Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Remembering the Social Media Garage

Time marches on.

Am I telling you something you already know? Of course I am, but every once in a while memories pop up in your mind that really reminds you of that fact.

For me, it was when the calendar turned to May and I remembered it has been 10 years since I participated in the Social Media Garage at IMS. And, as a side note, it's been five years since I was part of Buddy Lazier's team for the 2017 Indy 500.

Side note #2: I'm still a free agent for this year's race and if anyone wants any kind of help hit me up as I'd love to work for you. Insider secret from that month: Buddy had a personal PR guy who got him one placement in USA Today then spent the rest of the month with another driver, meanwhile I was busting my butt for the team, doing everything asked of me while putting out tweets and getting a great story placement with Gregg Doyel the day before the race.

Here's that piece. (Hope you can read it) It's a great story, and reading it again reminded me how much fun being with that team was. 

Editor's note: This photo was taken at 5 a.m. the day of the 2017 Indy 500. 

That's what I do. I'm good at it, and also frustrated as hell because I worry I'll never get another chance.

But anyway, it was that experience in 2012 that really gave me the bug to wanting to work in racing. It was a pretty sweet setup, the SMG was actually one of the F1 garages and we had everything in there, two TVs with a live feed on one and speed chart on another, chairs and couches to sit in and hang out, hard-wired internet, and silver (otherwise known as cart blanche) badges.

It was incredible, and I spent Fast Friday and qualifying weekend running around like a kid in a candy store. While I provided updates on what was going on with the cars on track, I also made it a goal to show how accessible the IndyCar paddock is by trying to get my photo taken with as many people as possible.

Let's just say it was a rousing success. If you feel like reliving 2012, here are a few links:

It was such a great experience, made even better by the new friends I made, like Eric Hall, Mark Wilkinson, Zach Houghton and Pippa Mann. Overall I thought the SMG was a rousing success, but sadly it's not a thing anymore. Which is sad, because given how big of a reach social media has today, it would be incredible to get some influencers in the same room for a weekend and just absolutely kill it.

Then again, it would involve thinking outside of I-465 and that just can't happen.

But it is crazy to think about what 10 years has done. Back then, bloggers and social media people were really a welcomed part of the IndyCar family. I could get credentials for almost any race (context here: I still can for a couple but nothing is guaranteed) and I remember Trackside holding a "blogger night" where we could come on the air and talk about a subject that interested us.

Mine was how we were entering a "Golden Age" of the sport -- which I still believe -- and that we should be looking forward to some of the younger guys in the sport and what they were going to bring to the table in the future. Of course, with little to no on-air experience at the time I talked at a hundred miles an hour and I don't know if many people understood what I was saying, but it was still a fun experience.

Since those days, a lot of my fellow bloggers from those have packed it up. I get it, the hardest part of doing this is that you really never know how many people actually read it, it takes a lot of time (by the time I finish this post I will have invested almost four hours into it), and you rarely, if ever, get feedback. Plus, I fight impostor syndrome all. the. time. I can't tell you the number of posts I've written and deleted just because I didn't think they were any good. Some days I just don't know if I'm interesting.

And, we all did it for free. People's lives change, and when it's time to sort things out, stuff like this is usually the first to go. I mean, I do this because I'm a writer, I write for a living -- and have done so for 22 years -- and now that I'm not a sportswriter it's a chance to share my passion of the sport and keep the rust on my sportswriting skills from building up. 

I will admit, that if I could start all over again I think I would be a little more critical of things that have gone on in the series. I haven't done enough of that, I had my reasons and that falls on me for not being as authentic as I should. 

I definitely miss those days, being part of a group of people who loved blogging about their thoughts on IndyCar and the Indy 500. Of course, times have changed, and so have the attitudes of most of the fanbase. Not saying that is a bad thing, it's just the evolution of how information is disseminated. 

Most people enjoy videos and podcasts now, and that's all good. I love podcasting as well, which is why I've also delved into those mediums over the last couple of years. Podcasts are great because you can hit play and listen whenever, wherever. I certainly don't want you trying to read this while you are driving, but you can listen to a podcast. It's a great medium.

I still think there is an audience for blogging, and with the lack of media coverage IndyCar gets, I wish they still embraced it. You'd think for a series that is still struggling to reach audiences would be, but it's definitely gone in the exact opposite direction. And that sucks. It's hard to understand, because we are willing to promote the series any way we can, and like I said, we don't ask for much in return. If I owned a business I would be utilizing every medium I could to promote said business.

Times change, I guess. I'm still here, and will be for a long time. Many times over the 11 1/2 years I've been on this little blog, I've tried to walk away. I've hovered my mouse pointer over the "Delete Blog" button on more than one occasion.

But despite everything, I'm proud of this blog. I've invested more than a decade into it, and I just can't walk away from it. Because I believe in writing and I believe people still like to read good content.

Not to mention, I have such a love and passion for racing, and this blog is a big outlet for me to talk about it. 

So that means I'm going to stick around a little longer, and hopefully we're still talking in another 10 years. Whadda you say?

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