Longtime motorsports ambassador and popular fan favorite Linda Vaughn has been named the first recipient of an honorary Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations.
The award was announced last week by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA).
Known as “The First Lady of Auto Racing” and “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter,” Vaughn, a Georgia native, has been a fixture at all forms of motorsports events, including IndyCar, NASCAR and NHRA for more than 50 years.
The award honors the memory of Chapman, who died in 1996 at the age of 80 and has long been acknowledged as one of the most innovative pioneers in sports PR.
Chapman spent his career working with the likes of Babe Ruth, as well as motorsports legends Mario Andretti, Bill France Sr., Dan Gurney and Bobby Unser, among others.
Sheryl Kammer, Chapman’s daughter, said in a statement: “I know Dad liked and respected Linda. She would also have to be much more than pretty to win Dad’s approval. This first honorary Jim Chapman Award is a terrific idea.”
Michael Knight, a longtime fixture in motorsports in both writing and PR, as well as chairman of the selection committee and one of Chapman’s closest friends, made the presentation.
“Linda went from being Miss Atlanta Speedway and Miss Pure Firebird to learn and become an accomplished public relations representative and marketer for Hurst,” Knight said. “She became a friend and confidant to drivers and their families.
“She helped the media and introduced many journalists, including me, to drivers, owners and executives. She probably has been in more victory lanes than anyone on Earth. And she remains one of racing’s greatest international ambassadors, making fans for the sport everywhere she’s traveled.”
JIM CHAPMAN AWARD HONOREES:
1991 – Michael Knight
1992 – Tom Blattler
1993-94 – Deke Houlgate and Hank Ives
1995 – Kathi Lauterbach
1996 – Marc Spiegel
1997 – Mike Zizzo
1998 – Tamy Valkosky
1999 — Carol Wilkins
2000-2003 – (Award not presented)
2004 – Doug Stokes
2005 – Susan Arnold
2006 – Kevin Kennedy
2007 – Dave Densmore and Bob Carlson
2008 – Judy Stropus
2009 – (Award not presented)
2010 — Jim Hunter
2011 — Bill York
2012 — Judy Kouba Dominick and Nancy Wager
2013 — Anne Fornoro
2014 — Jon Edwards and Elon Werner
2015 – Linda Vaughn