NASCAR writer David Poole dies of heart attack at age 50

April 29, 2009 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — David Poole, who spent 13 years covering NASCAR for The Charlotte Observer, died Tuesday of a heart attack. He was 50.

Poole was stricken at his Stanfield home and his daughter called 911, the paper said. He was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“David was as passionate about NASCAR as anyone, and had very definitive opinions about the sport,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said. “He served the industry, and most importantly the fans, through his reporting and commentary.”

Poole, who joined the Observer in 1990, covered Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, which ended when Carl Edwards’ car flew into a safety fence on the last lap and injured seven fans. His final column ran Tuesday morning, and in it, Poole questioned what it would take for NASCAR to realize changes needed to be made to the racing style at the Alabama track.

“Is racing at Talladega out of control?” he wrote. “I say it is, and Carl Edwards’ crash Sunday into the catch-fence in the tri-oval of the 2.66-mile track merely reinforced that opinion.

“Does somebody have to die before we’ve decided we don’t have control?”

Praise for Poole’s passion for NASCAR poured in from all corners of the industry. Three-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said he worked “twice as hard to make sure I earned his respect,” and Dale Earnhardt Jr. called Poole “one-of-a-kind.”

“As someone fortunate enough to make a living doing what I love, I am indebted to David for the exposure he generated for our sport for 13 years, and the direct connection he had with the NASCAR fan base,” Earnhardt said.

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick will mark his four race cars this weekend with Carolina blue decals — in honor of Poole’s alama mater, North Carolina — with his initials “DP.”

Poole, who also hosted “The Morning Drive” weekday show on Sirius NASCAR Radio, was a four-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association’s writer of the year.

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