IRL, Indy 500: Bank One Increases Rookie of the Year Award to $25,000
22 May 1999INDIANAPOLIS - The 1999 Bank One Rookie of the Year will receive the largest cash prize in the 47-year history of the coveted Indianapolis 500-Mile Race award.
Larry J. O'Connor, president of Bank One, Indiana, announced today that the driver selected for one of auto racing's highest honors will receive a check for $25,000, a $15,000 increase. It will be included in his race pay envelope handed to him during the annual Victory Celebration May 31 at Clowes Hall, located on the Butler University campus.
The honoree will be revealed by O'Connor and saluted at a reception at the same facility before the Victory Celebration ceremony. Recent previous winners received $10,000. This will be Bank One's 21st year as sponsor of the award.
Art Cross, the inaugural winner in 1952, received $500 and a year's supply of Stark & Wetzel meats.
The greatly increased prize check should bring wide smiles to the nine drivers who hope to qualify for their first Indianapolis 500 this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The candidates are Mike Borkowski, 26;Wim Eyckmans, 26; Nick Firestone, 33; John Hollansworth Jr., 35; Jaques Lazier, 28; Robby McGehee, 25; Jeret Schroeder, 29, Brian Tyler, 31; and David Steele, 25. They come to Indy from around America and, in Eyckmans' case, Belgium.
In addition to the check, the 1999 Rookie of the Year also will receive an engraved plaque as well as having his name inscribed on the handsome trophy that stands on display during the year in the Hall of Fame Museum. The trophy salutes the ultimate rookie, Ray Harroun, who won the first Indy 500 in 1911.
The 1998 winner was Steve Knapp, a 34-year-old newcomer from Salem, Wis. He drove for ISM Racing and also was making his debut in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League competition.
A select 50-member committee, comprised of veteran observers of the race, votes at the conclusion of the "500", and ballots are compiled on a 3-2-1 point basis. All of the candidates will appear at the reception. Bill York, Speedway media room manager since 1964, is chairman of this year's committee.
The Rookie Award presentation is part of Bank One's participation in the events and festivities surrounding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Bank One also has sponsored the Bank One 500 Festival Rookie Run and Kids' Day, and will feature a float in the IPALCO 500 Festival Parade on May 29, the day before the race.
Bank One, Indiana, NA is affiliated with BANC ONE CORPORATION. Total managed assets of $146.7 billion and total assets of $116.3 billion make BANC ONE CORPORATION the nation's eighth largest bank holding company.
BANC ONE operates more than 1,300 banking centers in 12 states and has facilities in 33 states. It operates national lines of business, including retail, commercial banking, investment management and trust, finance company and card organizations.