“There is a time when conditions and circumstances create a wide gap from close ties and friendship, to hunt stalking danger where death lurks to destroy, not only ourselves but the very ideals we labored for and cherished for many years to retain, circumvented by no fault of our own, but visited upon us by the war that is now being waged to preserve the freedom and democracy we have and must continue to enjoy.” — William Kay, Publisher National Auto Racing News, November 1942
Mr. Kay was of course writing about World War II. The United States, having entered the war the previous year, was sending its men and women into battle — separating them from their friends and families to fight and sacrifice in the name of our freedom.
The war effort had forced officials to outlaw racing and severely restrict publishing. All resources needed to go toward securing victory for the Allies. So for Kay and his partner Louis Fournier, it was “Au Revoir,” goodbye for now. Buy War Bonds.
In his front-page column in that final issue of National Auto Racing News, Kay did more than say “goodbye.” He laid out the case for the important role NARN had in the growth and success of the fledgling sport of auto racing. The tabloid connected the world of motorsports in a way that had not been done before. It brought the East, West, South and North together — it allowed their respective promoters to compare notes, identify trends and attract new investors. It made successful racers into national household names. Motorsports became an industry, and in no small part, NARN played a role in making that happen.
We celebrated SPEED SPORT’s 85th anniversary last summer and though we trace our lineage back to July 26, 1934, the first time “National Speed Sport News” was on the masthead was just a few months after Mr. Kay’s aforementioned column.
With the urging of dedicated readers and contributors, and sensing an opportunity to fill a need for something that kept motorsports enthusiasts informed during the War, he established “Kay Publishing” and, in February, 1943, returned to print with a prepaid monthly paper. A reader could pre-order no more than three issues in advance. Such was the uncertainty of the future. There was always the chance that printing, already restricted, would be shut down altogether. Or worse.
Mr. Kay overcame the tremendous wartime adversity, found a way to serve his readers and advertisers, regrouped and forged ahead. The strategy paid off. The magazine you are reading and the entire SPEED SPORT media enterprise is the intellectual and spiritual progeny of Mr. Kay’s foresight and determination.
Not since World War II has the totality of motorsports been laid quiet. Today, the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic also create a wide gap from close ties and friendship, not because our men and women are going to war, but because they are made to “social distance” themselves.
More than once we’ve taken our inspiration from the history of our brand, and in these trying times, we at SPEED SPORT once again draw from that well. Our entire world is staggering from the economic disaster that is unfolding before our eyes … and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
But we are racers, competitors, innovators. Our sport has always rewarded determination, focus and an absolute refusal to lose. There’s not a person on the SPEED SPORT team that doesn’t know what’s at stake and everyone is putting in extra effort to not only make sure we get through it as a company, but more importantly that we continue to deliver for our subscribers, our advertisers and our business partners.
“Racing activities have been banned by the Government, which we now appreciate as a vital necessity for our all-out war effort. But there is so much to look forward to that no matter how long we may be denied of active participation, books and books can be written to keep the interest alive for years.” — Kay, National Speed Sport News, February 1943
We are humbled by the calls from subscribers grateful that we are sticking with it … and enthusiastically renew their subscriptions. We are indebted to our many advertisers and sponsors who continue to place their trust in us through these tough times. To all of you, and the amazing business partners and professionals who make it possible for us to operate … thank you.
This time, we may not be fighting for democracy or freedom, but the impact and outcome of this crisis will shape our world forever. To all of you who read our publications, visit our websites, share our social media posts or watch our programs … Merci!
Stay safe, stay home, hug your family and sooner or later we’ll see you at the races once again.