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David Poole: the high-speed, fast-lane life of one of America's best-known NASCAR journalists is suddenly silenced


David Poole (C) was one of NASCAR's most outspoken writers (Photo: NASCAR PR)


   By Mike Mulhern

    David Poole, the veteran NASCAR journalist who died suddenly Tuesday morning, was such an iconic – and outspoken -- fixture on the stock car circuit that nearly everyone in the sport was stunned.
   Bruton Smith, who loved sparring with Poole during Poole's 13 years covering this sport, called him "a special person, and a friend, and I miss him already.
   "This is a big loss for the coverage of motorsports. He was truly one of the nation's best, and he always wrote what he believed.
   "Whether you agreed with him or not, he made us all think, and that's what the best writers do.
   "He cared about what he did and had a passion for his work. It came through in what he wrote every day.
   "David didn't always write what was the popular opinion, and I have a lot of respect for that.
   "The world of racing is going to miss him for a long, long time."
   Jimmie Johnson, the tour's three-time champ, said the news "shocked" him.
   "He was someone who loved our sport and wasn't afraid to voice his opinion. That's what made him one of the most respected members of our media.
   "I know I worked twice as hard to make sure I earned his respect.
    "I am proud of what he has done for our sport…"
    NASCAR CEO Brian France, who was the on the point of some of Poole's sharpest pieces, said "The NASCAR community is stunned and saddened by the loss of David Poole.
   "David was as passionate about NASCAR as anyone and had very definitive opinions about the sport.
   "He served the industry, and most importantly the fans, through his reporting and commentary. He will be missed."
   Talladega Superspeedway boss Rick Humphrey said "losing David is a huge blow to the NASCAR community.
   "I feel we have lost one of the 'old-guard' of the NASCAR press corps. 
   "As a longtime motorsports journalist, David was as knowledgeable about NASCAR as anyone I have ever met."
    Team owner Richard Childress said Poole "could be controversial from time to time, but he always wrote and spoke what he believed.
   "He didn't pull any punches with anybody, and that's what people respected about him.
    "He was good for the sport and will be missed."
    Driver Jeff Burton said Poole "was fun to agree and debate with.
   "I admired his professionalism and work ethic, and he did a great job of reporting our sport to the fans. He's someone I have a lot of respect for, and he will definitely be missed."
     Roger Curtis, the president of Michigan International Speedway, said he admired Poole's passion: "I could tell by his columns and the way he covered NASCAR that he had a true and honest passion for our sport and the people in it.
   "He made our sport better by expecting as much out of us as he did himself. And, believe me, he was never shy about holding us to his standard.
   "He made a significant impact on our business."

David Poole's favorite color made him an unmistakable figure in the NASCAR scene (Photo: NASCAR PR)


Texas Motor Speedway's Eddie Gossage, often a target for Poole's sharp wit, called Poole "a powerful and prolific voice in NASCAR.
   "He called me just last night, and we talked for a while about a column he was working on….this is very stunning to me.
    "The thing I liked about David was that you could argue a counterpoint to his thoughts, and while he might argue his point vociferously, he had an open mind to understand your position. Even if he still disagreed, he would respectfully concede the validity of your position.
   "I've lost a friend and colleague, the sport lost a prescient voice…but worst of all the Poole family lost a vital member."
   Team owner Rick Hendrick called Poole "exceptionally passionate about this sport that we all care so deeply for.
   "His voice was unique, his opinions were his own, and his abilities as a writer and journalist were unsurpassed.
   "He had the courage to say what others would not, and he was deeply respected for it.
    "Without driving a car or turning a wrench, David Poole was a racer, and he will be sincerely missed."
    Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell said Poole "became one of the most influential voices in NASCAR during
his 13 years covering the sport as a journalist and broadcaster. It's a great professional loss for NASCAR and the journalism profession.
   "I have known David since our days as classmates at the University of North Carolina and worked closely with him during my time as media relations manager for R.J. Reynolds. David was well-respected within the NASCAR community."
    Jerry Gappens, who runs New Hampshire Motor Speedway, said Poole's success "came from bringing his own style, direction, unique vision and perspective to his coverage of motorsports. 
    "David always spoke his mind and wasn't afraid to hold people accountable. 
    "He was always fair and made us better at what we did. 
    "We will miss David's spirit, generosity, principles, and friendship."
    And Curtis Gray, who heads Homestead-Miami Speedway, called Poole 'the Voice of the Fan,' because he exemplified what really was an unparalleled passion for motorsports.
    "But to stop there would be to undersell all he delivered to an international audience.
    "Be it through his writing, his on-air contributions, or his live presence at the track, David probably has done as much to educate fans on motorsports than anyone who has set foot on the track.
    "He was an expert in his industry and influenced a generation of motorsports fans."
    Steve Page, who heads Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., spoke about Poole's curmudgeon traits: "NASCAR racing was David Poole's world, and that world is a lesser place without David in it.
   "David's writing and analysis was always accessible to the casual racing fan. But his real talent was as a contrarian -- raising the kinds of thought-provoking questions that could engage the people whose lives revolve around the sport.
    "David always told me his trips to the Northern California coast were the ones he looked forward to most every year.  Although we never quite sold him on the virtues of road racing, I always figured we needed just one more race here to bring him around.  I'm sorry we won't have that chance."

David Poole was more to the sport of NASCAR racing than just a reporter (Photo: NASCAR PR)



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