Dr. Dick Berggren
|Photo Contributed by: Bobby Ely||Photo Credits: Chuck Ely|
The Back Story:
Great looking coupe of Speedway Illustrated’s Dr. Dick Berggren.
Dick began racing in 1967 and won 26 events before his driving career ended in 1981. He had raced SuperModifieds, stock cars, and sprint cars. He stopped racing after his racecar climbed a dirt bank at Boone Speedway in Iowa, causing over 200 people to scatter to avoid being hit.
Dick works seven days a week and often wakes at 4:30 a.m. for weekend assignments. Still, Dick Berggren, ’66, has what many people think of as a dream job. The founder and executive editor of Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated magazine, Berggren also covers NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) for Fox Sports, assignments that place him front and center in the field of stock car racing, the fastest growing spectator sport in the world. race weekends, he arrives at the track early to beat the traffic and spends time talking to crew chiefs and connecting with drivers. Once the races start, Berggren moves into high gear to give viewers comprehensive coverage from pit road. Afterward, he conducts interviews with world-class drivers like Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, and two-time NEXTEL Cup champion driver Tony Stewart.
His work covering motorsports also regularly brings him into contact with fans, and the same question comes up repeatedly. “They’ll ask, ‘How did you get that job and how can I get it?’” he says.
Berggren’s television career took off in 1981 with ESPN, where he served as a booth analyst and pit road reporter. He also worked for CBS from 1994-2001.Berggren, who took a different road to college than many high school seniors, credits his experience at Southern with helping him build a successful career. Fascinated with auto racing from the time he was a child, Berggren was bored in high school and describes himself as “the worst student” back then. Unable to get into college at first, he took a job as an office boy at United Aircraft. He eventually was accepted at Quinnipiac College, did well, and decided to transfer to Southern, where his girlfriend, Kathy Kanehl, ’65, was already a student.
Berggren became engrossed in his college lectures and quickly adapted to college life. He felt at home at Southern. As he looked toward graduation, he began to contemplate his next move. He realized that academic life suited him and decided to continue his studies. “I was enjoying Southern so much,” he says.
With a good academic record, Berggren applied to a few colleges that, coincidentally, were located near racetracks. When he wasn’t accepted at those schools, he talked with Marjn “Margie” Ehmer, now professor emeritus of psychology, who suggested he apply to Tufts University. Ehmer then contacted the chairman of the Psychology Department on Berggren’s behalf. Berggren says that phone call meant a lot. When he visited the Massachusetts campus, he was not only accepted, but he ended up with a teaching fellowship. It was at Tufts, while working toward a doctorate in psychology, that Berggren began driving racecars himself and also developed his skills as a magazine writer and photographer. Berggren went on to work as a psychology professor at Emanuel College in Boston, while also writing for Stock Car Racing magazine. He loved writing for the magazine, but was very happy working as a college professor, as well. “I fell in love with the academic life,” Berggren says. When he was asked to become the editor of Stock Car Racing, he first turned down the invitation. The magazine eventually made an enticing offer that Berggren felt he couldn’t pass up: double his professor’s salary. His vision for the magazine grabbed readers, and the 62,000 circulation quickly climbed upward.
Berggren worked for Stock Car Racing for 22 years. In 1999, the same year he won the Writer of the Year award from the National Motorsport Press Association, Berggren decided to start a new magazine.
He admits that launching a magazine was a big challenge, but after months of effort, Speedway Illustrated was born. With a circulation of 140,000, the monthly magazine now has the largest readership of any magazine in its category.
Between his responsibilities at the magazine and for Fox Sports, Berggren puts in long hours at work, thanks in large measure, he says, to the work ethic he acquired at Southern. Plus, of course, he loves his job. “Nobody could put in these hours if they didn’t like what they were doing,” he says.
He often brings his dog, Indy, to work at the magazine, and his days vary widely, with much of his time devoted to writing and keeping on top of what is going on in the sport. And for those who aspire to combine their talents with their passion for racing, Berggren often offers tips in the magazine for getting those sought after “dream jobs.” Among them: work as a member of a pit crew.
His own boyhood dream of one day owning a racecar has been fulfilled 10 times over throughout the years. He still has his favorite: a 1970s sprint car. In his 25-year driving career, Berggren achieved 26 first place finishes in the sportsman division. He gave up racing competitively after a crash in Boone, Iowa, when a car he was driving vaulted a dirt bank. No one was hurt, but about 200 people scattered to avoid being injured.
Berggren says that one of his strategies in life is to find good people and connect with them. “I’m very pleased that people have stuck with me for a long time,” he says. His philosophy seems to hold true outside of his career as well. Remember that old girlfriend who brought him to Southern in the first place? They live on the shore in Ipswich, Mass., and recently celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary.
I (Lincoln) talked to Dick at New
Hampshire Motor Speedway and he tell's me the car was from 1970. He then
went on to tell me about his sedan and that those were the years. Boy,
weren't they. Thanks Dick.
I (Lincoln) talked to Dick at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and he tell's me the car was from 1970. He then went on to tell me about his sedan and that those were the years. Boy, weren't they. Thanks Dick.
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