Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered a disappointing 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but he didn't leave SoCal empty-handed. On the night before the race, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion received his RACER of the Year Award trophy presented by Hawk Performance.
The Andretti Autosport driver, who last year scored four wins on his way to the championship, also won the hearts, minds and votes of RACER readers to finish top of the polls for both RACER of the Year and Road Racer of the Year. He collected his award at the RACER party held the night before the Long Beach race.
Hunter-Reay said, “We had a great year in 2012. We were quick from the word go, we knew we had a great chance at the title and, even after some setbacks, the entire Andretti Autosport team dug deep and showed that we can be as strong as anyone out there.
“To know that our efforts were appreciated so much by RACER readers makes me very proud. I've read the magazine right from the start, issue 1, when as an 11-year-old kid, I'd read it cover to cover. I love the insights, the quality of the writing, the photos, the feel of it.
“So to have the readers vote for me is awesome and is definitely one of the reasons that 2012 will be a year that I remember for the rest of my life. Thank you to RACER, its readers and of course to Hawk Performance. And I really appreciate you going the extra mile to create this trophy.”
Presenting the award to Ryan was Andrew Hisey of Hawk Performance and RACER editor David Malsher. Hisey commented, “We're thrilled to have the opportunity to extend our long-standing relationship with RACER magazine by supporting the RACER of the Year Awards. Hawk Performance's roots are in racing, and that's something we're very proud of.
“We're particularly excited to be able to present the 2012 road racer and overall awards to Ryan Hunter-Reay. He earned a hard-fought IndyCar championship in 2012, and RACER readers recognized him for it. We couldn't be happier with their choice for Hawk Performance RACER of the Year.”
Malsher added, “First of all, I'm really happy that Hawk Performance has partnered with us for the RACER of the Year Awards, not just because it's a strong and well-regarded brand, but also because Hawk Performance is noted for the quality of its products. In those regards, I feel Hawk and RACER have the same goals. But the bonus is that the two logos look really good together so that trophy is pretty damn cool."
He continued, “As for Ryan, well, we really aren't surprised that he won the readers' votes for this award. Last year, he did what an IndyCar champion should do – he won races on both road courses and ovals – and he also showed this huge fighting spirit whenever he was hit by misfortune. It sounds a bit whimsical, but I think that Ryan's mental attitude in not letting one day's bad luck inhibit his next day's performance is a kind of reflection of how he overcame difficult times in his career.
“That alone makes his championship victory one of those rags-to-riches stories that capture people's imagination. Combine that with Ryan's eye-catching and aggressive driving style and also the ability to speak well as an ambassador for the IZOD IndyCar Series, and you have a true people's champion. And judging by his superlative performance at Barber Motorsports Park a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Hunter-Reay is making a serious run at another championship and another RACER of the Year Award presented by Hawk Performance.”