Behind The Scene: The History of NASCAR’s Weekly Newspaper

Behind The Scene: The History of NASCAR’s Weekly Newspaper


Before daily TV shows And constant online updates, News about NASCAR was delivered weekly to your mailbox When the race is over, the Scene begins. The Winston Cup Scene. It’s the largest and most informative NASCAR Winston Cup newspaper in the country. You gotta read Winston Cup Scene. You gotta read Winston Cup Scene For 32 years Grand National, Winston Cup, NASCAR Scene Provided some of the most influential coverage of NASCAR available When publisher Robert Griggs printed the first issue in April 1977, Grand National Scene became the first weekly publication devoted exclusively to what was then known as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series “I’d heard of Grand National Scene during that time… We fellow… motorsports journalists and I sort of snickered at it.” “Did you really? Why’s that?” “Well the way it was being sold. It was found by a fellow named Robert E Griggs Jr out of Alabama and We could watch him in the infield at Talladega Hawking that paper. Walking around, holding it up. It was only a quarter. Trying to sell that paper Well, that seemed pretty funny to me And I was one of those who thought it he never make it doing that sorta stuff.” The formation of Scene came at the same time NASCAR entered a tremendous change Television coverage of the sport increased and the paper provided in-depth analysis of the growing sport And there’s a fight between Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison The tempers… overflowing. They’re angry, they know they have lost And what a bitter defeat. In late 1981, a new monthly magazine was introduced as well. Grand National Illustrated would run as a sister publication to Scene for nearly three decades As scene evolved, many talented individuals were added to the paper’s staff Including Pat Howell, who became the first woman to write for the paper in early 1980. Gene Granger wrote many of the articles in the first few years and… Steve Waid was hired as executive editor in 1981. “I took the job and I came into my office the first day. His office was a converted Country Store When I looked at where I was to work, I had one of these metal desks One of these old-time Royal Typewriters And a chicken wire inbox That’s it. But I looked at it and I said “What the heck have I done?” Waid quickly became one of the leading voices for Grand National Scene appearing on radio and television to provide analysis of NASCAR events. With today’s thoughts from the grandstand, here’s the executive editor of Grand National Scene newspaper and Grand National Illustrated magazine… Steve Waid “Well Steve, I guess you’re the editor, is that right of Grand National Scene magazine? Publisher?” “Head gofer” In addition, Waid became President of the National Motorsports Press Association in 1987 And won numerous awards for his writing “The way you looked at it was. I think that, uh, You found that these guys had personalities And if you were a good reporter you reported what they did but you reported who they were. These guys have such great stories to tell that go beyond racing. So the thing that was really… good about dealing with these athletes was that they… They transcended the sport they went and told you something about themselves And when they gained your confidence as I think most these guys here have They would confide, you know, they would be secrets they confide and they’d confide about their personal life. “What should I do?” Ask your advice things of that nature you do the same to them So it became more than just a one-on-one professional relationship, it became a personal relationship as well” Through the 1980s, the lineup of talented staff grew to include Deb Williams, Joe Whitlock, Jack Flowers, and Gary McCredie After spending six years with UPI and a year as a writer for the television show, Inside NASCAR Deb Williams joined Scene in January 1986 Over the next 18 years, she was one of the paper’s biggest influences. After writing an article on the effects of carbon monoxide on drivers in 1990, Williams won the Charlotte Motor Speedway Russ Catlin Award for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism In 1991, she won the award again and became the first person to win it back to back Williams also won the NMPA Writer of the Year Award twice By the mid-1990s, Williams was one of only two writers to win each of the most prestigious awards in motorsports journalism The Catlin award the NMPA Writer of the Year, and the Henry McLemore Award And standing by is the well-known motorsports journalist, Joe Whitlock “Dale Earnhardt, that was quite a run today” Writing for Scene, Joe Whitlock won the National Motorsports Press Association Award for column writing every year he entered. The popular writer also spent time as Dale Earnhardt’s PR man in the years before his death in 1991 Holding a camera, Scene’s photographers were award-winning as well. “Then we have to go back to the lab, process the film, edit, make prints. Our deadline is 8 o’clock Monday morning” Phil Cavali and Bill Anderson won the Catlin award for their photojournalism The NMPA gave awards to Brian Hallman, James Price Mark Sluder Jim Fluharty, Bambi Matilla and many others Scene was known for its breaking news, personality profiles, and award-winning photography. As NASCAR grew, so did the paper covering it. Scene was there for historic moments… They captured breathtaking crashes… There’s Stanley Smith in the middle in the black car. There is one car that has gone over the wall as you see in that He goes to the outside, is Edwards gonna force it… He turns him! No! No! They saw the crowning of champions… The making of legends… And gave condolences for the loss of friends (Neil) won a race at Richmond and in the old days you could write and get back home in time to see what the 11 O’clock news had to say Well on this particular Sunday night at 11 o’clock, The news announcer was very, very, raw Very green. Made a lot of mistakes And he got to the Richmond race and this is what he said He said “Today in Richmond, the race was won by the famous French race driver Niles Bonet” I hit the floor when I heard that I couldn’t wait to get to Neil So I told a couple of buddies of mine. We went in the garage area the next race and started yelling “Niles Bonet! Niles Bonet!” He looked at us like, “what do you boys talking about?” We told him the Richmond story “Your name is now Niles Bonet.” It got to be crazy. Bobby Allison was calling him Niles Bonet We had guys a paging him from From up there the PA system “Niles Bonet. Please report to the NASCAR trailer” It was hilarious. So he decided it for a while there, he called himself Niles Bonet When anybody called him Neil, he wouldn’t answer But Scene also provided an unfiltered look at the true personalities of NASCAR Some infamous. Some funny. Some up-and-coming. And pretty much everything else imaginable Scene was so synonymous with NASCAR that it was even depicted in movies and video games The paper changed its name from Grand National Scene to Winston Cup Scene in 1989 In 1992, Griggs Publishing sold the Scene brand to Street and Smith’s Sports Group, a subsidiary of American City Business Journals And it’s Kyle Petty! Kyle Petty coming to the checkered flag Here comes Davey Allison on the bottom! It’ll be the finish everybody was waiting for… They crash past the finish line! Uh oh Around this time, Scene’s writing staff grew to include David Green, Tom Stinson, and Rick Houston, among others Oh a spin. Rusty Wallace spins off of turn four Just nudges the wall coming off the corner Through the mid-nineties, Scene was the on the spot for some of the sport’s most notable moments. Sometimes right in the middle of it [Shouting] As the media landscape changed in the late nineties, Scene changed with it. A website was added to provide up-to-the-minute news and updates As NASCAR moved into a new era, Scene covered the significant moments of the 2000s [Cheers] Here he comes, he’s got him this time, It’s gonna be a drag race They touch! They touch! Craven got him! Craven got him! The paper’s staff of writers also continued to be top-notch Mark Ashenfelter joined Scene in February 1999. He won the Catlin Award in 2002 In April 2001, Jeff Owens was named Scene’s Executive Editor Writing for the paper, Mike Hembree won the Catlin award in 2005 and 2008 Kenny Bruce won NMPA Awards nearly every year between 2002 and 2009 and the organization’s Joe Littlejohn Award in 2007 Rea White won the Catlin award in 2005 and the Littlejohn Award in 2006 Bob Pockrass joined Scene in 2003 and during his time there, was named the NMPA’s Writer of the Year in 2009 Jeff Gluck joined Scene in 2007 and won NMPA Awards in 2008 and 2009 I decided to do a story on “The Race After the Race” which was the race to get to the jets and how they escape the track and things like that and beat each other back to Charlotte I completely wrote the story and just sent it to Jeff Owens You know, said “Here’s a freelance submission, you know, I would love to have this in Scene” You know, not thinking they would actually take it and Jeff said “Yeah. Wow, this is this is really cool>” And they published it with artwork and I was like, “Wow, I got a story in Scene.” Scene even expanded their coverage to include daily online videos of their staff Hello everyone. Welcome to scenedaily.com I’m Steve Waid. Along with “Battlin Bob Pockrass” and “Joltin Jeff Gluck.” Okay, guys Unfortunately, as all print media begin to suffer around 2009, So did NASCAR Scene Amid an increasingly digital environment, the weekly newspaper couldn’t remain profitable The final issue of Scene was published in December 2009 The remnants were merged into NASCAR Illustrated while most of the staff was released At the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony Scene’s longtime editor and publisher, Steve Waid, was honored with the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR media excellence It was recognition for the great legacy and influence that Waid and Scene had on the sport of NASCAR. I am really really honored to receive this award I guess I’m also saying that it serves as a recognition of the work that I’ve done I’m not, you know, any kind of “media giant” by any imagination, big stretch of the imagination But to have your work recognized in this fashion is very, very humbling Having collected every issue of Scene from the first in 1977 to the last in 2009 Former staff-writer Rick Houston’s goal is to digitize each and make it available in an online archive for all to enjoy But until then, The Scene Vault podcast is devoted to NASCAR history in general and in particular, to the publication’s place in covering the sport for more than three decades Featuring interviews with racing legends, former staff members, and stories from the past, the podcast keeps alive the spirit of NASCAR’s rich and storied legacy. And its most influential weekly newspaper I’m into the Scene. Why don’t you get into the Scene too?

8 thoughts on “Behind The Scene: The History of NASCAR’s Weekly Newspaper

  1. Very nice work!~ I've got tons of these~ It's awesome that Mr. Houston is gonna digitize them all for everyone to enjoy~ I know where I'll be spending countless hours in the future!~ Thanks for everything you're doing~ 🙂

  2. The first thing I did when I got my copy was read Joe Whitlocks column. Joe was a great writer who had a way with words. After finishing his column I would start at the front and read every word, front to back. The black and white pictures that were printed on the last page, of racing from the 50s and 60s were great. I remember Gene Granger writing about Jimmy Johnson using the word "awesome" and how he couldn't stand it. It was a great paper that I really misHitlocks

  3. Great video, it was fun trying to keep up with all the photos onscreen…loved "Baby Boy" McReynolds, I need to find that article, let's get that content digitized and online!

  4. Nascarman you are the best. Can you find any pictures or video of dale Earnhardt at myrtle Beach in 1978 , he won track championship and I interested to see car he drove, thanks

  5. The NASCAR Scene magazine was first named as the Grand National Scene newspaper and the Winston Cup Scene newspaper magazine. The Philippine edition of the Grand National Scene newspaper (later renamed as the Winston Cup Scene) was published by Manila Standard Publishing, Inc., whose it's broadsheet, The Manila Standard, was one of the sponsors of GMA Network's NASCAR Telecasts from 1981 to 2000. Ray Butch Gamboa was editor in chief of NASCAR Scene Philippines

  6. Got my first GN Scene in 1980. Sent most of them to the recycle bin, along with Autoweek, National Speed Sport News, Circle Track, Open Wheel, Stock Car Racing mag etc..I've got a handful of issues from each that I kept. Too many moves! Great UL!

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