For his efforts in raising funds for charity, Ricky Craven has been named the recipient of the NASCAR USG 'Person of the Year' Award for 2003 during the Myers Brothers Breakfast, sponsored by the National Motorsports Press Association, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Craven, who drives the #32 Tide Chevrolet for PPI Motorsports in NASCAR's top series, was honoured for his work on the annual Ricky Craven Charity Snowmobile Ride, held each January in his home state of Maine.

In its six years of existence, the ride has generated more than $500,000, which has been distributed among a number of charitable organisations, including The Marrow Foundation, the Children's Miracle Network, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Travis Roy Foundation and Give Kids the World.

"I'm extremely honoured by this recognition, but there's a lot of people I want to share it with," Craven said of the award, "I want to give credit to everyone who has assisted us with the charity ride these past six years. It takes a lot of people giving of their time, energy and money to make the ride a success. This award really should go to all the volunteers who have helped us so selflessly, to my family and friends, and to the drivers and all the race fans who've helped us raise money for these wonderful charities."

USG, the 'official building products supplier' to NASCAR, is in its first year as sponsor of the 'Person of the Year' programme. The award is designed to honour drivers, not only for their accomplishments on the track, but for their community service contributions and charitable efforts.

For the purpose of determining the NASCAR USG Person of the Year Award winner, the NASCAR Winston Cup season was divided into four quarters in which drivers were nominated for their off-track efforts. Craven was named in the first quarter, with fellow drivers Elliott Sadler, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon receiving the honour during the following quarters. A select group of panellists then chose Craven as the NASCAR USG 'Person of the Year' from among the four quarterly finalists.

In addition to the award, Craven was presented with a prize of $100,000, which was supposed to be divided evenly between the driver and the charity or charities of his choice. Craven, however, immediately donated his half of the prize money to the charities he supports through the charity ride.

"I can't say enough about USG's generosity," Craven said, "That's such a wonderful gesture on their part. I want to thank them for offering such a significant amount of money. This award will push the amount of money donated over the years to a total of well over $600,000, which is a great feeling."

Craven says plans are well underway for the Seventh Annual Ricky Craven Charity Snowmobile Ride, which will be held on Saturday 31 January 2004, in Maine.

"The event keeps getting bigger and bigger every year, thanks to the efforts of everyone who donates their time and money," he noted, "I think this year's ride will be the best ever. I'm very lucky to be associated with so many great people, and I'm honoured to be able to use my position as a driver to help people. It's definitely one of the neatest parts of my job."