Allen Wolfe’s Long Beach Grand Prix spirit lives on with Honda’s TE McHale award – Press Telegram

Allen Wolfe and TE McHale had three things in common: They loved journaling. They loved car racing. And they were loved by all who knew them.

So it’s only fitting that their paths cross at this year’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, albeit posthumously.

Wolfe, the late and legendary Press-Telegram motor racing writer, lived at that time of year when the Grand Prix began to rev up and the deafening roar of racing engines could be heard on the streets. from downtown Long Beach.

From the first Grand Prix in 1975 and for the next 23 years, Wolfe became the “Grand Master of the Grand Prix”. He was so excited about the race that we in the PT newsroom used to call April, “Allen Wolfe hour.”

Sadly, Wolfe was working tirelessly as usual on the race in 1999 when his heart gave out and he died aged 51, a week before the start of the Grand Prix. Eventually, the Grand Prix and the PT created an honor bearing his name – the Allen Wolfe Spirit of the Grand Prix Award.

McHale, meanwhile, was a veteran sportswriter for the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal from 1978 to 1996. But then he switched gears and turned his love of motorsport into a second career as a race director. with Championship Auto Racing Teams and the Trans-Am Series. In 2003, Honda hired him to be its director of motorsports communications. He moved to Torrance for work at Honda and became a regular and respected figure in the Long Beach Grand Prix. He retired in 2019.

He died in December of colon cancer. He was 68 years old.

McHale will posthumously receive the Allen Wolfe Spirit of the Grand Prix award on Saturday, April 9 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. McHale’s brother, Terry, is expected to be at the event to receive the award on his brother’s behalf, said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.

“TE was truly a gentle soul who had his greatest impact because of his stable and reasonable approach to life,” Michaelian said. “He had a calm demeanor, but, when he spoke, his words always held everyone’s attention.”

McHale played a valuable role in securing Acura’s title sponsorship deal with the Grand Prix Association in 2019, Michaelian said. Acura is the luxury car division of Honda.

In honor of Wolfe, the Press-Telegram (currently part of the Southern California News Group) and Michaelian established a Spirit Award, given annually to someone who has made a significant contribution to the race. McHale was well deserving of the award, Michaelian said.

McHale and Wolfe, the Grand Prix leader said, were “giants in their fields. Both had a strong affinity with the world of motorsport.

Wolfe had a rocky start to life when he and a twin brother were born prematurely in Honolulu. Her brother died two days after she was born. Wolfe weighed 4.5 pounds and spent his first month in an incubator. Later, doctors discovered he had a congenital heart defect – but he never let that slow him down. He was an avid golfer and skier.

Wolfe began his writing career when he joined the student newspaper at Millikan High School in Long Beach. When he was 17, he got a part-time job at the Press-Telegram answering machine.

Thus began his 33-year career at the newspaper.

Wolfe also wrote for the school newspapers of Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach during his tenure at those campuses.

His love of sport led him to report on motor racing.

Jim McCormack, a former Press-Telegram sportswriter during what he called “the Allen Wolfe era,” said Wolfe was a dependable, professional, and quiet writer during the automotive offseason.

“During the Grand Prix, it was like he got fresh batteries,” McCormack said. “His production of stories was legendary and his energy endless.

“He would pretty much single-handedly publish our special Grand Prix section and, at the same time, be all over the daily coverage moving forward and then covering the race,” McCormack added. “He knew all the important people in the Grand Prix racing community and he was respected by all. the best.

The American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association recognized Wolfe with a plaque at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Deadline Media Center for his dedication to increasing motorsports coverage.

McHale had a lot of wit during his dual career as a sportswriter and race director.

He was a beloved figure to drivers, members of the media and other public relations representatives, “who saw him as the measured, rational voice of reason in an environment rarely quiet”, according to John Oreovicz, a journalist professional sportsman specializing in car racing. and based in Indianapolis.

McHale also fostered a welcoming attitude to all, exemplified by the Honda Welcome Bus, which traveled to many events.

“The only sticking point for some was the ‘TE McHale Brussels Sprouts Rule,'” Oreovicz wrote, “which mandated the consumption of a serving of McHale’s favorite vegetable to qualify for dessert.”

Thomas Eugene McHale was “the personification of calm and class,” wrote Marshall Pruett, on Racer.com, “with a face that was made to smile, he was among the most human and relevant figures in sport. .

“His pointed observations on racing, life and music,” added Pruett, “shared in pit lane, at press centers or in his beloved Honda hospitality bus, connected us in a common way. .”

Wolfe would have been embarrassed to have an award named after him, but he would have been thrilled by the recipients and their spirit.

McHale would be one of them, high on his list of contributors to motor racing in general – and, in particular, to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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