Friday the 13th Nightmare: DIS flak denies media credentials to Daytona's award-winning journalist

Award-winning journalist Henry Frederick banned from media access to Daytona International Speedway on his home turf / Headline Surfer®Henry Frederick, new media publisher of Headline Surfer®, and among Florida's top award-winning breaking news and investigative reporters, has reported on news in Daytona Beach since the mid-1990s. For five years he's been granted limited access to Daytona International Speedway's media facilities, forced to set up shop on a table next to a salad cart outside the main media center. After interviewing famed NASCAR brodcaster Ken Squier out there a year ago, he was finally given full media credentials for the 2014 Speed Weeks and Daytona 500. But now he's being denied media acess of any kind by the Speedway for the July races, including the Coke Zero 400 under the lights. Frederick has won more awards covering Daytona International Speedway-related stories in the past two decades than all other Central Florida reporters working the beat. He's paying the price of challenging the stus quo, but doesn't have the financial resources of mainstream media to turn to the courts for enforcemnt of his first amendment rights of freedom of the press.
 

DAYTONA BEACH -- I know it was going to be a tough day being Friday the 13th and all. But the phone call I received just before high noon from Daytona International Speedway PR flak Lenny Santiago was so over the top, it just made my day complete. He let me know in no uncertain terms I was not going to receive media credentials for the July races.

And that accomplishes what? A ton of headlines in the major search engines how you sre screwing over one of Florida's top award-winning investigative and breaking news reporters?

You are excluding a reporter who was at the track the day NASCAR Nation's hero, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., was killed in a wreck coming off Turn 4 of the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, while in third place trying to protect the lead of his DEI drivers out front, Michael Waltrip and his young son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who would finish 1-2. 

I was in the Daytona courtroom covering later that year covering the complicated litigation of Teresa Earnhardt's fight to keep her late husband's autopsy files sealed, in which she ultimately prevailed. Before that, I won multiple awards for an in-depth Sunday story in the Daytona Beach News-Journal on the infighting between NASCAR in its dual role as sanctioning body and owner of tracks and the big lawsuit filed by a shareholder at the newly-opened Texas Motor Speedway over a second track date.

I've covered every Daytona 500 in one form or another since the mid-1990s. And to be quite frank, being allowed into the media center for the first time during February's Speed Weeks and Daytona 500 was no picnic. I was actually better off where I was in 2013 when the closest I got was the "outer" media center where  I set up shop next to the salad bar. But now, I don't even have that, thanks to Lenny Santiago and his higher ups.

You can call me any name you like, but when you restrict my movements and limit my ability to report the news in Daytona Beach, ground zero for my new media operation, then all you've accomplished is taking it to Def Con 3.

One way or another I'm going continue reporting the news.

I don't have the financial resources to haul your butt into court. But I can let the world know that when an award-winning reporter has pointed out that the racing industry's giant got huge multi-million-dollar projects placed on the backs of struggling taxpayers via weak-minded politicians desperate to see their campaign accounts filled so they can stay in office, that you resort to this, When I ask in the reporting why the Speedway hasn't been forthcoming as to how two two motorcyclists died in a non-sanctioned spin around the track at full throttle (beyond the standard 'it was an accident' and the obligatory safety is first press release), then it becomes rather obvious why you've made sure I'm on the outside looking in even as Daytona Beach is my home turf.

Henry Frederick at home in Daytona / Headline Surfer®Henry Frederick at Daytona International Speedway / Headline Surfer®Henry Frederick hs been  fixture in Daytona Beach and at the Speedway since the mid-1990s, but now he's been striped of any media credentializing, including parking. It doesn't seem to phase the Speedway that Daytona is the center of hi internet newspaper media coverage.

I don't have the financial resources to haul your butt into court. But I can let the world know that when an award-winning reporter has pointed out that the racing industry's giant got huge multi-million-dollar projects placed on the backs of struggling taxpayers via weak-minded politicians desperate to see their campaign accounts filled so they can stay in office, that you resort to this, When I ask in the reporting why the Speedway hasn't been forthcoming as to how two two motorcyclists died in a non-sanctioned spin around the track at full throttle (beyond the standard 'it was an accident' and the obligatory safety is first press release), then it becomes rather obvious why you've made sure I'm on the outside looking in even as Daytona Beach is my home turf.

Perhaps the only way I'll be able to cover the races in July is to pay for a seat in the grandstands or limited viewing in the infield, but that's because you have no respect for new media and my right under the first amendment to report the news. 

I'm no criminal. I've never been arrested. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I pay my taxes. I'm a good and decent husband to a loving wife and to a young adult son 1,200 miles away. But in your eyes, I'm garbage.

I don't have a printing press like your bosses' glad-handing four-year owners at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, but I do have a working press card from Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson, who is the only politician in Volusia Countyy who hasn't tried to destroy our operation.

Daytona International Speedway flak Lenny Santiago bans award-winning journalist / Headline Surfer®Lenny Santiago, shown here from a snapshot on his Twitter account, has let Henry Frederick no in no uncertain terms his brand of reporting is not welcomed.

My work ethic and journalism speaks for itself. I'm not some cliche-writing website sports blogger.

I have earned numerous journalism awards for covering such assignments as the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, have interviewed former death row inmate Virginia Larzelere and have the distinction of being the only journalist to win an award for a video interview with Trayvon Martin's parents in Miami during the height of the demonstrations and then winning another award for legal analysis in the coverage of the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford.

I've been featured on national TV documentary shows like "Snapped" and "Discovery ID Investigations."

You, Lenny Santiago, are just the latest in a line of well-paid conduits here in Volusia County in a city plagued by violent crime; with politicians at the municipal, county and state levels interested in making deals for the insiders on the backs of the working poor and struggling middle class. 

By the way, who really cares that you can fit five football fields in the infield? While you are pushing the PR spin on getting the Jags to play here, they have enough problems filling their own stadium like you had with February's Daytona 500. Thankfully, Dale Jr. won for the first time in a decade and he's coming back under the lights of the Coke Zero 400 to try make it a sweep.

Unfortunately, my ability to cover this race will be severely limited because of your arbitrary and capricious gate-keeping punishment of Central Florida's lone "new media" outlet. It's not right. It's not fair. But I'm not worth  $850 million like your boss, Lesa France Kennedy, who you've made sure to deny me access to from the onset.

Unfortunately, my ability to cover this race will be severely limited because of your arbitrary and capricious gate-keeping punishment of Central Florida's lone "new media" outlet. It's not right. It's not fair. But I'm not worth  $850 million like your boss, Lesa France Kennedy, who you've made sure to deny me access to from the onset.

Deep down inside, you are afraid because the truth can be very embarrassing. Just ask State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, rewarded in advance with upwards of $15,000 in campaign contributions for taking care of the Speedway's bidding in Tallahassee.

Or perhaps you need to be remineded of the albatross that is Daytona Beach Commissioner Carl Lentz, IV, whose behavior at an adult club in stuffing dollar bills into a plus-sized stripper captured on surveillance video before he was trespassed from the property by the cops can't be good PR for the Speedway, now can it? Wonder if any of those dollar bills were from the campaign contributions France-Kennedy provided him?

Moving on from the sarcasm, the bottom line is you my have the upper hand in restricting my movements and preventing me from doing my job, but at what cost to NASCAR and its image?

All it does is reinforce the importance of the reporting and keeping the public informed of the wheeeling and dealing behind the scenes.

Just keep your eye on the search engines. Since I don't have deep pockets or inside connections (heck, I can't even take a seat near the salad bar this time). But I do have the sability to get headlines prominently placed in the search engines via the digital access of HeadlineSurfer.com.

If this is what I have to to resort to to let the world know how mean and rotten you are, Lenny Santiago, then so be it. 

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.