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2003 International Wheel Award Winners Announced at Automotive Hall of Fame

DEARBORN, Mich., April 10 -- Winners in the Detroit Press Club Foundation's 2003 International Wheel Awards competition for journalistic excellence, honoring works broadcast or published about the automotive industry in 2002, were announced tonight at the Automotive Hall of Fame.

The contest was established by the 39-year-old foundation as an extension of its charter to promote excellence in journalism, and in recognition of Detroit's and Michigan's global significance in the automotive industry, according to Edward Lapham, editor of Automotive News and president of the DPCF. "We are grateful to all the volunteers and donors who made possible the reinstitution of the Wheel Awards," said Lapham.

The Detroit News writer Jeff Plungis won the contest's coveted Golden Wheel Award, honoring the best-of-the-best, with a news story titled "Deadly Driving: Safety Agency Put Motorists at Risk." The judges commented, "This is a must read for anyone who drives a car. This is a real public service." Plungis' entry also placed first in the category for Newspaper - News Story.

Second and third place winners in the Newspaper - News Story category were also The Detroit News writers - Bill Vlasic for "Driven Into Darkness: The Heinz Prechter Story," and Susan Carney for "Battling Bias in the Factory."

First place in the Newspaper - Editorial Column category was awarded to James V. Higgins of The Detroit News for a column titled "Yokich Retooled Auto Industry" which the judges considered a good "balance between human and institutional factors at work in the American automobile industry." Second also went to Higgins for another column called "Ford's 73-year Legacy in Great Britain Ends."

In the category for General Interest/Special Interest Publication - News Story first place was presented to Keith Naughton of Newsweek for an article that "asks all the right questions and supplies informative and interesting answers," according to the judges, titled "Dude, Where's My Benz?" Second in this category went to Diana Kurylko of Automotive News for her article "Gray Market Yields Gold" and third to Naughton for "Another Ford Behind the Wheel."

The General Interest/Special Interest Publication - Editorial Column category was won by Drew Winter of Ward's AutoWorld for a column called "Dude, Where's My Car?" The judges called it "a great trend piece of where the industry has been and where it is going." Second and third places went to Kevin Wilson of AutoWeek for "Opposite Lock" and "Offside Undo" respectively.

The General Interest/Special Interest Publication - Photography first place award went to Winston Goodfellow illustrating an article called "Boomtown Modena" for Automobile Quarterly. "Love of subject meets technical competence and artistic inspiration," said the judges. Second place was won by Tracy Powell, also of Automobile Quarterly for "Bodies by Saoutchik." Third place went to Kevin Wilson of AutoWeek for "Tension Reliever - Ferrari 575 M."

The General Interest/Special Interest Publication - Product Review category went to Kevin Wilson of AutoWeek for "Tension Reliever - Ferrari 575 M," which the judges considered "a fun piece full of useful and descriptive information." Second and third in the Product Review category were won by Anita Lienert of The Detroit News for "Beetle Softop Rises Again," and Frank Markus of Car and Driver for "Is Satellite Radio the Next Big Thing?"

In the Internet - News Story or Series category first and second places went to ; first place to Paul A. Eisenstein and Marty Padgett for "Ford Cuts 35,000 Jobs, 5 Plants" about which the judges commented "consistent, hard-edged, quick-hit reporting provides breaking news," and second to Eisenstein alone for "Car Makers in a Horsepower War." Third place was awarded to Bill Visnic, Eric Mayne and Alisa Priddle of for "Jaguar Plays Fast and Loose with Horsepower."

The Television - News Story or Series first place award was won by David Scrivener and John Davis of MotorWeek for the "MotorWeek Alternative Fuel Vehicle Special." Second place went to Tom Trace, Kevin Wilson and Phil Yunker of AutoWeek and Lingner Group Productions for "Corvette: The First 50 Years." Third place was won by Roderick Meloni of WDIV-TV for "End of the Excursion."

First place in the Radio - News Story category went to Jeff Gilbert of WWJ Newsradio 950 for "The Car Chronicles" representing "Tight and fast-paced quips that entertain and inform."

Publications represented by Honorable Mentions in the Wheel Awards contest included the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Automotive News, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and Ward's Communications.

Judging was conducted by faculty members of the University of Nebraska, School of Journalism and Mass Communications under the direction of Dean Will Norton, Jr. who said, "The quality of the entries was excellent and the judges thoroughly enjoyed evaluating them."

The Wheel Awards was managed by the Individual Communicators Network. "We are pleased to have been able to contribute our services to the continuation of this prestigious awards program," said project chairman Steve Purdy. The event was hosted by the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich.

In addition to cash prizes, stylized wheel trophies were presented to Golden Wheel and first place winners.

Donors to the Detroit Press Club Foundation and the 2003 International Wheel Awards include AutoNation, DaimlerChrysler, Delphi, Events Management, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, John Bailey & Associates, ThyssenKrupp Budd, Toyota Motor Manufacturing USA, Toyota Motor Sales USA and Visteon.

For a complete listing of winners, go to

The Detroit Press Club Foundation is a 39-year-old, not-for-profit organization, whose charter is to promote excellence in journalism.

The Automotive Hall of Fame is the only industry-wide means to honor the women and men of the global motor vehicle and related industries. It is dedicated to preserving the history of mobility by celebrating the creativity, toil and genius of the individual. The Automotive Hall of Fame is a visitor attraction and an educational resource for inspiring others to higher levels of achievement in their own work and lives.

The Individual Communicators Network, a not-for-profit corporation chartered by the State of Michigan, seeks to present enlightening forums that focus attention on key issues. ICN offers public relations and other communication services through Network members who are individual communications professionals.

Contacts: Steve Purdy Victor Pytko

517-655-3591 313-268-1053