Day At The Track

Former USTA PR man, John Pawlak, 71, dies

12:31 PM 29 Dec 2019 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
John Pawlak, harness racing
Hall of Fame Communicator John Pawlak
Mark Hall/USTA photo

Columbus, OH - According to his wife Kristine Keller-Pawlak's Facebook page, former U.S. Trotting Association Director of Publicity John Pawlak, 71, died Dec. 27, 2019, at 10:40 p.m.

"He is now with the angels and free of his pain," stated Keller-Pawlak in her Facebook post. "He fought a long and difficult battle for over six years. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends."

Former USTA President Phil Langley has fond memories of his time working together with Mr. Pawlak.

"No matter what the circumstance John was enthusiastic about life and especially harness racing," said Langley. "We spent many years together at the USTA and his writings and announcing always gave us a positive feeling about our sport. He was at his best at World Trotting Conferences no matter what the country and especially covering the World Driving Championship. He was so well thought of by the people from other countries they made him a life member. The last few years have been tough for John and Kris but whenever I talked to him, he was upbeat. Go in peace John!"

An Ohio native, Mr. Pawlak attended Bowling Green State University, where he majored in marketing while also studying broadcasting and journalism.

After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1971, Mr. Pawlak went to work for WTOL-TV, the CBS affiliate television station in Toledo, Ohio, as a reporter and photographer. In 1973, he was promoted to sports anchor on the weekends and a sports reporter during the week but was also involved in harness racing by doing freelance jobs and voice-over work for Raceway Park.

In 1978 when there were wholesale changes at his TV station, Mr. Pawlak was hired by Raceway Park and did some odd jobs until he took over the announcer's job in March 1979. During his time as announcer, he also assisted the track's publicist with promotions, advertising and public relations.

After about a year, he was named the publicist at Raceway Park and eventually traded in his announcer's microphone to focus on his publicity and marketing duties.

Mr. Pawlak joined the USTA in 1985 as the director of publicity. For his work at the USTA, he was well known for both his writing and editing as well as his broadcasting.

He was responsible for compiling and editing The Trotting & Pacing Guide, the definitive annual fact book on North American harness racing and the historical USTA Directors book. With his television background, Mr. Pawlak was the face of the USTA and led the organization into the age of online video and served as the host of the USTA's popular "Eye on Harness Racing" series.

Mr. Pawlak was ever present at many harness racing events including the Little Brown Jug, the annual USTA Board of Directors meetings, district meetings and county fairs. But he also was known world-wide for his work coordinating the biennial World Driving Championship and the World Trotting Conference.

Mr. Pawlak retired from the USTA in 2013.

After a career that spanned 35 years, Mr. Pawlak was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame in 2014.

In addition to his induction into the Hall of Fame, the multiple award-winning Mr. Pawlak won the North American Harness Publicist's Golden Pen Award in 1993, the Harness Horsemen International's 2010 Clyde Hirt Media Award and in 2011 was voted a lifetime member of the International Trotting Association, one of only 20 individuals to receive that honor in the 30-year history of that group.

From the USTA Media Department


Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: