Gratitude on a special night

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I was one of several people inducted last night into the Hall of Fame that’s organized by the Motor Racing Fan Club in The Villages, the sprawling resort community that encompasses part of three central Florida counties and counts hundreds of race enthusiasts among its members. It’s an annual event that recognizes people in motorsport for lifetime achievement, in a variety of fields, mine being journalism. To put it plainly, and gratefully, the induction was an honor, especially so when it comes from your peers. The other enshrined members are the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track photographer Bill Watson, Blackie Wangerin, who made it all the way from the Minnesota short tracks to the Daytona 500; the second-generation stock car pioneer and historian Bill Blair Jr. of Mount Airy, North Carolina, on whose radio broadcast I’ve appeared several times; the current central Florida journalist Cody Hills, the onetime Chicagoland stock car terror Jerry Clark, and Richard Poindexter, who’s been winning short-track races in northern Florida and neighboring Georgia for generations now.

You get a chance to make acceptance remarks after the award, and I chose, then and here too, to recognize some people who crucially helped me learned the skills and standards of this line of work. I want to thank my first newspaper editor, John “Pinky” Grau, my first daily editor, Dan Eisenhuth, who encouraged me to write about cars and motorsport and gave me the space to do it; my friends Dick Berggren and the late Robin W. Hartford, who not only provided me an entry into magazine writing but also taught me photography skills that I use to this day; my good friend and fellow journalist Ron Hedger, who was there to support me last night and has always been a role model, my brother and newspaper mentor Steve Wujcik, to whom I owe a lifetime of gratitude; my late friend A.B. Shuman, the pioneering New England hot rodder and journalist who encouraged me to expand my professional horizons, and my friend Don Miller, former president of Team Penske, who graciously allowed me to tell his remarkable life story in the form of a biography. A special thanks goes to Richard Lentinello, who vastly expanded my horizons in terms of both writing and photography when he hired me, first at Hemmings Motor News and now at Crankshaft. I also want to thank my longtime pal and automotive PR cohort Chris Dirato for introducing me to the audience in such an unforgettable way. Thanks, everyone.

3 thoughts on “Gratitude on a special night

  1. Hey Jim:

    Congratulations !!!

    Hope you remember your long distance fans out this way, where they tear up a perfectly good football field to put up a miniature, one car at a time, temporary oval track just for S and Gs…

    Ever been to the Irwindale 1/2- Mile?


    … sent on the run



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