Leon Duray "Jigger" Sirois (born April 16, 1935) is an American former racing driver from the small town of Shelby in northern Indiana. He raced in a variety of racing genres, most notably midget, stock and Indy "Big" cars.
USAC Indy car
Though he never qualified for the Indianapolis 500, Sirois is most known in racing circles for circumstances surrounding his qualifying attempt in 1969. On Pole Day, Sirois drew first in line to qualify, and after a lengthy rain delay, took to the track late in the afternoon to make the first attempt of the day. He completed his first three laps at:
- Lap 1 – 161.783 mph
- Lap 2 – 162.279 mph
- Lap 3 – 160.542 mph
However, on his fourth and final lap, his crew waved off the run with the yellow flag, and it was negated. The crew felt the speed was inadequate to the make the field, and presumably intended to make another attempt later on. Moments later, Arnie Knepper went out to qualify, but rain began to fall during his warm up laps, and washed out the remainder of the weekend. It was quickly noticed by media and fans that had the crew not waved off his final lap on Saturday, Sirois would have been the lone qualifier of the weekend and sat on the coveted provisional pole position for an entire week - and likely would have started on the pole for race day. During the second weekend of time trials, Jigger Sirois waved off his second attempt, and also waved off his third and final attempt when his speed was not fast enough. As it ended up, Sirois's first attempt would have been fast enough to qualify for the race. The qualification rules were changed the following year to guarantee all cars in line on the first day of qualifying a chance at to qualify for the pole position. After 1969, Jigger came back to attempt to make the field every year up until 1975, failing to make the field every time.
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. The nickname "Jigger" is in reference to two-time Indy-winning riding mechanic Jigger Johnson (1931, 1937), as well as a nickname given to him by his older sister.
A tornado scare caused Sirois to start stuttering when he was three years old while living near Shelby, Indiana. He was able to stop the disorder with professional help when he was 65. He lends his time to promote the awareness and treatment of stuttering disorders in youth.
Indianapolis 500 results
|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|
The Jigger Award
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. 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.
- Berggoetz, Barb. "Lifetime of stuttering spurs former race car driver Leon Sirois to help youth". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- "Eight More Join Midget Hall Of Fame". National Speed Sport News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 26, 2004
- ""One on One" with Mark Montieth". Indianapolis. 2012-06-03. 1070 The Fan. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Missing or empty
- The Jigger Award
- Well, I'll Be Jiggered
- Speedway Report Earns Two AARWBA Awards