The British Automobile Racing Club’s annual Awards Evening didn’t just see the championship winners of 2023 celebrated on Saturday (February 3) as a number of other special accolades were bestowed upon hugely deserving winners too.
Leading the list of prestigious recipients was newly-crowned double MINI CHALLENGE JCW champion Dan Zelos who claimed The President’s Cup; which is awarded to the most successful BARC member competing under international level.
Becoming the first driver in the modern era of the ultra-competitive tin top series to clinch the coveted crown for a second time, Zelos chalked up an impressive ten victories and a further two podiums on his way to championship superstardom.
Zelos lauded: “It was totally unexpected and a complete honour to pick it up. We had an amazing year in 2023 and sometimes when your in the middle of getting deals together in the off season you forgot how much you may have achieved – so to be rewarded with a trophy like this has left me lost for words.
“Me, my Dad and the rest of the family have and continue to work incredibly hard to go racing and this is a fantastic accolade to receive. I think I’ve been part of the BARC for more than a decade now too.”
One of the biggest raptures of applause deservedly went the way of this year’s BARC Marshal of the Year, Steve Bemrose. In memory of Dennis Harris and designed to recognise the dedication and special efforts of the Club’s marshals, Bemrose was worthy winner after being selected by the Marshals Core Group.
Attending a multitude of race meetings over the course of last year, his actions in particular at the BTCC season-opener at Donington Park played their part in saving the life of a driver following a high-speed accident.
“It is a complete shock I must admit,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of motorsport and I remember reading a review about being a marshal, what it entails and I never really comprehended how close you could get to the action, etc.
“After I had done my taster day my love for it grew and I’ve never looked back. The marshal community is incredibly tight-knit and if there is anyone out thinking about getting involved then do it, because it is just fantastic.”
Elsewhere, Junior Saloon Car Championship and Track Action Coordinator Dave Beecroft saw his diverse and distinguished motorsport career be celebrated as he scooped The Gerry Marshall Trophy, having epitomised the philosophy for motorsport that Gerry once had.
He said: “This award really means a lot to me because Gerry Marshall was a childhood hero of mine; I remember watching him at Oulton Park and was fortunate enough to meet him several times – so it was touching to be this year’s recipient.
“I love everything about this industry and its nice to be kicking off the year like this; especially because we’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary in the Junior Saloon Car Championship, which is an incredible achievement.”
For the second year in succession, The Densley Trophy – which is bestowed upon the female in the Club that has been deemed to have a successful year – was handed out, with the Classic Touring Car Racing Club’s Sonia Gibbons claiming the prize.
“I never ever expected to be given this award,” she admitted. “I didn’t even think I would be up for it so I am extremely proud to have won. At the Classic Touring Car Racing Club we are all volunteers but it is a real family. It’s a wonderful Club and I’m honoured to be a part of it.”
Louis Sharp’s charge to the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA title didn’t go unnoticed as he was honoured with The Peter Collins Trophy, which is awarded to the most promising junior drive competing in a BARC championship.
After enjoying a hugely encouraging debut campaign in 2022, the New Zealander lived up to the mantel of being a title favourite by edging out Will Macintyre to the single-seater crown in the final race of the season.
“It came as a complete surprise to me and it’s a massive privilege to receive it so thank you to the BARC for recognising me – it was a nice end to a really special night,” he said. “This award is a fantastic reward for everyone that has supported me.
“My ambition is to one day get to Formula 1 and while it has been a good start to that journey I’m well aware that there is a long way to go and that it will continue to get more competitive. I’m loving the challenge though and can’t wait to see what is next!”
Rounding out the list of special award winners was Adam Weeden, who completed the most volunteering days to lift The Sir Clive Bossom Trophy, and Zena Wooller who was named BARC Trainee Marshal of the Year.
“I’m delighted,” said Weeden. “This award goes to show how much marshals are appreciated because we give our time, which is very precious to us, to show support to the drivers and the championship.”