NASCAR & Auto Racing

Ray Cooper wins press association's spirit award

Award-winning sportswriter and longtime manufacturer’s representative Ray Cooper has been named the third-quarter recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.

Cooper, diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, remains active in the sport despite curtailing his work with Dodge as a manufacturer’s rep in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series this year while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. A former recipient of the Joe Littlejohn Award, he was also the 1986 winner of the George Cunningham Award for excellence in writing.

Cooper received 46 votes cast by the membership.

Jimmie Johnson, the defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion and driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, received 9 votes. Johnson recently raised nearly $500,000 for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation through an inaugural golf tournament, dinner and auction. The foundation is dedicated to assisting children, families and communities in need, and contributes to several charitable organizations.

The NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award, which has been presented annually since 1992, recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, as well as sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Four quarterly winners are selected, with one overall Spirit award winner chosen by a vote of the NMPA membership at year’s end. The award will be presented during the group’s annual dinner and awards ceremony in January, 2008.