INDIANAPOLIS – James Hinchcliffe, Michael Knight, Dr. Jerry Punch and Dick Jordan were all honored with awards on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hinchcliffe was announced as recipient of the Jigger Award, presented by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Ass’n, to an Indianapolis 500 competitor who experiences misfortune or bad luck.
Hinchcliffe, who survived near-fatal injuries in a 2015 practice session accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway only to return a year later and win the pole, didn’t qualify for Sunday’s 102nd 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 as a result failed to 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 Indianapolis 500, 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 Indianapolis 500, which he said will likely be his last.
Punch, who combined careers in broadcasting and medicine to become one of the most respected people in all of motorsports, was honored with the Bob Russo Founders Award for dedication to auto racing.
The award was presented to Punch by Russo Award Chairman Paul Page, the 2012 honoree, in a ceremony in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s media center.
The Russo Award 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.
The award is named for Bob Russo, a motorsports journalist, publicist and historian who founded the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Ass’n in 1955.
Jordan, who has served USAC in media relations and publicity capacities for almost 50 years, was announced as winner of the Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations.
The Chapman Award is named in memory of Jim Chapman, the legendary public relations 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 Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Knight, chairman of the selection committee, and one of Chapman’s closest friends. The award is determined by a vote of national media members and is authorized by the Chapman family.
“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.”
Now USAC’s Vice President of Communications, Jordan’s schedule has routinely had him at more than 100 races a year.