Hello. Welcome. Come on in and have a seat by the fire. How 'bout a beverage? DRINK, ye BASTARDS? How 'bout a Fresca?
Got a few things I want to discuss with my homeys. My close personal friends who visit this site. Feel free to get up and leave at any point. I won't be offended.
I found out yesterday that one of my Twitter peeps thought I was "not being nice to" him/her. I was distressed. I wasn't trying to be an ass hat to this person or anyone else, but there it is. So I got to thinking .. I took to pondering it ... and I've been moody. Churlish. Ill-tempered. It's spilled out into my non-racing life. So why? Catharsis time ..
The Dark Side of Twitter is 1) it's the Bitch Channel and 2) many people (including me) indulge in self aggrandizement and pomposity in varying degrees and frequencies. I guess Twitter is a better outlet for people who are pissed than some others. Better to tweet "This Starbuck's line is so slooowww" or rage against the airline than bottling it up until you bust out an AK-47 and work your way up to the front of the Starbuck's line. But seriously, the first-world bitching (no signal for my iPad!!) ... it can harsh ya.
On the self-aggrandizing front, there's the grubbing for Twitter followers. Help me get to 1000 by May 7! People my age (48) can remember in January 1987 when famous televangelist Oral Roberts announced to a television audience that he was going to lock himself in his prayer tower and unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would "call him home." Oral raised $9+ million and he wasn't "called home," thank God (literally). Little did Oral know he was the forerunner of Twitter follower grubbing. If I don't get to 6,000 by January, I'm going to be CALLED HOME!! Please RETWEET!
Oh, I've done it. I've grubbed for followers. None are blameless. And I can't prevent myself from checking my follower count (4529 as of this morning) now and then and congratulate myself on my extreme value to society! I'm twice as valued as this other guy here! Because everyone knows, the more Twitter followers you have, the more value you have to society. That is clear. Or at least that's how many people govern themselves. (That was sarcasm. That is not clear, let alone true.)
On the other hand, having 4529 getting your tweets freaks a guy out. What if I piss them off? What if I fill their timeline with USELESS RUBBISH? What if my follower count falls to 4510? WILL I BE ABLE TO GO ON? Then add in the pressure to entertain. I gotta be amusing or these 4529 will LEAVE ME. It makes you mental. Best question is often overlooked -- why do I care? I shouldn't care. Twitter is about following who you want to, unfollowing, refollowing. Virtually never personal. If 4529 follow you or 45, it means virtually nothing in the real world. So I need to get over it.
Related to the Twitter is this festival of self aggrandizement that, again, we all slip into now and then. Us bloggers are the worst offenders, sadly. If a famous person tweets to us, well, we have to retweet that IMMEDIATELY (multiple times) so that the world knows that we've been tweeted by a famous person, while the rest of us SEETHE with jealousy and redouble our efforts to get another famous person to respond to our tweets so we can RT that! We're the shit!
Blogger Blah Blah -- I'm not sure what it is with us bloggers. There's a bit of an ego thing in having a blog. There's a bit of an ego thing in being a newspaper reporter. This I know from my nine years in service. Seeing your byline on top of a scoop is right there next to sex. Any reporter who says he or she would be fine if his or her giant scoop was printed without his or her byline is a liar.
I think there is some kind of spillover to blogging. Part of the reason we do blogs is this somewhat arrogant assumption that people out there care what we think. So when we get some kind of great content, like, I don't know, my recent interview with Danica (just as a random example not included to make you think I'm the shit!), we tend to self retweet that over and over. In case you missed it, I had 20 minutes with Danica! I am the shit!! In case you missed it, here's what Danica said about payback on the track (link)! I'm so wired.
Bring me a mirror, because I'm looking for assholish behavior!
I think I need to step away from the Twitter and spend some time with my wife and daughters who will humble my ass in a hurry.
Duration of Effort -- My advice to new bloggers is always the same: do your thing and don't worry about what other people do. Just do your thing, man. If your thing is pig-Latin, do that. Whatever. My thing is race notes, Women of pressdog®, advocating for fans and offering my (not always wise) opinions on racing. Find a thing and do it for as long as you enjoy it. If it gets to be a chore, stop doing it. The biggest challenge, by far, to having a blog is keeping it up. Everyone reading this (all seven of ya) have at least three good blog posts in ya. After that it gets difficult to maintain.
If I'm "proud" of anything, it's that pressdog.com has been going since 2005. Not so much the quality, which always varies and is always debatable, but the durability of this site. That's 2308 posts, 10,418 comments, 1,219,356 page views, 665,919 unique visitors (since Dec. 2006). Big numbers, but that's SEVEN YEARS of posting. It's not like I popped up last week and BAM had a million page views. Seven years of doing my thing.
But here's the thing ... if you're looking to be a celebrity and make tons of cash, blogging about IndyCar won't get you there. It's fun and everything, but there's just not a big enough fan base to make money off it. If you can break even, maybe finance a few trips to races and have your blog get you a media center pass, consider yourself most exceedingly fortunate. You will not be quitting your day job.
One of the reasons I chose to blog about IndyCar (rather than NASCAR or NFL or whatever) was because I was into the sport AND I could get access. This is not meant to be a slight in anyway, but the fact that IndyCar has fewer fans means the competition for access to IndyCar is less than other big league sports. It's supply and demand at work. That opens the door for bloggers. IndyCar has always been great about giving bloggers access, even back when it was just me (circa 2006). It's all relative and we're never going to be treated like Associated Press (nor should we be), but the tracks let us in the media center, the league lets us in on teleconferences. No blogger should complain about access in IndyCar (and yet some still do).
My 450 unique visitors a day just don't warrant the same treatment as USA Today. I get that and have no problem with it. I'm thanful for everything Amy Konrath and Arni Sribhen and the rest of the IndyCar PR posse do for me (us) even if I do crank on the league now and then. I try to keep it fair, cranking and praising when warranted. Of course you can't be Bozo the Clown with a blog that's five days old and be a ya-ya who is just there for the media center buffet and to get driver autographs and expect to be in the front row at IMS. You have to build your site and build your rep as someone who's not just there for him or herself. But let's let Amy and the crew decide who gets in and who doesn't, OK? Tip: When you start thinking your blog is better and more entitled than than this or that other blog, you're becoming an asshole.
I only run this blog because I enjoy it, and that's all I expect out of it: enjoyment. Fame, cash, groupies .. no. Ludicrous. Not going to happen. If you think you're the Walter Effing Cronkite of IndyCar 'cause you got a blog, you annoy me. Just being up front. And if you act like blogging is a Death Match of Competition, you annoy me as well. I've been annoyed a lot lately.
Road to Indy -- The Mazda Road to Indy is too short. As in races being too short. Too short of track time. I'm new to paying attention to USF2000 and Star Mazda, but so far I'm not real impressed with the tiny race windows they have.
Thirty minutes for USF2000 is not enough. Schlep all your stuff to St. Pete for a couple short practices and a couple short races? If someone puts it sideways in turn 1, there goes a third of your race time. Really? Seems like pooling your USF2000 entry fees and renting a track somewhere would do more to develop drivers.If I was a USF2000 competitor, I know how I'd attack. Double the track time for the same entry fee. BOOM.
I'm sure this will be read as a "harsh attack" on USF2000, but it's not. It's an opinion on the duration of their races, that being they are too short. Certainly USF2000 is at liberty to ignore my feedback. I tried to make these comments during the USF2000 online chat deal on their site and got my comments deleted by the moderator.
Better move from the moderator would have been to tell me the appropriate channel for my feedback rather than just nuking my chat posts and saying "you're not going to use our site to criticize our organization" (I'm paraphrasing). That doesn't really encourage positive feedback -- and kind of pisses a guy off who is trying to help.
Star Mazda seems a bit better, I think the windows are 45 minutes, but still, that's not a lot of laps. I assume the counter argument is by keeping sessions and races short that helps drivers build skills a little at a time and keeps costs down. Fair. But it doesn't do a lot to build a fan base, in my opinion (obviously, since this is my blog). Fans aren't going to get invested in racing that features eight laps of green (unless like sprint cars there are about 10 of said races in a row).
I give credit to Star Mazda and USF2000 for having timing and scoring pages that work well. USF2000 even has an announcer who does a good job.
So I was a bit harshed lately by the tiny track time for USF2000 drivers I follow: Shannon McIntosh and Collete Davis. At least Ashley Freiberg, Ziggy Veach and the rest of Star Mazda got to run at Barber. Perhaps I will get used to it. Perhaps tiny races will lose the competition for my attention. I guess we'll see.
Women of pressdog® (wopd for short) -- I know some people think it is driven by a lecherous desire to have sex with female race car drivers. That harshes me constantly. But overall I'm enjoying the whole Women of pressdog deal. No, I don't want to have sex with these women, many of whom are my daughter's age, if not younger. (As wopd Shannon McIntosh would tweet "#seck".) It is possible for a man to cheer for/admire a female athlete without wanting to have sex with her.
Physical appearance is NOT a criteria for being a Woman of pressdog. The criteria are: open-wheel racing connection, female (duh), strong and independent spirit, sense of humor, fan engagement -- all based on my highly subjective opinion. Shea Holbrook has no open-wheel racing experience, but I waved it because she's so strong in the other areas. Cameron Haven is just the trophy girl, but her combination of super hottness and a 3.9 GPA brain along with being very articulate got her the club shirt. It's that kind of interesting schwerve that I'm hip to.
Being a Woman of pressdog is soooo not a big deal it's scary. It only takes doing a one-on-one interview with me and your IN. But it has been fun to learn about these women and watch them race/perform. These women -- drivers and non-drivers -- are delightfully unpretentious (yet confident) and very appreciative of how fortunate they really are well. Yeah, including Danica, who is not the egotistical bitch that she's thought to be by so many -- who have never met her. She just isn't. Definitely no more so than any other driver, and much less than many. She's a shrewd business woman who takes advantage of her opportunities.That's an admirable American quality in my book (and on my blog).
TV ratings -- I am so harshed by TV ratings. Actually, after five years of carrying about TV ratings I've reached a pretty good place ... I no longer care. Well, that's not exactly right. I care in the sense that I hope they improve, but I don't care to opine or worry or emote heavily about how to improve them. I am well on record there. Simply -- put customers above EVERYTHING in IndyCar, including sponsors, teams, drivers, IMS itself, everything. Focus on customers (fans) and kiss their asses. If that takes Dario parking cars at IMS for fans, get him out there. Make IndyCar the most fan-focused and friendly sport in the world. Fans are sick of being taken for granted by prima dona, zillion-dollars-a-year athletes and owners. There's a big opening for a sport that really really gives a shit about the average fan, just kills themselves to serve them. That's been my whine since 2005, so there's no more need to re-state it (even though I just did).
I do appreciate that we know the ratings. Knowing is better than speculating. But I'm taking an "is what it is" approach these days.
You know what? I feel better. Thanks for listening. I appreciate the five readers who have stuck with me to the end. This is one of those posts that's not about traffic, but more about having gotten it off my chest. Time to walk the dog.
Shit, my twitter followers were down to 4528 by the end of this. Lost one. I MUST SUCK.