One of the best friends auto racing ever had passed into history last week as National Speed Sport News – ‘America's Motorsports Authority’ – published its final issue.
Since August 16, 1934, National Speed Sport News served the racing community with coverage of national, regional and local racing events. In an era where racing wasn’t televised, radio coverage spotty at best, and newspapers full of stick and ball sports, ‘Speed Sport’ was a well of information to anyone thirsting for any kind or motorsports news.
Propelled by the efforts of legendary motorsports journalist Chris Economaki, NSSN became the bible of auto racing, an oracle delivered in newsprint. For 76 years – including well after the evolution of the Internet – Speed Sport was a welcome weekly visitor at countless racetracks across the country and in the mailboxes of fans everywhere.
Today, it is gone.
Unfortunately, times change and as much as Speed Sport stayed current with outstanding editorial content, the cost of printing and distributing a newspaper became prohibitive. In truth, Economaki – now 90 years old - probably kept the printed edition of Speed Sport alive longer than it was financially prudent to do so.
While Speed Sport will continue to live on with its own Internet edition, it will be hard pressed for it to ever replace the printed version. For those of us in the sport for more than 25 years, it’s nearly impossible to explain the anticipation and excitement of seeing the latest edition of Speed Sport in your mailbox every week.
Unlike the Internet articles we breeze through today and dismiss in a matter of seconds with a single keystroke, Speed Sport was something you kept around reading it over and over until the next issue came.
It’s pretty safe to say that Speed Sport also had a profound impact on this writer and my desire to be a motorsports journalist. Those stories – and the style they were written in – burned into my brain as a young Wisconsin boy in love with auto racing. Today, they still influence what and how I write about the sport.
Having my work published in Speed Sport over the years was a major career accomplishment is an understatement – something I will always be thankful for. Those feature stories and race reports are among my most cherished written achievements. To this day, I still have almost all of the copies of Speed Sport in which my stories appeared and dozens of other classic issues safely tucked away in a cabinet.
My guess is I’m not the only one who has stacks of NSSN spirited away somewhere. You’ll forgive me if every so often I break them out and remember a time when racing – and just about everything else – was a lot simpler.
Thanks for everything, Chris. The printed version of National Speed Sport News was a hell of a ride. Every racer and fan whoever leafed through its pages is way better off today because of it.