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Woody: David Poole Was Good Man, Journalist

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, April 28 2009

Larry Woody, Senior Writer for RacinToday.com

Larry Woody, Senior Writer for RacinToday.com

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

I was sitting at my desk working on a racing story awhile ago when I got a call that David Poole had just suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 50 years old.

Ironically the story I was writing was in response to David’s column about Sunday’s crash-fest at Talladega. He said NASCAR needs to do something about the danger, and my take is that I’m not sure what it can do.

Suddenly David is gone, and everything else is trivial.

Racing lost one of its best and most prolific writers and a lot of members of the motor sports media lost a great friend.

David had been a fixture in the press box for 13 years. Everybody knew him. Everybody read him. I think everybody liked and respected him. I know I did.

His newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, was one of the few big dailies that refused to give in to “changing times” and continued to cover NASCAR with a passion.

David loved his job. Racing is about people, and David Poole was a people-person.

He liked to laugh and joke – when he was really tickled his face would turn pink and he’d have to wipe the tears from his eyes.

When it was time to work, David would get serious. Really serious. He wouldn’t tolerate press-box boisterousness when it came time to get down to business, and occasionally a PR person might rub him the wrong way. But his growl was always worse than his bite.

After the story was filed and another deadline met, David would relax. He was a delightful dinner companion – a great story-teller and one of the few media members who declined to sip an occasional spirited beverage. He didn’t brow-beat anyone else for partaking of a cold one, he just didn’t have one himself. Neither did he smoke. He tried to exercise as much as his schedule permitted –  he was an intense golfer – but friends worried about his weight.

David was a good man. He loved his wife and was devoted to his kids. His one lament about his job was that it was constantly stealing him away from his family for so many long weekends every year.

I don’t think there was a busier person in racing than David. In addition to his daily newspaper duties he also hosted “The Morning Drive” show on Sirius NASCAR Radio, wrote an internet blog, authored several racing books and was constantly pounding out free-lance magazine stories.

When I retired from my newspaper, The Nashville Tennessean, a couple of years ago, WSM radio devoted its Sunday afternoon racing show to a farewell tribute. I was flattered, especially when several old sportswriting pals phoned in to spin yarns. One of the best was David. Knowing how hectic his schedule was, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to find the time, but he did and I appreciated it.

So many of the old gang of racing writers are vanishing – I’d start naming them but I’m afraid I’d leave out somebody.

So I’ll just say that now there’s one more empty seat on press row. A great guy named David Poole used to sit there.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, April 28 2009
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