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June 4, 2019 - Thomas Pope Named Director of Communcations at FMS
Thomas Pope, the motorsports writer for The Fayetteville Observer the past 41 years, has been named Director of Communications at Fayetteville Motor Speedway, track promoter Jim Long Jr. announced.

"(Wife) Denah and I are so excited to have Thomas come onboard with us here at the speedway," Long said. "It's not every day that you're able to add someone with Thomas' credentials to our already stellar team.

"As Director of Communications, Thomas will fill an important role that we have been missing on a consistent basis, which is 'telling our story.' We have so many heat things going on and so many opportunities here at the speedway that are not being conveyed to news outlets, marketing partners and our great fans. We look forward to working with Thomas to raise our profile throughout the region and beyond."

Pope's introduction to motorsports began as an Observer part-timer in 1977 with an assignment at the speedway. He joined the staff on a full-time basis in May 1978, and during his four-plus decades, he provided Observer readers with coverage of local racing, NASCAR events from Homestead, Fla., to Indianapolis in addition to dirt tracks, drag racing, motocross and sports cars. He was the Observer's sports editor for more than 6 1/2 years before retiring May 23, 2019.

"I've always been intrigued by racers and what makes them tick, and for the most part they're very easy to work with," Pope said. "I've watched Jim build Fayetteville in one of the top dirt-track facilities in the country in terms of its diversity of competition. The track's got it all, from the beginner classes to regional touring series to both the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt and the World of Outlaws Late Model tours on an annual basis.

"I'm looking forward to helping Jim, his wife Denah and their staff continue building on what they started."

Pope was a panelist who helped select the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR and NHRA. He was the IHRA's Media Person of the Year in 1988, '94 and 2001.

In contest judging, Pope earned more than two dozen awards from the National Motorsports Press Association (including its 1994 George Cunningham Award as the NMPA Writer of the Year); more than 10 awards as a writer and editor from the Associated Press Sports Editors; and multiple writing awards and special section recognition from the North Carolina Press Association.

Pope was the 2012 recipient of the Russ Catlin Motorsports Journalism Award of Excellence for a story about racing at Bowman Gray Stadium, and in 2013 he received the Henry McLemore Award for lifetime contributions to motorsports journalism.

A member of the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame, Pope is a co-author of "Full Circle: The Davey Allison Story" and of "Taking Stock," a book of NASCAR-related short stories. He was a contributor to the book "NASCAR: The Thunder of America."