PPG Cup Patriarch and PR Legend
Jim Chapman Dies at 80

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Public relations executive James P. Chapman, confidant of Babe Ruth and Indy Car racing’s "Most Influential Man of the 1980’s," died today (Oct. 10) at Georgian of Bloomfield care facility in the Detroit area. Chapman, 80, had been diagnosed with throat cancer last April, and left his longtime home in Birmingham, Mich., last month for care at Georgian.

Chapman entered public relations in 1946, as regional PR director for Ford Motor Co. in Detroit, following a journalism career that concluded at the New York Times. While at Ford, he hired Ruth to promote the automaker’s sponsorship of American Legion Junior Baseball. They traveled together for more than two years for personal appearances, became close friends, and Chapman was at Ruth’s bedside when he died in August 1948.

Chapman’s greatest professional achievement, however, came from 1981-1992 as director of racing for PPG Industries, sponsor of the PPG Indy Car World Series. At the time his Detroit-area firm contracted to represent PPG, the company’s annual contribution the Championship Auto Racing Teams’ (CART) prize fund was $250,000. Under Chapman’s leadership, it grew to more than $3.75 million at the time of his retirement in February 1993.

Indy Car Racing magazine named Chapman the sport’s most influential man of the 1980’s. The magazine wrote that Chapman turned "a public relations assignment into an art form."

"The Indy Car community has lost one of its greatest personalities," said IndyCar President and CEO Andrew Craig. "Jim Chapman was the architect of the PPG Indy Car World Series and was profoundly influential in the development of the series from its inception until his retirement in 1993.

"Jim brought a level of polish and style to PPG Cup racing and, combined with his substantial talents as a publicist, made an immeasurable contribution to raising the sport to the levels of popularity and professionalism that it enjoys today.

"I am sure that I am speaking on behalf of the entire Indy Car community when I say that Jim Chapman was a true friend of our sport and that our deepest sympathy goes out from all of us to his family and many friends."

Chapman is survived by four children – sons James Jr. and Randall, and daughters Sheryl Chapman Kammer and Caprice Chapman Aerts – and eight grandchildren.

Chapman was cremated. The memorial service will be Oct. 24, 11 a.m. ET at Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Memorial contributions can be made to: All-Saints Fund of Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Rd., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303; Karmanos Cancer Institute, 110 E. Warren, Detroit, MI 48201; or the Michigan Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, 23999 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48075.

Source: IndyCar News Service