DRIVERS, TEAMS, AWARDED NEARLY $3 MILLION AT PEP BOYS IRL GALA
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 21, 1998 - 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack and car owner A.J. Foyt were the biggest winners Saturday night at the league's annual awards banquet, as points fund bonuses totaling $2.7 million were presented to drivers and teams at the Murat Theatre.
Brack and Foyt shared the evening's biggest award, the Pep Boys Million, a $1 million bonus for winning the season championship. Tony George, Indy Racing League founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president, presented Brack and Foyt with replicas of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship Trophy before a capacity crowd.
The awards ceremony capped a 1998 season in which the league distributed more than $21 million of prize money, bonuses and contingency awards during its 11 races.
The top 10 drivers in the Pep Boys IRL point standings in 1998 - Brack, Davey Hamilton, Tony Stewart, Scott Sharp, Buddy Lazier, Jeff Ward, Scott Goodyear, Arie Luyendyk, Eddie Cheever Jr. and Marco Greco - were honored during special presentations. Second-place finisher Hamilton and third-place Stewart received special glass trophies designed by Tiffany and Co.
Numerous awards were presented during the gala. A recap:
Pep Boys Indy Racing League Entrant Champion Award: A.J. Foyt, A.J. Foyt-Power Team Racing
.This award is presented to Foyt for the second time in league history. He won the entrant championship in the 1996 season. Indy Racing League Special Achievement Award: Dr. Henry Bock
.Indy Racing League Executive Director Leo Mehl presented Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services, with a glass trophy etched with his likeness to honor his extraordinary contributions to the success of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award: Robby Unser
.Unser scored 176 points in just eight races in The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever G Force/Aurora/Goodyear to lead all rookies. Unser, son of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, earned a $50,000 bonus and a glass trophy from Sprint PCS. Pep Boys-MCI Million Dollar Driver Sweepstakes: Ron Ace and Kenny Brack
.Ace, from Baltimore, and 1998 Pep Boys IRL champion Kenny Brack each received a $50,000 bonus through this contest presented by Pep Boys and MCI. Ace was drawn from a pool of entrants who correctly picked Brack to win at least two of three designated races during the 1998 season. MBNA Lap Leader Award: Tony Stewart
.Stewart earned $30,000 from MBNA for leading 598 laps during the 1998 season in his Glidden-Menards-Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, more than any other driver. Pennzoil Chief Mechanic of the Year Award: John King
.King's smart mechanical moves helped Kenny Brack win the Pep Boys IRL championship in the Power Team Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. King earned a $25,000 bonus from Pennzoil. PPG Pole Master Award: Billy Boat
.1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Boat won $10,000 and a trophy through this new award, unveiled during the banquet. Boat earned the award for winning six PPG Poles during the season in the Conseco-A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear during the season, more than any other driver. MBNA Charging Through the Field Award: Buddy Lazier
.Lazier earned $10,000 from MBNA for improving his starting position the most during the last six league races of 1998 in his Hemelgarn Racing-Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Xerox Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. EMCO Gears Right Gear Award: Kenny Brack
.Brack earned $10,000 from EMCO for being the highest-placing driver in the final 1998 point standings using EMCO Gears. MCI-OnTrack-IRL Crew Most Popular Driver Award: Arie Luyendyk
.Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Luyendyk earned this award for the second consecutive year through voting by league fans. The IRL Crew, the league's fan club, presented Luyendyk with a glass trophy. MCI presented a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Luyendyk, who announced Nov. 20 that he will end his illustrious career after the 1999 Indianapolis 500. Winning Sponsor Award: Power Team
.Power Team President Nancy Bessey received this award in honor of the utility company's primary sponsorship of 1998 league champion Kenny Brack. Champion's Team Manager Award: Tommy LaMance
.LaMance received a trophy for his expert management of the two-car A.J. Foyt Enterprises team, which included the Power Team Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear driven by 1998 champion Kenny Brack. Engine Manufacturer Award: Oldsmobile
.Oldsmobile received this trophy for the second consecutive year, as its Aurora engine powered the winners of all 11 Pep Boys IRL races this season. Outstanding Manufacturer Awards: Dallara, G Force, Riley & Scott, Oldsmobile, Nissan, Goodyear, Firestone, Delphi Automotive Systems
.Mehl presented awards to these manufacturers for their outstanding contributions to the series.
ESPN television personality Bob Jenkins, also the radio voice of the Indianapolis 500, served as host. Entertainment was provided by gospel group Cliff White and the Northernaires and the Singing Hoosiers, a chorale group from Indiana University. The Design Group, an Indianapolis company, produced and coordinated the awards banquet.
The 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season starts with the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 24 at Orlando, Fla.