The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League and the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association have been entwined in common goals for the past 49 years.
They'll continue that association during the 2005 racing season, as AARWBA celebrates 50 years of operation, the IRL conducts its tenth year of competition and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race takes place for the 89th time.
During a break in preparations for the Toyota Indy 400 set to take green flags at noon tomorrow on the 2-mile California Speedway oval IMS and the IRL declared their intent to support numerous activities in AARWBA's golden anniversary. AARWBA was formed just a mile from the historic 2.5-mile Brickyard oval in August of 1955 and is one of the few professional racing organizations to survive in good health over the past 50 years.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway will provide $10,000 in prize money for the annual AARWBA journalism contest and also intends to host presentation of AARWBA's Newsmaker of the Half Century award next May, part of a series of events leading up to the Indy 500 May 27th.
The Newsmaker of the Half Century award is the headline event of the 50th anniversary celebration for AARWBA. The group's board of directors will select 12 nominees from an initial 50-person list and announce those contestants during the 35th annual AARWBA All-America Team dinner Saturday, January 15, 2005 in Pomona, CA. The 12 nominees will then be presented to the full AARWBA membership for final voting. A May date for the ceremony to reveal the Newsmaker of the Half Century honoree hasn't been determined.
"This is important news for AARWBA," declared president Dusty Brandel. "The journalism contest is very popular with our members and this support from the Speedway will add to its prestige." As is customary, winners in the journalism contest, judged by an independent panel will be announced the day before the Indy 500 during AARWBA's annual Indianapolis 500 breakfast.
"There can be no more appropriate place than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of so much racing history reported on by AARWBA members to announce and present the Newsmaker of the Half Century award," Brandel added.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League join many prominent racing companies as official sponsors of AARWBA's 50th Anniversary Celebration. NASCAR, Porsche Cars North America, Toyota Motorsports, Valvoline and Honda have already signed on in support and additional official sponsors will be announced shortly, the association revealed.
"We are pleased to make this commitment to the future of AARWBA," noted Tony George, IMS and IRL president and CEO. "During the last half century, IMS and AARWBA shared much in motorsports history. We are pleased to play a role in recognizing the best work of the men and women who cover our sport."
50th Anniversary Celebration chairman Michael Knight said IMS and the Indy Racing League have agreed to provide added support to help bring attention to AARWBA activities. "Our primary goals for the 50th anniversary are to increase the benefits AARWBA offers to current and prospective members and to expand awareness of AARWBA within the motorsports industry.
"This multi-year and wide-ranging cooperative agreement with Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League is very significant in moving this process forward," said Knight, a veteran racing communications specialist. "We are grateful for the participation of all our official sponsors, which is key in making AARWBA's 50th Anniversary Celebration a great success."
AARWBA is determined to foster greater awareness of the motorsports journalism industry and advises non-members in the racing community to join by downloading membership forms from www.AARWBA.org.