Over the last few years, as I’ve moved through my career and writing the third iteration of this column, I have come to learn that the storyteller part of my professional description is, in many ways, a stretch. This realization came into crystal clear focus yesterday (I am writing this on Wednesday morning), when I learned that Tom Higgins passed away. I have the pleasure of reading and listening to some great storytellers in life. But, for me, Higgins is the standard of storytelling against whom all other in racing journalism; nay, written storytelling regardless of the topic. And against that standard, I, and many others, fall short in the mantle of storyteller. I’m not beating myself up or disparaging anyone else; it’s just reality. As I read the Oberver’s story, I was reminded that Higgins was a damn quote machine. On his professional baseball career, he said, “I couldn’t solve the aerodynamics of a curveball.” On the 1958 Southern 500, “I swear to God, the press box in Darlington was nothing more than a chicken coop on stilts.” When he retired from the Observer, reflecting on his career, he wrote, ““As they say back in the mountains of my native Yancey County, I shore ‘preciate it.” No Tom, we shore ‘preciate it. Rest easy.
NOTE: The full version of this story will be available for subscribers of the Daily Journal in the print and e-editions on Thursday, August 2, 2018.
Andy Cagle, a former spokesman for Rockingham Speedway and motorsports public relations consultant, writes about NASCAR in a weekly column. Follow him on Twitter @andy_cagle.