NOTEBOOK: March, 23, 2011 – The Last Issue Of NSSN

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HARRISBURG, N.C. — There’s so much to say, and so little time to say it. For nearly 77 years National Speed Sport News has brought the latest auto-racing news, information and opinions into the homes of readers around the world. Sadly — and heartbreakingly — for those of us who have contributed to National Speed Sport News and worked on its full-time staff, this — March 23, 2011 — is the final issue. The struggling economy and a technologically charged consumer base have left this publication’s ownership (see letter on page nine) with few options. It’s been a hell of a ride through 76 years of triumph and tragedy. The stars (A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and the list goes on forever) this publication covered in their youth are now aging legends of the sport. Chris Economaki, whose column occupied this space for nearly 60 years, is 90 years old. His trusty Royal typewriter is now located in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The cars have changed. The sport is a thousand times safer than those earlier years when life was cheap and death was at every turn. Through the years hundreds of writers and thousands of hard-working photographers had their work published in these pages. For many of them covering racing was a hobby they pursued passionately, for others it was a profession and a way of life. Without them, National Speed Sport News would have meant little. Their work and their dedication to the sport they love is what made NSSN the Motorsports Authority. It is, indeed, the end of an era, yet we’re proud to have been part of the latest team to work on “The Bible.” The good times and the bad, the challenges and the successes are all items we’ll carry with us the rest of our lives. For nearly 77 years this newspaper honored a commitment to its readers to bring the best auto-racing coverage to their mailboxes on a weekly basis. We’re devastated that we will no longer be able to have that place in the lives of so many racing fans, but very proud you’ve welcomed us into your homes and racing shops for so very long. We hope NSSN will be remembered not for the way it bowed out, but for the entertainment and joy it brought its readers for generations.

Longtime Motorsports Management International employee Rod Moskowitz has hung out his own shingle, creating Fuel Sports Management Group. He’s formed the company in conjunction with former Ray Evernham Motorsports executives Rick Russell and David Jessey. Having once attempted to purchase MMI, Evernham will be an adviser to the company along with Jack Giarraputo, who is partners with comedian Adam Sandler in Happy Madison Productions. Fuel Sports Management Group has already acquired the contracts of NASCAR drivers Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray. MMI founder Cary Agajanian will continue to represent Tony Stewart and expects to maintain a working relationship with Fuel Sports Management Group.

Wal-Mart and NASCAR have joined together for a promotion, which will offer a $99 ticket that includes four seats, four soft drinks, four hot dogs and a souvenir program. It is available for 18 of the 38 Sprint Cup Series events this season.

Stock-car racing legend Fred Lorenzen is battling dementia and will receive letters of cheer at Fred Lorenzen, Bridgeway Christian Village, Unit E, E. Washington St., Bensenville, Ill., 60106.

The Spa circuit doesn’t pull in a lot of income with the Belgian Grand Prix, so it is beneficial that Shell has signed a multi-year agreement to be title sponsor of the Formula One event. It’s good news for Bernie Ecclestone and CVC as well, because 50 percent of the money Shell will shell out goes to them — F-1’s commercial rights holders — rather than the track itself.

A team led by Bobby Santos III won the 14th annual Fun at Fastimes three-hour karting enduro, which benefited the USAC Benevolent Foundation to help defray expenses incurred by the Irish Saunders family after the crash of his son Eric while racing a motorcycle last year. Co-driving with Santos were Brad Kraus, Nick Richards, Nick Warner and Shayne Shipley.

Art Fehrman, president of the Illinois Vintage Racing Club, announced at the club’s banquet the creation of the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame. The inaugural class of inductees is expected in the spring of 2012.

International Speedway Corp. is now accepting PayPal payments from its fans for ticket sales on the websites of all 13 of the race tracks it operates. As part of the new feature, ISC is introducing an interactive chat feature that allows purchasers to communicate in real time with a sales agent during the purchase process.

Emily Maynard, who was engaged to Ricky Hendrick at the time of his death and gave birth to Rick Hendrick’s grandson, has been appearing on the ABC show “The Bachelor.” Bachelor Brad Womack of Texas selected Maynard in the final episode. He proposed to her at the end of the program.

Longtime NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Rick Crawford has signed a multi-year agreement to promote Alabama’s Mobile Int’l Speedway.

NASCAR drivers Jamie McMurray and A.J. Allmendinger spent their recent off weekend racing go-karts at Carolina Motorsports Park as part of the World Karting Ass’n’s Manufacturers Cup Series. Allmendinger had a pair of second-place finishes on the weekend.

Sad news of the death of Denise Ellis following a lengthy illness. Denise, a former schoolteacher, is the wife of Williams Grove Speedway track announcer and sprint-car racing writer Bruce Ellis. The pair has been a fixture at the Grove for decades. Our condolences Bruce.