Continental Tire is set to present the second-annual Extreme Spirit award at the 2017 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and WeatherTech SportsCar Championship banquets this weekend.
The award will be presented to one winner in each of the five classes Continental Tire provides the spec tire: Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC), GT Daytona (GTD), Grand Sport (GS), and Street Tuner (ST).
“There are so many talented people in the IMSA paddock,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire. “We wanted to recognize those individuals whose contributions on and off track inspire others. The leaders. The dreamers. The competitors. These individuals are the heart and soul of their respective paddocks and they are helping to lead sports car racing into the future.”
The recipients of the Extreme Spirit award have demonstrated great respect for fellow competitors, sponsors, track operators, officials, media, and fans throughout the 2017 season. They act as ambassadors for IMSA on and off track and show an ability to accept victory with humility and defeat graciously. They also display the positive qualities of sportsmanship and have a commitment to excellence that is second-to-none. Their on-track performance speaks for itself while their off-track efforts are revered.
Following a month-long nomination process, the winners were chosen by a panel that included last year’s ExtremeSpirit Award winners. And to be chosen by your peers could be one of the highest compliments.
“I feel like I should have some ‘extremely spirited’ response for winning the Continental Tire ExtremeSpirit Award, but the fact is that it is very humbling and it just causes me to be reflective and filled with gratitude,” said Ben Keating, ExtremeSpirit Award winner in the GTD class. “Our IMSA paddock is a community of great people. We are all passionate about what we do, and we all want to win. I cannot think of a higher honor than to be selected for this award by my peers. You can’t go out and win every race, but you still want to go out and compete with respect. To me, this award symbolizes the respect of my peers and that is what makes it so special. I am grateful to all of the people who pour themselves into this sport that I love. I am grateful to all of those people who are respectful to me, and those who see me this way. I am EXTREMELY grateful. I am EXTREMELY happy. I am EXTREMELY spirited about winning this award.”
Even though he was a car owner during five of his 11 successful season as a Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, CJ Wilson has made the transition from baseball player to business owner and more importantly, race car owner/driver. So to be recognized by his peers was an extreme honor.
“I truly love racing, and as far as I can see inside my mind and my heart, the desire to race has been the single most consistent guiding factor in my life,“ said Wilson, ExtremeSpirit Award winner in the GS category. “We have all had to raise our games collectively over the years as the density of professionalism increased in this series. Continental Tire has been a great partner over the last few years helping our team’s development, mostly by doing what we all love- supplying us with the venue to race, and an equal tire that we can use to mash curbs for hours and hours. We're proud to be involved, and very proud of how far our team has come in the last seven years. It’s an honor to receive the Continental Tire ExtremeSpirit award and be recognized by my peers as a leader in the paddock. I just want to be known as a racer, so thank you to everyone who just sees me that way.“
The 2017 winners of the Continental Tire ExtremeSpirit Award are:
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
• P – John Church, owner of the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2
• PC – James French, driver of the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM03
• GTD – Ben Keating, driver and car owner of the NO. 33 Team Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge
• GS – CJ Wilson, owner of the No. 33 and No. 35 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche Cayman GT4s
• ST – Jeff Mosing, driver of the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mosing Motorcars Porsche Cayman
All the winners of the Extreme Spirit award will be acknowledged at their respective banquets and presented with a trophy and check from Continental Tire.