has worked with racing legend A.J. Foyt for almost three decades, today
announced as winner of the 2013 Jim Chapman Award
for excellence in motorsports
The Chapman Award is considered by many in
the industry as the highest honor in racing public relations. It is named in
memory of Chapman, the legendary PR executive and innovator, who worked with
Babe Ruth and was named Indy Car racing’s “most influential man” of the 1980s.
Chapman died in 1996 at age 80.
The announcement and presentation were
made at Auto Club Speedway by Michael Knight, chairman of the selection
committee, and one of Chapman’s closest friends. The award is determined by a
vote of media members, most of who knew Chapman, and is authorized by the
Chapman family. PR representatives from all forms of motorsports are eligible
“Anne actually knew Jim, so her receiving
this award is especially meaningful,” said Knight, the longtime
journalist/publicist and award rights-holder. “Jim once said to me that every
time he saw Anne she was smiling, and Jim liked that.
“Anne’s approach to working with the media
is ‘old-school’ in the best sense. She’s
made A.J. more accessible. Anne’s annual
media guide is one of the most comprehensive in all of motorsports, filled with
information that makes it -- and her -- a valuable resource for journalists
around the world.”
of Newton, N.J., began her motorsports career at National Speed Sport News where she
worked with legendary editor Chris Economaki.
Fornoro joined the U.S. Tobacco Co. in 1984, working in the promotions
division before moving to the company’s motorsports division and its wide range
of programs. However, she is most closely associated with Foyt, whose team she
has worked with since 1985. In 2000, she formed her own company, A-Line
Communications, with Foyt’s teams in IndyCar and NASCAR as her sole clients.
Fornoro is the daughter of the late midget
racer Russ Klar and is married to nine-time NEMA midget champion Drew Fornoro.
Her father-in-law, the late Nick Fornoro, was a driver and CART’s official
starter at the same time Chapman directed PPG Industries’ series title
Established in 1991
by media and publicists within the CART series, the Chapman Award originally
focused on achievement in CART. After a hiatus of several years, the award was
resumed in 2004, with eligibility expanded to anyone working in racing
Chapman started as sports editor or
managing editor of several Southern newspapers before joining the New York Times. He served in the U.S.
Air Force during World War II. He entered the PR business in 1946, as regional
PR director for Ford Motor Co. in Detroit.
Soon thereafter, Chapman hired Ruth as
consultant to the automaker’s sponsorship of American Legion Junior Baseball.
They traveled together for more than two years for personal appearances and
became close friends. Chapman was one of only three friends at Ruth’s bedside
when he died in August 1948 and then officially announced Ruth’s death to the
press corps that had maintained an around-the-clock vigil at New York’s Memorial
showcased several photos of Ruth in his office.
One was inscribed: "To a pal that is a pal." Chapman also displayed a
framed letter, written on Ruth's personal stationery from Memorial Hospital,
dated July 13, 1948, inviting him to the July 26 premier of the film, The Babe Ruth Story. That letter read,
in part, "That evening would not be complete without your being my guest. To you, Jimmy, I say you must be with me that
In 1950, Chapman left Ford to start his
own PR firm. One of his first clients was Avis founder Warren Avis. Chapman
devoted much of his time to financial PR, which he once called his “favorite
form of PR,” and helped companies get recognition among analysts and even gain
admission to the New York and American stock exchanges.
Chapman’s first venture into motorsports
was in 1951, when he joined with NASCAR founder Bill France to promote the Motor
City 250. The race was part of Detroit’s 250th birthday celebration,
a Chapman client. In 1967, Chapman entered Indy Car racing with client Ozzie
Olson’s Olsonite sponsorship of Dan Gurney’s team, which later featured Bobby
Unser as driver.
“Jim was one of the most innovative and
imaginative PR men ever to grace a pit lane,” said Gurney. “Jim practically
invented most of what is now considered routine sponsor PR work. He was the
first, as far as I know, who thought of putting up a sponsor hospitality tent
alongside a racetrack (at the old Riverside International Raceway), filling it
with extravagant race car ice-sculptures, beautiful food and beautiful people
from the business, sports and movie industries. He started an ‘open house’
tradition in Ozzie’s hotel suite in Indianapolis, where journalists could rub
shoulders with John Wayne or (astronaut) Scott Carpenter.”
Chapman also directed Olsonite’s
sponsorship of the Driver of the Year award. He orchestrated all the details,
including the media panel voting, and an annual luncheon at New York City’s
famed ‘21’ Club. That gathering was considered so prestigious it was routinely
attended by leaders of all the major U.S. sanctioning organizations regardless
of what series the Driver of the Year competed in.
Chapman’s greatest professional acclaim
came from 1981-1992, as director of CART series sponsor PPG Industries’ program.
Chapman was instrumental in raising PPG’s prize fund from $250,000 to more than
$3.75 million at the time of his retirement in February 1993. The all-female PPG
Pace Car Driving Team was another Chapman innovation, as were the PPG Editors’
Days, when he brought business and feature writers to the tracks for lunch, pace
car rides, and driver interviews.
In 1982, Chapman negotiated a landmark
sponsorship for PPG with then- Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Joe
Cloutier, which formally made the Indy 500 a points-paying event in the PPG Indy
Car World Series, an arrangement that continued through the 1995 season. “That
was one of the most satisfying moments of my career,” Chapman recalled. “Roger
Penske, among others, told me it was the best thing that had ever happened to
CART.” In addition to a major contribution to the prize fund, PPG later became
sponsor of the $100,000 Indy 500 pole award, and paid a special winner’s bonus
in the early years of NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.
“With Jim, when he says ‘jump,’ we just
ask ‘how high?,” Indy 500 winner and PPG Cup champion Al Unser Jr. said on
behalf of his fellow drivers. “And we do it right then.”
Indy Car Racing magazine named Chapman
the sport’s “most influential” man of the 1980s, saying he turned “a public
relations assignment into an art form.” After his retirement, Chapman continued
to consult PPG, and agreed to Mario Andretti’s personal request that he serve as
honorary chairman of Andretti’s “Arrivederci, Mario” farewell tour in
professional achievements earned him vast recognition. The mayors of Detroit and Long
Beach, Calif., presented
him proclamations and the key to each city.
In 1993, Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh named him Sagamore of
the Wabash, the state's highest honor. He served as president and/or director of
more than 30 Michigan and Detroit-area civic and charitable
organizations. Chapman became active in
the civil rights movement in the 1950s and represented the Detroit Urban League
and United Negro College Fund in several controversial situations. He admitted to shedding "buckets of tears of
joy" when Willy T. Ribbs became the first African-American driver to qualify for
the Indy 500 in 1991.
“Jim set the ultimate standard of
professionalism, class and dignity,” said Knight. “He knew that building good
one-on-one professional relationships with journalists was important in good
times and absolutely essential in bad times. That’s too often missing today in a
communications age where an E-mail or text message is incorrectly considered
‘relationship-building.’ Jim was a true ‘people person’ and knew nothing could
replace a handshake, a face-to-face conversation, or the sound of another
“The true honor of this award is not the
plaque,” Knight concluded. “The true honor is having your name forever
associated with that of the great James P. Chapman.”
JIM CHAPMAN AWARD HONOREES:
1993-94 – Deke
Houlgate and Hank Ives
2000-2003 – (Award
2007 – Dave Densmore
and Bob Carlson
2009 – (Award not presented)
2012 -- Judy
Dominick and Nancy Wager