BILSTEIN Shock Absorbers is pleased to announce that California-based rally racer George Doganis is the recipient of the Madonna Award for Racing Excellence for his racing accomplishments in 2010. An active participant in the SouthWest RallyCup Series, Doganis captured the overall championship in the inaugural year of the BILSTEIN Cup Class in his 1997 Honda Civic. The presentation of the prestigious award took place at the annual SouthWest RallyCup Series awards banquet in January.

The tradition of the BILSTEIN Madonna award in the United States began in 1984 with the Winston Cup championships, and has evolved to recognize the accomplishments of individuals in many areas of on and off-road motorsports. Notable recipients have included Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Ivan Stewart, and Brett Hearn. While Doganis has the honor of being included with this list of racing legends, he also has the distinction of being the first rally racer in North America to receive this award.
BILSTEIN respects the sacrifice and dedication required to achieve success in the demanding sport of rally racing, and we extend our sincerest congratulations to George Doganis.

George Doganis’ Official Statement on receiving this award:

It is great honor for my co-driver Tom Smith and myself to receive the Bilstein Madonna Award! To win this award a lot of effort was put into the development of my rally car,  a 1997 Honda Civic, by my crew chief Tom Laeng, my mechanic Koji Haraguchi and my fabricators Tho Nguyen and Tony Woodford. 2010 was the first season for my newly built car and because of the development efforts there was not a single serious reliability issue.

The suspension is the most abused part of a rally car  and the Bilstein shock absorbers never missed a beat during this season. What makes this award most gratifying to me is that three years ago, when I decided to build this car, I wanted to have a car that could utilize affordable Bilstein shock absorbers. My previous car had very expensive rally suspension (three times the cost of the Bilsteins I am using now) and based on extensive discussions with Bret Norgaard of Bilstein, I was confident that I could have a great performing suspension at a reasonable cost. And it came true!

Bret Norgaard (Bilstein R&D), Cami Hermann (Bilstein Marketing), with George Doganis

Rallying is a punishing sport  because of the demands the rough gravel roads place on modified street cars and the risk/speed ratio that the driver and co-driver have to manage every second of every stage. Having a reliable, confidence inspiring car with suspension that keeps the tires on the ground makes all the difference!

My biggest thanks go to Stacie and Alex for allowing me to pursue my obsession with motorsports.

George Doganis

For more information about the BILSTEIN SouthWest RallyCup Series, visit:

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