Famed aviator, race car driver and inventor John Fitch will receive the third annual Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum "Spirit of Competition" Award at a dinner at the Museum on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Fitch joins drivers Mario Andretti and Janet Guthrie as a Simeone Museum "Spirit of Competition" Award recipient. Presenting sponsor for the Award dinner is Mercedes-Benz USA.
In the course of a driving career that spanned almost two decades, John Fitch won numerous sports car races including the 1953 Sebring 12-hour race in a Cunningham C4R. He competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times, finishing as high as third. Fitch was the only American on the legendary Mercedes-Benz racing team and later served as the first manager for Chevrolet's Corvette racing team, and the first general manager of the Lime
Rock Park race track.
In addition, Fitch emulated his ancestor John Fitch - a steamship pioneer - by inventing many safety innovations for the race track and the highway. The Fitch Barriers - yellow sand-filled barrels - are ubiquitous on America's highways and have saved countless lives. During WWII, Fitch piloted a P-51 Mustang and was credited with downing a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet before being shot down two months before the end of the war.
Tickets for the event are $150 for individuals, $275 for a couple and may be purchased on the Museum's Web site: www.SimeoneMuseum.org, or by calling 215-365-7233. The Awards dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 20. Proceeds from the event support the Foundation's mission, which includes developing and implementing safe driving programs to help reduce the incidence of teenage fatalities and serious injury.
"John Fitch has made great contributions to auto racing and auto safety," commented Dr. Frederick A. Simeone, executive director of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum. "Not only was he the first American to compete successfully in Europe in the postwar era, he used his inventive genius to help save lives, both on the track and the highway."
Associate sponsors of the event include Hagerty Insurance, Vintage Motorsport magazine, and Philadelphia magazine.
The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum differs from most other automotive collections in that the cars are used to tell a story: that competition and racing improves the breed. Like Philadelphia's famed Barnes Foundation collection of paintings, the Simeone Foundation exhibition is a personal collection, driven by a singular vision and specific ideas about how the collection should be arranged and exhibited. The central theme of the Simeone Foundation collection is "the spirit of competition."
The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and encompasses many of the most significant racing sports cars ever built. For more information call 215-365- 7233, or visit the Web site at: www.simeonemuseum.org. The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 for students. Children under 8 are admitted free.
If you enjoy racing and speed, check out Old School Hot Rods: Radical Rods That Stand The Test of TimeBy Alan Mayes.
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