DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Henry Frederick, an experienced internet-based journalist in Central Florida who publishes Headline Surfer, has won journalism awards for literally dozens of stories since the mid-1990s, both with print media and online.
Frederick is among the most aggressive breaking news reporters in the Sunshine State whose career in journalism -- dating back to the mid-1980s -- has been built on the cops and courts beat.
He's also won quite a few awards for motorsports coverage at Daytona, the most recent a first place award for breaking sports news in 2016, from the Florida Press Club for coverage of the car that tore into the catch fence in the 2015 Coke Zero 400, the debris from it injuring several fans.
Frederick, 54, also has built a reputation for writing well-sourced investigative reports that emphasize the story behind the story, often evoking emotion and outrage of the issues brought into the Sunshine through his multi-media presentations using videos to emphasize sight and sound.
He has used his news reporting to develop in-depth stories involving motorsports, especially since Daytona International Speedway is based right here in the heart of Daytona Beach. Frederick's motorsports stories over the years have focused on the news, politics, personalities and finances of racing, especially in NASCAR. In 2012, Frederick received a first place award from the Florida Press Club for "blog writing" for writing about his childhood memories of watching the Daytona 500 as a kid in New England dreaming of someday covering the race in person as a reporter.
Earnhardt autopsy civil trial & several awards for in-depth story on lawsuit monopoly claim against NASCAR by Texas Motor Speedway shareholder
Back in the early 2000s while still with the Daytona Beach News-Journal Frederick was embedded for the civil trial won by Teresa Earnhardt in ensuring her late husband's autopsy photos would never see the light of day. He also covered a lawsuit that was settled out of court involving Texas Motor Speedway represented by Johnny Cochran in getting a second race date for the new track owned by Bruton Smith. But because Smith was close tied in with the France Family, it was a TMS shareholder, Francis Ferko, who sued and prevailed. The 2002 story published on the front page of the Daytona Beach News-Journal and headlined, "Lawsuit: Monopoly justifies splitting up NASCAR," garnered Frederick three prestigious awards:
• First place for in-depth reporting from the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists;
• Third place for investigative reporting from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors;
Third place for excellence in general news reporting from the Florida Press Club.
Frederick has covered nearly every Rolex 24, Speedweeks and mid-summer races at Daytona, dating back to his near-decade run as a metro reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal and for nearly nine years as publisher of Headline Surfer.
Media credentials taken away for reporting on campaign contributions, but staying the course
On June 13, 2013, Frederick was informed by Lenny Santiago, then-public relations director at Daytona International Speedway, that he would no longer receive media credentials from DIS granting him access inside the media center where drivers, team owners and other racing personnel as well as celebrities are made available for press conferences and where the reporters file their stories. Santiago claimed he was misquoted in a story and that Frederick was filing stories during overnight hours when the media center was closed, though he was not made aware of it.
In fact, Frederick only had access to the media center for that 2013 Speedweeks. During three years prior, he was relegated to the "outer media" center where press releases were placed on shelves and also served as a mini-cafeteria where hot foods were offered as well as soft drinks. One to work with what he has available to him, Frederick interviewed Hall of Fame brpoadcating legend in front of the salad bar.
But it was Frederick's review of mounting campaign contributions by the Speedway and others associated with the parent company, International Speedway Corp or ISC and NASCAR, the sanctioning body for stock car racing, both entities controlled by the billionaire France Family, that Frederick saw mounting campaign contributions going into the campaign coffers of candidates (mostly incumbents) at the municipal, county and state levels as NASCAR was seeking upwards o $140 million in stadium funding tax breaks.
Without the credentials, Frederick also was denied access to the garage, the pits and victory circle for news gathering purposes. But he was not deterred in his reporting, relying on NASCARMedia.com which was never taken away, and he made do in his coverage of the big races by buying his own tickets for key races, in particular the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in July.
Redemption with breaking news coverage of race car in the catch fence
And last year, one of Frederick's six 1st places stories from the Florida Press Club recognized his reporting of the 2015 Coke Zero 400 race where a race car went airborne as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line and that car ripped into the catch fence before the car fell back onto the track on its roof with Austin Dillon inside. He was shaken up, but escaped serious injury. Here is a llink to the story headlined, BREAKING NEWS: Several fans injured when debris from race car rips through catch fence at finish of Coke Zero 400 at Daytona: http://headlinesurfer.com/content/414635-breaking-news-several-fans-injured-when-debris-race-car-rips-through-catch-fence-fini.
However, several race fans in the grandstand were injured by debris from the fence and the race car and treated in the nearby Florida Hospital ER suite. And Frederick was right there with his video camera to get the story none of the other reporters could get to because they were either in the media center or in the pits. Frederick was the lone reporter to win an award for the coverage as well.
Frederick was embedded in the civil trial in October 2001, where Teresa Earnhardt, the widow of Dale Earnhardt, was successful in keeping her husband's autopsy files sealed after a compromise was struck with an expert hired by the Orlando Sentinel to review them. Ernhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, while running in third place at the time with his two DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc) drivers Michael Waltrip and Dale Earbhardt, Jr running 1-2, when the elder Earnhardt was hit from behind inadvertantly by Sterlon Marlon attempting to pass him; sending Earnhart straight up nearly hed on into thje outside concrete wall, collecting the car of Ken Schrader in the process.
Waltrip would win the Daytona 4500 with Junior finishing second, andd skipping the post-race celebration for an ambulance ride transporting his father yo Halifax. Earnhardt, who was wearing an open-face helmet, was killed instantly, the result of a basular skull fracture and multiple internal injuries and broken bones.
And even though the autopsy records had been public record before she sought and was granted a temporary restraining for them to become sealed, Frederick pleaded with the newspaper's top editors to allow him to get copies, from the county, but was rebuffed. He later learned the News-Journal had a secret marketing agreement with the Speedway that prevented news coverage of this kind.
No grudges held: France Family members & others recognized in Headline Surfer Hall of Fame
Frederick sought credentials from the Speedway in 2014, and was rejected, but did not bother going that route in 2015 or 2016, preferring just to pay his own way to cover the races and posting photos in social media of him on the job. Frederick has already purchased tickets for the 2017 Speedweeks, including the Daytona 500.
Frederick has not held a grudge against the Speedway. To the contrary, he was supportive of the $400 million Daytona Rising project and has included the France Family and others in the 2017 Headline Surfer Hall of Fame.
Frederick is a fan of motorsports. His two favorite races are the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, the latter featuring open-wheel racing under sanctioning of the Verizon IndyCar Series. He also follows developments in Formula One grand prix racing and sports car endurance races like the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
Frederick's most ambitious series in the area of auto racing is his current compilation of the Top 1000 Worst of the Worst Motorsports crashes. He has sought out opinions from sports writers who cover auto racing as well as his own experiences with the sport and years of watching some of the biggest races over the last several decades either on TV, YouTube or as in the case of Daytona, being there.
The series was actually started two years ago, but due to personal illness, including a lengthy hospital stay for pneumonia and life-saving surgery for a massive ascending aorta aneurysm earlier this year, for which he i still recovering, with setbacks along the way since March. And So the several segments already posted were updated with the series started up anew earlier this month.
Top 1000 Worst of the Worst Motorsports multimedia series under way
Frederick expects his Top 1000 Worst of the Worst Motorsports crashes multimedia compilation to take two years to complete.
Each of the 1,000 segments is composed of an individual story that includes a summary of the particular crash,how dramatic it was, and the extent of injuries. Each segment includes a main display photo image, a video, a Fast Facts and Did You Know? elements and secondary photos, videos, graphics, etc.
There is a preamble at the beginning of each segment, with a logo, which reads: Multimedia compilation of the Top 1,000 "WORST of the Worst: Motorsports Crashes" captured on video or still images, with an emphasis on the need for constant vigilance in keeping drivers, crew members, emergency workers, and especially spectators, safe at racing events around the globe.
And there is a "premise" below each segment that offers the rationale for the compilation, with some segments that are graphic. It reads:
Recap: WORST of the Worst Motorsports crashes:
2017-01-19 15:19:25 -0500
2017-01-17 05:29:43 -0500
2017-01-08 01:38:12 -0500
996. Biggest pile-up in racing history in 1960 at Daytona
2017-01-07 12:56:38 -0500
997. Phil Krueger smacks wall hard in 1981 Indy 500
2017-01-05 00:30:38 -0500
998. Disgruntled ex-Mercedes employee in rain coat interrupts 2000 F1 Grand Prix in Germany
2017-01-04 10:35:00 -0500
999. BMW flips after intense contact with another car in Nürburgring VLN endurance road race; driver unscathed
2017-01-02 02:33:36 -0500
1,000. Rusty Wallace flips violently in 1983 Twin 125 qualifier at Daytona International Speedway
2017-01-01 16:05:48 -0500