SHEHEEN: 85 Years & Looking Ahead

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Ralph Sheheen Mug
Ralph Sheheen.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Eighty-five years is a long period of time.

There are not a lot of things in racing older than SPEED SPORT. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Chevrolet and Ford come to mind, and there aren’t many others.

Ferrari, Porsche, Daytona Int’l Speedway, Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, NASCAR and the NHRA are all significantly younger.

Think of all of the things in racing, both big and small, that have vanished in those 85 years. Ascot Park, Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway, North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, Offenhauser, Can-Am, F5000 and the American Speed Ass’n are a few of the race tracks, manufacturers and racing series that are no longer in existence.

There are too many to list.

It’s the same when it comes to the media side of racing. Grand National Scene, Open Wheel, Stock Car, Circle Track and Winston Cup Illustrated are well-known print publications that don’t exist anymore.

On the TV side, how about TNN, “ESPN Speedworld,” “Motorweek Illustrated” and, of course, SPEED, have all come and gone.

The history of SPEED SPORT and Chris Economaki, the man who made this brand the most important in motorsports media, is well documented within these pages.

Chris was a good friend, a colleague and a mentor. We worked together on television. My first broadcast was the IMSA Camel GT season finale from Del Mar, Calif., in 1988 on ESPN. Chris was my broadcast partner on pit lane that weekend.

The newspaper went out of business in 2011, but SPEED SPORT continued to inform readers. Our faithful editor, Mike Kerchner, kept filling the pages of the website that my partner in Turn 3 Media, Joe Tripp, built in 2010. That was all done out of passion.

Mike knew — and still knows — what SPEED SPORT means to the industry.

Joe and I worked together at SPEED and knew that somehow, SPEED SPORT had to continue. It was a part of the fabric of motorsports in America. There simply is no voice more important to the racer and for the racing industry than SPEED SPORT.

We acquired the rights to SPEED SPORT and began the process of turning this legendary brand from a weekly newspaper into a full-blown media company. It hasn’t been easy. But, of course, nothing in racing is.

We have made massive strides over our seven years of stewardship of this iconic brand. We have launched SPEED SPORT Magazine, SPEEDSPORT.com, our award-winning TV series “SPEED SPORT on MAVTV,” “The Ralph Sheheen Show,” our own over-the-top television network and a variety of social media pages.

We also brought Sprint Car & Midget magazine under the SPEED SPORT umbrella and recently relaunched sprintcarandmidget.com.

SPEED SPORT has always been the benchmark for racing journalism. It still is and it always will be. In today’s media world, anybody with a Twitter account and a cellphone can be a reporter. However, at SPEED SPORT we are journalists. We love to tell stories about racers and racing. Nobody does it better.

Our writers, broadcasters, photographers, videographers, editors and producers are some of the best in the business. Many have already been inducted into a variety of Halls of Fame for their work. Others will be enshrined soon.

Of course, there are many behind the scenes who have worked tirelessly to keep SPEED SPORT alive and have helped to make it stronger than ever. I can’t thank them all enough for their passion and dedication.

We are thrilled to welcome Chris Paulsen to the SPEED SPORT family. Chris is highly respected in garage areas and pit areas around the world for building his other passion, C&R Racing, into an industry leader in cooling racing engines.

Like many of us, Chris grew up reading SPEED SPORT and he will be an excellent business partner for Joe and I. Welcome to the team Chris!

Long hours and endless days on the road are routine in racing. It’s no different at SPEED SPORT. That’s why I have to take this opportunity to thank my beautiful wife, Kimberly, and my amazing kids, Olivia and Lucas, for all of their love and support.

When you are passionate about your work and strive to be the best, it can be challenging in so many ways. They have always been there for me with love, support and encouragement. Hopefully, Olivia and Lucas have learned that if you work hard enough, your dreams can come true.

Finally, thank you to the race fans, racers and the racing industry. Without your support, SPEED SPORT would have faded away. We know SPEED SPORT is important to our sport, and we are dedicated to continuing to provide you with the level of journalism you expect from this historic brand.

Even though the way you receive the information may change, I promise you the quality of the journalism never will.

Happy 85th SPEED SPORT!

Subscribe to SPEED SPORT Magazine today, or order the 85th Anniversary issue of SPEED SPORT!