We learned today of the passing of Ben Blake. Ben was one of the best and brightest writing for RACER and he knew he had big shoes to fill as he took over the RACER NASCAR beat following the death of his friend Gerald Martin in 1999.
Ben also worked closely with our RACER Special Projects editor Steve Nickless and produced much of the content in our Penske Motorsports race programs for California Speedway, Michigan Speedway, North Carolina Motor Speedway, Nazareth Speedway and Homestead Miami Speedway from 1997-1999. He also was a key player on the original RACER.com team in our Charlotte office where he joined Bill King, John Gardner, Eric Mauk and John Davison and the rest of our RACER crew in California in re-launching Speedvision.com (later known as SPEED.com) for network founder Roger Werner in January 2000.
Ben was a wonderful writer and he was passionate about telling the real stories of NASCAR racers, mechanics and team owners. He wrote from the heart and we’re proud that he sometimes made people in very high places nervous because he wrote it like it was, without any hint of political correctness. We believe they admired the fact that he would not be intimidated. Sure, Ben could drive us crazy on deadline but once we received his brilliant words it was always worth the battle to get them.
Our sympathies go to Ben’s family and his many friends in racing. He was truly one of a kind and we are forever grateful to have had him on our team.
– Paul Pfanner, Founder and Executive Publisher
The motorsports media took another giant step away from traditional reporting with the passing of Ben Blake. Blake was one of the last of the ink-stained wretches that plied the NASCAR trail for a daily newspaper – a hard-drinking, chain-smoking master of the spot-on dart. With rare insight and raw intelligence, Blake pounded out copy that was fair, accurate, delightful to read and edgy enough to curl hair at Daytona Beach.
When RACER was looking for a stock car racing expert, I recommended the late Gerald Martin – a truly gentle and lyrical wordsmith from the newspaper trade. When the NASCAR workload piled up, I recommended Blake. With Gerald’s passing in 1999, Blake assumed the beat which included http://www.speedvision.com, then a jewel in the RACER crown.
News cycle deadlines, Blake lived by. Magazine deadlines, not so much. But RACER‘s harried editors stopped grousing when the copy arrived at the last possible second – stunningly brilliant as always. Ben Blake was a complicated man, as are most geniuses. The industry has lost a true word artist; but even more so, his colleagues have lost a true friend.
– Bill King