One year ago, NASCAR writer and Sirius NASCAR radio host David Poole died of a heart attack.
Poole was the quintessential NASCAR beat reporter. Always on top of a story for the Charlotte Observer , he was quick to share his opinion as well as his wit, particularly during press conferences, and ready to spar with anyone who dared to give Sirius NASCAR radio's The Morning Drive an opinion that differed from his own.
Poole was a presence, a man of substance in size as well as knowledge of the sport. When he was in the room, you knew it. And you listened and paid attention to what he had to say.
And did he ever have a lot to say, especially after that fateful Talladega race one year ago. Poole, who had never been a fan of restrictor-plate racing, particularly at Talladega, had so much to say it consumed his radio show.
After watching Carl Edwards go airborne into the catchfence, with pieces and parts flying off the car and injuring fans in the grandstands, Poole was indeed fit to be tied. In fact, the day he died he was on a rampage about the need for safety at those tracks, and at 'Dega in particular.
On what would be the morning of his passing, I was listening to Poole and his co-host Mike Bagley on my way to work. There was a particularly strong tension between them, Bagley advocating for all restrictor plate fans and Poole on the opposite side, vociferously extolling the dangers of the that type of racing and that track in particular.
The exchanges between Bagley and Poole got pretty heated and very intense. It was even more so with the callers, until Poole finally shut down and refused to engage any further in the discussion.
I have to admit I was really in the Poole camp on this issue. Talladega has always given me heart palpitations, and I was convinced the next NASCAR fatality would come at that track, especially after seeing Edwards go airborne.
I went into the office knowing this issue would continue to be debated. And I looked forward to the next day on The Morning Drive hearing how the conversation would play out.
But later that day, one year ago today, I left work and turned on my Sirius radio to the NASCAR station as I always do. It was then I was stunned to learn we had lost David Poole to a heart attack.
It was so hard to believe a presence who was so much larger than life was gone that quickly. It was even harder to listen to The Morning Drive the next morning as Bagley choked back tears and courageously paid tribute to his fallen comrade.
During this past year since Poole's passing, there has not been a day I haven't missed him, particularly on my drive in to work. Don't get me wrong, Pete Pistone is a wonderful addition to the show.
But it's simple, at least to me, that no one can replace Poole.
I miss his knowledge of the sport. But even more so, I miss the new perspective he always gave me after listening to him share his views. I miss Poole's wit. Gosh, he could be so dry in his humor, but funnier than all get out.
Poole's "dramatic readings" are also one of the things I miss most on my own morning drive. There is not a time I play Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on my iPod when I don't smile and think of Poole and his reading of those lyrics.
On this one year anniversary of his death, I'd like to think things have changed, that NASCAR has gotten back to its roots and heart, all of which would have made Poole happy and proud.
I'd also like to think he would have been pleased with the most recent race at Talladega, from a safety aspect as well as from the lead changes and the plain great racing.
I would hope Poole is looking down on every track, smiling, and maybe even having a good laugh about some of the antics that are currently occurring, from the Gordon/Johnson feud to the "have at it, boys" racing NASCAR has unleashed.
I also think about him every time I go into any track media center. In many, there is a plaque or some remembrance paying tribute to a man who lived his life chasing the circus that is NASCAR.
But on this day of remembering Poole, one year after his passing, my biggest hope is that he knows his passion for racing, and writing about it, lives on.
In addition to his family, his greatest legacy is that he has indeed inspired a legion of many who continue to carry on his work, sharing the passion for the sport he loved so deeply.
RIP David Poole. You are missed and remembered well.