Wilkins Gets North American Cup
December 1, 2008 | 1:25 P.M. EST
Wilkins and teammate Brian Frisselle had a breakout win for Woodbridge, Ontario-based AIM Autosport when they surprised everyone at the team's home race in Montreal after being spun to the back of the field in the opening lap. Crossing the line just 0.064 seconds ahead of the second-place car, it is on record as the closest finish in Rolex Sports Car Series history. One week later, the team took the pole and the win at Watkins Glen International and went on to record their third consecutive podium at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. two weeks later.
At that race, they also drove from the back of the pack in an impressive run. Wilkins was at the wheel when the checkers flew at each of these events. Overall, Wilkins and Frisselle led 11 of 13 races in the No. 61 Ford Riley and the team went on to place fifth overall in the series championship.
This North American Cup was first presented to CASC by past-president, George Chapman of Winnipeg in 1980 and is awarded to the outstanding Canadian racing driver taking into account results of all races in any category in North America. The trophy honors the driver who brings the greatest international recognition to Canadian motorsport. Past recipients include Ron Fellows, Paul Tracy, David Empringham, Devon Powell and Klaus Bytzek. The first recipient in 1980 was Jacques Villeneuve, brother of Gilles Villeneuve, whose son would go on to win both CART and Formula 1 championships.
Scott Ellsworth, President of CASC-Ontario Region commented on Wilkins' selection.
"Winning at the international level at which you compete is a challenge an order of magnitude greater than winning in your own backyard," Ellsworth said. "You (and your team) demonstrated consistent success in Grand-Am (Rolex) competition in 2008. This award is richly deserved and we're proud that this year it is going to a driver from CASC Ontario Region."
"I am extremely thrilled to have been chosen for this award," exclaimed a very surprised Wilkins. "To be selected by your peers for any award is great, but to think that my name will be on a plaque alongside some of my racing heroes and mentors, is absolutely amazing. I can only hope that my racing career continues to flourish and that can attain the same levels of success as theirs." Mark continued, "I'd like to thank the board, all the members and the selection committee at CASC-OR for this award. We now look forward to another successful season with AIM Autosport in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series."
AIM Autosport's win at Montreal was earlier selected by fans as Grand-Am's "Moment of The Year" in online balloting and the team was recognized at the annual awards banquet. That stunning win is now in the running for the SPEED Performance Awards as "Move of The Year". Fans can view the video and vote online at www.speedperformanceawards.com.
AIM Autosport Facts: Established in 1995, AIM Autosport has a mandate to identify, train and manage emerging motorsport talent. AIM has provided many young drivers with a solid foundation on which to build a career in professional racing. The success of the AIM driver development programs has been achieved through the dedication of our employees and the ongoing support of our commercial and technical partners. Away from the track, AIM Autosport serves the needs of the racing community with a purpose-built preparation shop situated in the Toronto suburb of Woodbridge, Ontario. AIM fields the No. 61 Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype in the Grand-Am Rolex Series with drivers Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle. The team also competes in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. AIM won the 2008 Championship with driver John Edwards.