Friday, May 25, 2018


Driver James Hinchcliffe and longtime publicist/journalist Michael Knight were honored with traditional Indy 500 awards Friday in a ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center.
 Hinchcliffe was announced as recipient of the Jigger Award, presented by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, to an Indy 500 competitor who experiences misfortune/bad luck. Hinchcliffe, who survived near-fatal injuries in a 2015 practice session accident at IMS only to return a year later and win the pole position, didn’t qualify for Sunday’s 102d running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The award is named for Jigger Sirois, who missed being the pole winner in 1969 when his crew waved-off a qualifying run which would have been the only one completed before rain prevented any more track activity. Under rules then in effect, Sirois would have been on the pole, but never did qualify for the race. Sirois accepted the award for Hinchcliffe.
Knight accepted the Angelo Angelopolous Award, given since 1963 “to the 500 Mile Race Participant Who Best Exemplifies the Creed of Good Sportsmanship.” Angelopolous was an Indianapolis News writer who loved the 500 and fair play and sportsman-like acts.

Knight covered the race for the Philadelphia Daily News before a quarter-century career as a publicist for CART and numerous drivers and teams, including the Newman/Haas, Treadway, Robby Gordon and Sam Schmidt teams and drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Arie Luyendyk and Gordon. In recent years he’s reported for the Arizona Republic. He is a lifetime member of the 500 Oldtimers and is attending his 40th Indy 500, which he said will likely be his last.


Dr. Jerry Punch, who combined careers in broadcasting and medicine to become one of the most respected people in all of motorsports, was honored Friday with the Bob Russo Founders Award for dedication to auto racing.
The award was presented to Dr. Punch by Russo Award Chairman Paul Page, the 2012 honoree, in a ceremony in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's media center.
 Russo, the much-admired and honored motorsports  journalist/publicist/historian, founded the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association in 1955. Russo helped racing gain early national media attention in the 1950s via his stories in Speed Age magazine. He consulted IMS owner Tony Hulman on the future direction of the sport when AAA stopped sanctioning races, which led to the formation of the U.S. Auto Club. Among Russo's successes in public relations were the legendary Mobil Economy Run and with NHRA and Riverside International Raceway. Russo was the Miller Brewing Co.'s media representative for its primary sponsorship of Danny Sullivan when he won the 1985 Indy 500. His historical research and archives benefitted the sport overall, including the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He died in 1999 and age 71.
The Russo Award, as stated on the plaque, is presented "to an individual who has demonstrated profound interest, tireless efforts and undying dedication to auto racing as exemplified by Russo throughout his lifelong career.”
Dr. Punch, who will be a pit reporter for ABC's Indy 500 race telecast, was a driver and mechanic on the Carolinas short-track circuit and in 1975 began substituting for NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett as track announcer at Hickory (N.C.) Speedway. He joined the Motor Racing Network radio team at the 1980 Daytona 500 and started with ESPN in 1984 as a pit reporter for NASCAR telecasts.  
Over the years, Punch has also served as host and play-by-play voice not only in numerous racing series, but college football and basketball as well.
Dr. Punch received his medical degree from Wake Forest University in 1979 and worked 14 years as emergency room services director at a Florida hospital. In 1988, he revived Rusty Wallace, who was not breathing after a crash during practice at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. A few months later, Punch joined the rescue effort to save driver Don Marmor, who crashed in an ARCA race.
Among Punch's many honors are the U.S. Air Force Outstanding Performance Award, 1990 NASCAR Team Player of the Year and the Lindsey Nelson Broadcasting Award.
Previous Russo Award winners include: 2005 – Michael Knight; 2006 – Wally Parks; 2007 – Chris Economaki; 2008 – Bob Jenkins; 2009 – Shav Glick; 2010 -- Bill York; 2011 -- Bill Marvel; 2012 -- Paul Page; 2013 -- The Hulman-George and France Families; 2014 -- Donald Davidson; 2015 -- Dick Jordan; 2016 -- Dan Luginbuhl; 2017 -- Holly Cain. A permanent plaque with all winners’ names is on display in the Speedway media center.
The award is sponsored by Collene and Gary Campbell, the sister and brother-in-law of the late Mickey Thompson.



LEGENDS BOTH: Babe Ruth and Jim Chapman

Dick Jordan, who has served the U.S. Auto Club in public/media relations and publicity capacities for almost 50 years and a member of the National Sprint Car and Midget Halls of Fame, Friday was announced as winner of the 2018 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations.
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 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Michael Knight, chairman of the selection committee, and one of Chapman’s closest friends. The award is determined by a vote of national media members, many of who knew Chapman, and is authorized by the Chapman family. PR representatives from all forms of motorsports are eligible for consideration.

"Dick has been a friendly and reliably helpful presence at USAC races for almost a half-century," said Knight. "Dick knew Mr. Chapman and so he well understands the meaning of this high honor.

“Jim set the ultimate standard of professionalism, class and dignity. He knew that solid 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 or over-reliance on social media 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 person’s voice.”
The Chapman Award has three major purposes: 1. To honor Chapman's unmatched legacy; 2. To recognize current PR practitioners who work to Chapman's standard and in his spirit; 3. To provide inspiration for newer and future PR representatives.

Jordan attended races with his parents in the early 1950s and saw his first Indy 500 in 1956. He was hired by USAC in December 1968 and has worked for the sanctioning organization continuously since, publicizing its drivers, series and races, developing relationships with journalists around the country, maintaining extensive statistics, writing race reports and mentoring young racers in how to deal effectively with the media.

Now USAC's vice president of communications, Jordan's schedule has routinely had him at more than 100 races a year. It's believed he has witnessed more USAC events than anyone. He has been called "USAC's greatest champion" as defined as "someone who fights for a cause."

The permanent Jim Chapman Award, currently displayed in the IMS media center, is cast in bronze and features a classic photo of Jim wearing his favorite navy blue double-breasted blazer and the names of all the award recipients. The text under Jim’s photo reads:

“James P. Chapman (1916-1996). A great man who deeply cared about country and church; family and friends. A legend in the public relations industry who set the ultimate standard of professionalism and excellence. A superstar who superstars like Babe Ruth wanted at their side. A pioneer in motorsports PR who practically invented most of what is now considered routine. A true 'People Person' who knew a mutually-respectful relationship with journalists was important in good times and essential in bad times. A mentor kind enough to help others achieve success. A gentleman who understood nothing could replace the sound of the human voice, a handshake, a face-to-face meeting, a shared meal, a hand-written note of thanks. 
“All who ever have, do, or will work in public relations stand on Mr. Chapman's shoulders.

“The true honor of the Jim Chapman Award is not a plaque. The true honor is having one's name forever associated with that of the great James P. Chapman. A committee of journalists adjudged those named here worthy of this high honor.”

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 PR.

Chapman, who was born in Macon, Georgia, started as sports editor or managing editor of several Southern newspapers before joining the New York Times. 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 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 Hospital.

Chapman kept with him a money clip with a pockmarked silver dollar that Ruth used to carry during games for good luck. Chapman said Ruth had used the coin for target practice. He proudly 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 evening."

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, who died earlier this year. “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.
In its obituary, the New York Times wrote that Chapman "served as a father confessor to many top racing drivers." Two-time Indy 500 winner and PPG Cup champion Al Unser Jr. said on behalf of his fellow drivers, "With Jim, when he says ‘jump,’ we just ask ‘how high? 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 1994.

Chapman's 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.

To allow those in the media and industry not at IMS to see the permanent Chapman Award, Knight announced it will be relocated to the new ISM Raceway media center in Phoenix this November, and be displayed there throughout the 2019 season.


1991 – Michael Knight
1992 – Tom Blattler

1993-94 – Deke Houlgate and Hank Ives

1995 – Kathi Lauterbach

1996 – Marc Spiegel

1997 – Mike Zizzo

1998 – Tamy Valkosky

1999 -- Carol Wilkins

2000-2003 – (Award not presented)

2004 – Doug Stokes

2005 – Susan Arnold

2006 – Kevin Kennedy

2007 – Dave Densmore and Bob Carlson

2008 – Judy Stropus

2009 –  (Award not presented)

2010 -- Jim Hunter

2011 -- Bill York

2012 -- Judy Kouba Dominick and Nancy Wager

2013 -- Anne Fornoro

2014 -- Jon Edwards and Elon Werner

2015 -- Linda Vaughn (honorary)

2015 -- David Ferroni

2016 -- T.E. McHale and Dan Layton

2017 -- Andy Hall

2018 -- Dick Jordan

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


This is where you will find the full news releases on the winners of the Jim Chapman, Bob Russo, Jigger and Angelo Angelopolous Awards. These will be announced Friday, 10:15 a.m. EDT, in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center.

Thank you.