KERCHNER: ‘If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get’

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Turn 3 Media co-founders Ralph Sheheen (left) and Joe Tripp (center) with Rockingham Dragway owner Steve Earwood. (Adam Fenwick photo)
Mike Kerchner

CONCORD, N.C. — In February 2012, after a year’s hiatus, SPEED SPORT came back to life.

After more than 75 years, National Speed Sport News, which was first printed in 1934, ceased publishing in March 2011, leaving a void in the world of motorsports journalism. But thanks to Turn 3 Media founders Joe Tripp and Ralph Sheheen, the brand got new life with the debut of SPEED SPORT Magazine a year later.

This writer, who started with NSSN and longtime Editor Chris Economaki in 1991, and the others who have contributed words and photographs through the years again had a place to tell the stories that make motorsports so intriguing.

Since then, our little team has become a bit bigger with the addition of a video production arm and, recently, Sprint Car & Midget Magazine, another loved and respected motorsports title that was staring at a future of uncertainty.

Still, despite the tireless efforts of our small group of full-timers and a much larger cast of freelancers, who for the most part contribute to SPEED SPORT because of their love of the sport, it’s not easy in today’s media world.
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SPEED SPORT’s traditional and objective approach to covering the motorsports world remains in tact, but day by day it becomes increasingly difficult to compete with the growing number of folks who believe news only comes to their smartphones via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.

Being first with news is far too often more important than being correct. On the surface, the written word seems to be less in demand than ever. Still, we know there are plenty of us who want to know — as Paul Harvey used to say — the rest of the story.

In an effort to offer the rest of the story, SPEEDSPORT.com, SPEED SPORT Magazine and Sprint Car & Midget Magazine should always have a place on the motorsports landscape. But none of that is a given, as we fight every day for our place in the industry.

That’s why our team was so proud when on Jan. 30 we received a Motorsports Industry Award of recognition from the North Carolina Motorsports Ass’n for “organization’s efforts in preserving and building upon one of motorsports’ most recognizable brands.”

But not only was it a proud moment, it was an opportunity. An opportunity to beat our collective chests and say, “Hey, look at us, we’re still here and we’re producing quality motorsports content. We have a lot to offer and we need your support.”

We still hear it every time we go to a racing event — and we heard it from folks attending the NCMA banquet at which, we were honored — “I didn’t know you guys were back.”

And that is the perfect illustration of where our SPEED SPORT family has struggled. We need the motorsports world — fans, racers, businesses and everyone else — to realize that not only is SPEED SPORT back, but it has more to offer than ever.

For those craving motorsports news and information, SPEEDSPORT.com, SPEEDSPORT.TV, SPEED SPORT Magazine, Sprint Car & Midget Magazine and our Suzuki presents SPEED SPORT television shows on MAVTV, not to mention our social media presence, have you covered.

But while there are more and more ways to get motorsports news, there are also more methods than ever to market motorsports products to buyers. We firmly believe racing people support racing people — we’ll help you, if you’ll help us.

Through more than 25 years with this brand, we’ve primarily focused on creating entertaining, well-written content for magazine and online readers and seldom strayed into sales territory. However, we have been reminded a lot lately of one of Chris Economaki’s favorite sayings: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Thus, we’re going to ask: “Whether it’s through a magazine subscription or an advertising package, please give us a chance to earn your business.”

That said, we’d like to tip you off to some of the excellent reads inside this issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.

• Longtime SPEEDSPORT.com editor Adam Fenwick catches up with the next generation of racing Unsers — Loni Unser, the daughter of Johnny Unser.

• Sprint Car & Midget Magazine Editor Doug Auld makes his SPEED SPORT debut with an insightful profile on Barry Jackson, who calls the shots for World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series driver David Gravel.

• SPEED SPORT’s Formula One reporter of nearly 30 years, Dan Knutson, tells readers what’s new with America’s Haas F1 team and catches up with Kimi Raikkonen.

• Another of our new kids on the block, Jacob Seelman, provides an emotional look at paralyzed racer George Hummel, who never gave up.

• With a combined several hundred years of writing experience, Keith Waltz, Dave Argabright, Bones Bourcier, Ron Lemasters, Fenwick, Susan Wade, Knutson and Bruce Martin offer their expert commentary in their monthly magazine columns covering NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, Formula One, short-track racing and more.

• And finally, our photographers take center stage with our monthly two-page photo spread, Through the Lens.

We hope you enjoy this issue and many more.
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