champion Dean Smith is the 21st winner of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award, bagging a test in a McLaren F1 car, free Puma racewear, a cheque for £50,000 and a watch that’s big enough to see from space. Smith made the shortlist in 2007 but lost out to Stefan Wilson.

The judging was reportedly very tight. The standard of driving during the Silverstone test days was very impressive, as was the aptitude of the candidates during interviews. The decision finally came down to a choice between Smith and his FRenault rival James Calado, and Smith came out on top by dint of being fastest during the test.

Smith is hoping to land a seat in GP3 next year and the prize purse will give him a tremendous boost. The junior formulae aren’t cheap nowadays (a season in Formula BMW will cost you around £120,000) and his career nearly stalled last year when he failed to land the necessary finance for a Formula 3 campaign.

Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis was at the next table along from us, and she made the draw for the annual charity lottery. The prize of a Peugeot 207 S16 went to Mike Conway, prompting one wag to comment, “Only thing he’s won all year…”

Also during the evening Formula 1′s new hanger-on of choice, James Corden, delivered an uproarious comic turn that will have come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen Lesbian Vampire Killers. Then he committed a rather crass diplomatic blunder, following in the footsteps of Martin Brundle last year: while presenting Jenson Button with the British Competition Driver Of The Year gong, Corden made it quite clear that his venison steak had been on the griddle for longer than he considered necessary.

When did it become acceptable etiquette to come to a party and scorn the hospitality of your hosts, even if you’re a demi-inebriated sitcom co-writer? Answers on a postcard, please…

At the Autosport Awards

I’m lucky enough to be attending the Autosport Awards tonight as a guest of the customer publishing agency I do most of my work for. It’s always a spectacular event, attended by the great and the good, even though a few of them disgrace themselves (Martin Brundle’s public snipe at the chewiness of his steak ruffled the feathers of the people who spend months organising the do; although he’s on the guest list again this year so ‘lamb-gate’ must have been forgiven). I’ll be sitting next to a bigwig from – any suggestions?

The centrepiece of the night is the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award. It’s not an automatic ticket to success – one or two of the winners have fallen down the cracks – but the majority of the drivers who have taken home this award have risen to the top of international motorsport. Aside from BRDC membership, a drive in a McLaren F1 car, Puma racewear and a clonking great TW Steel watch, the prize includes a £50,000 cheque. Money helps young drivers kick down the right doors and last year’s winner, Alexander Sims, has been mightily impressive in the F3 Euroseries this year.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti, Anthony Davidson and Jenson Button are: James Calado and Dean Smith (frontrunners in Formula Renault UK); American Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou; Callum MacLeod from the European F3 Open; and James Cole and Chrissy Palmer from British Formula Ford. Each of them had to perform for an expert judging panel in a variety of machinery (and on used as well as fresh tyres) over two days at Silverstone last month.

The headline names on the judging panel are Damon Hill, Anthony Davidson and Jamie Green; but the people who supply the context are the Nationals team from AUTOSPORT: Kevin Turner, Ben Anderson and the legendary Marcus Pye, who have watched these guys race week in, week out, for several years.

Unfortunately they’re all sworn to secrecy, so you’ll have to wait until later to find out who’s won…