Charlotte Motor Speedway announced today the winners of the 28th annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Russ Catlin Awards for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism. The honorees were Thomas Pope (Fayetteville Observer), Kris Johnson (NASCAR Illustrated), Andrew Doud (WSOC-TV, Charlotte, N.C.), Rosie Barresi (SPEED) and Gary Nastase (National Dragster) for their contributions to motorsports journalism in 2012. To view the winning entries, visit

Russ Catlin was one of the best known racing writers and historians both before and after WWII, contributing articles and information to Speed Age, Automobile Quarterly, Open Wheel and numerous other publications. Catlin guided several influential figures in the motorsports field, including former Charlotte Motor Speedway General Manager Humpy Wheeler, who established the awards in his honor. The awards recognize the best motorsports coverage in five categories: Daily and Non-Daily Writing, Local and National Broadcast and Photojournalism. Entries are open to all forms of motorsports coverage, and no affiliation or membership is required for participation.  

“Charlotte Motor Speedway is proud to honor the very best in motorsports journalism,” said Scott Cooper, Vice President of Communications at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “This year’s winners were selected from a highly competitive field. We received nearly 150 top notch entries from journalists covering drag racing, stock car racing, dirt racing and IndyCar racing. To stand out among such a talented group of professionals is extremely impressive.”

As in years past, the Indiana University School of Journalism judged the award entries. The recipients were honored at a ceremony held in conjunction with the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Winners received a trophy and $1,000 scholarship from Charlotte Motor Speedway in their names to the school of their choice. Their names were also added to a perpetual trophy housed at the track that lists all past winners.

“Granting the scholarships has been a very rewarding part of curating the Russ Catlin Awards,” continued Cooper. “It’s extremely gratifying to know that we’re helping support journalism for years to come.”

The award has been among the most coveted in motorsports journalism since it began in 1985. Reporters from top media outlets such as USA Today, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and The Washington Post have all been past winners.   The 2012 Russ Catlin Awards for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism are as follows:

Writing – Daily

Thomas Pope – Fayetteville Observer

Entry:  “Rock of Ages”

Judges’ Comments:  The reporter brings Bowman Gray Stadium to life, revealing the culture of grassroots racing with plenty of local color. Whether readers are racing fans or not, they will recognize the passion and connection to place as universal human experiences.

Scholarship:  Methodist University

Writing – Non-Daily

Kris Johnson – NASCAR Illustrated

            Entry:  “Skin in the Game”

Judges’ Comments:  This story explores the intersection of gender, fame, sponsorship and legacy through multiple perspectives. The reporter shows the complexity of a controversial issue that has wide-reaching implications.

Scholarship:  Middlebury College

Broadcast – Local

Andrew Doud – WSOC-TV, Charlotte, NC

Entry:  “Pit Crew Training”

Judges’ Comments:  This story has everything a great broadcast feature needs: quality reporting, great interviews and natural sound, effective editing and videography. This report makes clear the importance of teamwork in racing. The audience “walks” in the pit crew’s shoes.

Scholarship:  Elon University

Broadcast – National

Rosie Barresi – SPEED

Entry:  “Pass in the Grass”

Judges’ Comments:  Entertaining story that provides context for multiple elements of NASCAR history: Dale Earnhardt’s legendary status, the coining of a famous phrase, and the role of rivalries in racing. Broadcast on the 25th anniversary of the “pass in the grass,” this piece is both timely and timeless, balancing ample research and reporting with humor and good storytelling.

Scholarship:  Columbia College Chicago


Gary Nastase – National Dragster

Entry:  “Funny Car Explosion”

Judges’ Comments:  An aesthetically pleasing photo rife with visual intrigue and definite “stopping power.” Although the situation is not unique, the photographer captured an image that also functions as spot news.

Scholarship: Mt. San Antonio College

For a complete list of previously winners, click here.