CORNING, N.Y. – A number of communities came together on Thursday night to honor race team owner Chip Ganassi at the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass.
They included the racing communities of IndyCar, Sports Car and NASCAR, as well as the local New York state communities hosting this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International.
Ganassi received the inaugural Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for outstanding contributions to motorsports at the International Motor Racing Research Center Award Dinner presented by NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and Watkins Glen International.
Owner of teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Verizon IndyCar and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series, and a former racer in SCCA amateur and pro competition, Ganassi was feted by an elite group of racing dignitaries, industry sponsors and community leaders.
Popular ESPN race commentator Dr. Jerry Punch was the master of ceremonies.
“Very few have achieved what he has,” speaker NASCAR President Mike Helton said of Ganassi who, in his 25th year as a team owner, can boast of 17 championships and 150 race wins, including five at the Indianapolis 500 and five at the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona.
In 2010, Ganassi teams recorded 19 wins in all three series, including victories in the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400, making him the only team owner to win all three crown jewels of racing in a single season. That achievement was followed in early 2011 with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ganassi became the first owner to hold all four titles at one time.
“Winning a big race is always something that sticks in your mind,” Ganassi said after being presented with the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award, a custom-designed and hand-craft glass bowl. “But there are hundreds and hundreds of people who are behind me. I wish I could have every one of them up here with me.”
The award honors Cameron R. Argetsinger, founder and organizer of the first races in Watkins Glen. Races have been held continuously since the first in 1948.
The non-profit International Motor Racing Research Center is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of motorsports of all racing series and all tracks worldwide. Argetsinger was president of the Center for five years starting in 2002.
“The true history of motorsports couldn’t be told without him,” IndyCar Senior Vice President Brian Barnhart said of Ganassi.
Ganassi Racing NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray enjoyed some fun with his employer, relating stories of tense yet humorous moments during team meetings among Ganassi’s seasoned drivers such as McMurray and rookies such as Kyle Larson and Sage Karam.
But McMurray also had heartfelt words for his boss, saying, “I hope we get to make a lot more history together.”