Columns

ARGABRIGHT: Trying To Digest Some Heartbreaking News

FISHERS, Ind. — The news came sharp and hard, bringing a dizzying blow and settling deep in the gut where it lay there and ached.

National Speed Sport News is ceasing publication and closing, effective with this issue.

For a few moments I couldn’t fully grasp what this meant. The greatest media institution in motorsports history, destined to exist only as a grand memory.

There isn’t any good way to digest this news, because this newspaper has been a great deal more than ink and paper. It has been our community, our identity, our trusted friend. A weekly visitor that brings news and information and a connection to the sport we deeply love.

It is perhaps a sign of the times, where shifting consumer habits have reshaped the world of information and media. But if you’re looking for analysis, I offer none; today I’m simply too sad about the “what” to care very much about the “why.”

This newspaper has informed and influenced the sport for 77 years; throughout that period no media entity held greater respect and credibility than Speed Sport News. Since 1934 the people involved in the paper made it professional and solid; yet, it never felt like a distant corporate entity. It was something that belonged to all of us; it was our paper.

It is impossible to measure the impact this publication has had. Collectively, you can trace the growth of motorsports directly through these pages. Four generations of readers have pored over the words and photos, gaining greater understanding and appreciation for our sport.

In the early, pre-war years when racing steadily grew, Speed Sport News was there. During the post-war boom, Speed Sport News was there. Through the dynamic 1960s and ’70s, and into the ’80s and beyond as racing moved into the mainstream, Speed Sport News was there. Throughout, this newspaper never wavered from its mission: to provide the most accurate and comprehensive coverage across the widest spectrum of motorsports.

But the real impact of this paper was on the individual. For those of us fortunate enough to have been directly involved, it literally changed our life. From the people in the office to the writers and columnists and photographers from across the land, we were proud to be associated with an exciting and earnest and vitally important entity.

And so it is with the group that perhaps most acutely feels the loss on this day — the readers. How many of us have savored that little surge of excitement as we opened the mailbox to see this logo? How often have we leaned back to study the pages, nodding and chuckling and grumbling and smiling and folding it up with the knowledge that what we read was important and meaningful?

That’s what I will miss the most: Holding the paper in my hands, learning, listening, reading between the lines.

Of course, my emotions include great disappointment for the people most directly affected by today’s announcement. For Corinne Economaki and her devoted staff, who now find themselves out of a job amid an economy that is still a long way from healthy. For the advertisers, to whom Speed Sport News provided a steady flow of customers and commerce. For the series and tracks and teams and their sponsors, who were followed each week on these pages.

It leaves us wondering: Where do we go from here? What will take the place of this newspaper in our lives? What entity will emerge that can deliver all the things this newspaper provided?

How will I reconcile the fact that there isn’t going to be that moment of excitement and satisfaction each week when the paper arrives at my house?

This is one of those moments where the present does not provide enough depth to fully interpret what this means. It will likely take some time — weeks, months, perhaps years — before we will adequately gauge the void this newspaper leaves with its passing.

But for today, we simply look back across those 77 years and say: Thank you. You inspired us, entertained us, enlightened us, and yes, defined us. National Speed Sport News was at the very heart of our sport, and anybody who even briefly touched these pages will never forget the role it played.

For the sport, for the players, for all of us.

Goodbye, old friend. It won’t be the same without you.

The views expressed by NSSN columnists and readers in the opinion or community sections of this website do not necessarily reflect those of the management and staff of National Speed Sport News, Kay Publishing or Media1934 LLC.

Posted by on Mar 22 2011 Filed under Columns, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    They say change is inevitable…..but it seems it is rarely good. It is a sad day and the absence of NSSN will leave us all greatly diminished.

  2. Larry Janicsek says:

    Dave, As usual great thoughts and comments from you concerning a very sad, tough subject. I was always disappointed ( fortunately only a few weeks a year) when my NSSN arrived a day later than normal. Now it’s hard to believe I’ll only receive one more issue. We’re not only losing the greatest ever Newspaper covering Motorsports, but we’re also going to probably lose some wonderful relationships with many of the great writers and “shooters” that contributed to NSSN. Sure we’ll see some of them at tracks but it just won’t seem the same not seeing their carefully chosen words or photos in print. Thanks to you for the great columns you’ve crafted for NSSN. I’m sure glad your book with and about Chris E. was released in his lifetime and before the closing of NSSN. Larry Janicsek

  3. I really wish it was possible for NSSN to continue on as a digital publication only. After all, doesn’t printing and distribution make up the major costs? Anyway, it’s really sad that such a legendary run has to end. Hope it revives somehow sometime. Good luck to all who contributed to it and made it what it is.

  4. Jerry says:

    Dave Argabright was one of the reasons I used to subscribe. Chris’s weekly column was a must read. The bulk of the writers seemd to understand what Chris wanted. No fluff, ask real questions, dig for what others miss. Dont play the same game the mainstream plays. Somehow, I noticed that in recent years that I was reading the same thing in NSSN that was published or posted everywhere. Seems all the writer got lazy, and not lazy in terms of getting out there, but moving away from what I believe Chris did all the time. Get a real story, not the PR persons printed responses. Get emotion and alternative lines from drivers. I was a subscriber for the 90′s and into Y2K. I later re-upped and started getting the paper again, being bored with reading the same tripe in every other rag out there, and what did I find, the same story, nothing different. NSSN became what it never was. …the same as the rest. I emailed the paper, I was answered by someone other than Corrine or Chris…his name now escapes my memory, but his message didnt.
    The message was pretty much…you have your opinion, were doing our job. Well, the boat is sunk. I am sorry to see the paper go, but if it was carried on as Chris built it to be, this wouldnt have happened. I’ll stop here, No need to say I told you so.
    I wish those who are losing their place luck, if everyone is staying to privide online news, you had better figure out a way to get different in depth stories that other fail to achieve or the webites days are numbered as well.
    Good Luck

  5. Joseph says:

    I consider this a black day in auto racing. I bought my first issue in the summer of 1961 at a race track at age 12. I then took a subscription in 1963 which I still have to this day ( 48 consecutive years) . I did kind of see this coming, as more and more race tracks have stopped advertising in the print media, which is a big mistake considering only about 49 to 51 % of the U.S. population own computers. And, the younger generation of race fans want all their info right now ( again- the computer age ). I still like hard copy of news, and I’m really going to miss NSSN. My sincere thanks to the Economaki family for bringing me countless hours of enjoyment for the 50 years since I bought my first issue. Joseph Darmofal, Sylvania, Ohio.

  6. Roxy Dancy says:

    My dad was an IMCA stock car driver in the ’50s so I grew up with NSSN. Really! My handwriting was so bad ins school, my dad would make me copy, by hand, Chris’ column every week. Racing stayed in my blood and I have very legible handwriting still today. I have subscribed for over 30 years (I am 60) and I will feel the loss.

  7. Andrew Sturgess says:

    In difficult times like these the bible is the best place to turn for solace. I’m reminded of the words of Abraham when told to sacrifice his son and he responded “WTF!?”
    This was subsequently cleaned up for publication but it expresses how I feel now on hearing this devastating news. I feel like more than one family member has died. The loss of the grumpy old grandpa’s that got their letters to the editor published is bad enough, but there were some talented reporters that I will truly miss.
    Good luck to all the staff and thanks for all the memories. I never failed to learn something reading your paper from cover to cover each week.

  8. WilliamC Shunk says:

    Dave, It is truly heartbreaking news. It is change and the unknown future. As with my favorite race in May, I listened on radio, then I watched on closed circuit TV in the Sports Arena, I attended in person and watched, then I watched and listened on the radio station, followed by a headset to hear multiple play by play feeds, a headset listening to my favorites teams in real time, and soon I am sure I will blog to 300,000 of my closest friends during the race over WiFi through my I Phone. We will all have an empty feeling each week at the mailbox. I wish the Economaki family and employees of NSSN all the best. Your knowledge and passion for motorsports will surely carry you to new and rewarding opportunities. Hold your head up high for all of the good you have provided to the sport we love so much.
    Will Shunk, Sylvania, OH

  9. Gil Fidler says:

    I been getting NSSN since 1965 it is a hard to believe it won’t in my mail box any more.

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