UNKNOWN:  Broadcaster Dave Despain is shown working a NASCAR race for the Motor Racing Network (MRN). Along with MRN, Despain has covered a variety of racing events on television for WTBS, CBS-TV, ESPN and Speed Channel. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)
Broadcaster Dave Despain is shown working a NASCAR race for the Motor Racing Network (MRN). Along with MRN, Despain has covered a variety of racing events on television for WTBS, CBS-TV, ESPN and Speed Channel. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

American Motorsports Media Award of Excellence presented to Dave Despain

The American Motorsports Media Award of Excellence (AMMAOE) and award sponsor Goodyear Racing are proud to announce the recipient of the 2024 honor – long-time journalist and television personality Dave Despain.

Dave began his broadcasting career calling high school football games in his native Iowa in the early 1960s. He later combined his love for motorcycle racing with his burgeoning career and landed a job on ABC’s Wide World of Sports coverage of the Daytona 200 in 1975. From there, Dave went on to work with Motor Racing Network and CBS, which led to him being selected to host the first weekly television show devoted exclusively to racing highlights, “Motorweek Illustrated.” Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, Dave was seen by millions of race fans on ESPN’s “Thursday Night Thunder” and NASCAR pre-race show, as well as Speedvision’s “NASCAR Today.” He followed that up with a successful, 11-year run on Speed’s “Wind Tunnel,” before concluding his broadcasting career on MAVTV in 2017. All totaled, Dave informed and entertained race fans of all genres for 42 amazing years. He is the 44th media member honored with the AMMAOE.

First awarded
to longtime
Associated
Press motorsports writer Bloys Britt in 1969, the AMMAOE is administered and voted on by fellow motorsports journalists, all of whom are previous AMMAOE recipients. In recent years the award has gone to print, broadcast and photojournalists representing varying disciplines of motorsports across the United States.

Originally, the award was named for the late Henry T. McLemore, one of the first journalists to cover motorsports.  He had a long career as a sports columnist for United Press International and was a syndicated columnist for Hearst newspapers.  He became acquainted with NASCAR and Bill France Sr., who encouraged him to first attend, then cover the growing sport of stock car racing.  The membership voted in 2020 to rename the award the American Motorsports Media Award of Excellence to more clearly identify itself as a national journalism organization focused on all forms of motorsports.

Two award boards displaying plaques with etched representations of each winner are on permanent display inside the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at Daytona International Speedway.