Lasting Impression

In another example of just how quickly time does go by it has been one year since the passing of respected NASCAR journalist David Poole, who suffered a heart attack in his home one April ago.

You'll no doubt read many tributes to David Poole this week from people who were quite frankly closer to him than I was.

But even though our relationship was strictly on a professional level and maybe not one built on friendship or family, his passing is still difficult to accept.

If there ever was a larger than life figure in the media center it was Poole. Loud, opinionated, sometimes crabby and always seemingly on edge, when Poole was at work he was as plugged in as anyone who has covered the sport throughout history.

Everyone knew who he was, whether it was a driver, crew member, PR rep, NASCAR official or of course media member. David was so respected that he had evolved into one name status - simply referred to as Poole, ala Cher, Liberace, Elvis and Britney, a group and analogy he would have no doubt given me grief for including him in.

That was the thing about Poole. Giving grief was his mantra. He could do it in column when he wanted to make a point. He could do it on his radio program. Or he could do it in person.

His family was his beacon of light. His wife, children and grandson were what kept him going in a job he loved but as he would clearly document to anyone who would listen in a face-to-face conversation or on the airwaves was becoming increasingly more difficult to do.

The constant travel and headaches associated with that part of covering NASCAR were the source of many a Poole rant. But he put up with it because he - like all of us - enjoyed what he did.

Poole was in many ways the sport's conscious in the last few years, never afraid to speak his mind on a subject when some in the industry tip toed around subjects.

In this age of the media world downsizing and changing, Poole was maybe the first guy I saw in NASCAR who had the ability to work comfortably in several mediums. Newspapers, online, radio, television, books - there wasn't an area of the media Poole wasn't part of and damn good at either.

On a personal level my initial contacts were from afar. He was a bit of an imposing figure and it took a little time for me to work up the courage to strike up a conversation with him. But once we did connect he couldn't have been more gracious and helpful. The deeper I got into the business of covering NASCAR, the more our paths crossed. We eventually became colleagues of sorts, working together on Sirius NASCAR Radio, and had a chance to work together on several shows which I'll forever remember.

Poole's work ethic and approach to covering the sport was an inspiration to me. The ability to form a strong opinion and convey it in a thoughtful and entertaining manner is a trait that I very much admire.

Poole acknowledged our efforts at our former website RacingOne and his openness to give criticism and suggestions to myself and Jeff Wackerlin will never be forgotten.

Nor will his conversations with my late father Sam, who had the opportunity to be with me on the road at a race or two the last few years. There were many times I'd come back into the media center from the garage area or pit road to find Poole and Sam sitting at the cafeteria or standing outside the deadline room talking about the "good old days" of NASCAR's past.

My connection to Poole took a different twist when I was asked to co-host "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio with Mike Bagley, essentially filling his co-host role on the show. To say it was a difficult task is an understatement.

There is no way I could have ever tried to replace Poole nor did I entertain such a ridiculous idea. I've come to that seat with a passion for the sport and an opportunity to share my knowledge with our listeners. I'm critical when needed and try to be as fair as possible - something Poole did in my opinion even in his strongest arguments - and do so with a sense of humor.

I'm not sure if anyone will rise to the level of NASCAR media presence that Poole did anytime soon. There is a giant hole in the coverage of the sport and the next assignment will again be a strange one when I walk into the media center and still not see Poole sitting there.

It's another reminder to take the time to appreciate all we have in this life and the people around us.

You are missed David.

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