The entry list for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla., dropped into my electronic mailbox Tuesday afternoon and the first thing I noticed was that Alex Tagliani is the only Canadian listed to start the Grand Prix of Saint Pete.
We already know that although Paul Tracy has got an Indy 500 ride, his regular season won’t be starting this weekend (see my post below for an explanation of what happened to his sponsor hunt). What gobsmacked me, however, was the absence of James Hinchcliffe’s name.
James is telling his friends that he’s not giving up and will continue to try to attract enough sponsor support to get him into a car this season.
I wish him the best. That series needs lots of good, young guys, like him – and not the long list of retreads, has-beens and no-names on offer yet again.
At end of day, the people who run INDYCAR are going to wonder – once again – why few people attend their races, or watch them on TV. To find out, I suggest that all they have to do is look at who they’ve got driving their racing cars.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the disappearance of founding editor and publisher Chris Economaki from Page Four of National Speed Sport News. I said it was the end of an era (blog post here).
Well, perhaps his daughter, Corinne Economaki, who’s the newspaper’s publisher, was doing him a favour. Maybe she was getting him out while the going was good and saving him from embarrassment.
Because Corinne Economaki had the unpleasant task Tuesday of announcing that Speed Sport (as it’s called) was ceasing publication immediately, another victim of the digital age.
"This is one of the saddest days of my life," Corinne E. said in a statement. "The sluggish economy has made it too difficult to continue publication, and no matter how I try to make the numbers work – and believe me, I have tried – it is just not feasible to keep the business going.
"For 76 years, since August 1934 when my father, Chris, sold copies of the first issue at Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway in northern New Jersey, to today – as I oversee the very last copy printed – this paper has been an integral part of my family."
I first started to buy Speed Sport back in the 1960s when I drove to speedways in New York, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana on the summer weekends I wasn’t at Mosport. The paper was always for sale at the race tracks and had all the news about the USAC Championship Trail (the Indy cars) and the midgets, sprints and supermodifieds that drove - and continue to drive - my crank.
I can remember reading about Mario Andretti, Don Branson, Roger McCluskey, A.J. Foyt, Ronnie Duman, Bobby and Al Unser, Bobby Marshman, Johnny White, Bob Hurt, Joe Leonard, Johnny Rutherford, Lloyd Ruby, Gordon Johncock and on and on and on.
In the mid-1980s, I started subscribing (because I missed my weekly racing "fix" in the winter) and I’ve been a subscriber ever since. Even when they launched their website – and they’ve relaunched it a few times since – I didn’t bother getting a password (or if I did, I quickly forgot it) because I preferred to wait for the paper.
When I first started subscribing, I lived in Kingston and Speed Sport would periodically be late arriving. (I always bought a first-class, air mail subscription. The paper went to press on Tuesday night and I usually got it the following Monday, although if Canada Post really tried, they could get it to me by Friday.)
When the tardy edition finally did make it to my mailbox – the paper's always come in a big white envelope with NATIONAL SPEED SPORT NEWS splashed across the upper left of the envelope's front – there would be a red stamp across it that would say, "Canada Customs Inspection - Ivy Lea."
Every third issue or so would be late. Since I moved back to Toronto, delivery has always been regular, which means there was a racing fan in the Canada Customs office at Ivy Lea who used to read my copy of Speed Sport before sending it on to me (which really browned me off, if you want me to be truthful).
In any event, it’s over. Another paper product bites the dust. And it really is hard to believe. Speed Sport was one of those things in life that you really figure would go on forever.
As columnist Gary London wrote to my pal, ex-supermodified racer Ken Graham, Tuesday afternoon: "I just got some devastating news. National Speed Sport News has published its last issue. I never thought this would happen. I was there over 47 years. I’m too emotional to say anything else."
Us too, Gary.