Hunter Named Chapman Award Winner
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s former vice president of corporate communications who died Oct. 30, has been named the winner of the 2010 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations.
The Jim Chapman Award is considered the highest honor in racing public relations. It is named in memory of Jim Chapman, the legendary public relations executive and innovator who worked with Babe Ruth and was named IndyCar racing’s “most influential man” of the 1980s. Chapman died in 1996 at age 80.
Michael Knight, chairman of the selection committee, made the announcement before Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix Int’l Raceway. The award is determined by vote of media members and is authorized by the Chapman family. Public relations representatives from all forms of motorsports are eligible for consideration.
“We had hoped to make this presentation in December as part of NASCAR’s Champion’s Week celebration in Las Vegas,” said Knight. “In several important ways, Jim Hunter’s career mirrored that of Jim Chapman’s. Most importantly, both deeply believed in the ‘old-school’ approach to working with the media — that it was essential to build one-on-one relationships with journalists. That’s too often missing today, but both Jims understood the value of actually talking to people and getting to know them, and that having those professional relationships best served their clients.”
Hunter’s career as a journalist and public relations professional spanned portions of six decades. He was the Columbia Record sports editor, writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and author of several books.
He began in public relations in the 1960s with Dodge’s racing programs before stints as public relations director at both Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He joined NASCAR as vice president of administration in 1983.
In 1993 Hunter was named president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corp. He returned to NASCAR as vice president of corporate communications in 2001. He died of cancer at age 71 last month.