A no-nonsense print journalist who served with distinction as a reporter, columnist and editor, Harry Blaze (October 17, 1935 – October 9, 2006) of Hamilton Square, New Jersey, spent some 50 years in the newspaper business covering a wide variety of things, events and topics.
No matter what his current position was in the hierarchy of the newspaper where he was working, Blaze had a long-held interest in covering motorsports and when he set out to do a racing story the copy that came forth did much more than cover the usual who, what, where, when, how and why.
Blaze fit the role of the stereotypical old-time newspaperman. Gravely-voiced with a sometimes gruff demeanor, he demanded the best of himself and those that worked for and with him and he was not afraid to uncover all the leads to get to the heart of any story.
While a student at Trenton (N.J.) High School, Blaze became a correspondent for “The Times of Trenton” before he went off to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from where he graduated in 1957. He then worked at “The Trentonian” in Trenton, “The New Brunswick (N.J.) Home News” and the “Perth Amboy (N.J.) Evening News” before returning to “The Times” full time in 1967. At each of these newspapers Blaze not only handled his daily assignments but also he kept his eye on the local and national racing scenes and provided to each of these well-regarded newspapers interesting and informative articles about what was taking place in the world of motorsports.
But it was for almost 40 years that Blaze held forth at “The Times” where his various jobs included that of night editor, assistant city editor, sports editor and assistant managing editor. He is credited while working in these high-profile positions as the mentor to literally hundreds of reporters – from the rawest “cubs” to those with veteran status.
Blaze’s role as an editor was also seen as one that could help even the best reporter get the most out of any story. He was famous for his set of “Rules” which included: If it’s not on time, nobody will read it. – Put yourself in the reader’s place. – If the lead is more than 35 words, it is overwritten.
Racing, though, was Blaze’s passion and his written work was seen in such national publications as the old “Stock Car Racing” magazine. But it was his weekly auto racing column for “The Times” that he began writing in 1968 that brought his feature articles, personality profiles and race reports to a metropolitan area with a rich history in motorsports and those writings were always insightful, interesting and to the point.
With a long history of covering motorsports, Blaze – who was an early member of the EMPA Board of Directors – knew all the movers and shakers in national racing and when there was a NASCAR Cup Series or Indy Car race in the area, he would certainly be there.
But Blaze would also take his pen and reporter’s notebook to the local short tracks and in his unpretentious manner he would sit in the grandstand or roam the pits in order to get the best story of that day and it would then appear in “The Times” with all of the character and color of one that he might write about the Daytona or Indianapolis 500s. His personal touch to anything that he wrote was always greatly appreciated by the subject of that story.
In addition to having a vast store of automobile racing knowledge and freely giving of it, Harry Blaze also helped anyone who was covering auto racing in any way that he could. It was not unusual to see him when he was at the races talking with reporters young and old or with the racers, themselves, about the day’s events or remembering times in the past or even looking head to what might take place in the future.