John Fitch to be Honored at Simeone Museum

John Fitch Famed aviator, race car driver and inventor John Fitch has been selected as the recipient of the third annual “Spirit of Competition” Award, to be presented at a dinner at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum Wednesday, October 20th, 2010. Fitch joins drivers Mario Andretti and Janet Guthrie, last year’s honoree, in being a Simeone Museum “Spirit of Competition” Award recipient.

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 who invented the steamship, 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 helped save 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 PM on October 20th.

“John Fitch has contributed more to auto racing than almost any other person alive,” 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.”

The Simeone Foundation Museum, which has been open to the public since June, 2008, 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.

[Source: Simeone Museum; photo credit: © GM Corp.]

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  1. John Fitch was featured in the November 2010 issue of MotorSport magazine. the account of his life was fascinating. i have seen him and the Phoenix at several events at Lime Rock Park and have never stopped to say hello. I hope next season i get to do so. The event at Simeone looks wonderful, but a bit pricey. Look forward to hearing about it here.