Go to content Go to navigation Go to recent PR reports Go to search

John Potts

Contact John

I grew up in Louisville, Ky., and my father and mother started taking me to what they called the “hardtop” races at the Jeffersonville (Ind.) Sportsdrome when I was ten years old – in 1949. I was hooked from the start. Those hardtops were mostly 1939 and 40 Fords and Mercurys, with an occasional 39 Hudson tossed. in, and the racing was fantastic.

One night I was walking behind the grandstands with Dad as we headed for the concession stand, and a guy came up and grabbed me by the shoulder, and asked if I’d like to make a few bucks selling newspapers. He said I’d get a nickel a paper, and he’d give Dad the money for my ticket. There are times over the last 50 years or so when I’ve thought, “If I’d just told that guy ‘No’ I wouldn’t be in this mess.” However, over the long run I’ve had no reason to regret it. The people I’ve met in racing have become the best friends I have, and just about everything good that’s happened to me has happened because I was involved in racing.

Back on the original story, I sold 100 copies of National Speed Sport News that night and made $5.00. This wasn’t a paltry sum for a ten-year-old in 1949. Every week, I was back, doing the same thing and even continuing through the next year. The third year, the guy who had the NSSN “franchise” moved away, and nobody stepped up to take it. I figured it was worth a try, and I put in a call to their headquarters in Ridgewood, N.J. (after promising my mother that I’d pay for the call). The circulation guy told me that they’d be glad to work with me, and pointed out that I’d make a dime a copy (the paper was only a quarter then), since they sold it to franchisees for 15 cents a copy.

Hot Dang! I was stepping in high cotton that season.

That went along pretty well, and soon I had another job, this one paying only in experience. Chris Economaki called and told me the guy who handled the paper sales was supposed to send in a story on the races. Here I was, 13 years old, and he wants me to write racing stories. He said if I’d just write what I saw, he’d handle the editing of the stories for me.

And that was the beginning of my writing career. This continued until I graduated from high school and went into the Air Force, then resumed when I came out in 1960 and helped build the Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville, and took over the sales of the paper there. Before too long, they asked me to try flagging, and it took a few seconds to make up my mind since it was something I had always wanted to do. From there on I flagged there and at various other tracks. In 1963, John Marcum hired me to flag some ARCA races, and when ASA was organized in 1972, I began flagging their races and serving in any other capacity needed.

For most of this time my “real” job was as a newspaper editor for a weekly in Salem, Ind. and Scottsburg, Ind. In 1985, NHRA hired me as news director at IRP, with Bob Daniels, then the general manager, planning to lean on my oval experience. In turn, he helped me learn drag racing and road racing.

In the fall of 2000, NHRA decided I was to be the next victim of a downsizing move, and I went into retirement until 2002. I answered an ad in NSSN for a manager’s job at I-75 Speedway near Mt. Vernon, Ky. the first year Jonathan Smith of Chicago owned it, but he hired someone else. In the middle of the first full year of operation, 2002, Jonathan purchased the Corbin track because it was cutting into his car and crowd count, and he decided that Mike couldn’t handle the PR for both tracks at the same time and contacted me. When I got there, I started doing all kinds of work, scoring when needed, announcing, keeping the web site updated, keeping track of point standings, just anything that needed done.

We were getting ready for 2003, when Jonathan decided in March or April that he wanted to chuck the whole deal. Mike took off and went back to Illinois, and I asked Jonathan to bear with me for a month and let me try to sell one of the tracks. He told me would, although he figured I wouldn’t be able to sell either one.

Along came John E. Davis, a resident of Knoxville who knew me from the early 80s when I was helping Andy Vertrees at a short track in Charlestown, Ind., and who had run a small track at the Salem, Ind. fairgrounds for a couple of years. He said it had always been his dream to own a racetrack, so we started talking. It took a while to get it done, but we got it done and John asked me to stay on with him. Jonathan wanted to know how I managed to fit in and be accepted by all these people down here after I had been living In Indianapolis for almost 20 years, and working for NHRA at Indianapolis Raceway Park for 15 years.

So I’m still here, living in London, helping at Corbin and writing, and now here comes Tom Bowles wanting me to write some more.

Hang on folks, this might be a wild ride when I start digging out old stories.

When You Can See John’s Frontstretch Columns:
Driven To The Past: Fridays (Website)

Past articles by John Potts

May 2013
05/22: A Good Friend Mourns: Dick Trickle Remembered [3]
September 2012
09/06: Potts' Shots: Rainy Days in ASA, Kenny's Cussing, and Butch's Bad Break [4]
August 2012
08/29: Potts' Shots: Agreeing To Disagree - To A Degree [1]
08/23: Potts' Shots: How To Flag On A Road Course [2]
08/16: Potts' Shots: Bobbling Busch, Last Lap Push, and Hello -- Where's The Yellow?! [2]
08/09: Potts' Shots: Paying The Price In NASCAR, On The Track And Off [4]
July 2012
07/27: Potts' Shots: Outgrowing Raceway Park, Underweight Cars & Dog-Tracking [1]
07/19: Potts' Shots: Bluegrass Boondoggle And How To Put The "Sprint" In Cup [1]
07/12: Potts' Shots: How Much To Run It, The Bluebird Walls It, And A Name Game [3]
07/05: Potts' Shots: Tangible Tolerances, Sponsor Contracts & Longing for Linda [4]
June 2012
06/28: Potts' Shots: DJ, ARCA, and XYZ
06/21: Potts' Shots: Redneck Engineering At Its Finest [2]
06/14: Potts' Shots: Track Drying, Hardly Trying, and Repave Crying [2]
06/07: Potts' Shots: The Worst Pace Car, Where There's Smoke, No Fire And Hot Hondas [5]
May 2012
05/31: Potts' Shots: A Missing Piece, How Empty Seats Are Hidden, Indy, And Aero [6]
05/24: Potts' Shots: New Car Nuances And Goodbye To An Old Friend [4]
05/17: Potts' Shots: The Perils Of Reckless Driving In The Pits [3]
05/10: Potts Shots: The Penalties Of Deliberately Crashing Someone... Or Not [1]
05/03: Potts Shots: Healing Up, Tire Tricks And Beating Girls [1]
April 2012
04/19: Potts' Shots: Selling Sponsorship 101
04/12: Potts' Shots: How Bill France Doubled Down on Daytona
04/05: Potts' Shots: Profiteering, Points, Tim Richmond, And Feeling Old [1]
March 2012
03/29: Potts' Shots: Be Careful What You Wish For... And Just Split The Difference? [7]
03/22: Potts' Shots: How To Flag The Leader And Possible Short Track Expansion?
03/15: Potts' Shots: Back Of The Line, Spoiler's Fine, And Pass On The Gas
03/08: Potts' Shots: Safety And Rules Remain A "Moving Target" [5]
03/01: Potts' Shots: Where Did The Checkered Flag Come From? [4]
February 2012
02/23: Potts' Shots: Tricks Of The NASCAR Trade, Past And Present [1]
02/16: Potts' Shots: NASCAR Fan Q&A Returns For 2012 With A Trip Down Memory Lane [2]
November 2011
11/17: Potts' Shots: Busch and Stewart? And Did Phoenix Get it Right?
11/10: Potts' Shots: Can Kyle Busch Mature? [5]
11/03: Potts' Shots: Happy Belated Birthday To Dick Trickle [4]
October 2011
10/26: Potts' Shots: Looking Back at Talladega [2]
10/20: Potts' Shots: Do IndyCars Belong on Ovals? NASCAR Gas Gimmicks & More [7]
10/13: Potts' Shots Fan Q & A: Home Tracks, B Mains, And Fuel Mileage Still A Hot Issue [2]
10/06: Potts' Shots: Fans Sound Off On Earnhardt And Fuel Mileage [5]
September 2011
09/29: Potts' Shots: Split-Screen Sadness [1]
09/22: Potts' Shots: How To "Cause" A Caution... And Get Away With It?
09/15: Potts' Shots: Safety Questions For A Former Flagman
09/08: Potts' Shots: A Fan-Proposed 2012 Cup Series Schedule [8]
09/01: Potts' Shots: Seeking Jon Wood, ASA, Chase Favoritism And More [3]
August 2011
08/25: Potts' Shots: More Reactions to G-W-C...And Double-File Restarts [6]
08/18: Potts' Shots: The Dangers of a G-W-C Finish... And The Humor Of Practical Jokes [2]
08/11: Potts' Shots: Remembering A 1973 Racing Tragedy [1]
08/04: Potts' Shots: The Future of Lucas Oil Raceway [3]
July 2011
07/28: Potts' Shots: Rules On Roof Numbers
07/21: Potts' Shots: My Strangest Finish As A Flagman [2]
07/14: Potts' Shots: Another New Track... But No Cup Date? [8]
07/07: Potts' Shots: The Original Kentucky NASCAR Race And The End Of An Era In Indy [2]
June 2011
06/30: Potts' Shots: "WTH" Moments as a Flagman
06/23: Potts' Shots: Alternating Shots [1]
06/16: Potts' Shots: Will Cars And Trucks Ever Be On The Same Track At The Same Time? [1]
06/09: Potts' Shots: "Don't Mess With an Old Man" [9]
06/02: Potts' Shots: Indy and Charlotte From A Flagman's Perspective [2]
May 2011
05/26: Potts' Shots: The Future of Local Short Tracks [2]
05/19: Potts' Shots: NASCAR's New Pit Rules [2]
05/12: Potts' Shots: Dick Trickle And The Open Road Engine Change [1]
05/05: Potts' Shots: Back to the Past [3]
April 2011
04/28: Potts' Shots: Is Pushing Against NASCAR Rules? [2]
04/25: Potts' Shots: To Cross the Finish Line... [2]
04/14: Potts' Shots: For The Love Of Their Wheelman - The Wives Who Make Racing Thrive [2]
04/07: Potts' Shots: A Flagman's Tale ... Or Two
March 2011
03/31: Potts' Shots: Remembering Jack Bowsher [9]
03/24: Potts' Shots: A Favor That Made A Fan [2]
03/17: Potts' Shots: An Off-Week Story Of Parnelli Jones & The "Illegal" Firestones [2]
03/10: Potts' Shots: Car Crashes, Contingency Stickers And Altercations [2]
03/03: Potts' Shots: "Snaking" Around Questions Like NASCAR Front Ends & More [2]
February 2011
02/23: Potts' Shots: Remembering Smokey's Sidecar Experiment
02/17: Potts' Shots: Risk Versus Reward With Military Sponsorships [2]
02/10: Potts' Shots: Figure-8 Racing And The Story of Big Bumpers [3]
November 2010
11/18: Driven to the Past: So Where Did It Start? [7]
11/11: Driven to the Past: That Certain "French" Driver... [5]
11/05: Driven to the Past: Two More Old Friends Gone... [3]
October 2010
10/28: Driven to the Past: Tribute to an Old Friend... [6]
10/22: Driven to the Past: Getting Detroit's Attention... [8]
10/14: Driven to the Past: Thanks for the Comments... [2]
10/07: Driven to the Past: Getting There, Part Deux... [4]
10/07: Potts' Shots: An Incredible Story Of Track Safety Saving Lives [1]
September 2010
09/30: Driven to the Past: Getting There Is Half the Fun... [13]
09/29: Potts' Shots: Over-Officiating And Commercialpalooza NASCAR No Nos [9]
09/24: Driven To The Past: Being Blessed... [7]
09/16: Driven To The Past: Thinking Outside "The Box..." [7]
09/02: Driven to the Past: Back In The Day... [4]
August 2010
08/26: Driven to the Past: What We Did Before Radios... [6]
08/20: Driven to the Past: Meeting Some Famous People...
08/06: Driven to the Past: Nostalgia on a Smaller Scale... [2]
July 2010
07/29: Driven to the Past: Scoring Wasn't Always So Easy... [9]
07/22: Driven to the Past: One of the Toughest... [11]
07/09: Driven to the Past: Some Short Ones [2]
07/01: Driven to the Past: Accident Prone or All In a Day's Work?
June 2010
06/24: Driven to the Past: Remembering a Few Close Ones... [1]
06/17: Driven to the Past: Remembering Davey... [5]
06/14: Potts' Shots: NASCAR Odds 'N' Ends From Michigan ... And Beyond [6]
06/04: Driven to the Past: Creating Some Fun Racing... [3]
06/02: Potts' Shots: 1,100 Miles of Blogs in One Day...
May 2010
05/27: Driven to the Past: Indy 500 Memories [6]
05/20: Driven to the Past: How To Have Fun With a Pace Car [3]
05/13: Driven to the Past: "Deliberate" Cautions? [3]
05/06: Driven to the Past: Race Cars Off the Track... [2]
05/05: Potts' Shots: Kentucky Race In 2011 Wouldn't Be The First In The State [1]
April 2010
04/29: Driven to the Past: Just What Is Stock? [3]
04/29: Potts' Shots: Practice Makes Perfect For Harvick [7]
04/15: Driven to the Past: Something Really Different... [1]
04/08: Driven to the Past: What a Lot of People Are Missing... [6]
04/01: Driven to the Past: A Little History, Here... [1]
March 2010
03/25: Driven to the Past: Rivalries... [4]
03/18: Driven to the Past: The Day Earl Almost Got Run Over... [1]
03/12: Driven to the Past: Old School Officiating ... Is That What Carl Needs? [3]
03/04: Driven to the Past: ARCA’s "Jimmie & Chad" Back In the Day... [1]
February 2010
02/25: Driven to the Past: Another Unforgettable Guy [2]
02/18: Driven To The Past: Stock Car Racing in the Midwest, Part Deux... [2]
02/11: Driven To The Past: There Was Some Pretty Good Stock Car Racing In The Midwest Back In The Day, Too [9]
November 2009
11/19: Driven to the Past: Some Thoughts Before Going Into Hibernation... [12]
11/12: Driven to the Past: Working Inside... [2]
11/06: Driven To The Past: Let's Go Back A Few Years ... [3]
October 2009
10/30: Driven to the Past : The Old ASA Crossover [3]
10/23: Driven to the Past : Making Your Own Decisions [2]
10/16: Driven to the Past : Parental Participation (And Interference)... [2]
10/09: Driven to the Past : Rules? In A Knife Fight? [1]
10/02: Driven to the Past: When We Were Young and Crazy, Part II...
September 2009
09/25: Driven to the Past : When We Were Young and Crazy...
09/18: Driven to the Past : Getting Off The Ground... [2]
09/11: Driven to the Past : Random Thoughts... [3]
09/04: Driven to the Past : Harry Hyde - The Short Track Years... [4]
August 2009
08/28: Driven to the Past : Harry Hyde - The NASCAR Years... [6]
08/21: Driven to the Past : Taking A Risk At Michigan...
08/14: Driven to the Past: A Few Short Stories...
08/07: Driven to the Past: Those Were the Days...
July 2009
07/31: Driven to the Past: REAL Racing... [3]
07/24: Driven To The Past : Getting The Job Done... [1]
07/17: Driven To The Past : Happy Birthday Jeff Gordon! [2]
07/10: Driven To The Past: Cadillacs On The Track [1]
07/03: Driven To The Past : Sometimes, Things Just Don't Work Out
June 2009
06/26: Driven to the Past: Remembering An Old Friend [1]
06/19: Driven to the Past: Fuel Windows And Debris Cautions Back In the Day [1]
06/12: Driven To The Past : Any Car, Any Track, Anytime [2]
06/05: Driven to the Past : What’s It All About? [2]
May 2009
05/29: Driven to the Past : The Rain And Bob Senneker [1]
05/22: Driven To The Past : Darrell's Cheap Battery [1]
05/15: Driven to the Past: The Original Sliced Bread [5]
05/08: Driven To The Past: Pops and the "Other" Tommy Thompson [4]
05/01: Driven To The Past : The Day I Lost It...
April 2009
04/24: Driven To The Past : The Most Frightening Race On The Planet... [3]
04/17: Driven To The Past : Just Thinkin' And Rememberin' [2]
04/10: Driven To The Past : When It Was A Lot More Fun... [1]
04/03: Driven to the Past: Watching a Part of History... [3]
March 2009
03/27: Driven to the Past: One of the Friendships I Treasure...
03/20: Driven to the Past: A Selective Rain Shower and a Flight That Didn’t Work Out Well... [1]
03/13: Driven to the Past: No, Really! I'm Serious...ly Kidding [1]
03/05: Driven To The Past: Those Aren't Bumps - They're A Test [4]
February 2009
02/26: Driven to the Past: ‘Different’ Tracks [1]
02/19: Driven to the Past: Potts' Short Stories [1]
02/12: Driven To The Past : Knock The Fence Down, Pops [2]
02/05: Driven To The Past : Supercharged Studebaker [1]
November 2008
11/21: Driven To The Past : Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures [5]
11/13: Driven To The Past : He's Outta The Park [1]
11/06: Driven To The Past : The Best Way To Slow A Racecar Down [3]
October 2008
10/31: Driven To The Past : NASCAR's Most Spectacular Accident [6]
10/24: Driven To The Past : The Infamous Fake Accident [3]
10/17: Driven To The Past : Getting Even With Dr. Dick
10/10: Driven To The Past: Sometimes The Guy That Crosses The Line First...
10/03: Driven To The Past : The Big Fuel Gamble [2]
September 2008
09/26: Driven To The Past : Dropping The Flag...Really! [4]
09/19: Driven To The Past : Relieving Shorty / Charley and the Wasps [2]
09/12: Driven To The Past : A First For Ford [2]
09/05: Driven To The Past : Even Founding Fathers Can Have a Sense of Humor
August 2008
08/29: Driven to the Past: It Wasn't Exactly Legal ... But It Worked [7]
08/22: Driven To The Past : An Uneasy Feeling [4]
08/15: Driven to the Past: 150 MPH and Just Inches Away [3]
08/08: Driven To The Past : The Masters Of Competitive Engineering (Or A Nice Name For Cheating) [4]
08/01: Driven To The Past : The Competition Caution [4]
July 2008
07/25: Driven To The Past : Holding On For Dear Life [4]
07/18: Driven To The Past : Bob Daniels
07/11: Driven To The Past : Kenny Irwin, Jr. and Tony Stewart [2]
07/04: Driven To The Past : Milt Hartlauf and Bob Harmon
June 2008
06/27: Driven To The Past : Parnelli Jones and A.J. Foyt [1]
06/20: Driven To The Past : Roger McCluskey [2]
06/06: Driven to the Past : A Few Short Stories... [1]
May 2008
05/30: Driven to the Past : Let Your Judgement Be Your Guide [3]
05/23: Driven to the Past: Indy's Triple Threat -- From Kid Geniuses To NASCAR Superstars
05/16: Driven To The Past : Bobby Allison And The Black Flag [2]
05/09: Driven To The Past : Tommy Houston [1]
05/02: Driven To The Past : Lee and Richard Petty
April 2008
04/25: Driven to the Past : Rusty Wallace [1]
04/18: Driven to the Past : Darrell Waltrip [6]
04/11: Driven To The Past : Kenny Wallace
04/08: The Magic Of McDowell, "Forgetting" A Blowout, And Watching TV Blow The Finish In Texas ... Again [7]
04/04: Driven To The Past : Tiny Lund [4]
04/01: Waltrip Finds His Voice, But The Camera Falters At The Finish At Martinsville [10]
March 2008
03/27: Driven to the Past : Dick Trickle [2]
03/25: Confidentially, SPEED Excels While ESPN's Chemistry Needs Work [2]
03/21: Driven to the Past : The Days of Side Windows, Quarter Glass and Wing Vents [2]
03/18: Missing DW's Voice ... Seriously, A Missed Question To Kevin Harvick, And Missing A Mystery Caution [18]
03/14: Driven To The Past : When Darrell Waltrip Was The One Missing A Part
03/11: Settling The Gopher Cam Debate, And The NASCAR TV Weekend That Was [15]
03/06: Driven to the Past : John Potts [1]