Canadian motor racing reporter Dean McNulty died on Monday at the age of 70 after a battle with leukemia. Recently inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, the veteran was a leading voice for fans of IndyCar, NASCAR, and other popular series since starting at the Toronto Sun in 1979.
He also played a pivotal role in identifying and championing young Canadian racing talent through decades of coverage in print, and online, before retiring in 2015.
“Dean was one of the most passionate motorsports journalists I’ve come across,” his countryman James Hinchcliffe told RACER. “Being a racing junkie, I remember reading his articles in the paper as a kid. Be it IndyCar, NASCAR, F1, he did it all and I loved reading what he wrote. I remember the first time Dean wrote about me; it was almost a sort of validation. He was covering the top drivers in the top forms of motorsports, so getting in his column was an achievement in itself.
“He was always appreciative of people’s time, always had a warm smile and attentive ear. I was sad when he retired, but not as sad as I am today learning of his passing. He’ll be missed by many in the racing community, especially back home in Canada.”
Nicknamed the “Dean of Speed,” McNulty’s pen made a sizable impression well before Hinchcliffe was born.
“He was a huge supporter of Canadian racing,” said Toronto’s Scott Goodyear, whose exploits in junior open-wheel racing during the 1980s and eventual move into IndyCar was covered by McNulty. “We’ve been very fortunate as Canadians. When I first got involved back in the early days, it was Norris McDonald, and obviously there was Dan Proudfoot and Dean McNulty. There’s a group of guys there that you meet along the way and it’s nice that they become friends, and Dean’s passion for the sport was always there.
“Even when Canadian content at the Indy 500 was light, he made sure that Canadians were aware of what was going on. So for him to be included in the Hall recently and to be acknowledged, and able to attend the festivities for the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, it was so nice that they did that and he was able to partake in that before his passing.”
With his loss, Canadian racing fans, and the next generation of reporters, were dealt a significant blow. McNulty, who is survived by his wife, daughters, and family, leaves a large void behind.
“McNulty covered motorsport at every level in Canada,” the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame wrote in January while announcing its new class of inductees. “Although known for his impressive coverage of the top tier NASCAR Series, McNulty was comfortable reporting on everything from dirt speedways like Ohsweken to the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Montreal.
“There’s no doubt that several young racing drivers in Canada thank McNulty for helping further their careers. Dean [was] the last, full-time, national Canadian newspaper reporter on the motorsport beat.”