Tuesday 6 December 2022

Guild of Motoring Writers Dinner and Awards

On the 1st December, the Guild of Motoring Writers held its annual Gala Dinner and Awards at the RAC Club, Pall Mall. Along with GOMW members, attendees included some very special guests, including our own Rod Grainger, of course. 

This year saw a few new award categories, including the Mercedes-Benz Technical Publication of the Year, created specifically to recognise publishers who have created books that: 

"successfully translate automotive content with a focus on cutting-edge technology and innovation to a consumer audience." 

If there's one book that does precisely that, it has to be Inside the machine. We knew we were not alone in thinking that – after all, as AutoCar said;

Who could write a book from the engineering back rooms of the motor industry and make it honest-to-God fascinating? David Twohig, that's who. Don't miss it."

And it seems that the GOMW agreed; Veloce Publishing won the category with David's book!

We’d like to thank everyone at the Guild who read and voted for Veloce Publishing. And we’d like to thank David, especially, for the opportunity to publish it. We would also like to congratulate all the winners and finalists this year, and welcome all new Guild members.

The GOMW's Andrew Charman has penned a first-hand account of the evening, detailing the winners, so sit back and enjoy the Gala …

Guild celebrates its 2022 Award winners

Celebration was the order of business at the annual Guild of Motoring Writers Dinner and Awards on Thursday 1st December.

Members and their colleagues from the PR side of the industry, plus some very special guests, filled the banqueting room of the RAC Club in Pall Mall for the Dinner and Awards. Accolades on the night went to Guild members for the excellence of their work in 2022, to others for their meritorious service to the Guild, and to major names in the automotive industry celebrating their achievements.

Among the latter the Young Rider and Driver of the Year trophies were presented to speedway champion Dan Bewley and British Touring Car Championship winner Tom Ingram. One of the BTCC’s most famous names, Jason Plato, won the Outstanding Achievement in Motorsport Award, while Motorsport UK head David Richards CBE took the President’s Trophy and Formula One driver turned commentator Martin Brundle was made an honorary member of the Guild.

Commenting on what he described as another busy year, Guild Chair Richard Aucock also paid tribute to several members lost in 2022, especially in recent times. But he added that the Guild is attracting lots of new members, and looking forward to an equally busy 2023 which among other highlights will see the return of the Guild Classic. Next year’s event is set to be based in Wales and titled Guild Classic Cymru.

The awards were presented as follows;

Friend of the Guild

There are only ever a maximum of 25 Friends of the Guild and this year joining their ranks is former Kia UK PR, now Head of PR and Communications at Genesis Europe, Jon Walsh. He was presented with his tankard by Guild Chair Richard Aucock.

Life membership

A very surprised Colin Dawson was awarded Life Membership of the Guild, recognising the many years he spent masterminding essential communications, particularly Update, the hard-copy predecessor to the current News Briefs digital newsletter.

Pemberton Trophy

The citation of the Pemberton Trophy reads ‘for an outstanding contribution, not necessarily journalistic, to the cause of motoring’. It was presented to veteran journalist, former Guild Chair and now Vice-President and Trustee of the Guild Benevolent Fund, John Blauth.

Guild/MICA Young PR Professional of the Year, in association with the HCVA

The joint award made by the Guild and MICA - the Motor Industry Communicators Association, and sponsored by the HCVA – the Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance was open to entrants aged 30 and under, judges looking for the best examples of performance, professionalism and practice in automotive PR.

The winner was Elizabeth Waddup, Automobile PR & Events Manager at Honda UK, and she received her award from Guild Chair Richard Aucock, MICA Managing Director Richard Gotch and the HCVA CEO, Garry Wilson.

The judges felt that Elizabeth had shown an outstanding understanding of the accelerating rate of change in our industry, not just as a vehicle manufacturer but also from the dealer and customer perspectives, and were impressed by how this understanding is reflected in her work.

AA Campaigning for Motoring Award

New for 2022, this award merges the AA’s previous Campaigning Journalism and Safety awards. From road safety to electric vehicles, or roads maintenance to environmental issues, the judges wanted to see examples of how entrants have built and delivered their case to improve the lives of all road users.

The winner was Lucy Radley for a piece in Commercial Motor highlighting mental health and wellbeing in the industry. Judges felt her reporting showed how severe the issue can be, and how, until recently, support was not available. The feature highlighted how the industry is acknowledging and changing to offer support where it’s so vitally needed.

Unfortunately Lucy was unable to attend the dinner so her award was collected from AA PR Manager Tony Rich by Commercial Motor Technical Editor Colin Barnett.

BCA Feature Writer of the Year

The hotly-contested Feature Writer of the Year Award was won by James Taylor for a feature in Car magazine on the Lucid Air electric saloon, combining a first drive with an interview with Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson. Judges felt the piece skilfully balanced driving impressions with insight into the development process and market aspirations and James received his Award from BCA Head of PR Tim Naylor.

Footman James Classic Writer of the Year

Again attracting the most entries among all the Award categories this year, the Classic Writer of the Year Award was presented by David Bond, Managing Director of sponsor Footman James, to Giles Chapman. The judges felt all three of Giles’ submitted features stood out while the profile of Geneva-based old car dealer Simon Kidston really got under the skin of the man, a fabulous piece of writing.

Genesis Award for Automotive Technology Journalism

Now in its third year, the Genesis Award for Automotive Technology Writing was presented by Genesis Motor UK Head of PR & Communications Simon Branney to Tom Geggus. Tom submitted a multimedia feature produced for Autovista24 which included a podcast, a video and a whole host of related articles – a very comprehensive piece of multimedia journalism. The judges were most impressed with his ability to make technical subjects easy to read. 

Isuzu Photographer of the Year

Top quality in photography was the focus of the next two Awards and Isuzu Product & PR Manager Brian Wheeler presented the trophy in the General category to Jonathan Fleetwood. Jonathan triumphed for the second year in succession with a portfolio judges felt excelled in both quality and content – technically first-class, but equally highly pictorial.

The Motorsport category award went to Drew Gibson – Drew won the award in 2020 and was highly commended last year. The judges agreed his high-quality portfolio displayed a mastery of techniques plus evidence of him looking for the different angle to capture highly pictorial images.

IVECO Commercial Vehicle Writer of the Year

Iveco replaced sister company CNH as the sponsor of the Commercial Vehicle writing trophy and Brand Marketing & Communications Manager Lisa Fuller presented the Award to Louise Cole. A holistic, exhaustively-researched and well-argued appraisal of the era of unprecedented technological and legislative change now facing all truck makers, operators and users earned Louise her third triumph in the category.

Mercedes-Benz Technical Publication of the Year

Mercedes-Benz transferred its sponsorship to a more technically-orientated award this year, with judges looking for publications that have successfully presented automotive content to a consumer audience, with a focus on technology and innovation that can be easily understood.

The winner was Veloce Publishing for Inside the Machine, a publication that gives a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the automotive industry through the development stories of three very different, but highly significant, vehicles. Veloce director Rod Grainger received the award from Mercedes-Benz Automotive PR Manager Hunter Skipworth.

Prodrive Motorsport Award

This ever-popular award recognises an outstanding achievement by a Guild member writing about motorsport at any level and this year provided Car magazine’s James Taylor with his second triumph of the evening, receiving his trophy from Prodrive Marketing & PR manager Jamie Stanton.

James wrote an exceptional piece about the Race of Remembrance, a prestigious event that really epitomises the spirit of motor racing. Judges felt his eloquent writing style and thoroughness helped to create a truly immersive reader experience.

Prova PR Business Writer of the Year

Prova PR has sponsored the Guild’s Business Writer of the Year category for 14 straight years, and this year the winner was Jack Carfrae. Writing for Transport News, Jack explained in simple terms how time-of-use energy pricing works and how the right technology can unlock its potential to save fleets money while also potentially delivering valuable data to inform further efficiencies. Judges felt this was a strong, easy-to-read commercial/business piece that doesn’t skimp on technology insight.

Jack is based abroad and was unable to attend the dinner, so his award was collected by his former editor and Guild Vice-Chair Simon Harris from Prova PR Director of Strategy Gill Holtom.

RAC EV Journalist of the Year

This award recognises the increasing role electric vehicles are playing in today’s motoring arena and RAC Senior Press Officer Rod Dennis presented the trophy to Mark Bursa.

In a series of articles for Professional Driver, Mark guided readers through the various aspects of switching to an electric vehicle – the target audience being the self-employed (such as taxis and private hire) who are responsible for obtaining and maintaining their own vehicles and for whom the move to EVs is essential. Aspects covered included the slow pace of EV infrastructure and how rising domestic electricity prices are impacting home charging.

Torque Agency Business Publication of the Year

This, the second new award for 2022, was open to all automotive business media publications, and the judges were looking for clarity in editing, design and writing, together with well-researched content which helps readers understand the complexities of the business side of the UK auto industry.

Winner of the inaugural award was Auto Retail Profit and its Editor, Guild Chair Richard Aucock, stepped up to receive the trophy from Torque Agency Group Associate Director, Alex Michaelides. The judges felt that the publication demonstrated a laser-like focus on its purpose without becoming dry or repetitive. Features are well-researched and insightful, with the breadth of industry contributors clearly demonstrating the title’s reputation within the sector.

Bentley Editor of the Year

The Bentley Editor of the Year trophy was presented by one of the award’s judges, Ray Hutton, to Erin Baker of Auto Trader. The judges commented that under Erin’s direction Auto Trader has expanded to become an important publication in its own right, now among the five most valuable automotive media outlets in the UK. It is tough to get recognition for independent editorial content in a highly commercial advertisement medium, but Erin has done just that.

Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy

This year sees the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy share its 50th anniversary with its founding partner, the National Motor Museum and welcome a new sponsor in Suzuki UK. Open to both Guild members and non-Guild members alike, the award caters exclusively for books and the entry list reflected an interesting and eclectic mix of submissions.

CEO of the National Motor Museum Trust, Dr Jon Murden and Suzuki Head of Press and PR Alun Parry presented the first, second and third-place awards. The winner was Jon Pressnell for Marcel Pourtout – Carrossier, the first book devoted entirely to the company behind the rakish Darl’mat Peugeots of the 1930s. Unfortunately Jon was unable to attend the dinner so fellow member Russell Hayes collected his trophy.

Second place went to Ian Wagstaff for his book Formula One’s Unsung Pioneers – The story of the British Racing Partnership and how it launched motorsport into the modern era, while in third was Michael Barton with Fast Lady – The Extraordinary Adventures of Miss Dorothy Levitt.

Sue Baker Journalist of the Year, sponsored by loop

Before this award, sponsored by loop, was presented Guild Chair Richard Aucock announced that it was to be renamed in honour of our sadly recently-departed member Sue Baker, a trailblazer for women in automotive journalism.

The judging panel carefully assessed the winning entries of the Guild Awards looking for submissions with a particular emphasis being placed on initiative and endeavour – Richard and loop Head of Agency Tim Bowdler presented the Award to Erin Baker.

Kia UK Special Contribution to Motoring

The final honours of the evening were bestowed by the Guild to those which have made a notable impact on the automotive world during the past 12 months. First was the Special Contribution to Motoring, presented by Guild Chair Richard Aucock and Kia UK Head of Press and PR Daniel Sayles to John Hogan.

John went from nine years in the Army to work experience at Autocar, stints in journalism and PR, then staffer, editor and finally owner of SuperBike. He has written a biography of Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness, freelanced for titles across the world and is now communications head at Norton Motorcycles, having saved the company with his investigation of its previous owner. 

Young Rider of the Year

The Guild’s two prime motorsport awards now specify that they are awarded for entrants aged under 30, and the Young Rider of the Year Award this year went to Dan Bewley. Starting speedway racing just five years ago Dan won a championship in his first season and has continued to rack up titles, in 2022 winning the British Championship with a flawless 18-point maximum, back-to-back Grand Prix races in Cardiff and Wroclaw and, as part of the Great Britain team, finishing runner-up in the Speedway of Nations.

Training commitments in Poland prevented Dan attending the Dinner so his trophy was collected by Guild member and lifelong speedway fan Ian Wagstaff.

Young Driver of the Year

Tom Ingram was named the 2022 Guild Young Driver of the Year. This season Tom finally achieved his dream of winning the British Touring Car Championship, triumphing in a three-driver shoot-out at the final round with two wins and a fifth place. Starting his career in karting, Tom has been in the BTCC since 2014, racked up 25 race wins and two independents titles, and been a contender for the overall title in four of the last five season finales.

Tom was unable to attend the Dinner so his trophy was collected by Guild News Briefs Editor and BTCC specialist Andrew Charman.

Outstanding Achievement in Motorsport

Another award new for 2022, this recognises an outstanding achievement made by a British driver or rider of any age in any form of motorsport and a very worthy recipient of the inaugural award was Jason Plato.

Jason took his first race victory in a kart in 1989 before making his way up the single-seater ladder. He won Championships in both the Formula Renault Eurocup and Spider Cup but is best known for his exploits in the British Touring Car Championship, where since his debut in 1997 he has amassed 97 race wins and two championship titles. He is also well known as a TV presenter, mainly on Fifth Gear.

Interviewed by the evening’s master-of-ceremonies, Ben Edwards, following the trophy presentation, Jason told the remarkable story of how his BTCC career might not have started had he not doorstepped Renault BTCC and F1 team boss Frank Williams. He also emphasised that while he had stepped back from the BTCC at the end of 2022, he had not necessarily retired!

Jason later commented, “I am truly honoured to receive this award from the Guild. To be applauded in this way is really quite something.

Honorary Membership

The Guild Dinner saw the appointment of a sixth Honorary Member in Martin Brundle. Formerly a racing driver who had the measure of Ayrton Senna in Formula Three and who rose to compete in 158 Grand Prix races for such teams as Benetton, McLaren and Williams, Martin has since forged an equally successful career behind the microphone as an expert pundit on F1. Learning his trade alongside the legend that was Murray Walker, Martin is today a lynchpin of Sky’s F1 coverage. Martin described his award as “a great honour indeed”.

President’s Trophy

The final award of the evening was the President’s Trophy and presented by Guild President Nick Mason, newly returned from the latest section of his highly successful Saucerful of Secrets tour playing early Pink Floyd material.

The Trophy went to David Richards CBE, a man whose involvement with motorsport spans most forms of four-wheeled competition. As a professional rally co-driver he won the World Rally Championship title with Ari Vatanen, and having hung his helmet up he then developed his company Prodrive into one of the largest multi-disciplined motorsport specialists in the world, winning championships in a host of on and off-road categories including World Rally titles with such star names as Colin McRae and Richard Burns. 

As if this isn’t enough, David now heads the motorsport’s governing body in the UK, Motorsport UK. Ben Edwards commented that reading through David’s extensive CV, it’s hard to find an area of motorsport he hasn’t influenced.