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Then the Globe-Democrat folded and the two guys went their separate ways -- one to a newspaper gig in Pittsburgh.

I stayed in St. Louis and have rotated through a number of professional iterations of communications work since 1985, often remaining in touch with my Globe-Democrat responsibilities: Transportation Writer.

After leaving the Globe, I was an automotive columnist for the Suburban Journals for many years. (Do they still publish any of those?) I formed my own marketing communications company, Stoff Communications, in 1990. Much of my work has been performed for healthcare organizations, hospitals and small businesses. Other clients included the region's two leading dirt racing tracks (with a few seasons of announcing) and the Anheuser-Busch Sports Marketing Group which retained me to handle public relations for the last 13 seasons it sponsored the Seebold/Bud Light Racing Team on the North American Formula One outboard powerboat circuit.

My experience in motoring activities began before the Globe-Democrat era. My dad, Mel, was manager of Lake Hill Speedway through the 1950s and 1960s. One of my childhood playmates was Ken Schrader, who apparently has achieved some success and renown in auto racing. My childhood heroes included his father, Bill Schrader, and the likes of Don Klein and Carl Springer, who I got to know well in later life as the public relations manager and announcer at I-55 Raceway.

I have been a mechanical tinkerer since my teens years, owning a series of interesting old cars. Like many of us, I wish I still owned some of them -- especially the 1962 Falcon, 1963 Impala, 1966 Mustang and 1972 Karmann Ghia convertible.
I also achieved a lifelong dream of race car driving when, at the age of 40, I hit the track behind the wheel of a Volkswagen-powered rear engine sprint car. When we got to race at I-55 Raceway along with the UMP Late Models, I made it a point to stand next to Don Klein during the pre-race drivers meetings. I doubt that he ever noticed, but to me one of the neatest experiences of my life was wearing my firesuit and joining Don and the other drivers under the judges' stand.

Another highlight of my otherwise unremarkable six-year driving career occurred at Macomb, Ill., which had a four-cylinder class in the 1990s. One night the program included dwarf cars and none other than Jerry Sifford was on hand to coach a youngster who was learning to race.

Of course Jerry knew Carl's dad Mike, and I reminded him of my links to Lake Hill.
Possibly the highlight of my racing career was presented by Jerry after my feature race. I spent the event battling with one of the locals for third place. I had control of the inside groove on the short dirt oval but couldn't break away. With a couple of laps to go we approached a lapped car which I used as a pick to get rid of my competitor.

As I was loading my stuff back onto my trailer and truck Jerry walked over and offered, "Man, you drove a pretty good race there." That may be inscribed on my tombstone.
On my first night of racing at Godfrey, Ill., I was joined by another rookie -- Carl Edwards Jr., who then was 14 or 15 years old. I had been a friend of his father's for a couple of decades. On our third our fourth night of action, I found myself leading a feature race at the white flag but got too excited and over-cooked my entry to turn three. I drifted out of the low groove and suddenly another car appeared under me. We drag-raced out of turn four toward the checkered flag. I lost by about half the width of a front wheel. Carl Edwards won. You may have heard about his later accomplishments.

I knew Carl's parents when they were still dating. I was happy for him. Would have been happier for me.

Fast forward to today. The internet has made it much easier and less expensive to start a publication, but this still is a large undertaking. Producing an online magazine that meets modern standards for timeliness, professional content, bells and whistles is not cheap.

On the other hand, our niche holds potential

Rick Stoff
RickStoff@MotorCoMag.com

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Updated October 24, 2017                                                                    

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