Daytona Beach, Fla., Jan. 27, 2016 – Judy Stropus, former professional timer/scorer, race-car driver and award-winning publicist, received the 2015 Bob Akin Award from the Road Racing Drivers Club at a dinner on Jan. 27 prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Each recipient of this honor, considered the top award in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers, is selected by Akin’s son Bobby, RRDC members Brian Redman and Archie Urciuoli and approved by RRDC president Bobby Rahal.
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 driver who best exemplifies the extraordinary qualities and characteristics that Akin represented, including 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, 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 has since returned to be the RRDC’s administrator and publicist.
She is best known for her “savant” ability to accurately time and score endurance sports-car races before the introduction of computers and has worked for top teams such as Team Penske, Bud Moore Racing, BMW, American Motors, Al Holbert’s Porsche IndyCar team, the Porsche teams of Ted Field, Brumos Racing, Bruce Leven, Dick Barbour, Wayne Baker, and, of course, Bob Akin, among many others. She is famous for having the ability to score 24-hour races without taking a break, including the day-long races in Daytona and LeMans.
As owner of JVS Enterprises, her list of public relations clients over the years includes 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, she’s 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. She is also a “veteran” of the notorious Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Trophy Dash.
Born in Kaunas, Lithuania, 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, is the author of “The Stropus Guide to Auto Race Timing and Scoring,” and the editor of a number of racing books.
She was presented the Bob Akin Award by Urciuoli, Bobby Akin and Rahal.
“It is my honor to talk about the Bob Akin award, which is the highest award in the country given to an amateur racer,” said Urciuoli. “It’s presented in Bob Akin’s memory and many of you in this room knew Bob and Ellen and their great family.
“The qualifications for this award are basically three: One, that the recipient be an enthusiastic participant and a racer; No. 2, be someone who exhibits good sportsmanship and the right kind of attitude toward fellow drivers – basically, a good person; and, finally, has a record of contribution back to the sport which gave us all so much.”
“On behalf of my family I want to thank the RRDC again for creating this amazing award,” said Akin. “Specifically, Archie, for his hard work and everything he does. I want to say how deeply sorry we all are for your loss of (wife) Maggie. I know two things: the world lost a great lady in Maggie, and, no doubt, my mom and Maggie are sharing a glass or two of wine and telling jokes that would make us all blush.
“To say our winner is good at the craft at hand is an understatement,” Akin continued. “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 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 p.r., 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.
“Most of you don’t know this,” said Stropus, “but 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,” Stropus added. “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.”