Area Auto Racing News publisher and chief editor Lenny H. Sammons is the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Henry T. McLemore Motorsports Journalism award. Presented and coordinated by the former winners, it recognizes an individual’s lifetime achievement in motorsports journalism.
Sammons, 60, was honored in the Media Center at Daytona International Speedway this past Thursday, in a ceremony that took place prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel at Daytona twin-150-mile qualifying races.
Respected auto racing writer, Speedway Illustrated magazine publisher and TV racing analyst Dr. Dick Berggren made the presentation of the McLemore Award to Sammons. Berggren is also a past recipient of the award.
The McLemore is the most tenured motorsports journalism award, beginning in 1969 with inaugural winner Bloys Britt, who wrote for The Associated Press for 17 years. It is voted by fellow motorsports journalists, who are previous McLemore winners.
Sammons was named as the 2014 recipient on the first ballot from the voting panel of which a majority is needed.
McLemore, who died on June 23, 1968 in Daytona Beach, had a distinguished career as a sports columnist for the United Press International and was a syndicated columnist for the internationally recognized Hearst newspapers. He became acquainted with NASCAR founder “Big Bill” France, who encouraged McLemore to attend and then cover the growing sport of stock car racing. McLemore’s influence in the media brought deserved recognition to our sport, leading to the creation of the auto racing journalism award in his honor.
Sammons is the first recipient of the McLemore Award whose roots in the sport are on a regional level. Previous honorees were recognized for their work in national auto racing.
Len’s parents, Leonard J. and Maude, founded Area Auto Racing News in June 1963. Growing up a fan and then working at the paper at a young age, Len became a full-time AARN employee in 1972 in the printing division while taking photos as the races.
He wrote his first “Focus on Speed” column that year, was named Executive Editor in 1977 and became Publisher and President of the company when his father died in 1991.
Sammons was named the winner of the Jim Hunter Award for excellence in motorsports jouralistm earlier this by the membership of the Eastern Motorsports Press Association.
He formerly won the Frank Blunk Memorial Award given by EMPA in 1983. He is now joined by his two sons, Danny and Davey, on the Area Auto Racing News staff.