Stox Personality of the Year 2016: Nominee #4

Four personalities have been shortlisted for the 2016 F1Stockcars.com Stox Personality of the Year award. This time, the nominees were chosen by last year’s winner, Frankie Wainman Junior.

The other nominations were Mark SargentNigel Harrhy and Mick Sworder.

How to vote

Once all nominations have been announced, you will be able to vote for your favourite via the F1Stockcars.com website.

Voting will open on Saturday 10 December and will close at midnight on Saturday 17 December. The winner will be announced on Sunday 18 December

Nominee #4: Dave Leonard

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Dave Leonard was as much a stock car fan as I think it’s humanly possible to be!

Says Frankie Wainman Junior, who nominated him for the award:

Everybody knew Dave. He raced Formula 2, but we knew him more in Formula 1 because he sponsored a lot of drivers, including me, and was the driving force behind the Under 25s Championship. He was a supporter of the sport.

He followed the sport from his childhood days getting to the tracks by any means possible be-it hitching a lift, cycling, walking or flagging down a passing transporter if possible. Once there, along with his childhood and adolescent mates, he’d also gain entry to those tracks by any means possible – but it’s probably as well to leave that matter right there!

As the years progressed Dave’s passion for the sport never really wavered and over time he tried his hand at Rebel racing and even owned an F2 for a couple of seasons. It’s fair to say he never set the tracks alight as a driver and I remember him (having lined up for the consolation and then being told he’d qualified for the final) politely tell the track marshal to “go away and don’t take the *mick*” as even he didn’t believe he’d made it through the heats!

Eventually Dave elected to help some drivers with sponsorship rather than race himself and the list of drivers who benefited from his generosity includes, but certainly isn’t limited to: Derek Fairhurst, Frank, Frankie and Danny Wainman, Dave Willis, Mike Ashcroft (me), Stuart Smith Junior, Josh Smith… the list goes on!

He was also a great fan of US and NZ racing and had many trips supporting UK drivers abroad and taking in the occasional racing holiday in his beloved Florida. I don’t think I can remember a time Dave didn’t have the next big trip planned, such was his passion for oval motorsport.

Dave always liked to see the younger and lesser lights of the sport do well and in 2005 he came up with the idea of a ‘fan-funded’ Under 25s Championship to give the young guns something of their own to race for. His plan was to collect money throughout the season then ask a promoter to run a dedicated race where the monies would be split between the competing drivers. Many thought the idea to be a non-starter (including myself) but he persevered with it and in 2006 the Under 25s Championship was run at Belle Vue Stadium and was won by Dan Squire. From then on the championship has run every year and gone from strength to strength. Although not an official championship within the sport, many drivers see it as just that and the race always provides a great spectacle and is always superbly supported by them. One of the reasons for its popularity, I feel, is that it’s not just about the winners. Fans can stipulate how they want their donation to be allocated and the race regularly features prizes for such things as the sixth place driver on lap six, the first retiree, first puncture, last placed finisher – all of which run alongside the more traditional awards for the placed drivers.

Some of the drivers who have raced and benefited from Dave’s race included (again not limited to) Dan Johnson, Ed Neachell, Lee Robinson, Tom Harris, Lee Fairhurst and Ryan Harrison, who we all now think of as stalwarts of our sport. It’s by no means over stating the importance of the U25s race when it’s said it played a pivotal role in these drivers’ progression.

For, me if BriSCA had a ‘Hall of Fame’, Dave would 100% be in there. As for personality of the year? That’s for you lot to decide. RIP superfan… love ya’ man!

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Words: Mike Ashcroft
Photos: Colin Casserley

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