Mario Andretti 2017 Argetsinger Award Honoree
Mario Andretti will be honored on Aug. 31 by the International Motor Racing Research Center with the 2017 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports.
Andretti will receive the Argetsinger Award at a gala dinner presented by NASCAR, International Speedway Corp., Watkins Glen International and IMSA. The dinner, which is open to the public, will be at the internationally renowned Corning Museum of Glass in nearby Corning, N.Y.
The sold-out dinner precedes the Verizon IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen weekend at WGI.
The 2017 award will be the fourth presented by the IMRRC. Chip Ganassi was the inaugural recipient in 2014. Richard Petty was the 2015 honoree, and Roger Penske was cited in 2016.
The award memorializes Cameron R. Argetsinger, founder and organizer of the first races at Watkins Glen almost 70 years ago.
“Watkins Glen’s impact on auto racing can’t be measured, and we have Cameron Argetsinger to thank. This award represents the influence he had on our sport, and to follow Chip Ganassi, Richard Petty and Roger Penske to receive the Argetsinger Award is a tremendous honor,” Andretti said.
Andretti has supported the work of the Racing Research Center since its opening in 1999. He serves on the Center’s Drivers Council and twice has been chairman of the annual membership campaign.
“The Racing Research Center is doing valuable work, taking care of the history of racing. The collections are a great source of information, and they’re always expanding,” Andretti said. “This success shows that we in racing understand how important the work is, and I’m proud to have been involved with the Center from the beginning.”
Bobby Rahal, chairman of the IMRRC’s Governing Council, described Andretti as “an icon of the world, let alone the sport of auto racing.”
“The name ‘Mario’ is immediately recognized around the globe, in the same way other one-name celebrities have become household words, such as Elvis and Pele,” Rahal said. “It’s a privilege for the IMRRC to honor Mario with the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award. His impact on the sport for more than 50 years cannot be measured.”
In addition to presenting sponsors NASCAR, International Speedway Corp., Watkins Glen International and IMSA, support for the Argetsinger Award dinner has been received from Corning Incorporated, Bosch, AmeriCarna LLC, Smithfield Foods, Glenora Wine Cellars, Firestone, Hilliard Corp., Chip Ganassi Racing, WELK Vintage Motorsports, Welliver, Elmira Savings Bank and Corning Automotive Glass Solutions.
The Racing Research Center is an archival and research library and a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the materials of motorsports, all series and all venues, worldwide. The Argetsinger Award was established to honor a person in the motorsports industry who is recognized universally for having advanced and improved the sport. The honoree brings prestige to motorsports and demonstrates commitment to the future of racing.
Andretti exemplifies the qualifications for the Argetsinger Award, Joie Chitwood, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISC, said.
“As the only driver in history to win the Formula One Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, Mario Andretti is in a class by himself,” Chitwood said. “His passion, skill and success in racing are legendary, and it is extremely fitting that he be recognized with the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports.”
Andretti won the Indy Car National Championship four times and was a three-time winner at Sebring. In a competition career that began in 1959 at the age of 19, four years after arriving in the United States from his native Italy, Andretti earned 111 racing victories. He won races in formula cars, sports cars, sprint cars and stock cars and on ovals, road courses, drag strips, dirt and pavement.
“The label ‘living legend’ is perhaps a bit over-used these days, but when referencing Mario Andretti it’s a statement of fact,” Scott Atherton, IMSA president and chief operating officer, said. “His long list of accomplishments at the highest levels of multiple forms of motorsport places him in a category all his own and has established a benchmark that is unlikely to ever be duplicated. For these reasons and many more, he is a most appropriate and deserving recipient of the Argetsinger Award.”
“He is a racer, a champion, a family man and a father. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better person in motorsports than Mario,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International.
The Glen was the site of Andretti’s triumphant homecoming in1978, wearing the crown of World Champion into the U.S. Grand Prix. Driving for Lotus, Andretti had become the first driver in motor racing history to win the Formula One and Indy Car titles. He joined Phil Hill as the only American ever to capture the world title.
Andretti was named Driver of the Year in three different decades: the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He was named Driver of the Quarter Century in the 1990s, and the Associated Press named him Driver of the Century in January 2000.