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NASCAR community will certainly miss David Poole

by Pete McCole
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

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David Poole
Courtesy Charlotte Observer
Longtime Charlotte Observer NASCAR Columnist David Poole passed away Tuesday afternoon after suffering a heart attack at his North Carolina home. He was 50 years old.

Poole had covered motorsports for the Charlotte Observer for the last 13 years and also hosted a daily radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Poole also authored several books on the history of auto racing and was a four-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association's George Cunningham Award as writer of the year.

Poole's no-nonsense, unabashed style and unbiased columns gave his readers a unique perspective into the world of motorsports, and he was known to offer scathing criticism of NASCAR for problems within the sport, but also praised the sanctioning body when they got things right.

In a statement released earlier today, Speedway Motorsports Inc., Chairman and CEO O. Bruton Smith called Poole “one of the nation's best”.

“Whether you agreed with him or not, he made us all think and that's what the best writers do,” said Smith. “He cared about what he did and had a passion for his work. It came through in what he wrote every day.

“The world of racing is going to miss him for a long, long time.”

Poole’s last race was this past weekend’s event at Talladega Superspeedway, which ended in a frightening crash that saw the car of Carl Edwards get airborne in the tri-oval and sail into the catch fence, injuring several spectators.

Poole’s final column ran Tuesday morning, just hours before his death. In it, he criticized NASCAR for not doing enough to make racing at the 2.66-mile facility safer for the drivers and the spectators.

“How many people have to be listed in ‘guarded’ or ‘critical’ condition before we say that's too much?” wrote Poole. “Is it lead changes? If we have fewer than five fans hurt for every lead change, is that acceptable?

“Does somebody have to die before we've decided we don't have control?”

Poole was held in high regard by fans, drivers and fellow media members alike, as evidenced by the hundreds of tributes that began pouring in to the Charlotte Observer’s website.

“I know I worked twice as hard to make sure I earned his respect,” said three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. “I am proud of what he has done for our sport and I know he will be truly missed by everyone in NASCAR."

Car owner Rick Hendrick plans on running tribute decals for Poole on all four of his race cars during this weekend’s race at Richmond.

“His voice was unique, his opinions were his own, and his abilities as a writer and journalist were unsurpassed,” said Hendrick in a statement. “He had the courage to say what others would not, and he was deeply respected for it.

“Without driving a car or turning a wrench, David Poole was a racer, and he will be sincerely missed.”

Car owner Richard Childress added, "He was a friend of everybody in the garage area. He could be controversial from time to time but he always wrote and spoke what he believed. He didn't pull any punches with anybody and that's what people respected about him. He was good for the sport and will be missed."

Sirius Satellite Radio plans a tribute for Poole during his daily timeslot on Wednesday, while NASCAR plans to honor him with a moment of silence before Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond.

Poole is survived by his wife, Katy, sons Matthew and David, daughter Emily and grandson Eli.

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