Indianapolis 500 reverses course after threat of media ban

Newsgathering | Feature | May 31, 1999

Indianapolis 500 reverses course after threat of media ban


INDIANA--In mid-May, a potential media boycott of the popular Indianapolis 500 race was averted after race officials reversed their decision to deny credentials to a Sports Illustrated writer.

The Indy Racing League, which manages the race, denied credentials to Ed Hinton, the senior auto racing writer for Sports Illustrated, after he wrote a critical article on auto racing safety. The league said it would be willing to provide credentials to any other Sports Illustrated writer, but the magazine rejected the offer.

Hinton's article focused on a recent incident in which three fans were killed at the VisionAire 500 in Concord, N.C. Hinton wrote in the article, titled "Fatal Attractions," that such accidents could be avoided. The article included a photograph showing one victim lying on blood-covered grandstand steps with a leg protruding from beneath a sheet and another sheet-covered body.

As a result of the denial of credentials, The Chicago Tribune said that it would not cover the May 30 race.

"We are standing up against the kind of censorship the IRL is trying to impose telling us who is acceptable to them to cover their event," John Cherwa, the Tribune's associate managing editor for sports, told the Associated Press.

Other newspapers, such as The Los Angeles Times, had announced they were considering revoking coverage plans as a result of the ban on Hinton.