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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ANOTHER GIANT PASSES

I take comfort in the fact that Shav Glick's last byline was over Wally Parks' obit in the Los Angeles Times, not many weeks ago.

Shav began with these words:

"Wally Parks, the hot-rodder and entrepreneur who curbed drag racing on city streets by steering drivers onto legal racing strips and founded the National Hot Rod Association, died Friday. He was 94."

Times' editors were smart enough to understand that no one could do a story on Parks' remarkable life better than Glick, who had retired about 21 months earlier. Shav got it -- that Wally's great legacy was inventing a sport that helped get illegal racing off the public streets.

Wally and Shav had known, and respected, each other for decades. While so many Big Time Journalists tend to look down on drag racing -- it's just too blue-collar for them -- Shav delighted in the great straight-line personalities like Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Don Prudhomme, John Force and Kenny Bernstein, and enjoyed telling their wonderful tales. Wally saw to it that the media center at Pomona was named for Shav.

I spoke with Shav a couple of weeks ago. Battling cancer, he sounded weak. I am so glad, however, that right up to an E-mail he sent me eight days before he died Saturday morning -- at age 87 at his home in Pasadena -- Shav remained fully engaged in selecting the 2007 Jim Chapman Award winner. Chapman was one of Shav's many friends and admirers and the award recognizes excellence in motorsports public relations. Just as the Shav Glick Award highlights outstanding achievement in motorsports by a Californian. I will forever remember the many social occasions I enjoyed with Jim and Shav. It was an honor to be counted among Shav's countless friends.

Champ Car VP David Higdon asked me to write a tribute to Shav for CC's website. It includes some of my personal memories and comments from Danny Sullivan, Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser:
http://www.champcarworldseries.com/News/Article.asp?ID=12301 .

I'll remember 2007 for the passing of the giants: Bill France Jr., Wally Parks and, now, Shav Glick.
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I enjoyed a fun evening Friday with the World of Outlaws at Manzanita Speedway. Danny Lasoski won while Donny Schatz closed in on his second consecutive championship. I can honestly say it would do a lot of PR people good to get out of the NASCAR, Champ Car or IndyCar garage areas and experience some of what it's like in the "real world" Outlaws' pits. Series PR director Tony Veneziano will work all 75 events this year!

I made certain to introduce myself to Joey Saldana, who drives for Kasey Kahne's team. A couple of weeks back, I left a voice mail for Joey, and he returned my call within five minutes. (!) Very professional. I chatted a bit with Steve Kinser, whose son Kraig got shuffled out when Ginn was folded into DEI. When I asked Steve if Kraig (who won the 2005 Knoxville Nationals) had anything new going in NASCAR, he answered, "He's looking . . . like 100 other guys." Steve left open the possibility he'd field an Outlaws sprinter for Kraig in 2008, but some I spoke with think the younger Kinser might be chosen to join Schatz in Tony Stewart's expanded two-car team.
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I've been a Formula One fan since my earliest days, delighting in the exploits of Jimmy Clark, Colin Chapman, Graham Hill, John Surtees and Dan Gurney. That said, I'm glad this F1 season is over, with Kimi Raikkonen's win and world championship last Sunday in Brazil. It can only be described as a ridiculous and counter-productive year, what with the spy scandal, silly FIA rulings, Scott Speed from F1-to-ARCA (still mind-boggling), no more USGP at Indianapolis and unprofessional conduct within the McLaren team. Ron Dennis' reputation as a master manager took a Big Hit with the Fernando Alonso-Lewis Hamilton controversies. I'm quite sure at least three former McLaren drivers of my acquaintance smiled at that spectacle! All of this only served to reinforce F1's elitist image, which, I regret to say, seeps through into the SPEED telecasts: "Hamilton is purple in sector one!" Purple? Please.

Meanwhile, cheers to Ferrari, which won the championship right away P.S. (Post-Schumacher) and despite key personnel changes -- and now, a dispute over fuel temperature!
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FAST LINES: The news of Shav Glick's passing was sad enough. Even sadder, for the news industry he loved, was that neither Speed Report nor Wind Tunnel acknowledged Shav's death. Thanks, SpeedFreaks and Racing Roundup Arizona, for doing the right thing . . . The IndyCar Series will join the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in sponsoring the 2008 AARWBA Journalism Contest. Prize money will increase 25 percent over the previous three-year arrangement. Thank you to my negotiating counterpart, IMS/ICS Executive VP, Communications Fred Nation . . . Last week I reported on the Big News in Indy radio, the AM-FM split by powerhouse WIBC in January. Now, BIGGER News: When that happens, Dave Wilson, the longtime "King" of afternoon drive, will switch to an 8:30-11:30 a.m. time slot. Wow! . . . Congratulations to John Cardinale, promoted to Infineon Raceway's VP for communications and marketing. John managed the track's media relations since 1998. But here's what I don't like -- The continued trend to put media/PR/communications into the same department as marketing. Memo to the sales deep-thinkers: Publicity IS selling, if you want to be honest about it, but casting PR that way by combining it with marketing is not conducive to good relationships with savvy journalists . . . I wish every PR rep would get a copy of Joe Torre's news conference last Friday and make his/her driver watch it. The former New York Yankees' manager read an informal opening statement, told a huge media gathering "I'm here as long as you need me," and answered questions for more than an hour. Torre's class and dignity tamed the notoriously tough Big Apple media . . . IHRA named Mike Perry its media relations director several weeks ago. He must be busy, because I'm still waiting for the courtesy of a reply to an E-mail I sent Oct. 8 . . . Here's the new logo for NASCAR's Nationwide Series, debuting in 2008, following 26 years of Busch beer backing. NASCAR, Nationwide and Jump Co. (interestingly, of Anheuser-Busch HQ city St. Louis), collaborated on the design. "The logo is simple yet extremely effective in delivering a completely new look to the branding of the series," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR's chief marketing officer. "It's good to be able to place a 'face' to a name now" . . . Quote of the Week (in Time magazine) from Mitt Romney's press secretary, Kevin Madden: "The biggest mistake press secretaries make is that they view the press corps as the enemy. I view them as a conduit" . . . It's been impossible for me not to notice Jenna Fryer's significant volume of Juan Montoya coverage this year. (If this keeps up, Tony Stewart might get jealous.) Last week, it reached a new level -- I'll let you decide if this is a "high" or "low" -- when in an AP Q&A, six of her nine questions were about Martinsville's hot dogs! Oh, the journalistic times in which we live.
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Here's a link to my column in last Friday's Arizona Republic. It focuses on Outlaws' leader Donny Schatz and Adrian Fernandez on his first ALMS season:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/1019racingnb1019.html


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