DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2018) – Eric Prill, of Topeka, Kan., was presented the RRDC Mark Donohue Award at the annual RRDC members’ dinner at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 24. The dinner preceded the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Prill, who serves as the Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of SCCA, had been previously announced as the award winner following the 54th SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2017). He earned the honor by scoring his first victory in the hotly-contested F-Production class after 16 attempts. He accepted the unique trophy from RRDC members John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports, and RRDC president Bobby Rahal.Every year, the RRDC Mark Donohue trophy is an engraved glass top mounted on a special, racing-experienced wheel, provided by an RRDC member. This year’s wheel was donated by Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan. It comes from the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning Corvette No. 4 driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler, in the closest finish in Daytona history, .034 seconds. All six Corvette Racing team drivers, including Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller, in the No. 3 car, signed the wheel.
“I think it is important for all of us to stop and remember who it was that gave us our start in the motorsports industry,” said Doonan. “For many of us it does not take long to remember that it came from our families…and for many of us it came from our fathers and mothers – whether it’s Bobby and Graham Rahal, John and Corey Fergus, Barry and Spencer Pigot. For me it was my dad. We can never forget the impact of our families and being able to do what we do together.“That is why it is fitting that our 2017 recipient is a perfect example of someone who has come directly into our sport thanks to his father being involved first.”
Prill qualified his MaxtonsFight.org /JPM/Hoosier Mazda Miata on the pole of the 42-car F-Production field. He was passed early but regained the lead and held it to the finish despite two full-course cautions and a battle with nine-time national champion Joe Huffaker, Jr.
“I grew up in an SCCA family,” said the 44-year-old Prill. “I took my first victory lap at Waterford Hills (Mich.) with my parents in my dad’s old Lotus Super Seven. I was born seven months later.”
“My dad worked in the advertising industry, so I had some amazing experiences at pro races as well. One of those companies was American Motors. I remember him telling me stories about Mark Donohue and the Javelin. But the Prill familiy racing was pretty modest. It was more about the experience than chasing championships,” Prill continued.
“When I finally got a chance to race at the Runoffs in 2000, it was amazing. I wasn’t fast and I crashed. But I chipped away at it and gradually got more competitive. I started building my own Miata for 2011. That car’s been so great for me – five podium finishes in six years with four seconds, but I just couldn’t quite seal the deal.
“The 2017 Runoffs was magical. Pole, led every lap, fastest race lap. That was an amazing day. But it wasn’t even the best day of my year. The honor goes to Jan. 8, 2017. That was the day my wife Robin and I celebrated our son Maxton’s final day of chemotherapy. He’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2013 at age 2. His fight taught me a great deal about patience and perspective. And I think that’s why I was finally able to put it all together this year.”
Prill remarked that after the Runoffs, Max, now age 6, went to the race shop with him to help freshen up the car for sale. “Max said to me, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to sell the car. You used to go to the races with your dad. I want to go to the races with you. And I want my son to go to the races with me.'”
“Well, I’m normally pretty stoic,” said Prill, “but I was a complete puddle right then, standing in the middle of the shop. I think we’ll keep the car for another year.”
On receiving the award, “I’m truly humbled by all this. It is such an honor. Thank you all so very much,” he said.
Read the full press release announcing Prill’s selection to receive the award may be found on the SCCA Web site.
[Front page image by Rick Corwine]