British Touring Car stalwart Dick Bennetts had had his motorsport achievements recognised at the recent UK Autocar Awards where he received an Outstanding Leaders award.
The 73-year-old New Zealander operates the storied West Surrey Racing outfit which last year clinched its second successive BTCC crown at the hands of Colin Turkington who was also duly named Motorsport Hero of the Year.
Originally hailing from Dunedin, Bennetts is heralded for masterminding the likes of Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen through his involvement in British F3 under the WSR label.
14 years after its inception, WSR bowed out of F3 as the most successful team in the history of the series in terms of race victories and overall championships as well as two Macau GP wins and several one-off victories in Germany, Italy and Japan.
Bennetts then spearheaded his small team’s audacious move into the BTCCC in 1996 to run the works Ford outfit.
The Kiwi connection within the team quickly expanded as they welcomed Touring Car World Cup champion Paul Radisich and Craig Baird to race for the team across its first few seasons.
Since then, WSR has grown to accommodate works Honda, MG and finally BMW teams and proudly boasts over 100 class and outright wins in the BTCC.
Across that period, a host of elite touring car drivers, including Nigel Mansell, Tom Kristensen and Andy Priaulx have climbed behind the wheel of WSR-prepared cars and achieved success.
The team’s greatest touring car successes have all come with Turkington behind the wheel which last year saw the 38-year-old claim a record-equalling fourth BTCC crown in dramatic circumstances after clashing with a rival in an earlier race.
“I’m truly humbled to receive this honour,” Bennetts commented after the Awards. “To still be winning races and championships after all these years, I guess I must be doing something right.
“I think you can only be a good leader if you have a truly outstanding group of people around you, and throughout my career in motorsport I’ve always been fortunate to be in this position and I think that if you look at the men and women who have worked at WSR and what they’ve gone on to achieve, either with us or elsewhere, that point is pretty clear.
“I’ve been asked what the secret of success is many times, but at WSR we work hard, learn from our mistakes and look after each other… It’s no more complicated than that.”
Bennetts also added his content to keep WSR in the touring car realm where he knows he can succeed.
“I’m happy in the BTCC. I get invited to do other series, but it adds cost and you need more staff.
“If I was 20 years younger, maybe, but I’m over 70 now. I want to do whatever we’re doing properly.”
After its prolonged coronavirus-induced hiatus, the 2020 BTCC is set to get its rapid nine-round season underway from Donington Park on August 1-2.