Chip Ganassi, a former race-car driver who is now one of the most successful and innovative race team owners in the world, was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club with the 2017 Phil Hill Award. RRDC president Bobby Rahal made the presentation at the annual RRDC members' dinner on Jan. 25 prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person who the RRDC feels has rendered outstanding service to road racing. The recipient may be a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body.
It is named in honor of America’s first Formula 1 World Champion (in 1961), and is not only a tribute to his masterful accomplishments on the race track, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.
Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for more than 30 years. Today his teams include two cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, two cars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, four cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and two cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2012, he was was named by Complex Magazine as one of the “50 most influential people in the Auto Industry."
Overall, his teams have won 18 championships and over 180 races, highlighted most recently by an historic win in their first trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016. As a result, Ganassi is the only owner in history to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 2010, Ganassi’s teams turned in an historic season by setting an organization record with 19 wins across the three touring series in which they competed, including victories in the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, making him the only team owner in history to win all three crown jewels of racing– and he accomplished it in a single season. In addition, in early 2011 his IMSA team finished off the “Grand Slam" by also winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ganassi became the first owner to hold all four titles at one time.
Following a strong career as a driver, Ganassi created his own one-car Indy car team in 1990. Through the years, his open-wheel teams have amassed 11 championships and over 100 wins — including five in the Indianapolis 500. His NASCAR teams have over 20 wins, including one in the Daytona 500, one in the Brickyard 400 and five trips to NASCAR’s Chase rounds. He manages his teams from state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis, Ind., and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Duquesne University graduate was formerly part owner of his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates and is a strong supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, to which his teams have donated over half a million dollars.
“Phil Hill represented everything that was great about the American spirit internationally," said Rahal. “He was the first U.S. Formula 1 champion and multi-time winner of Le Mans. He was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word.
"He was very much a class guy, and he let his driving speak for him. He wasn't a braggart. He just did his thing and he won a lot of races, including Le Mans in the '50s and '60s. He drove for Chaparral, and pretty much did it all.
"We think the Phil Hill Award represents something that's very special in motorsport. And Chip Ganassi clearly lives up to that example. He is indeed a worthy recipient of the Phil Hill Award."
"I want to thank everybody at the RRDC here tonight for giving me this Phil Hill Award," said Ganassi. "The list of past winners includes a number of my friends and mentors, people like Danny Sullivan, Bill France Jr., Roger Penske, Rick Mears, Hurley Haywood, Scott Pruett and MIke Hull. Oh, wait, Mike Hull ddn't get this award, did he? He certainly deserves it," said Ganassi, jokingly, about his longtime friend and Chip Ganassi Racing's Managing Director.
"Winning an award that has Phil Hill's name on it is certainly something that you have to be proud of. Anybody who has been around racing for any length of time and understands the history of the sport would certainly have Phil Hill on their list of heroes. Yes, this is truly an honor, I can tell you.
"As a lot of ou know, I'm filled with a passion for motorsports and, most importantly, for road racing and for the cars themselves. Although I couldn't be more honored to get this award tonight, I will also congratulate the RRDC for the tireless work of so many people who help maintain the history of road racing. It's great to be here to kick off the racing season."
Past RRDC Phil Hill Award Winners include:
1993 John Bishopâ€¨
1994 Juan Manuel Fangio IIâ€¨
1995 Leo Mehlâ€¨
1996 Charlie Slaterâ€¨
1997 Danny Sullivanâ€¨
1998 Rob Dysonâ€¨
1999 Bob Fergusâ€¨
2000 Elliott Forbes Robinsonâ€¨
2001 Bill France
â€¨2002 Jim Downing
â€¨2003 Derek Bellâ€¨
2004 Brian Redman
â€¨2005 Jim Franceâ€¨
2006 Roger Wernerâ€¨
2007 Skip Barberâ€¨
2008 Roger Penske
â€¨2009 Bob Bondurantâ€¨
2010 Nick Crawâ€¨
2011 Rick Mears
â€¨2012 George Follmer
â€¨2013 Peter Brock
â€¨2014 Hurley Haywood
2015 Vic Elford
2016 Scott Pruett
About the RRDC:
The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 as a way to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the areas of safety, and has evolved to serve the future of road racing by mentoring new drivers on both amateur and professional levels. The Club’s membership includes leading industry professionals, race officials and motorsports journalists, in addition to prominent racing names.
In 2011, the RRDC launched a free on-line training seminar – SAFEisFAST.com – featuring more than 30 RRDC members and other industry experts in high-quality videos covering subjects from physical and mental preparation to driving techniques, driver safety to car setup and sponsorship. The videos are updated regularly. Each week, a professional from the world of motor racing answers readers’ questions on the site in a feature called “Ask a Pro."
Bobby Rahal is President, John Fergus is Vice President/Treasurer, and Tom Davey is Secretary.
The RRDC presents three annual awards: the Phil Hill Award, the Mark Donohue Award, and the Bob Akin Award, and supports the Team USA Scholarship, which has been assisting young Americans in the early stages of their careers since 1990. The RRDC also honors icons of the sport at its annual dinner at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. Honorees have been Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and George Follmer.
Membership in the RRDC is by invitation only. For more information, visit www.rrdc.org.