Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

January 2, 2015

Ed Hinton Retirement From The Racing Beat: So Long…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:40 pm

Ed HintonEd Hinton retired as the ball/race car dropped at midnight on the 1st. He was one of the old guard racing reporters who plied his trade for nearly fifty years, most recently at ESPN. When he began writing about the sport of auto racing he claims not to have known much about it. His orientation, like most, seemed to be stick and ball and general interest. As diehards know it is easy to get hooked on a great sport. Hinton made his mark primarily in NASCAR as he and others rode the popularity of the France family wave to its crest.

Hardcore IndyCar fans typically think of Ed Hinton as part of the reason open wheel has diminished popularity. That is a relatively easy assertion to purport, particularly when citing Hinton passages that describe ‘resuscitating’ the Indy 500 or how the big race is on ‘life support.’ It is my belief Hinton actually understands that the Indy 500 transcends idiotic politics that pollute the sport but he got paid to write opinion pieces to which people would pay attention.

Like when three spectators got killed at Charlotte during an IndyCar race. Hinton, who did not attend that Charlotte race, wrote a piece afterward discussing future safety considerations from his location in Ontario, California. His Sports Illustrated editors added an inflammatory headline and the infamous bloody sheet photograph. That got his credentials pulled from Indy, which resulted in an avalanche of negative reporting and credential cancellations from his press brethren. Eventually Tony George and IMS caved but not before shooting off another appendage to make whatever point they were attempting.

Reading Ed Hinton telling a story in print is much like having a Forrest Gump experience. Name any major event or star, particularly in NASCAR, and Ed seemingly either had something to do with it or was there every step of the way chronicling it. Was it writing style or simply name/event dropping? I do not know Hinton personally but that never prevented occasional praise or criticism of his work or intent whether I was right or wrong. As a matter of fact I really slammed him over what I felt was a Brickyard hatchet piece in late July, 2009. The important thing was that he got read, and that is the ultimate basic goal of any writer.

Another frequent criticism by many was the way in which ‘the split’ got recycled over and over in just about any IndyCar piece. Granted Hinton was never as egregious as, say, Gordon Kirby….but Ed always managed to stay employed by reputable sports news organizations. Even though Hinton has a long tenure in race track press rooms the majority of his IndyCar coverage occurred during the coup d’état occupation of the sport by team owners following the death of Tony Hulman and the devastating plane crash that claimed key USAC officials.  Many writers who earned their livelihoods in some cases directly from the rogue organization naturally anointed the period of 1979 through 1995 as the gold standard by which anything else must be measured for all future generations. That seems laughable to those of us who hung off the fences during all of the 1960s and 1970s. What no one seems to understand in 2015 is that the entire world has fundamentally changed and holding up ANY period of the past as anything more than nostalgic whimsy seems foolish.

Great writers who were long in the tooth way back then but retiring or dying off as cart pushed its way to the front of the line did not say much at the time. Hinton was certainly around for years prior to the occupation, but his first 500 did not occur until 1975.  Good young writers today; e.g., Hinton’s ESPN peer John Oreovicz, have a tendency, often in subtle ways, to continue fostering the ‘everything about cart was great/everything about anything Hulman-George/IRL is an object of ridicule’ sentiment. In many cases that is how they were mentored and/or derived a paycheck at one point or another Suck itfrom a cart entity. There is a tendency for old timers to take whatever is written by anyone in the sport today with grains of salt.

What all of us could really use today is a fresh-off-the-turnip-truck young Ed Hinton to burst onto the scene with wide eyes, eagerness and an ability to think for himself, then a talent to eloquently write what he experiences in honest, straightforward ways. When Ed Hinton did that he was a breath of fresh air. All we need now is for someone to do it again.

Thanks for ALL the recorded memories Mr. Hinton and enjoy an umbrella drink on a sandy beach at some point.



  1. http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=hinton_ed&id=4359015

    One of Hinton’s finest articles.
    Editor’s Note: 100% agree if you happened to be malicious, retarded and lack even minimal sense.

    Comment by TroyM — January 8, 2015 @ 2:15 am | Reply

    • The article was kind of a cheap shot, but after Tony’s little amateurish, chickenshit stunt of trying to ban him, he deserved it. I could see how a Tony worshipper like you would not like that article.
      Editor’s Note: And I can see how a willfully retarded person might think that rationale (and the article) has merit.

      Comment by TroyM — January 10, 2015 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

      • (Off topic commentary relocated to comment section of 12/19/13 blog)

        Comment by Tim Thomas — January 15, 2015 @ 3:10 am

  2. Hinton’s article was right on the mark. Only a complete idiot would disagree in any way with what he wrote, though some particularly childish and uninformed morons did. Great job by a great writer.
    Editor’s Note: Topic reminder….Ed Hinton’s retirement. Not a 5-year old column. Speaking of five year olds, I will echo the sentiment I articulated with Troy M: I can see how a willfully retarded person might think that rationale (and the article) has merit.

    Comment by Tim Thomas — January 13, 2015 @ 4:18 am | Reply

  3. A well deserved retirement for a top notch motor racing writer. Along with Miller and Pruett, he was one of the greats.

    Comment by Tim Thomas — January 14, 2015 @ 3:36 am | Reply

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