You can feel the passion in Ralph Sheheen's voice even over the telephone. One of the principals behind the newly-invigorated National Speed Sport News, Sheheen's excitement is shared by thousands of race fans who grew up reading NSSN as their sole source of auto racing news.
"This was a big loss to me that - as a fan of the sport - just couldn't be replaced," Sheheen said of the recent demise of National Speed Sport News. "About a year ago, (former NSSN editor) Corrine Economacki came to me and said, 'If you wanna do something with it (to revive the publication), you can.'"
So Sheheen and his partners jumped in head first. Just when auto racing fans thought that the "motorsports bible" was gone forever, it came roaring back to life in a new, monthly format.
Listening to Sheheen talk, it was clear that his ownership group is taking a risk. He didn't have to say it... you could read between every word. Still, they're not being timid in their approach. This is a brand new, top-notch publication that pays homage to its roots while updating the way we receive automotive news in a welcome way.
Although it's now produced as a magazine rather than a true newspaper, Sheheen told me by phone this afternoon that the guts of the publication will be familiar to old-time NSSN readers. "The feel is very similar to what the paper was. The inside is very similar. It looks like the old newspaper, reads like the old newspaper, but it gives you more."
"You can also go to one spot every day - NSSN's web site - and touch base with every form of racing you're interested in. And you can get a daily update that you can sign up for on our web site. The daily update gives you five to ten of the biggest stories in racing world."
"When Mario Andretti found out that NSSN was coming back," Sheheen continued, "he checked out our web site and called me up and said we were spot on it. That meant everything."
I subscribed to NSSN's daily feed about a month ago, and Andretti was right. The online publication preserves the legacy of the original publication, even down to the occasionally corny, 1930's-style headlines. I became an instant fan of the new format. And yes, I'm a sucker for those cheesy headlines. That's exactly the way long-time NSSN editor Chris Economacki would have written them 65 years ago. And it shows that the new Speed Sport has not forgotten from whence it came.
If it sounds as if I'm making a sales pitch for the new National Speed Sport News, make no mistake about it... I am. And I'm proud to do so.
If we lose NSSN, we lose a history dating back to 1934. If we lose NSSN, American auto racing loses part of its soul. We live in an age where race fans are getting older while the competition for young fans gets tougher. We can no more afford to lose National Speed Sport News than we can allow the Milwaukee Mile to be shut down.
For crying out loud, when my teenage father was watching Billy Vukovich race roadsters at Indy in 1953, NSSN was there. When Jan Opperman started racing sprint cars in 1967, NSSN was there.
If you're going to get sentimental about something in the racing world, get sentimental about this: National Speed Sport News is worth saving.
In order to thrive, the new NSSN needs two very simple things... subscribers and advertisers. If you call yourself a motorsports fan, you should subscribe to the new National Speed Sport News. If you can't subscribe, visit their web site and sign up for their daily email newsletter. Even this small act will expand their mailing list and increase their desirability to advertisers. It is a free, meaningful way to support the publication.
If you are in the motorsports industry, you should advertise in National Speed Sport News. Don't wait on someone else to do it. Step up. Get in the game.
If you can do nothing else, at least send a link to this blog to your racing friends by email, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else.
Listen... if Speed Sport News goes away again, it ain't coming back.
This is our sport, our heritage and our publication. Second chances in life are hard to come by. We've got one in front of us right now.
Don't waste it.
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auctions on Velocity
Driver, #21 Packs Racing Boschett/McGunegill Engines Chevy
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of any other party.