Along with the rest of the open-wheel racing community, the news of Doug Auld’s passing came as a shocking surprise to me. Doug’s contributions to the sport of sprint car and midget racing are immeasurable and people with far more experience in motorsports journalism can attest to that with much more knowledge than I could.
I can, however, attest to how much the publications he spearheaded influenced my life and, especially, my childhood.
Today’s young racers have grown up completely in the internet era. You can watch the world’s biggest dirt-track events live in the palm of your hand. The step before streaming subscriptions was social media updates, which are still used to keep race fans informed in real time.
As we look back a little farther, message boards were the fastest way to obtain news and results, with the information usually posted the following day. As for images and pictures, racing websites had fairly images posted, but I didn’t have access to internet with any reasonable speed until I was in high school.
I remember my dial up internet (the screeching and squealing dial process I can still hear in my head) taking five to 10 minutes to load the Hoseheads.com main page, not to mention any photo specific pages.
Open Wheel and Sprint Car and Midget Magazine were my only sources for seeing what the different cars around the country looked like. You could literally go to a World of Outlaw race and not know what your favorite driver’s car looked like until you saw it with your own eyes.
The arrival of those monthly magazines was extremely anticipated at my house and I dropped everything to at least scan through the newest edition. The quality of photography Doug compiled in each issue was — and still is — stunning. I remember combing through the pages of Open Wheel and SC&M, examining every picture, eventually reading every story and as I grew older and more mechanically involved in racing, looking at every item in every advertisement.
These publications which were much a result of Doug Auld’s passion, helped ignite my passion for racing.
Art class was always the elective I chose in school because I never cared much for instruments or singing. If it was at all possible to incorporate sprint cars into any of my projects, I did.
One of my first assignments in middle school was to make a collage of my favorite things in which I featured “The Gasman” Richard Griffith fully sideways, as well as many other smaller clippings, all from Open Wheel magazines. I chose a picture of Steve Kinser’s Quaker State No. 11 for a pencil drawing for another project and later, in high school, did a colored drawing of J.J. Yeley’s Tony Stewart Racing Mopar No. 20 from his Triple Crown season — both were sourced of course from pages edited by Doug Auld.
I attended races at Oklahoma’s Tulsa Speedway every Saturday night as a kid. The program featured two classes of winged sprint cars. The Thursday Night Thunder programs that I remember from childhood were almost always on pavement, so without Open Wheel magazine I would not have seen a non-winged dirt sprint car until I was 13 or 14 years old.
I obviously would not have dreamed that non-winged sprint cars are what would become the staple of my racing career.
As my career progressed, I remember the first time I was featured on the cover of Sprint Car & Midget being almost surreal. Growing up with those magazines and then being topics of discussion within the pages felt like a stamp of approval.
You can’t frame a website article or social media post, but print media, especially publications run with the enthusiasm of someone like Doug Auld, carry a weight of prestige that warrants saving and remembering.
The depth of research, time, passion, talent and skill that goes into the pages of the magazine you are holding by the contributors and staff is unmatched.
I am extremely fortunate to now have the privilege to contribute to the magazine that means so much to me and was so integral in developing my love for our sport.
I think Doug was surprised when I approached him about writing something for SC&M, which was originally just supposed to be for one or two issues, but he gladly took the chance on me and gave me the opportunity. I am grateful that I was able to get to know Doug much better in the last few years and experience his strong-willed and enthusiastic personality.
I look forward to continuing to contribute and strive to assist in upholding the standards that he demanded for Sprint Car and Midget Magazine long into the future.