Dave Argabright
Dave Argabright

A Year Later

Doug Auld OnlineIt’s been one year and I’m still hurting.

The memory will forever linger of the phone ringing in the wee hours of Sunday, October 10, 2021, when the shattering news of Doug Auld’s heart attack and sudden passing was delivered. It was such stunning news that, at first, I couldn’t comprehend the finality of the moment.

It’s taken a full year to fully understand the impact my friend had on the lives of so many of us. In the immediate aftermath of Doug’s passing, dozens — hundreds — of people voiced their sorrow, sharing memories of their interactions with Doug.

It sounds silly, but — I wish Doug could have been around to hear it.

For 20-plus years Doug was a close colleague and there wasn’t a week during our tenure that we didn’t talk on the phone or in person. I came to know Doug as a passionate, tough-as-nails guy who wasn’t afraid of anything, yet he was also a caring friend and a devoted husband and father.

Here’s a statement of reality: Life as a racing media person can beat you down. When you put your work out there, you put yourself out there. Whether you’re a writer, a broadcast person, a PA announcer, a publisher, whatever, the racing community is quick — and fierce — in letting you know what they don’t like.

Doug fielded phone calls and listened to people scream at him because their magazine arrived with a torn cover. He was called dirty names because somebody didn’t receive last month’s issue. He was insulted and dismissed because he took an editorial position they didn’t like.

He always managed to laugh that stuff off, but today — since he’s gone — those interactions irritate the hell out of me. I wonder if — in Doug’s mind — that negative feedback might have overshadowed the many positive contributions Doug made to the racing community, and the appreciation many people felt toward Doug.

In the months that followed Doug’s passing, I began to realize how much I missed our phone calls. There was a void … something I couldn’t quite explain. Several times I caught myself wanting to call Doug to run an idea past him or discuss a recent news development.

Each time, I had that sudden realization: Oh…he’s gone. That’s right.

This past August, following the Thursday portion of the Knoxville Nationals, some of Doug’s friends and colleagues gathered at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum for an informal memorial. It was a wonderful conversation and people shared funny and poignant memories of Doug.

We laughed a little, and maybe felt like crying a little. It was one of those bittersweet experiences when the joy of knowing someone is tempered by the fact that they’ve left us.

I’ve come to understand one thing: Doug had no idea that his friendship was cherished by such a wide swath of people. He didn’t fully understand how much he had touched a great many of us. Even more, his work with the magazine shaped and influenced and enhanced the racing experience for an untold number of people.

So, one year later, we think about the happy times. We recall the great racing trips, the long phone conversations and the roller coaster of life. Doug’s magazine work led him to some distinctive high points, but there were difficulties, too. I’m privileged that he called upon me to share many of those highs and lows.

Time, I suppose, will soften the sense of loss we’re all feeling as we contemplate the news of one year ago. Doug was taken from us far too soon, and — frankly — healing comes slowly.

It was a great ride while it lasted, ‘ol buddy. I wouldn’t change a day of it.End Bug

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