AARWBA Titus Trophy to Franchitti Indy 500 Winner Tops All-America Team Vote; Drivers Honored by Media Group; Haas Named Pioneer; Fittipaldi Featured Speaker INDIANAPOLIS -- Dario Franchitti, who won the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series ...
AARWBA Titus Trophy to Franchitti
Indy 500 Winner Tops All-America Team Vote; Drivers Honored by Media Group; Haas Named Pioneer; Fittipaldi Featured Speaker
INDIANAPOLIS -- Dario Franchitti, who won the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series championship and then moved on to NASCAR, was announced as recipient of the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy for 2007 at Saturday night's 38th annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's All-America Team ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
The Titus is earned by the driver who receives the most All-America Team votes cast by AARWBA members. Named in memory of the late journalist and professional racer, it is the highest honor offered by the country's oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals.
Emerson Fittipaldi, the legendary Indy-Formula One-Champ Car champion, was the featured speaker. Approximately 200 members, guests and VIPs were in attendance at the Hyatt Regency ballroom in downtown Indianapolis. AARWBA members annually elect drivers to the Team from seven categories: Stock car, open-wheel, drag racing, road racing, short track, touring series and at-large.
"It makes me very proud to receive the Titus Award," said Franchitti, who accepted from AARWBA President Dusty Brandel. "2007 was a wonderful season for me, and awards like this will help to remind me of what I was able to achieve with my team. Thanks to all my friends who voted for me in the media."
Other Team drivers on-hand to claim their "Horsepower" Trophies were: Tony Schumacher and Tony Pedregon (drag racing); Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Scott Pruett (road racing); Mika Salo, Jamie Melo and Alex Lloyd (at-large); and Frank Kimmel (touring series). Also elected were Sebastien Bourdais (open wheel); Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon (stock car); Donny Schatz and Jerry Coons Jr. (short track); and Ron Hornaday Jr. (touring).
Several special awards were presented:
Pioneer In Racing Award: Carl A. Haas, one of motorsports' most successful team owners and entrepreneurs, was honored for longtime dedication and achievement that have made a difference in the sport. The Pioneer is one of AARWBA's oldest and most prestigious awards and is not given every year. Dinner Chairman Michael Knight made the introduction and presentation.
Jim Chapman Award: Dave Densmore and Bob Carlson received the honor for excellence in motorsports public relations. It is named in memory of Chapman, the late legendary PR executive, who was Babe Ruth's PR rep and director of racing for CART series sponsor PPG Industries. Densmore, who has represented John Force and his sponsors for many years, and Carlson, the veteran Porsche Cars North America publicist, were chosen by a blue-ribbon committee of journalists, all of whom knew Chapman. It's the first time two people have been honored in the same year. The plaques were presented by Knight, Mike Harris and Paul Page, all close friends of Chapman.
Dusty Brandel President's Award: Robert (Rocky) Entriken, journalist and longtime chairman of the All-America Team selection committee, received the honor from Brandel. Entriken was acknowledged for his many contributions to the organization.
Gorsline Scholarship: The 15th annual scholarship, given by John Gorsline of The Gorsline Co., went to 19-year-old Star Mazda series champion Dane Cameron. The prize is awarded to an up-and-coming driver who displays the attributes of a future champion.Cameron became the first rookie to win the overall series championship. Vicki O'Connor, managing director of the Champ Car Atlantic series, made the presentation on behalf of John Gorsline.
A1GP Chief Commercial Officer Scott Hollingsworth greeted guests on behalf of the evening's new presenting sponsor. The international, 10-race, A1GP open-wheel series matches driver vs. driver, country vs. country. A1GP brings together 22 nations to compete on an equal basis.
A special audio-visual tribute was offered in memory of members Bill France Jr., Wally Parks and Shav Glick. Several speakers participated in the new Shav Glick Newsmakers Forum, where Franchitti received his Indy 500 winner's ring from IMS President Joie Chitwood and Dario's image on the Borg-Warner Trophy was unveiled. The pre-dinner reception was co-hosted by ESPN, MAZDASPEED, Budweiser and Edelman Motorsports.
Popular announcer Bob Jenkins was Master of Ceremonies. Army Staff Sergeant John Adams and Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club executive director Jack Martin led the Pledge of Allegiance.