Atlanta Motor Speedway honors longtime motorsports reporter ‘Capt. Herb’ Emory

Leave a comment

Atlanta Motor Speedway’s media center is overflowing this weekend, with a number of reporters on scene to report on Tony Stewart’s return to NASCAR racing after missing the last three races following the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy.

But two long-time figures around AMS are not there.

First is AMS marketing and public relations director Marcy Scott, who lost a long and valiant battle with cancer last November. The infield media center has been renamed in honor of Scott, who served the track for over a decade before falling ill.

And there is also an empty seat in the back corner of the media center that was filled for more than two decades by longtime Atlanta radio and TV reporter Capt. Herb Emory. A baseball cap marks Emory’s longtime seat at AMS this weekend.

Flying both helicopters and planes (hence how he earned the nickname of “Capt.”), Emory for years was the primary source of traffic news around Atlanta on WSB AM and FM radio, shepherding drivers around backups and accident scenes.

Emory, 61, passed away in April after suffering a massive heart attack..

Emory was also a long-time motorsports reporter, covering dozens of races at AMS as well as attending other races around the country, hosted a weekly racing show on WSB-AM for nearly 20 years, and was a yearly fixture on the annual preseason NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, N.C., in January.

True to his nature of always helping people, Emory died while assisting victims of a car crash that occurred in front of his suburban Atlanta home.

“That was Herb Emory,” Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan told the Atlanta Journal Constitution back in April shortly after Emory’s death. “Always serving his community.”

To honor Emory, AMS has painted a special “Capt. Herb” logo in the corner of the frontstretch and will hold a pre-race presentation to his widow, Karen Emory.

On a personal note, I knew Emory for close to 15 years. While we weren’t close, we had a number of conversations over the years and he was always both professional and friendly. He and Marcy Scott will continue to be missed for many, many years to come by members of the NASCAR media and the NASCAR community.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.