Wednesday, April 29, 2009

David Poole Knew Talladega

After a crazy week at Talladega, perhaps we will will extra miss a man who could have helped us sort it all out. Charlotte Observer columnist David Poole, cited on this blog and one of my favorites, passed on. Lars Anderson of Sports Illustrated writes:
The news hit Jimmie Johnson like a sledgehammer to the knees. Johnson was taping a radio spot at the Performance Racing Network in Charlotte Tuesday afternoon when he got word that David Poole, who for my money was the top motorsports writer in the country, died of a heart attack at the age of 50 early this morning.

Indeed, as my friend, writer Ed Hinton, told me this afternoon, Poole was "like the school newspaper for NASCAR." The lead motorsports writer for the Charlotte Observer, Poole was to NASCAR what Peter King and Chris Mortensen are to the NFL. Put simply, he was the most authoritative voice in the sport.
Even a brief look at Real Clear Sports shows that newspaper columnists with national reputation are few on the ground in the cotton south. It is part and parcel of the institutional east and west coast press bias that permeates all types of newspaper coverage. Consequently, the two popular sports of the deep south- NASCAR and college football- tend to be under-covered vis-à-vis the pofessional stick and ball sports that dominate coastal, and to an extent, mid-west coverage.

Poole stood up to that trend, writing extensively about NASCAR and college sports- and without the snotty attitude that always is featured in east coast coverage. And since they are my favorites, he had a fan here at Frank Helps You Think It All Out. Since he was atypical journalist, he was very open to bloggers (he had his own spirited page here) and hosted a popular daily Serius radio show. NASCAR has no major national columnist voice other than David- so it hurts more to lose him because he was great, southern gentleman.

Particularly when you have to wade through such drivel as this by David Whitely with the Orlando Sentintal- talking about Carl Edwards’ terrible wreck at Talladega:
If Edwards' car had been a couple of feet higher, we could have had another 1955 Le Mans. A car flew off the track and killed 80 spectators. It led to a racing ban in Germany, France and Switzerland. The Swiss didn't lift their ban until two years ago.

How does NASCAR minimize that doomsday? Slow the cars? Reconfigure the tracks? Risk losing that Big One excitement? "I don't know how I'd change this racing," Edwards said.

Neither do I...
That’s pretty lame, right. Trash the sport, then “I don’t know”?

David Poole would never write something vapid:
Why did nobody at NASCAR ever say reconfiguring Texas Motor Speedway wasn’t an option when the drivers were complaining about it in 1998? What actually happened was NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. came to Texas on the morning of the track’s second race and took up a spot in the garage area so reporters could come find him. He told them SMI had better fix the track or lose the one Cup date it had, let alone asking for a second.

Let me flatly say two things.

First, if SMI owned Talladega then NASCAR would have forced that company to plow it up and rebuild no later than 1987, when Bobby Allison crashed in almost exactly the same way Edwards did Sunday. There’s no chance NASCAR would have tried as many things to change the cars and the rules to continue racing at Talladega if its sister company didn’t own the joint.

Second, there’s no way anybody – ISC or SMI or anybody – builds a track today and makes it a 2.66-mile trioval with high-banked turns. The track is an anachronism.

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