A few years ago, at a media gathering at Pomona, Calif., John Force was regaling everyone with a story about misplacing one of his championship rings.
He had stopped at a fast-food restaurant for some breakfast and a cup of coffee. After leaving there, he happened to look down at his hand and saw the precious ring was missing from his finger. And that sent him into a tizzy.
He sped back to the restaurant and frantically told the workers there what had happened, and together they tore through bags of garbage looking for the bling. Finally, Force stopped to think for a minute and trace his steps of that morning. He looked in the newspaper box from which he had bought the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin to read as he enjoyed breakfast. And there sat the Funny Car champion’s dazzling ring – right on top of the stack of remaining newspapers, a good hour after he had bought his own copy.
“And that,” Force said to Daily Bulletin sports editor / writer Louis Brewster in the audience, “is proof that nobody reads your s—!”
Of course, Force was joking, for everybody in the racing industry and fans alike read every word Louis Brewster wrote. Brewster was the dean of Southern California motorsports writers and the longtime sports editor and columnist before his recent retirement. He was a gifted wordsmith and a relentless journalist who had absolutely no fear of ruffling feathers whenever he thought that was necessary. That was his job, to tell the truth and not worry about not being buddies with people if they disagreed or became defensive at what he wrote.
But the funny thing is no matter what he wrote that might have perturbed people, everybody still loved him.
Louis Brewster had that kind of charisma, that kind of charm. He rather enjoyed poking the bear, but he also enjoyed the bear. He knew he had an obligation to the truth, and he served it unapologetically. But he also knew it was part of the give-and-take in the industry and approached every day at the racetrack and at the office with a playfulness and genuine caring about others.
And the industry is far worse off with news Monday that Brewster passed away at a Victorville, Calif., hospital after battling health issues for the past several years. When Competition Plus receives details about memorial services, we will share them.
Brewster is survived by wife Linda, son Scott, and grandson Louis Bryan Brewster.
His and wife Linda’s world was rocked in May 2006 with the news their son, U.S. Army Sgt. Bryan Brewster, had perished in a helicopter crash while on a mission during Operation Enduring Freedom – just five days after his 24th birthday. Louis and Linda Brewster began the Bryan Brewster Foundation, and among the beneficiaries were soldiers stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and their families. The Brewsters conducted a collection drive for the “United Through Reading” program that’s designed to ease some of the stress of separation for military families. The American soldier was able to choose a book from the donations, then read it aloud as he/she was filmed on a DVD. The soldier sent that DVD home, along with the book. The child at home could watch the DVD and read along. The parent/guardian/adult at home was able to capture the reaction via DVD or photos and send that back to the war zone.
So the Brewster legacy will go on, as the following tributes attest:
“Louis Brewster was a one of a kind. I didn’t have near as many years’ experience as he did, but he had a way of making those around him confident in their abilities. From my experience, he always made it a point to reassure me that was I was doing was making a difference in this drag-racing world.
“Louis was a staple in our press room landscape, especially in Pomona. His corner spot as you walked in the deadline-media room was a destination for many, including nearly all PR people, and fellow journalists. I don’t know how he ever had time to file any stories, since most of his day was commandeered by nearly all of us in the press room hanging out at his spot, the favorite place to goof off during the event.
“I will always miss Louie. His artistic way to stick it to ‘the man,’ is the stuff legends are made of. In our business, Louie was and will forever be a legend in my eyes.” – Bobby Bennett, Publisher/Editor, Competition Plus
“In 2000, Louie and I attended the Winston No Bull Showdown at Bristol, Tenn. We already were great pals, and we shared a rental car. We visited nearby Kingsport, Tenn., and I was driving. For those who might not know, Bristol straddles the Tennessee-Virginia line, and I was driving. The road we took back to Bristol Dragway snaked back and forth across the state border. We repeatedly passed signs that alternated reading, ‘Welcome to Virginia’ and ‘Welcome to Tennessee.’ The rest of that day, Louie delighted in telling everyone in the media center, ‘I hadn’t been to Virginia in 20 years, but she was driving and I’ve been to Virginia five times in one day!’ Along the way from Kingsport to Bristol, we stopped at a general store for some item, and it had a room specifically set aside for people to sit and scratch lottery tickets. Above that doorway was a sign that called it ‘The Scratching Room.’ Louie asked the clerk, ‘That ‘Scratching Room’ – Is that for baseball players?’ And like usual, he had that twinkle in his eye. That was the mind of silly fun we had. But he always was generous with compliments and encouragement – and wisdom as we navigated the unique landscape that drag racing writing can be.”– Susan Wade, Competition Plus Sr. Editor
“Reeling this morning after hearing about the passing of long time Daily Bulletin sports and motorsports writer Louis Brewster this morning. Louis helped mold me into the photojournalist I am today. His ethical standards and his personality were second to none. But most of all he was a great friend and mentor who I will miss dearly. RIP, my friend, for now you are with your son Bryan. Keep his wife Linda and son Scott in your prayers.” – Will Lester, photographer and two-time recipient of prestigious Catlin Award
“I was very fortunate to not only work with Louis but also had the great fortune to call him a friend. He was one of the most welcoming and helpful people I had the opportunity to work with both when I was with ESPN and NHRA. He was dedicated, hardworking, and extremely passionate about his work. His customary seat in the Pomona media center will never be filled by anyone like him.” – Scott R. Smith, former ESPN producer and NHRA media director
“I’m heartbroken. Louie was an inspiration. I first met him in the early 1990s on the high school sports beat. He was very helpful to a young cub reporter. A few years later when I got the NHRA beat, he was again helping me out, showing me the ropes at my first race and like I said, an inspiration so much so that I would go on to win the NHRA Media award, like him. This is such a loss, because when I started covering races in 1993, they were two mainstays in the Pomona Media Center – the late Shav Glick of the L. A. Times and Louie. He was a colleague and friend. He will be missed.” – Steve Ramirez, San Gabriel Valley Tribune sportswriter
“So sorry to hear that. Besides being a hell of a writer, we were pretty good buddies, too. Going to miss him.” – Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, legendary NHRA racer and team owner
“There were few greater champions of motorsports in American media than Louie Brewster. He beautifully told the stories of big-time and ‘little guy’ competitors in ALL forms of racing with equal passion and aplomb. Louie lived by the journalist’s creed: Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. But even more importantly, he was a hell of a good guy. Our loss is heaven’s gain. Godspeed, Louie.” – Paul Kelly, senior manager of communications at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
“I’m pretty sure I met Louie the year that California Speedway opened – he had come to Charlotte to join us on the NASCAR media tour, and I’m pretty sure Steve Earwood had told him to look me up. We hit it off immediately, which I’m sure was the case with everyone who met him. He was such big fun! We’d kept in touch by email in recent years, and he’ll be greatly missed by all who knew him.” – Thomas Pope, sports editor – The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
“Great man. Thoughts and prayers. He will be missed.” – Don Schumacher, NHRA team owner
“Louis Brewster has been a mainstay at NHRA events decades. His depth and breadth of NHRA coverage helped to make the sport of drag racing what it is today. The drag-racing community will miss him, and our deepest sympathies are with his family during this difficult time.” – Glen Cromwell, NHRA president
“When I first got started, Steve Earwood suggested I call Louie. If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have been discouraged and maybe gone and done something else, because it was hard to get a credential. He got me off the ground and published my stuff in his newspaper. My day job was I worked at UPS. And when he lived in Fontana, Louie would get my credentials and leave them in his mailbox for me to pick up on my way home. He paved my way. Little did I know he’d become one of my very good friends. We were friends from Day One. He watched my kids grow up. He was a dear friend to my wife, Karen, and to my family. He’d come over to the house for dinner or just for no reason in particular. He was a lot of laughs, really witty. And he was kind, always cared what you were thinking. He was a gem. There’s a hole in our hearts and a void in our lives.” – Gary Nastase, award-winning drag-racing photographer
We are in mourning today, upon hearing the passing of So-Cal racing reporter Louis Brewster. We found this article penned by Louis, for our Memorial Day tributes back in 2015. Louis honored his son Bryan & fellow warriors in this piece. #RememberingLouis – https://t.co/uTnWrzO2KX pic.twitter.com/1b8WuLPY2N
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) November 26, 2019