New end of year awards announced

Rolex Series to Honor Sportsman Drivers with Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 3, 2005) -- Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson today unveiled plans to honor the accomplishments of...

Rolex Series to Honor Sportsman Drivers with Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 3, 2005) -- Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson today unveiled plans to honor the accomplishments of sportsman drivers in the Rolex Sports Car Series through awards named in honor of sports car racing greats Jim Trueman and Bob Akin.

The awards recognize individuals in the Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring (GT) classes who, while not professional drivers, have established their driving credentials in the racing community through their talent and commitment to the sport. The Jim Trueman Award will be presented to the top Daytona Prototype sportsman driver each year, while the Bob Akin Award will go to the top sportsman driver in the GT category.

"Sportsman drivers have a long and distinguished history in sports car racing, and are very much a part of the Rolex Sports Car Series," Edmondson said. "With the explosive growth our series has experienced over the past few years and the significant increase in professional drivers, we felt it was important to reinforce the importance of sportsman drivers and their significant roles in the continued success of the Rolex Series. It is my hope that these awards quickly assume the prestige they deserve and will be highly desired and closely contested every year. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Trueman and Akin families for their enthusiasm and cooperation in the creation of these awards."

While best known as the owner and driving force behind the TrueSports Racing team that won the 1986 Indianapolis 500 and back-to-back CART titles in 1986 and 1987, Trueman was also an accomplished sports car racer, winning the 1981 Can-Am championship in the 2-liter category. He was also an active competitor in IMSA Camel GT sports car competition and frequently co-drove prototypes with several well-known drivers, including his protege Bobby Rahal. Trueman was also the founder of the Red Roof Inns hotel chain and later purchased and renovated the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which his family continues to operate today through TrueSports, Inc. Through the years, Trueman united his business success and passion for motorsports to help talented upcoming drivers in pursuit of their driving aspirations. Trueman was genuinely interested in helping these young talents and over the years he assisted such drivers as Rahal, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Willy T. Ribbs, Ed Pimm, Ludwig Heimrath Jr. and Patty Moise. Trueman passed away in 1986 just days after his team won the Indianapolis 500.

"The Trueman family is extremely pleased to see an award honoring my father in this manner," said Michelle Trueman Gajoch, Trueman's daughter and the President of TrueSports, Inc. "That the award honors these drivers because of their talent, drive and determination and based upon their performance is very appropriate."

Akin also had a lifelong passion for racing and was a stout sports car racer with victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1979 and 1986 in addition to numerous other IMSA Camel GTX and GTP victories. Upon his retirement from professional racing in 1991, Akin remained active in vintage and historic race cars until losing his life in a crash while testing for a historic race at Road Atlanta in 2002. In addition to his racing exploits, Akin was president of the Hudson Wire Company and was a board member and president of Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y.

"It is hard to put into words how much this award means to my family," said Akin's son, Bobby. "To have my father's memory remembered in such a way is an honor. My father loved this sport. He loved the cars, the competition and he loved the people associated with motorsports. The people that represent the businessman racer were some of the people my father respected the most. These are people, much like himself, that raced not because they were earning a living. They raced because they loved racing. It is this group of racers that are so strongly represented in the GT category and the reason the award fits so well with my father's memory. On behalf of the Akin family, I would like to thank the entire Grand American family for this award."

Drivers eligible for the Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards must meet eligibility requirements determined by Grand American officials. To be considered, a driver's primary source of income cannot be from driving race cars in any series at any time over the past five years. Points will be earned based upon the finishing position of the car driven in each round of the Rolex Sports Car Series, as well as one point per mile driven by the driver competing in the program.

The winner of each award will be the driver who accumulates the most points. Each winning driver will receive a commemorative plaque or other appropriate keepsake for their personal trophy case. Two separate perpetual trophies--to be on permanent display in Daytona USA--will be engraved with the name of the winning driver and the year.

The Grand American Road Racing Association, which sanctions the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Grand-Am Cup Series, is the premier road racing organization in North America. The 14-race 2005 Rolex Series schedule and the 11-race Grand-Am Cup calendar delivers professional sports car racing to key markets throughout North America in addition to being televised in the United States and Canada on SPEED Channel and distributed globally through ESPN International. With title sponsorship support from Rolex Watch USA, the Rolex Sports Car Series showcases emerging and legendary drivers from around the globe and thoroughbred racing machines from the industry's leading constructors and the world's top automobile manufacturers. Learn more about Grand American at www.grandamerican.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Wally Dallenbach , Bobby Rahal , Willy T. Ribbs , Bob Akin , Ludwig Heimrath