One of my writing clients is Speed Sport, the oldest continuously publishing journal of motorsport history in North America, which can trace its roots to 1934 when the pioneering racing journalist Chris Economaki founded it as National Speed Sport News, originally a one-page report tacked on to the back of his daily newspaper in New Jersey. Today, Speed Sport is the digital destination for all sorts of motorsport news and history from across the continent. A lot of important people in motorsport make it part of their regular reading. That’s why it was so gratifying to represent the publication in the Pocono Raceway-sponsored Writers Contest that just concluded at the 50th annual convention of the Eastern Motorsport Press Association in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. And it was even better to come away with a win in the contest.
The winning entry was the story that I wrote for Speed Sport on the life of the late Phil Walters, a towering talent who walked away from the sport at the pinnacle of his international career after the spectator catastrophe at Le Mans in 1955 that left more than 80 dead. Walters was a kid from New York City who gravitated into the Midgets on both sides of World War II, where he raced under the pseudonym of Ted Tappett so his family wouldn’t learn what he was doing. He set records that still stand today before becoming a top-tier road racer and actually winning a verbal offer from Enzo Ferrari to join his firm’s Formula 1 team. But for fate, Walters could have been one of the all-time greats, especially from the United States. It was especially gratifying to win the cooperation of the Walters family in this project.