Wednesday, April 28, 2010

David Poole Remembered One Year Later


It's been one year since David Poole, the NASCAR writer for the Charlotte Observer, passed away after falling ill at home in Stanly County, NC. Poole was only 50 years old and had been covering the sport for some 13 years.

The NASCAR media has seen many changes since Poole's passing. The struggles of the print media and many newspapers downsizing in order to survive has meant less of a national profile for the sport. The rise of NASCAR on social media like Twitter and Facebook has been interesting, but not particularly meaningful or profitable.

It seems ironic that many remember Poole for strongly criticizing NASCAR over the Carl Edwards accident at Talladega that sent two spectators to the hospital. Click here to read that column in full. Sunday, NASCAR had perhaps the most exciting Sprint Cup Series race in a long time at the very same track after changes to the COT that included removing the rear wing.

Back in 2007, Poole encouraged me to start this blog. He liked the idea of focusing on the billion dollar NASCAR TV contract and the thousands of hours of annual TV programming that surrounds the sport. In the first couple of months, he also offered a little tough love along they way. That was part of his charm.

In the past twelve months, over one million visitors have stopped by The Daly Planet logging over three million pageviews. It seems that Poole was right. Some fans wanted a place to read about NASCAR TV and offer their opinions on the coverage of the sport.

Like many, I wish Poole was still around. The atmosphere at times this year has been very strange where discussing NASCAR on TV is concerned. Media doors open to me in the past have been firmly slammed shut. TDP opinions that do not contain the sport's new "positive message" philosophy have been attacked as anti-NASCAR. It has certainly been an interesting season so far.

So, on this day we take a moment to think about NASCAR and free speech. About the pivotal role television, radio and journalism played in bringing the sport to the national level. About how our new media world will influence it in the future.

Here are some story links talking about Poole's passing from one year ago:

Open Comments On The Passing Of David Poole - The Daly Planet

NASCAR Media Icon David Poole Passes Away - Yahoo! Sports From The Marbles

NASCAR Loses Its Most Authoritative Voice - Sports Illustrated

Charlotte Observer Motorsports Writer Dies At 50 - thatsracing.com

We All Have A Little David Poole Inside - The Speed Freaks

Like Earnhardt, David Poole Mastered His Craft - ESPN.com

David Poole Leaves A Void, Professionally And Personally - NASCAR This Week

Click here for Poole's Legacy.com guest book of 422 comments.

As we move forward, perhaps you could take a moment to leave an opinion on Poole's passing one year later and your take on the NASCAR media scene. Just click the comments button below. Thank you.

28 comments:

Auto Journalist said...

When I first started reading Mr. Poole's commentary on NASCAR, I couldn't stand the guy - he sounded more like a TV critic than a guy with any real insight into the sport.

Thankfully, first impressions are often way off - and mine was.

Poole's unique take on the drivers, teams, and sanctioning body (or lack thereof, as he would sometimes allude) was hard to match in recent years, and his voice really IS missed now.

Armando said...

I could listen to Dave's tales of the road, airport, car rental counter and even the grocery store. Fighting foo in heaven, I'm certain.

Dannyboy said...

John,

You know from my previous communications with you, both private and public, that I appreciate, value, and respect to work you do.

I am 100% in agreement that David Poole's passing represented a major blow to the free exchange of ideas in the realm of NASCAR. David's contributions to the all too short-lived "LugNuts" series a few years ago made me one of his most avid fans.

The tight clamps that are frequently applied to information about NASCAR issues are often obvious even to lay persons like me. David's opinions were unvarnished and unfettered. It makes me wonder how Jimmy Spencer got his own show, and this week's installment was a good example of how refreshing it is to have someone blowing off like Mr Excitement does at times. We'll see how long they let him say whatever he wants to say.

But I have to object to the term "free speech" being used in this context. This is a term which has been cheapened by its indiscriminate use in a media which is populated by journalism school grads with barely an elementary school education.

The only correct and legitimate use of the term "free speech" occurs when government is the party which is hindering speech, because it does so with a military to back it up.

As for the stranglehold that NASCAR attempts to maintain on information, we can always walk away, and they will have nothing.

Can't do that when the state says you may not express your opinion freely.

The state is everywhere.

Sorry to get all serious when we're talking about a sport, but this is a subject that requires accuracy.

jamie in n.c. said...

last year dustin long ruffled some feathers when he wrote an article about an interview he had with kyle petty and larry macreynolds. amazingly, if your name is larry mac and there is a recorder in front of you, you should not be held accountable for the words you speak.

in an interview on sirius radio, larry mac blamed the print media for his own words and mentioned that david poole never wrote a positive word about nascar.

after the texas race, i thought of david. i wondered, why did nascar wait for david to leave us before they fixed the racing at mile and a half tracks. one of davids biggest concerns was the quality of racing on these tracks.

david wrote very few articles that i didnt agree with and i miss his views very much.

Anonymous said...

Danny Boy
Very astute! You are correct, the Constitution does NOT grant rights to Americans. Not free speech, not religion, not anything. What it does is PROHIBIT the federal government from enacting laws that infringe on those rights.
You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and apparently you can't criticize your boss if you work in NASCAR.

Tom said...

As often as I disagreed with him, David Poole's passing has left us without a voice we could trust. Let me remind you that for at least the last year of his life he was doing the morning show on SIRIUS under the auspices of MRN, which alone makes him a hero in my book. When you see how quickly that show-and the SIRIUS channel as a whole- have degenerated into koolaide drinking "positivity" you realize what a job he had to be on there every morning and speak his mind. Whatever marble-mouth McReynolds says, Poole had a lot of positive things to say about NASCAR, but he wasn't afraid to say what he didn't agree with. He is sorely missed everyday.

Tom
Inverness, FL

glenc1 said...

Thanks for reminding us about David. He was one of the first writers I ever discovered (via Jayski) when I started following racing in the late 90's. Even when I completely disagreed, I know he was expressing his opinion with the hope of making the sport better for the fans & the participants. He was a voice for a lot of people and he is missed.

One of the things that drew me to this blog years ago was that I've always had a frustration with this... NASCAR is run by control freaks; if you criticize them, they will make life hard for you, threaten your hard card, etc. I know the analysts never felt free to criticize NASCAR...yet the networks never seem to have trouble if they criticize an official or a player or a coaching decision in the other 'big league' sports. Why is NASCAR so afraid of this?

As for 'free speech'--I don't think there's a monopoly on the term's meaning, and I don't believe it's been used improperly. I do agree it's been misinterpreted in political terms, but I don't think it applies here.

GinaV24 said...

I didn't always agree with David, there were times when he made my blood boil at some of this comments, especially in the morning on Sirius. That said, I appreciated his honesty and that he "called it as he saw it" even if it wasn't what the NASCAR suits wanted to hear. I loved PitBull, it was open and honest and didn't last because it scared and angered the suits.

John, its a sad thing that NASCAR is so scared of the truth and reality that they would rather squelch free speech than take a good hard look at the issues that are facing the sport, including the TV coverage.

John, the powers that be may not appreciate your efforts here on this blog, but I certainly do. It is so frustrating to see the media just roll over and ignore stories that should be addressed to placate NASCAR and the TV partners.

NASCAR fans are educated people who can look at the things that have gone on in the sport and realize that everything is not "wonderful" as the media insists on portraying it.

I'm not saying that they have to be negative in their commentary, but professional and unbiased, yes, that I'd like to see. Instead we get fed pablum and in some cases outright lies. This method of "see no evil, speak no evil" has resulted in my not believing any information presented to me that I can't verify for myself.

Thanks again for providing this forum for a place to discuss a wide variety of issues. Change doesn't take place in the absence of effort -- thank you for doing this for the public that had no way to be heard.

I hope that David Poole's family knows how much he is missed by the fans, even those who didn't always agree with him.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Dannyboy,

The larger use of that phrase than just your reference is as follows:

Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak without censorship and/or limitation. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to indicate not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on "hate speech".

If you could perhaps understand it being used in the broader context, it might make a bit more sense.

Happy to get a suggestion from you on another phrase that fits the topic.

JD

MRM4 said...

David's passing has a left a big void in the media of those willing to tell it like it is - whether it be pro or con toward NASCAR. I just wish he had taken better care of himself so he'd still be here to offer up some thoughts on what's going on right now. It would be interesting to hear his takes.

Anonymous said...

David Poole will always be missed. He could be counted on to give it to you straight,whether you wanted to hear it or not. Political Correctness disgusts me. It takes a big person to sometimes be brutally honest. Larry McReynolds should be proud of starting work at a wrecking yard before making millions from Nascar racing. One could understand his being defensive about the sport. Poole just told it like he saw it....

Jojaye said...

I miss David Poole unvarnished, non butt shining reporting. While listening/reading all the "positivity" while ignoring the obvious lately I just keep thinking what would Poole think of this non sense. Like when the cat in the hat complained about the media & blaming the media for all things not sweetness & light.
And I smile -Poole would never have gone along with the "program" - I really miss his column & blog.
Honesty & objectivity took a huge hit a year ago. Thanks for the column and links.

word verify= upeter

bevo said...

Mr. Poole is missed in so many ways. Rarely is the person who dares to say that the Emperor has no clothes appreciated during his time.

He came to NASCAR as an outsider and dared to question the orthodoxy of those who grew up in the sport. He saw the good and the bad in the sport and wasn't afraid to address either. We now see the push back of those same people so that his type will never be let through the gates again. "The Morning Drive" on Sirius128 is the most obvious example.

But what he inspired lives on in the blogosphere and the best tribute to him is to keep questioning those inside of the sport he grew to love.

Kevin said...

I think some people will read a writer's negative comments about Nascar and feel like that person hates the sport, when that couldn't be farther from the truth. David Poole was one of those writers who loved his sport so much that he couldn't do anything BUT speak the truth. I think this website falls into the same category. And in a sense, it's similar to how Dale Earnhardt Sr. oversaw the sport and wouldn't hesitate to talk to the powers-that-be when he felt like something needed to be changed. In the long term, "feel-good stories" are not good for the sport we all love. True articles, even to the point of being harsh, are necessary at times in order to address the problems that exist. David Poole loved nascar so much that he continually wanted to see it improve. We need more writers like him.

Vicky D said...

JD, what a thoughtful column, I'm sure we all miss David in our own way. I liked him on Speed and thought his comments were right on most of the time.

chase said...

John: I had occasion to meet Mr. Poole (he promptly asked me to call him David) before a book signing at the B&N in Huntersville a few years back. What a charming man and a true gentleman. He had an incredible sense of humor and his awesome knowledge brilliant. I always read his columns and agreed with virtually all of them since he didn't mince words. I couldn't think of a better mentor - we were all very fortunate to have him with us and he is greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone takes David Poole's death as a serious warning sign: Get in shape or drop dead way too young.

I'm sorry, but I see too many of my fellow NASCAR fans who are grossly out of shape and overweight. If you think it can't happen to you - that your heart won't stop prematurely at your current weight - then look at David Poole and the sad family he left behind.

If just one person can use Poole as motivation to lose weight and get in shape, then maybe something good can come from his untimely death.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for remembering David Poole - he had a passion for this sport, and that passion drove him to try and make it better. Even though it wasn't always the popular thing to say, he spoke his mind, and for that I admired his work tremendously, especially in light if the innumerable yes men and slapstick acts we have today. I, too, wish he had taken better care of himself, not for us, but for his beloved grandson, who will not have his Paw-paw around to watch him gorw up - to me, that is the biggest tragedy of all. R.I.P. David - we miss ya.

KoHoSo said...

A very nice column, Mr. Daly.

I think anybody that knows anything about NASCAR history would admit that it is not an organization that has been terribly friendly to "free speech" over the years. However, there is no doubt that we are in an era where it has hit the point of being ridiculous.

Then again, it's NASCAR's party and they can set the rules as they wish. On the other hand, NASCAR needs to go even farther on addressing the issues that fans today have with the sport ranging from the television coverage to the on-track product. No matter how bad the economy is, when there are empty seats at Bristol and Talladega combined with overall dropping TV ratings, there is a big problem. Simply putting a "positive spin" on everything like a politician is not going to cut it. In today's world where even many partisans are sick of both political parties, it is not hard to see how NASCAR is acting the same way. This act and the cheapened product are being rejected by more and more people as each poorly produced telecast and each cookie-cutter race goes by, and it's both the casual fans and the long-timers that are leaving.

Maybe more than any other sport, NASCAR fans (and all racing fans) long for honesty and integrity. It is sad that Mr. Poole is no longer around to be one of the remaining people of any note trying to hold NASCAR's feet to the fire.

And, in answer to all of those that say people like we Planeteers do nothing but dwell on the negative and thus bring NASCAR down...we don't want to dwell on the negative. We just want it honestly addressed and then move on to some competent race coverage. We are actually sticking with NASCAR during a true low point in its value for entertainment and overall presentation. We know why people are turning away from the sport yet it takes three years for NASCAR or a TV partner to listen to us if they bother changing at all.

Brian France and the rest of his gang can try to paint things happy colors all they want and blame everything on the economy until their faces turn blue. One thing about Mr. Poole, our esteemed Mr. Daly, and a small handful of others...they helped those of us frustrated with these things find our voice and focus our arguments as to why our beloved sport is losing its luster. We don't hate NASCAR, we hate those things that are killing NASCAR. Baby Brian can either start being more of a man and listen or it will not be all that long before he is going to find his grand little Daytona sandbox a very lonely place.

JohnP said...

KoHoSo, Extremly Well Said!!

PammH said...

DP used to frequent occasionally a race forum I went to. He gave us updates before they were general knowledge & put up w/morons that gave him crap about his weight (he also did that on his blog-HATED that). He loved our sport sooo much & always laid it on the line. I admired him for that & loved him on PitBulls. He was one of a kind & his voice is sorely missed, esp on SR. He said what he thought & TPTB be damned! Only person (imo) that comes close to that these days is Monte Dutton & some on Frontstretch, but not as much as DP. Prayers & good thoughts to his family on this day. :(

Anonymous said...

David was an honest and forthright man. He didn't always agree with you, but he would always listen if you could make your point fairly clearly, and he tolerated fools better than many people in his position would have. I had the opportunity to talk with him 2 yrs ago in O'Hare when his flight plans had been messed up by the airlines. He was in a bad mood when he sat down by me and I didn't want to ask about NASCAR, so I asked about his grandson, and he just lit up, and for 45 minutes we talked about Eli and their new house and my family and I got a chance to see the very warm and caring side of him. It made me understand how much he cared about what was important in his life--family and racing--and it helped me understand why he got so upset and disappointed when his NASCAR "family" let him down. We chatted a few times by e-mail after that. The last time we communicated was by e-mail a few days before his death; I had had a friend and her baby, who was just a little older than Eli, killed by street racers in Charlotte and was complaining about the glorification of street racing at the dragstrip at Lowe's, and he was sympathetic and supportive. I miss our infrequent conversations very much, and my heart goes out to his family, especially to Eli, growing up without the grandpa who adored him.

Anonymous said...

I still think that David Poole was to NASCAR media what Dale Earnhardt was to NASCAR drivers: at times both hated and beloved, and absolutely irreplaceable. We have to keep moving on, but their absence will be sorely felt always and we definitely will never be the same again.

red said...

i know i'm late to this party but all i can say is this:

i have his last "life in the left turn lane" column of 27 april 2009 bookmarked.

Tracy D said...

Every organization needs someone who won't put up with the junk the corporate-thinkers try to force-feed us. DP was that someone. He's more than missed.

Heading for Richmond this weekend. Tickets (lots of them) still available. Empty seats in Bristol and 'Dega. Whose fault? The perfect storm of COT/economy/Nascar political correctness/commerical-virus- riddled racing on TV?

The show on the track can still pump peanut butter through your heart. What a shame it's getting lost in the bigger Nascar mess. DP would have cut through the hide of Nascar with a deft knife of words.

Richard in N.C. said...

I enjoyed and respected David Poole a great deal and often disagreed with him and traded comments with him on his blog on occasion. He was an exceptional talent.

However, the best compliment I can pay him is that he seemed to be a good person - and I will remember him most for the many times he tried to use his platform to do good for others like the litle girl who gave Dale E. the penny before his Daytona 500 win. He was a big man in many ways.

Anonymous said...

Brian France and most of the NASCAR media don't respect the fans of the sport. They think we are simple, naive, and easily swayed by anything we hear. Their credo was adopted from Jack Nicholson's classic line, "You can't handle the truth!"

We end up being treated like grade school children by the likes of the Waltrips, Kenny Wallace, and others. Even the race broadcast commentators can't be relied on to be tell the objective truth. They will even lie about obvious things like whether it is raining, whether the stands are full, whether fans are leaving the race, etc. To paraphrase a comment left by someone on another column, "Who are you going to believe, the broadcasters or your lying eyes?"

David Poole treated fans like intelligent and informed adults. He told them the truth, even when it wasn't pretty. Whether or not I agreed with his conclusions or his proposed solutions, I always respected him and his views because I believed he was being straight with me. That is unfortunately a rare commodity thanks to Brian France and his many accomplices within the NASCAR organization and the media.

David Poole's independence, honesty, and respect for the fans are sorely missed.

Glenn said...

JD, keep the torch burning.
I have no knowledge or facts that "information" may be somewhat controlled by NASCAR, but as with any organization if it means keeping your job sometimes things may go the company way. Right or wrong that exists.
I'm glad you're around, keep up the good work, call it like you see it, and keep the torch burning.
DP would be proud.
(It sure was rough listening to the Morning Drive on Sirius Wednesday, a lot of funny, happy, sad things were said)