I wanted to take a few minutes and create a post to clear what I believe is some confusion regarding my recent coverage of NASCAR events, my podcast and my website, www.TheSuperSpeedway.com.
In talking to some people and in hearing comments from others, I think there is some misunderstanding as to what I am actually doing, and whether what I am doing has anything to do with my position at Sunrise Printing and Publishing and the Ogemaw County Herald. I strive to be an ethical journalist, so I felt it necessary to disclose how this all works.
My coverage of NASCAR has nothing to do with my position at Sunrise. I am not using my status as a reporter there to gain access to these events. I do not even mention Sunrise when I request credentials. Sunrise is not paying me to attend and/or cover these events, and I am not receiving any travel pay or anything like that from Sunrise to cover these events.
Here is the story on how this all came about:
Last year, my friend James Kuch and I decided to start a NASCAR podcast. For several years prior, we had been attending the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. It’s about a six-hour drive to get there, and we would talk NASCAR all the way there and all the way back. Both of us have a major interest in the sport and strong opinions regarding it. We always said it would be fun to do a podcast, as our trips were essentially six-hour podcasts that we didn’t record.
So last February we finally pulled the trigger. There were a few other NASCAR podcasts that had started and we kind of figured if they could do it, why couldn’t we? So we started up a couple weeks after last year’s Daytona 500, and have basically been doing it weekly for the last 67 weeks now. In addition, I launched a website that we actually had been working on for a couple of years prior, to support the podcast, to give us a place to host it.
In the meantime, we started generating some additional content here and there for the site.
Two years ago, James was unable to go to Eldora for the truck race, so my wife, Kay, went in his place. Last year, he was unable to go again, and Kay couldn’t take the time off work, so I decided to go by myself. A few weeks before the race, I decided on a whim, we have this podcast and website, maybe I could get credentials for the race. I was already going alone, I wouldn’t be ditching anyone, why not try? I assumed I would get shot down.
To my surprise, they approved me! I still had my ticket, and I wasn’t sure whether I was actually going to work the race or whether I was going to use my seat for the actual race. I went down there and had a blast doing it. In the meantime, I thought, why not try to get credentials for the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway? Now we’re talking the big show, the Cup Series. Surely they weren’t going to approve me for those.
But they did! James and I were both approved for credentials and went to last year’s races at MIS as members of the media. During both the Eldora race and the Michigan race, I worked my butt off. I spent many hours writing stories and posting them to the website, taking photos, tweeting, trying to build a following. I even got to ask Matt Crafton, the winner of the truck race at Eldora, as well as Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson, winners at MIS, questions during the press conference.
After covering Michigan, James and I had the chance to chat with and meet Brad Kuhbander, who is the head of media relations for Michigan International Speedway. We explained to him what we were trying to do, that we were trying to break into this field, and he gave us some advice. He has also helped me out as far as getting credentials at other facilities.
This year, I decided to try to make it to a few more races. Mind you, I am not getting paid to do any of this. I work during the summer at Tri City Motor Speedway on Friday nights as the race director. The money I earn there is essentially supplementing the hotel and travel costs associated with covering these races. Everything is out of pocket. We do not have any sponsors, and no company is paying us to do this. We’re doing it because it’s fun. I’m doing it because I love NASCAR, I have always wanted to work in NASCAR in some capacity, and since becoming a journalist 10 years ago it has been a dream for me to cover this sport.
That’s why I launched our Patreon page (www.patreon.com/thesuperspeedway). While I’m not going to beg people for money, everything I do with regard to NASCAR is coming out of my own pocket. My hope is that friends, family and people who begin following me as a result of my reporting see some value in what I am doing and contribute. If not, that’s fine too. So far it hasn’t gone well. I have one patron (thanks Todd!). But hopefully that will grow. If it doesn’t, it will limit what I’m able to do, and that’s fine.
Anyway, I wanted to let everyone know that I did not take any shortcuts to get to do what I am doing. Never once did I claim to be requesting credentials for the Herald to get my foot in the door. I would not do that. I have been honest in my intentions, and have gotten the opportunities I’ve had as a result of hard work and simply asking for the chance to do it. Not only that, I’m not just going to these races to mingle with the drivers, get autographs, etc. I’m working hard when I go, and right now I’m doing it for free. It’s fun to me, and I hope it brings additional opportunities along the way.
So far the folks at NASCAR and at the tracks that I’ve requested credentials at have enjoyed what I’m doing, and so I have continued to get additional opportunities. If that continues, I’ll take them. And I’ll work just as hard then as well.
So that’s my story. That’s how this all came about. I don’t want people out there thinking I’m crossing any lines or anything like that. I appreciate everything I’ve received from NASCAR, Michigan International Speedway, Eldora Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out. I’d love to answer them.