Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jim Hunter dies

Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate 
communications, smiles during a
2007 news conference at Richmond.
(Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. (Oct. 30, 2010) – Father, grandfather, NASCAR executive, race promoter, author and former Darlington Raceway president James H. Hunter died on Friday night. He was 71 years old.

Jim Hunter was larger than life in the town of Darlington, South Carolina as well as across the entire state. Hunter played football for his beloved University of South Carolina Gamecocks prior to embarking on a career in motorsports that would make him one of the most knowledgeable and trusted executives in NASCAR.

Hunter began his career in NASCAR racing as the public relations director at Darlington Raceway in the late 1960s before moving to the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a sports reporter in 1970. Hunter returned to his race promoter roots in 1975 when he was named public relations director at Talladega Superspeedway. Following a stint as a NASCAR executive in the 1980s, Hunterreturned to his home state track and served as president from 1993-2001, before returning to NASCAR as vice president of corporate communications.

During his eight year tenure as Darlington Raceway president Hunter helped resurrect the storied South Carolina track from an almost certain demise to one of NASCAR’s most prestigious facilities. Hunter oversaw many renovations at the track including the construction of the Pearson and Tyler towers as well as a track reconfiguration in 1997.

Hunter’s relationships were vast and legendary in the sport he helped build and loved so deeply. He was a well-known face at racetracks – large and small – across the country. From small weekly media outlets to USA Today, track officials at every level to Bill France, Sr. – it seemed Hunter knew everyone.

“Jim Hunter was one of the most charismatic people in NASCAR,” said current Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning. “I always enjoyed seeing Hunter at the track and particularly enjoyed his participation in our 2009 historic racing festival. It was great seeing Jim joke and swap old stories with some of the true pioneers of NASCAR. Everyone at Darlington Raceway will certainly miss Jim’s smile, stories and laugh. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

Former South Carolina governor and Darlington native David Beasley worked extensively with Hunter during his tenure as president of the track. Beasley remembers Hunter as a community leader and inspiration.

“Jim Hunter is going to be missed,” said Beasley. “I don’t know of anyone who loved God, his family, NASCAR, his hometown Darlington, his state and country more. He taught me you only go around the track of life once, so give it your best.”

In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to The NASCAR Foundation or Hospice of Volusia/Flagler County. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Finding Angel in Black

I PERIODICALLY scour the Internet for pages about my last book, "Angel In Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr."

Here are a few:

Rebecca Gladden
Very Clever
Readers Views

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday notes

  • Brittnie Lovin, a 19-year-old college student from Hamlet, N.C., will perform the National Anthem to kick off the Oct. 9, 2010 running of the ARCA Racing Series American 200 presented by Black’s Tire and Auto Service at Rockingham Speedway. Lovin, a 2009 graduate of Richmond Senior High School, has performed in various venues and churches throughout North and South Carolina and Georgia over the past decade.
  • Ty Dillon surged past Steve Arpin with five laps remaining in the Kansas Lottery 150 to win his first ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards race in just his second career start. In achieving victory, Dillon became the 14th different winner and the 12th different first-time winner in the series this season. The 18-year-old Dillon, a grandson of legendary NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, started fourth and kept the No. 41 Karl Chevrolet/Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet among the leaders throughout the race's early stages. The race was not Dillon's first taste of success at the ARCA level, but surely his sweetest. In July, Dillon finished second after winning the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell at Iowa Speedway.

Park returns

Park returning to site of biggest win

Rockingham, NC (Sept. 28, 2010) – Most race fans remember Steve Park’s last NASCAR Winston Cup victory.

Coming just one week after car owner’s Dale Earnhardt tragic death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, Park edged Bobby Labonte for the emotional win in the Dura Lube 400.

The track? North Carolina Speedway, now called Rockingham Speedway.

Park makes his return to the track for the Oct. 9, 2010 running of the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards American 200 presented by Black’s Tire and Auto Service.

“It is always great to have former winners back to race at ‘The Rock,’” said track president Andy Hillenburg. “Steve’s win here was one of the most memorable races I have ever seen, being such a fantastic finish and coming on the heels of such tragedy for that team and race fans everywhere. We are thrilled to have him back racing at Rockingham in the American 200.”

Also scheduled to race in the American 200 is Ricky Carmichael. A 30-year-old native of Clearwater, Fla., Carmichael is best known for his successful motocross career which includes 10 AMA Motocross Championships, five AMA Supercross Championships, and two World Supercross Championships. Carmichael has driven to six top-10 finishes in 20 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season. Rockingham will mark Carmichael’s fifth ARCA Series start of the year, with a best finish of seventh in the season-opener at Daytona.

Festivities for the American 200 race weekend kick off on Thursday, Oct. 7 with the ninth annual Thunderfest in downtown Rockingham. The street festival at Harrington Square gets underway at 11 a.m. and will feature music from the The Tams and Nantucket, a Kids Zone, an ARCA and UARA driver autograph session at 6:30 p.m., a beer garden and many other attractions.

Racing action also gets underway on Oct. 7 with an open practice for the cars of the ARCA Series. General admission to the grandstands is free. Friday, Oct. 8 is pole day for ARCA and UARA with fans admitted to the grandstands for $5. The American 200 gets underway Saturday, Oct. 9 with the UARA Late Models rolling off at 11 a.m. follwed by the ARCA 200-miler. Tickets, starting at $20 in advance, and suite packages are still available.

To order tickets for the American 200, contact the Rockingham Speedway at (910) 205-8800 or visit our website at

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding the "Angel in Black"

PERIODICALLY, I LIKE to Google my book "Angel in Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr." to see who's selling it.

You can find it dozens on places. For instance, it's on

Cumberland House Publishing of Nashville, Tenn., originally published the book in 2008. Sourcebooks has since taken over its handling and has done a nice job. I appreciate it.

There are many other sites, I'm sure, but this is a representative listing.

If you're interested, there's also a review page on Amazon. Naturally, there's at least one review stating that Earnhardt was no hero and certainly no angel. No, he wasn't. He was a man, but an interesting one. Obviously this reader didn't read the book all the way through. The book doesn't say that Earnhardt was an angel; it says that, to children he befriended, he wasn't the baddest man on the planet; to them, he was an angel in black. I'll go into detail with that at some point.

Oh, and if you want an autographed copy, contact me at or Operators are not standing by, but I can help hook you up with your Earnhardt fix.

Buy three; they're small and make nice gifts. And 3 is always appropriate for Earnhardt.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

More entries from TARJ
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

EDITOR@WORK blog entries 

Entries from The Dog Blog
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie