Baseball has Peter Gammons. Football has Peter King. NASCAR had David Poole, until April 28, 2009.
A heart attack took the life of Poole, who spent 13 years covering the sport for the Charlotte Observer. Poole also hosted a radio show on Sirius/XM. While there are dozens of writers who pull double duty, few if any earn comments like this one from an athlete as accomplished as Jimmie Johnson. Per Lars Anderson at SI.com:
"David was the one writer who I felt I had to actually win the respect of," Johnson told me over the phone Tuesday afternoon. "And man, he didn’t give it to me. I had to earn it. And it was very, very hard. All the drivers read him."
We are without an ombudsman of sorts for racing. Stern for sure. Fair always. Poole cared about integrity in the people who raced and the journalists who covered racing. Here’s what ESPN’s Marty Smith told Anderson.
"I went years without asking a question at press conferences because of the chance that David would disapprove," Marty told me. "David had this way of shaping opinion like no one else in the sport. He was like the Pied Piper of the media corps."
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Nobody can immediately assume the position Poole had in the sport. His clout created discussion and led to accountability, which resulted in a better product on the track. Race fans everywhere lost one of their most powerful and intelligent advocates when Poole died.
From a personal perspective, the holidays are tough when you’ve lost a loved one. Poole was 50 years old. He is survived by his wife, three children and a grandson. Click here to view a digital guestbook and here to learn more about a college fund established for his grandson.
NASCAR loses its most authoritative voice, David Poole (SI)
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