Leon Sirois

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Leon Duray "Jigger" Sirois (born April 16, 1935) is a former American racing driver from northern Indiana.[1] He raced in a variety of racing genres, most notably midget, stock and Indy "Big" cars.[1]

Racing career[edit]

Midget cars[edit]

Sirois won four championships in 1961 including UARA midget title.[2] Some of his major victories include a 100-mile race at the Milwaukee Mile and a race at the Daytona Beach in a midget.[2]

Indy car[edit]

Though he never qualified for the Indianapolis 500, Sirois is most known in racing circles for events surrounding his qualifying attempt in 1969.[2] He took to the track on Pole Day as the first attempt and achieved a speed of 161.535 mph before his qualifying attempt was called off by his car owner (who thought the speed was not fast enough to make the race).[1] Shortly afterwards, it began to rain, and qualifying was washed out.[1] If Sirois had completed his qualification attempt, he would have won the pole position[2] (as the race's slowest qualifier's speed of 160.851 mph was not enough to bump Sirois). However, he made two more unsuccessful qualifying attempts and did not make the field. After that he came back to attempt to make the field every year up until 1975, failing to make the field every time. Outside of the Indy 500, he made 10 other starts in USAC Championship Car racing. His best finish was 5th place at Phoenix International Raceway in 1969.

Awards[edit]

Sirois was named to the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Sirois is the son of former Indy 500 mechanic Earl "Frenchy" Sirois, who worked on the winning cars of Lee Wallard, Sam Hanks, and Jimmy Bryan. Sirois is named after driver Leon Duray.[3][4] The nickname "Jigger" is in reference to riding mechanic Jigger Johnson, as well as a nickname given to him by his older sister.[4]

Sirois graduated from Lowell High School and did various jobs in between races such as truck driver and construction worker.[1] Sirois is married and his wife's name is Juanita.[1]

A tornado scare caused Sirois to start stuttering when he was three years old while living near Shelby, Indiana.[1] He was able to stop the disorder with professional help when he was 65.[1] He lends his time to promote the awareness and treatment of stuttering disorders in youth.[4]

The Jigger Award[edit]

The "Jigger Award" trophy

In reflection of Sirois' infamous 1969 hard-luck qualifying gaffe, the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) created an annual award for the Indianapolis 500.[5] The plaque consists of a gold-colored metal whiskey jigger attached to a base, awarded to the year's "hard-luck" driver during qualifying. Selection criteria is very loose, and "blanket" awards for the entire month have been selected on more than one occasion. However, the recipient is usually one of the last drivers bumped from the field, or a driver who fails to qualify (especially if he/she made several unsuccessful attempts).

In 1991, car owner Roger Penske was voted the winner, after pulling Emerson Fittipaldi from the qualifying line on pole day. Shortly thereafter, it began to rain, and Fittipaldi lost his chance to qualify for the pole position. In 2012 the recipient was Jean Alesi, who qualified 33rd. The criteria were based on Alesi's publicized struggles with the Lotus entry, making him the slowest car by over 4 mph, and more than 16 mph slower than the pole position winner.[6]

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish
1969 Gerhardt Offy Failed to Qualify
1970 Glen Bryant Pratt & Whitney Turbine Failed to Qualify
1971  ? Offy Failed to Qualify
1972 Navarro AMC Failed to Qualify
1973  ? Dodge Failed to Qualify
1974 Cicada Offy Failed to Qualify
1975 Eagle Offy Failed to Qualify

References[edit]

External links[edit]