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Sports Car Drivers Honor Stropus

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 2 2016
 Judy Stropus, flanked by Bobby Akin and Archie Urciuoli, was honored by the Sport Car Drivers Club of America at Daytona. (Photo by Brian Cleary)

Judy Stropus, flanked by Bobby Akin and Archie Urciuoli, was honored by the Road Race Drivers Club of America at Daytona over the week. (Photo by Brian Cleary)

Road Racing
Drivers Club

RacinToday.com

Judy Stropus, former professional timer/scorer, race-car driver and award-winning publicist, is the 2015 recipient of the Bob Akin Award presented by the Road Racing Drivers Club.

Stropus was honored during ceremonies prior to last weekend’s running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, season-opener of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Considered the top award in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers, Stropus was selected by Akin’s son Bobby, RRDC members Brian Redman and Archie Urciuoli and approved by RRDC President Bobby Rahal.

Stropus, 72, has been an integral part of the RRDC since 1968, when Mark Donohue asked her to help with the organization. After becoming an RRDC member, she took off a few years to run her growing business and since has returned as RRDC’s administrator and publicist.

“Most of you don’t know this,” said Stropus, a native of Kaunas, Lithuania. “I came here to the United States in 1949, not speaking the language. And in my first 20 years here, I learned the language, learned to drive on a Jaguar XK120, joined a sports car club, became the editor of the newsletter, learned how to time, was in demand by top teams in the world and started racing cars. I guess you’d say I was living ‘The American Dream.’

“Racing is my family. Racing is what I know. And it is such an honor and a privilege to receive this award in the name of Bob Akin. Bob and Ellen were fabulous friends of mine, and I’ve known Bobby since he was a little boy. We had such good times together. Thank you so much.”

The distinctive trophy was conceived by the RRDC in 2003 to honor the memory of longtime RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life in a racing accident in 2002. It was designed by Steuben Glass in Corning, N.Y., and is given to a participant who best exemplifies the qualities and characteristics that Akin represented _ a passion for motorsports and automobiles, a high level of sportsmanship and fair play _ and who has contributed to the sport of motor racing and the community at-large.

The primary award, etched with the names of the recipients, is displayed at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Each honoree receives a smaller replica.

Stropus is best known for her “savant” ability to accurately time and score endurance sports-car races before the introduction of computers. Stropus has worked for top teams such as Team Penske, Bud Moore Racing, BMW, American Motors, Al Holbert’s Porsche Indy-car team, the Porsche teams of Ted Field, Brumos Racing, Bruce Leven, Dick Barbour, Wayne Baker and Akin, among many others. She is famous for the ability to score 24-hour races without taking a break, including the day-long races in Daytona and LeMans, France.

As owner of JVS Enterprises, her list of public relations clients over the years has included Chevrolet, BMW, Bob Akin Racing, Brumos Racing, International Motor Racing Research Center, Duracell, Mattel, Gorsline Company, General Racing, Autosports Marketing Associates Ltd., and Don Schumacher Racing in NHRA, among others.

As a driver, Stropus competed in SCCA amateur races _ earning a place in the SCCA National Runoffs in 1979 _ the Volkswagen Cup, Showroom Stock endurance races, the Kelly-American Challenge and numerous vintage racing events. Today, she competes annually in a six-hour charity go-kart race in Jacksonville, Fla. Judy also is a “veteran” of the notorious Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Trophy Dash.

Stropus has received several awards, including the prestigious 2008 Jim Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. She is the author of “The Stropus Guide to Auto Race Timing and Scoring,” and the editor of a number of racing books.

Stropus was presented the Bob Akin Award by Urciuoli, Akin and Rahal.

“To say our winner is good at the craft at-hand is an understatement,” Akin said. “Before the days of computers there was one person who was the gold standard in timing and scoring. Having our winner in your court didn’t guarantee victory or a pole, but it did guarantee that you knew more than the other guys and that’s a huge advantage, as everybody knows.

“Beyond the pit box our winner became a master of motorsports PR, working with the biggest names in the sport and in business. She is also an accomplished author, editor, driver in numerous VSCCA, SCCA, Kelly-American, Showroom Stock, and Volkswagen Cup series. An accomplished driver, to say the least.

“I’ve known our winner for most of my life. One of my earliest memories was when she arrived at our house in just about the coolest yellow Camaro I had ever seen. She was cool then, she’s still very cool now and a big part of what makes the RRDC what it is.”

The Road Racing Drivers Club was formed in 1952 to give champion drivers a say in their sport, particularly in the area 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 addition to Rahal, the club’s leadership circle includes John Fergus, vice president/treasurer and Tom Davey, secretary.

Past RRDC Bob Akin Award honorees

2003 _ Sam Posey

2004 _ Charlie Gibson

2005 _ John Fitch

2006 _ Jim Haynes

2007 _ Cameron Argetsinger

2008 _ Jim Downing

2009 _ Steven J. Earle

2010 _ Augie Pabst

2011 _ Don Knowles

2012 _ Miles Collier

2013 _ Peter Sachs

2014 _ Bill Warner

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 2 2016
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