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You wanted real journalism about Mayfield-and-NASCAR? Well, the New York Times is finally joining the fray

The big guns finally weigh in on NASCAR's latest controversy....but will the Times really dig deep or just go for the fluff?

   By Mike Mulhern

   Jeremy Mayfield's attorneys were back in court Monday, arguing that NASCAR hasn't proved its case for a stay of a federal judge's injunction overturning the sanctioning body's suspension of the veteran stock car driver.
   However the Mayfield-NASCAR case is all but academic at this point, with Mayfield saying he's no longer able to afford to race and only wants now to prove his innocence in the substance abuse case that NASCAR first raised nearly three months ago.
   The really big news in the Mayfield case came from the New York Times: that is, that the Times actually got around to writing a story about this legal circus: HERE.
   And the Times does not present a very favorable picture of NASCAR's handling of the Mayfield case.


   Otherwise the major racing story Monday came from Indianapolis Motor Speedway – which is apparently in some turmoil, just days away from the Brickyard 400, one of the biggest races of the NASCAR season.
   Joie Chitwood is stepping down from his long-time role as Indy president and chief operating officer and will be moving to Florida and joining the France family's International Speedway Corp. as vice president of business operations.
    The man now running the legendary Indy track's day-to-day operations is Jeff Belskus, who was apparently caught unawares by Chitwood's decision.

Indy's Joie Chitwood: NASCAR's Jim France gets a good guy in this guy...but what will his real job be? (Photo: Indy Racing League)


"This is a disappointment," Belskus said. "Joie provided the leadership you would expect for a facility that hosts the largest sporting events in the world. With his history in the sport combined with his business acumen, Joie was well-suited for the role of president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we appreciate how he has represented IMS."
   Chitwood, who helped launch Chicagoland Speedway, has long ties with the Indy track, and called his move "a difficult decision." But Chitwood – whose tenure included running the Formula One Grand Prix – said he was looking for new challenges. 
    Belskus and Chitwood have a press conference scheduled Tuesday at the track to discuss the recent shakeups, triggered by the family's decision to move veteran Indy boss Tony George out of the command chair and put his focus on the Indy Racing League.
   And in a somewhat humorous twist on Sunday's 400 (the race is sponsored by Allstate), Tyler Hansbrough, the former North Carolina basketball star, will be grand marshal. He will be playing this season for the NBA Indiana Pacers.

  Will NASCAR's 'evidence' against Jeremy Mayfield hold up in federal court? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

When I was a former

When I was a former photojournalist with the Raleigh News & Observer, 15 years ago, I once heard a comment about the power of the newspaper media and the Daniels' family, former owners of the newspaper.

"Never argue with a man that can buy ink by the barrels."

Considering this is the biggest NASCAR, non-Earnhardt story (Dale, Sr. death/Dale, Jr. leaving DEI) in years, you would think the country bumpkin' crew of Ramsey Poston, Jim Hunter and others will learn to tone down their "swagga" so, to speak and let their lawyers; others talk for them and the "cb crew" concentrate on just racin'.

“It’s a broad, sweeping policy that makes it the best policy in sports,” - Ramsey Poston.

and later in the article in regards to "drug use waivers for medicinal purposes"...Here's Poston answer, “They just need to be in touch with Dr. Black and they work it out,” ...WTH?!!!! How vague is that?

I'm not a doctor or scientist, but it doesn't take much to see that NASCAR's drug policy is truly flawed, along with the let's.make.up.the.rules.as.we.go.along.mindset is shooting them in the foot on a different scale. THE MASS MEDIA.

Hey, NASCAR. Think about this. Jeremy Mayfield and Bill Diehl has NOTHING TO LOSE & EVERYTHING TO GAIN. Simply everything. So, the cards are in their favor and they're out to expose you every.which.way.you.turn. Probably the best to do is go the Maurcia Grant route, cut Jeremy Mayfield a nice HUGE check. Tell him to keep his mouth shut and don't come back! Wouldn't that be easier than to be exposed as a second-class sport organization, the kind of publicity you don't want in the first place????

Lance Powell

I agree with you that this

I agree with you that this whole Mayfield thing has been mishandled right from the start. You've seen what the San Francisco Chronicle thinks about the deal, now the New York Times has weighed in. I haven't even looked at other papers yet.
One issue -- there are no American urban newspapers covering NASCAR even on any significant part-time basis anymore (You'll remember how the N&O simply stopped covering NASCAR entirely after Gerald Martin died, in a rather damning indictment of the news sense of that newspaper's management.) A story every now and then, and maybe a few more when/if NASCAR comes to that town. Otherwise the only coverage is AP (fortunately Jenna Fryer is one of the best in the business; but even so, it's nice to have more than one point of view). So if anyone wants to learn something about NASCAR, he's basically at the mercy of NASCAR's TV partners and whatever they want to do. (and of course a few independent websites like mikemulhern.net).
I just worry that some of NASCAR's major sponsors will look at all the negative publicity coming out of the NASCAR-versus-Mayfield thing, and the reaction around the country, and decide to pull the plug on NASCAR sponsorships.

There's that word

There's that word again...Pyrrhic

Even though a big time paper like the Times is publishing an article, I'd still like to see someone do a Woodward/Bernstein kind of investigation into the whole thing. It's all been a 'he said/she said' kind of reporting till now.

Gee, mon, this is just stock

Gee, mon, this is just stock car racing, just NASCAR....not the North Koreans building a bomb (grin). To be honest, if you look at the crowds in the stands, and the TV ratings, and the fact that no major American urban newspaper even covers NASCAR on anything like a full-time basis anymore, I'd say most people don't care about this whole thing. But you've seen what the San Francisco Chronicle had to write about it, and now the New York Times, and you get the drift that NASCAR's image isn't being improved much by all this. I just hope the judge gets to the bottom of it -- like Judge Sirica -- before there's a settlement out of court and the whole things fades to black. the way i see it, NASCAR has oodles of money to spend on its legal case....and Mayfield, probably flat broke, has nothing lose by keeping this thing in the headlines as long as he can.

Remember Tim Richmond?

Remember Tim Richmond? Here's an old NY Times article on that. I believe Nascar was guilty in this of a false positive and it cost Richmond the '88 Daytona 500. I can't say for sure what Mayfield did or did not do, but in light of the fact that Nascar has done this before I have to still give the benefit of the doubt.

Here's a quote from the NY Times on 2/22/90:

"The report by Roberta Baskin said Richmond was targeted by the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. The report said the racing group went to Tennant to establish a substance-abuse policy with Richmond in mind.

Nascar, which had no comment to all questions concerning Richmond's drug tests, told WJLA that it was hiring a replacement for Tennant. Tennant could not be reached for comment.

A series of drug tests and falsely reported positive results shortly before the 1988 Daytona 500 kept Richmond from driving in what was to have been his last big race, the report said. Richmond died of AIDS last August."

Sound familiar?

well, to be fair, tim

well, to be fair, tim richmond's medical issue -- the one that nascar had to deal with -- was HIV. And at that time, HIV was a difficult legal and medical issue to deal with for anyone. So NASCAR came up with this 'drug test' thing, to get around that...basically to try to get access to richmond's medical records. i think when they finally had a test that he 'failed' it turned out to be for 'excessive' amounts of pseudoephedrine. NASCAR president Bill France, at the time, went off the record for deep background on the issue.

None of that was news - Ken

None of that was news - Ken Squier before the 1988 Daytona 500 laid out that Richmond failed a drug test for Sudafed and Advil. Richmond took a second test, then NASCAR asked to see his medical records; he refused, filed his defamation suit, then settled when the judge ruled NASCAR had the right to see his records.

hmmmm.....yes, i seem to

hmmmm.....yes, i seem to recall that (damn, you've got a good memory). I'll ask Squier.....do you know where any video is of this thing? thanks.

The use of the word Pyrrhic

The use of the word Pyrrhic in this subject is getting to be thicker than the mayonnaise on my tomato sandwich. But Mike used it first, I'm a bonafide witness. The grey lady looks south for inspiration, gotta be good sign.

When I saw the cutline on the

When I saw the cutline on the NYT story, I was LOL. Glad to be inspiration (grin).

The New Yuck Times is not

The New Yuck Times is not exactly what I think of when I hear journalism. You might think if someone was going to write an article about a controversy that he might ask the other side, rather than just cite opinions that support his slant of the matter.

If NASCAR's testing program is so clearly flawed, why has no one in the media thought (or wanted) to ask Brian France to explain in depth how the program was developed and who all was involved? Might come up with some inconvenient information for the media?

For no one professionally covering NASCAR there sure is a lot to read daily on the internet - but still a lot of superficial reporting and unanswered questions.

There's a lot here you guys haven't dug into - or don't want to.

"If NASCAR's testing program

"If NASCAR's testing program is so clearly flawed, why has no one in the media thought (or wanted) to ask Brian France to explain in depth how the program was developed and who all was involved? Might come up with some inconvenient information for the media?"

I think you're referring to the intended Congressional investigation into Black and Aegis after the deaths of Benoit, his family, and a few other wrestlers that were shown to have heavy doses and history of steroid use after Black and Aegis cleared them as having NO evidence of steroid use...Black dragged Vince McMahon in to speak on his behalf--talk about bastions of integrity!!! The matter was shelved when the doctor that actually prescribed the steroids Black said those wrestlers didn't use, was uncovered.

Who is that inconvenient for? Boy I hope you don't think of motorsports blogs as journalism instead of news organizations.

No, I meant what I said -

No, I meant what I said - sloppy, incomplete reporting by the media about the NASCAR-Mayfield matter, and just about every big story involving NASCAR in the past 3 years. Are you saying that readers should assume that no standards of journalism apply to motorsports blogs?

hey, wait a minute. of course

hey, wait a minute. of course the standards of journalism apply. but follow the money -- who is covering nascar today? nobody. AP. what media are you referring to, and what kind of time and money do these bloggers have to work with. we're not talking nytimes here. mikemulhern.net for example is no tribune corp or news corp. ask the miami paper, the la times, the philly papers, boston....ask the big media why they aren't covering these stories. ask the big media. they've got the money, they can put several reporters on the job, they can spend weeks investigating....first, they dont care about nascar anymore.....second, nascar is probably glad they dont. us journalists were always hoping the big media would come in and get everything honest and on the up and up....well, they came in for a while, looked around, and then dropped it. the bottom line is there is no one covering nascar in any depth anymore except nascar's tv partners....and nascar's in-house media. give me some more details and questions about 'every big story involving nascar in the past three years.' i agree media coverage of nascar has become very weak.....because there is virtually no independent media covering nascar any more, no media with access/time/money to devote to indepth coverage.
let's look at it from a logistical angle -- how many races do you yourself go to each season, how much does it cost, how much time does it take, yadayada....now if big media aren't going to devote time/money/effort to even going to the tracks, how can we expect all these underpaid, lowbudget 'bloggers' to do a new york times/chicago tribune/latimes attack on any big story. and this is a big story, not just nascar. but the media aren't doing a very good job on anything much anymore, anywhere, except 'local' stuff, because local stuff is cheap and easy......if mikemulhern.net had a big staff, you bet i'd have my reporters digging deep and reporting hard....but what i've got is a backpack, a laptop, a camcorder, three digital recorders, and a big travel bill every week just to do what we do. you are right, exactly right -- i have been very upset with the coverage of the nascar-mayfield matter....but just who is supposed to be covering this, and who pays the bills....it's not an easy issue. but you are right. thanks for the insights. mm

is this any

is this any help?


The New York Times is not a

The New York Times is not a bastion of investigative integrity, not after decades of lying about Nixon, about US conduct overseas, etc. That they're jumping in here is pathetic - they don't over credible news coverage anywhere.

will this

will this help:

The New York Times, the grey

The New York Times, the grey lady, is and has been the national paper of record for over one hundred and fifty years. True, it may pass away as a lot of the printed press has tended to do, but until then, like rock and roll it will stand. It ain’t perfect, but let those without sin cast the first stone. I don’t know that much about racing, but like art and wine I only know what I like. I like someone that has the courage to speak truth to tyrants. I like history and I, like the old radio show “The Shadow“, know that bigotry has become the evil that lurks deep in the heart of man. There is a world outside of the sultry south, there is a world across the oceans, I know, I have seen some of them. I love my southern home and I still defend it yet today. There are thousands of problems in the old world but still only one solution, education. There are a thousand answers but only the truth will prevail, something you will never find watching Fox news.

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