AVONDALE, Ariz. – Dan Zacharias, for 20 years the lead trackside media relations representative for Ford at NASCAR races, was announced as winner of the Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations on Friday.
The Jim Chapman Award 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 ISM Raceway media center 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.
“I know Jim is smiling because of the mutual connection he and Dan share with Ford,” said Knight. “That makes this most-appropriate recognition of Dan even more meaningful.
“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, a shared meal, or the sound of another person’s voice.
“For two decades Dan has been a trusted and reliable resource for journalists reporting on NASCAR, helpful with requests small and large. In that way, Dan has truly worked to the standard, and in the spirit, of Mr. Chapman.”
Zacharias has been with the Campbell Marketing and Communications agency, representing Ford, for more than two decades. He began his duties in NASCAR in 1998 with responsibility to work with all forms of media and provide pertinent race weekend information. It’s estimated Zacharias has worked with the media at some 600 race weekends.
He also has been a key team member in launching Ford’s NASCAR race cars, including Taurus, Fusion and most recently, Mustang.
Established in 1991 by media and publicists within the CART series, the Jim 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 public relations.