York wins prestigious racing PR award
Longtime Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center official Bill York was announced as the winner of the 2011 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations.
The Chapman Award is considered by many in the industry as the highest honor in racing public relations. It 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.
"I admired everything that Jim Chapman stood for and tried to emulate all of his skills," York said. "He was the real, true professional PR man. I'm elated that I even had the opportunity to know him and to work with him for many years. The things that I learned by watching Jim through the years certainly influenced how I worked with the media."
York has been a fixture at the Speedway, especially with journalists in the media center, for more than 50 years. He began working in the Indianapolis 500 press room in 1958, fulfilling many roles, including gathering statistics and managing the media center through 2008. He continued to serve as an IMS media center liaison in 2010 and 2011.
York also was instrumental in creating the Stark & Wetzel Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award.
A longtime friend to journalists around the world, York has earned many other auto racing awards, including the 2010 Bob Russo Founders Award for lifelong contributions to the sport and the STP Unsung Hero Award.
York also has worked in the media rooms for the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers, with the Pacers' media room in Conseco Fieldhouse named in his honor.
The Chapman Award is determined by a vote of media members, most of whom knew Chapman, and is authorized by the Chapman family. PR representatives from all forms of motorsports are eligible for consideration.
"It is impossible to think of anyone more deserving," said Michael Knight, chairman of the selection committee, longtime journalist/publicist and one of Chapman's closest friends. "Bill York is more than one of Jim's countless friends and admirers. Bill's professionalism is in the example and spirit of Jim Chapman's.
"Over many decades, Bill has shown he understands the value of actually talking to people and getting to know them, and that having those professional relationships best serve clients in good times - and bad."
York will receive the 2011 Jim Chapman Award on Jan. 8, 2012, at the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-America team dinner in Indianapolis. Broadcaster Paul Page, a longtime Chapman friend and a member of the award selection committee, will make the presentation.