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.