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The Jigger Award

The Jigger Award: It’s the one no one really wants!!

Leon Duray (Jigger) Sirois, now living in Virginia, is the former race driver from whom the award is named. Jigger, who received the nickname in honor of riding mechanic "Jigger Johnson", is the son of long time 500 mechanic Frenchy Sirois (who worked on the Belond ‘laydown’ car that Sam Hanks won with in 1957 and Jimmy Bryan brought home first in 1958) and came oh-so-close to answering for all time the age-old question:

Can the pole car be bumped?

It came closest in 1969:
Sirois was the only driver to attempt qualification on a weather-plagued first weekend of time trials. His crew waved off his attempt after he recorded his first three laps at 161, 162, and 160. Had he completed his final lap at a speed in the 160-mph bracket or above, Jigger’s average would have been above that of the slowest car in the 33-car starting field - the 160.851 MPH of Peter Revson. That would seem to have put Sirois starting on the pole with the slowest speed in the 33-car field. Donald Davidson, noted Indy 500 race historian, says the pole car can indeed be bumped, when on the ‘bubble’, if it has the slowest speed in the 33-car field.

The Jigger Award is a hard-luck award presented annually by the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association at the Indianapolis 500 AARWBA breakfast. It is made up of a gold-color metal whiskey jigger (used) mounted on a base attached to a plaque. Each recipient’s name is listed on the plaque with the year that the award was presented.

Sirois took his failure to make the starting field with good grace and did not blame his crew. The Jigger Award was the brainchild of member Dick Mittman, then an auto racing writer for The Indianapolis News and now a semi-retired Speedway publicist. And the list of recipients follows. Some of the recipients have a message on their ‘keeper plaque’ some do not, they seem to be left off due to lack of imagination of the selection panel...or were lost following the breakfast.

1969Jigger SiroisDick Mittman of IMS and Jigger Sirois - Dusty Brandel photo for AARWBAJigger Sirois, IMS photo
Jigger Sirois in 1969
IMS photo
1970Tony AdamowiczWho had three good laps
and was on way to a solid qualifying run
when a yellow light flashed back on
momentarily ‘by mistake’.
Tony Adamowicz, IMS photo
Tony Adamowicz
IMS photo
1971John MahlerHe qualified the car
and was bumped by car owner Dick Simon
because of sponsor commitments.
John Mahler, IMS photo
John Mahler
IMS photo
1972Art PollardTBDArt Pollard - IMS photo
Art Pollard
IMS photo
1973Johnny Parsons, Jr.TBDJohnny Parsons, Jr. - IMS photo
Johnny Parsons Jr.
IMS photo
1974Al LoquastoTBD
1975AARWBA(for losing the trophy, later recovered
by Jack Martin and John Fugate
behind a door in the museum.)
1976Salt Walther Salt Walther - Kay Nichols, IMS
1977Vern SchuppanLap 1) - 190.436; lap 2) - 191.612;
lap 3) - 189.633; lap 4) - NO GAS!
Schuppan graciously accepted and said,
"I owe this to my crew."
Vern Schuppan, IMS photo
Vern Schuppan
IMS photo
Larry Cannon1st attempt - Oil tank exploded;
2nd attempt - 1st lap) - 190.476;
2nd lap) - boom, boom, ... hit the wall!
Roger Rager1st attempt - 188 + yellow;
2nd attempt during the warm-up lap,
hit the wall!
1979United States Auto ClubFor the month of May, may it rest in peace.USAC logo
1980Janet GuthrieLap 1) - 184.089; lap 2) - 184.691;
lap 3) 184.124; lap 4) - wave off,
(by car owner).
1981Bob Frey1 -Sitting at the line when the rains came;
2 - puked engine;
3 - too slow;
4 - at line, stalled 3 times at 6 p.m
1982Geoff Brabham1. Over 200 mph with ease.
2. A warm up too long;
3. a rules change forgotten,
put him back in the pack.
1983Johnny RutherfordWho wound up in hospital
with the car(s) in a junkyard
and a rookie on the pole!
Johnny Rutherford, IMS photo
1984Bill AlsupFinally he got something for being next in line.
1985Chet FillipFirst he crashed,
then was mashed by a bumper. Out of cars,
circle bars was a dumper.
1986Mike Nish211, then the wall, the Nish wish went swish!
1987Phil KruegerMechanic and driver - and a May to forget!Phil Krueger, IMS photo
Phil Krueger
IMS photo
1988Pancho CarterA lap at 209 had Pancho feeling fine;
but then two crashes...and left on the line.
1989Johnny RutherfordThe 25th race was not to be...
a bump, and blue smoke for all to see.
Johnny Rutherford, IMS photo
1990Salt WaltherLongest wait to return
- shortest wait to be bumped!
Salt Walther - Kay Nichols, IMS
1991Roger PenskeWon the pole with Mears.
Lost second in lineup by calling off Emmo.
Roger Penske - IMS photo
1992Mike GroffQualified row 10, but got the business!
1993Robby GordonAccomplished in one day,
what the media couldn’t do in 10 years.
Robby Gordon - IMS photo
1994Mark SmithBumpity, bumpity, bump. Bump, bump!
No Smith in the race again!
1995Emerson FittipaldiLap 1) 224.955 mph
lap 2) 225.445 mph
lap 3) 226.097 mph
lap 4) Penske Yellow.
Emerson Fittipaldi - IMS photo
1996Two 500 Mile Races On May 26th.P H O O E Y ! !Indy 96 logo U.S. 500 logo
1997IRL Guaranteed 25/8 rule.Cancelled for '98.
Backfired in '97
IRL logo
1998Scott Harrington"Determination is your asset
Misfortune your regret
If you quit racing,
Boxing is your best bet."
1999Mike BorkowskiA Rookie Mistake:
The Indy 500 song is NOT
"Back Home Again In Alabama"
2000Roberto GuerreroHired by AJ
Waved off by AJ
Fired by AJ
Roberto Guerrero, IMS photo
Roberto Guerrero
IMS photo
2001Raul BoeselFrom Brazil to Indy
Four lap average of 221.879 miles per hour
But Treadway'd away. Back to Brazil
Raul Boesel - IMS photo
2002Billy RoeTwo times in
Two times out
That's what the
Jigger is all about!
2003Jeff WardWon the IRL race at Texas in 2002,
Had helmet in hand & nothing to do...
Came to Indy with the promise of a ride,
At month's end had only his pride!
Jeff Ward - Dana Garrett, IMS photo
Jeff Ward
Photo by
Dana Garrett, IMS
2004A.J. Foyt, Jr. And Tony Stewart"A pair of
Trouble Makers
At Indy"
Tony Stewart and A.J. Foyt, Jr. - Dana Garrett, IMS
2005Arie Luyendyk Jr.Late to Qualify
fighting an uphill battle.
Squeezing 215.039 mph
& 33rd for a few hours

Bumped by Giaffone

Arie Luyendyk, Jr. - Ron McQueeney, IMS
2006Marty RothPractice, spin
Practice, spin
Practice, spin, practice, slide -
Hit the wall - That's all.
Dick Mittman with Jigger Sirois, accepting for RothMarty Roth - Dana Garrett, IMS
Marty Roth
Photo by
Dana Garrett, IMS
2007P.J. JonesThe scale is not
The real deal
So PJ is
Out of the field
 PJ Jones - Ron McQueeney, IMS
P.J. Jones
Photo by
Ron McQueeney, IMS
2008Mario DominguezThree spins
Three crashes
Three chances
Nothing more
2009Bruno Junqueira Qualified late afternoon
Bumped at Midnight
Bruno Junqueira
Bruno Junqueira
2010Jay HamiltonBubble Trouble
In - Out
Dick Mittman, Jay Howard,
Dick Mittman
Jay Howard
"Jigger" Sirois
2012Jean AlesiNo Wave Off
Alesi Slowest Qualifier since 1988
Dick Mittman,
Dick Mittman
David Byrd accepting for Jean Alesi
"Jigger" Sirois
2013Michel Jourdain Jr.Rahal Letterman Team Lanigan Racing
team failed to qualify for the race

2014Sage KaramMissed his high school prom and his graduation
but he qualified for the 2014 Indy 500
Sage Karam,
Sage Karam

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