• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, June 09, 2008

THANKS, RICK (and GORDON)

In his introduction to Rick Mears: Thanks -- The Story of Rick Mears and the Mears Gang, my friend Gordon Kirby writes: "This book was a sheer pleasure to write."

It is a great pleasure for me to recommend the book to you. In the highest terms.

When Roger Penske and Gould officially introduced Rick as (believe-it-or-not, a part-time driver) in Chicago in late 1977, I was there, covering for the Philadelphia Daily News. I reported Rick's first Indianapolis 500 victory, in 1979.

Most important, to me, I had the enormous good fortune to have Rick be PPG Cup champion for two of the three years I worked as CART's first full-time communications director. As champion, of course, I asked much of Rick. He did it all -- with style and good humor. I remember, at Watkins Glen in October 1981, when we were struggling for attention to try to sell a few tickets on a miserable and cold weekend, I asked Rick (on short notice) to do an interview with a local TV type. Charitably, she didn't know a wheel from a wallet, even though I had given her a media guide. He smiled through the conversation, even though this microphone-holder obviously had no clue who he was or that he was an Indy winner or champion.

And, yes, when it was over, Rick said to her: "Thank you."

I consider Rick to be the greatest champion of the CART era of American open-wheel racing.

Gordon Kirby is the perfect writer to tell the Mears' story. He was there, in-person, for almost every moment of a classic career. Roger Penske, appropriately, offers the foreword for 264 pages, presented with a magnificent display of photography.

It's this simple: It's impossible for me to understand how anyone with an interest in motor racing greatness would not read this book.

CMG Publishing, $39.95. http://www.crashmediagroup.com/
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* Do you know what a "MoJo" is? Are you one, but not realize it? If you are a PR rep, do you know how to effectively work with this new type of journalist? Thanks to Larry Henry for sharing this:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003805733

* The Indianapolis Business Journal reports NBC or Turner might be interested in the IndyCar TV rights when the current deal with ESPN expires after 2009. Just how financially "interested" they are, I question, but if a network change is what it takes to get Bumbler Pedigo off-the-air, so be it.

* They say everything is bigger in Texas. As we saw again last weekend, that includes egos.

* When a TV production -- such as TNT's Sprint Cup coverage at Pocono -- includes visual elements that don't really exist, like signs and scoreboards and screens, it undercuts overall credibility.

* The sad passing of Jim McKay reminds us of a better, more professional, elegant, gentlemanly and civilized era of sportscasters. I wish some of those offering their tributes to Jim last weekend would think about that -- and act on McKay's legacy.
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Here's a link to last Friday's Arizona Republic notebook:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2008/06/05/20080605racingnb0606.html


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