| The Daytona Seaside Information-Journal
Godwin Kelly could not keep in mind the primary time I got here to the media middle at Daytona Worldwide Speedway for a NASCAR race. However I do.
In July 2010. I would been the editor of The Information-Journal for rather less than 4 months, and I would by no means been to a NASCAR race in my life. The sports activities division had gotten me a media move for the Coke Zero 400.
That Saturday at about 6 p.m., I nervously entered the media middle. I used to be relieved to see Godwin at his work station simply to the appropriate of the door. A minimum of there was somebody I knew, if solely somewhat.
Godwin was writing one thing, and he did not discover me till I walked up and mentioned hiya. He seemed down at my legs and spoke in that distinct voice.
“Ummm, you’ll be able to’t put on shorts in right here,” he mentioned, somewhat apologetically. “It is the rule.”
I drove dwelling, placed on a pair of pants, drove again to the speedway, and had the time of my life watching Kevin Harvick win.
Since then, I’ve attended dozens of races on the Speedway. That does not imply I do know auto racing. I do not. My biggest worth on the Speedway is in negotiating deadlines throughout rain delays.
However Godwin is aware of racin’. And I am sorry to report that Godwin is not going to be masking races on the Speedway in 2021. He’s retiring from The Information-Journal on Monday.
Though I hope he enjoys his retirement, I am sorry to see Godwin go for a bunch of causes.
Godwin has been at The News-Journal for 44 years, and he is been masking racing on the Speedway for 40 years. Title a significant racing second on the Speedway throughout that point, and it is doubtless that Godwin wrote one thing about it and may recall the specifics of it. That is an unimaginable historical past.
It is not overstating issues to say that Godwin is motor racing royalty, and he earned it even earlier than gathering his first racing byline. How do I do know this?
Properly, contained in the Speedway media middle is a small auditorium that is sometimes used for press conferences or conferences. A sequence of photographs are on the wall.
The primary picture is of “Large” Invoice France, the founding father of NASCAR and builder of the speedway. The second picture is of Godwin, at age 14, a smile on his face, consuming a Pepsi (I believe) and listening to some NASCAR crew members.
For starters, he is unpretentious. His “uniform” on the speedway and the workplace is normally a nondescript, barely wrinkled short-sleeved collared button-down shirt, pants, and a ball cap with some sort of racing brand on it. He seems to be and sounds greater than somewhat like a youthful model of the actor Wilford Brimley, however much less of a curmudgeon.
Which brings me to a different level: Godwin is a consummate staff participant.
In early 2011, we held a employees assembly to generate some new concepts for masking the 2011 Daytona 500 — which was additionally the 10th anniversary of the crash that took the lifetime of racing legend Dale Earnhardt. The employees was considerably reluctant to toss out concepts for a topic that had been the area of sports activities till Godwin spoke. “Look, we actually need your assist,” he mentioned, or one thing like that. In 10 minutes, we got here up with about 40 story concepts.
A yr of so later, when then-sports editor Burke Noel and I hatched a plan to launch a weekly NASCAR web page that The Information-Journal might syndicate to different newspapers, Godwin — and columnist Ken Willis — turned the concept into actuality. The result’s a NASCAR web page that greater than 100 newspapers carry throughout the nation.
That led to a racing podcast, after which a day by day radio broadcast through the week of the Daytona 500. Alongside the way in which, Godwin and the remainder of our racing staff have produced quite a few particular sections.
And in between, Godwin developed a weekly fishing column in sports activities, and wrote quite a few restaurant opinions for our options part.
The Information-Journal has been blessed with journalists who stayed on the newspaper for his or her complete careers. Photographer Jim Tiller spent 40 years capturing award-winning photos. Training Reporter Linda Trimble coated training and different matters for greater than 40 years. The good Kathy Kelly labored as a reporter and editor on the newspaper for 50 years earlier than retiring.
Thanks, Godwin, for all the things.
Pat Rice is The Information-Journal’s editor. His electronic mail is Pat.Rice@news-jrnl.com.
REFER TEXT: In Sports activities, a retrospective of Godwin Kelly’s profession.