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Why are there so many Jewish sportswriters covering NASCAR?

I’m not sure of the significance of this post. However, as a Jewish sportswriter, I feel compelled to share.

I did write about the new NASCAR TV deal with NBC this week. Don’t think that qualifies me for this list.

Anyway, Viv Bernstein put up a post titled, “The Merry Jews of NASCAR.”

From the post:

Yes, Nascar was born in the Bible Belt South. And racing and religion are inseparable. Each weekly driver’s meeting ends with a prayer and every pre-race ceremony includes an invocation.

Goyishe sport, right? Oy! Would you believe there are enough Jews in Nascar to fill an Adam Sandler song? And then some.

No, they’re not the ones driving the racecars, so you’re not going to read about them. But here’s the thing: You probably will read them. That’s because we’re all in the press box and media center. It’s one of the oddities of Nascar: Many of the people who cover the sport happen to be Jewish.

Nascar fans have probably seen the byline of Jeff Gluck, one of the lead motorsports writers for USA Today and formerly with SBNation.com and the old Nascar Scene. The indefatigable Nascar reporter for The Sporting News is Bob Pockrass. The Associated Press national motorsports writer is Jenna Fryer. Lewis Franck writes for Autoweek and has contributed to ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated’s SI.com and Reuters.

Yep, all Jewish.

And…

“Years ago at a media tour — this was 2005, the year I met Gluck — I was riding up in the Hilton elevator one night with Gluck, Mike Harris and Lewis,” Edelstein wrote of the annual gathering of media and Nascar race teams. “And Gluck looked at all of us and said, ‘I feel like this must be the Nascar elevator minyan.’ “

There is no simple explanation for why so many Jewish writers and reporters gravitated to Nascar with its comparatively small media contingent. We all found our own paths at various times.

“I like to tell people I’m just a simple Jewish kid from the Bronx, so of course Nascar is one of my favorite sports,” said Edelstein, who lives in New Jersey. “Thank goodness I’m not so devout that I have to care whether the moonshine is kosher.”

And in closing:

I doubt folks in the sport even realize how many of us are in the media center these days. If they did, maybe they would think twice about serving pulled pork every weekend.

So now that you know, would it be too much to ask for a little kosher spread to nosh on instead? Hey Charlotte Motor Speedway, how about a bialy and schmeer?

 

2 thoughts on “Why are there so many Jewish sportswriters covering NASCAR?

  1. As a Jew (Bar Mitzvahed-Dec. 11, 1965), I would have never known about this, so thanks for this unique story. In the late 1990′s, I did publicity for Ned Wicker, who was the editor of “Champ Car Magazine,” covering the Indy car racing circuit. Because of the split with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which ran their own series with ABC telecasting it, getting Ned any publicity for his magazine was difficult. As a Jewish publicist, I just wanted to place Ned on both radio and TV to push his monthly magazine. As for my personal interest in auto racing, I used to listen to the Indy 500 as a kid in the 1960′s while my father and I were on our way to Arlington Park. We always spent Memorial Day with one ear to the “500″ and the other ear to the calls by Phil Georgoff. The Indy 500 is a tradition I still follow. As for NASCAR, I don’t care for it. The majority of fans are on the other end of my political spectrum. Once I received a call from the old “SportsFan Radio Network” asking me if I could find an “expert” to talk about NASCAR’S upcoming Michigan race. Since Ned had appeared on this network, I felt I owed them a favor. So I contacted David Hobbs, who owns a Honda dealership here in Milwaukee. At the time, he was doing Formula One for ESPN. He politely declined, so I contacted Jim Tretow who did a local racing roundup for WAUK-1510, Milwaukee. I was shocked by his demand to be paid to do the interview. After saying that was not possible, he reluctantly did it. I learned that day about how a host of a local racing show on a 5,000 watt radio station thought so highly of himself to be paid to go on a national radio program. This was just before 24/7 sports radio really took off. As you’re well aware, Ed, sports talk radio avoids discussing motor sports which will result in listeners switching stations immediately. My only question to you is: How many antisemitic comments do the Jewish writers who cover NASCAR hear while around the sport? Any Kosher Skoal tobacco available?

    • Jeff,

      Can’t speak for everyone, but in all the years I’ve covered Nascar, I’ve never heard an antisemitic comment.

      Viv Bernstein

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