An Offseason With An IndyCar Blogger

By Susan Phillips

Greetings from a Chattanooga hotel room where I’ve been most of this week for work. Thank God that we are less than two months away from the start of the IndyCar season. I am married to the man who usually writes here. I’ve seen him go through a lot of off-seasons both as a blogger and as a fan. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him as restless for the season to get going as he is for this one.

It’s not that he’s waiting around like a little kid for the racing to get going as much as he is to not have to struggle for topics to write about. He sometimes has trouble in the offseason coming up with new ideas to write about, but I’ve never seen him struggle like he has this offseason.

In the past, the slow offseason would make him run dry on ideas about once a month. This offseason has been different. Practically every other day this offseason, he starts worrying me to death to come up with a topic for him to write about.

I hate to tell him, but I don’t read his columns much at all during the offseason. I’m not the die-hard fan that he is or most of you are. I keep up with the season, but when it shuts down, so do I. My job keeps me very busy with travel and what not. I rarely have time to do anything for myself during the week. I’m sure not going to spend what few moments I have for myself to read about a dormant sport, not even if it’s my husband writing it. I’ll wait until March to pick it back up again.

George enjoys this site. Let me rephrase that. He loves it. He really does. But I also know he agonizes over it, more than he’ll ever admit. He spends a lot more time agonizing over a topic than he does actually writing it. Some people probably think it’s silly that he would worry so much over something that he gets no money for doing. Those that question that, obvuiously don’t know him. It’s a combination of part extreme pride in his work and part neurosis. I’ve always been amazed how quickly he cranks out an article. If it isn’t a Monday morning immediately following a race, he usually spends about an hour writing it. He does no outline or anything to prepare. Once he gets a topic in his head, he just sits at the keyboard and starts pounding away. And I literally mean pounding! Never have I heard anyone strike the keys as hard as he does. And if he’s mad about something, you’ll think he’s going to break the keyboard.

Race wrap-ups take longer. He jots down a few notes during the race. He’ll generally go to his computer around 7:00 on a Sunday night and won’t come out until almost 10:00. That works for me because I can generally watch what I want to watch for Sunday night TV during the season.

I enjoy helping him and occasionally giving readers not only the female perspective, but the view from a more casual fan that didn’t grow up with the sport like he did or many of you. I especially enjoy being his unofficial photographer at races and writing about my experiences at them too.

But it’s this time of year when there is so little news that he always struggles, but never like he has this offseason. I wish he would agonize more over what to get me for Christmas or Valentine’s as much as he does on what to write. He worries me for ideas. I know he hopes an idea will come to him listening to Trackside each week. He calls friends and relatives occasionally when he’s running dry. Until he gets a topic in his head for the next article, he can be tough to live with. He doesn’t get cranky or surly, he just gets focused strictly on what to write about and he’ll irritate the crap out of me until the light bulb goes off in his head. Then a couple of days later, it all starts over again.

When big news breaks or he gets an idea a few days in advance, it is a huge blessing in our house. His anxiety level is down and things are calm for a few days. We don’t have this problem during the season. He’s either writing about the race that just happened, the race coming up or the latest controversy. Life is more pleasant when he has things to write about.

I know the day will come when he gives this site up. He talks about it every offseason and swears that each season will be his last. He came real close to throwing in the towel this past fall when some jerk took cheap shots at him from their own blog for no apparent reason. He tried to put on a tough front, but I know deep down it really bothered him. I’ll take a little bit of credit for talking him out of quitting. When I said you’ll be playing right into his hands, that seemed to turn him around. He does have pretty thick skin, but he’s more vulnerable than he’d like to let on. But when this time of year rolls around when we get close to the next season, he always seems renewed and looks forward to the upcoming season and says he’ll give it at least one more year. That’s where we are now. Now that Christmas is behind us, he seems very excited about this season and especially with this year’s Indy 500 being the 100th.

Honestly I think it will drive him (and me) crazy whenever the day comes that he does finally give up this site. I also think he knows that. Knowing George as I do, he would never say he’s quitting, then come back and then quit again. Once he’s done, he’ll be done. And I think that finality scares him to death. To him, it’s easier to keep writing three times a week and stay on top of things than it would be to quit and wonder if he stopped too soon and then deeply regret it. Although he frets over topics, he doesn’t really speak about quitting very much but I know it has been on his mind.

George obviously knows I’m writing an article for today, but doesn’t yet know what it’s about. He’ll always read it before loading it up but he has never asked me to change anything other than typos. I’m sure George won’t censor this one either.

But I thought his readers would like to know (a) how much self-inflicted pressure he feels as he worries over topics and (b) how his mind works as he thinks about his eventual exit from here one day.

On one hand, I’d like to have my husband back on many of those nights he is in there typing away and not deal with those times when his ideas have run dry; but I’m afraid that whenever that day comes, he’ll be so full of regret and second-guessing that he’ll be unbearable to live with for a long time.

So long as George can keep a pipeline of fresh topics going at a steady pace, I think he’ll keep doing this for a little while longer.

16 Responses to “An Offseason With An IndyCar Blogger”

  1. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Mostly, for the very reasons you mention – the urge to have the repetitive frequency of posts, I think is why we readers come here so much. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we’ll have some new Indycar thing to celebrate or kvetch over or discuss.

    I initially started my own blog (not Grounded Effects) as a pure exercise in the practice of writing. Often my subjects would turn to Indycar related bits and at a time when the first generation of Indycar bloggers were well-established, I began.

    It wasn’t long before feeling the same need to produce content, even though I had no desire to monetize the thing. All the stress and worry for none of the money? Soon I realized that I really only wanted to write when the spirit moved me to.

    I applaud George and his tenacious desire to blog about Indycar because we can gather around the Indycar campfire and comment, but I know it comes at a price as well.

    I’ll say this: I’ll be sad to ever see it go, but I know when you do make that decision, it will be for the right reasons.

    Thanks to Susan for being so candid. It is a great reminder that there are humans behind each blog and it gives us better insight as readers. Thanks also for your posts and viewpoints – they’re always additive and I would be happy to hear more from you as well.

    Whenever the spirit moves.

  2. There is no reason that he can’t limit posts in the off season to once or twice a week. I hope he might consider that at some point rather than not blogging at all.

    If he is like me, he enjoys hearing from other Indycar fans. Unfortunately these days there are not as many of us. He’s lucky he has John nearby!

    • Absolutely 100% agreement here. This is supposed to be a fun hobby but it’s not fun or a hobby if you’re getting stressed.Chill out, cut back. We can take it. Blog when the mood comes over you ……. not like a 3 day a week job.

      We need you. Yeah, really. Too many others have fallen by the wayside and you’re damn near last man standing.

      Thanks Susan. Help him to wind it back a bit and to have fun.

  3. I would concur with Bob F. No need for 3 posts a week in the off season. Regardless, I always enjoy the content.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    See, this is why we need a longer Indycar season…

    Really though, I think this blog’s finest moments come during the offseason. George’s ability to find topics and expand on them during this time of inactivity is as good as anyone’s. That he does it so regularly without an extensive network of industry contacts (Pruett), soliciting angry letters (Miller), major media backing (Cavin, Oreovicz, DiZinno), or any type of financial compensation (all of those writers) is remarkable. That he produces as much content as he does without being incredibly repetitive or shilling a single-minded agenda (like some blogs I won’t name) is also remarkable.

    While I know it must come eventually, I dread the day this site shuts down. Most of the Indycar blogs I started following when I first got into following such things are gone, and there seem to be far fewer new sites stepping in to replace them. Oilpressure was one of the best when I began reading and remains one of the best now. Thanks Susan and, especially, thanks George for all of your hard work.

    • Brian McKay Says:

      This is the ‘comment of the day,’ well-written and agreeable on every point. ‘I couldn’t have said it better.’
      Thanks for blogging, George and Susan.

  5. It must be so tough this time of year to not only think of topics, but get excited in the dead of winter. There hasn’t been a lot of buzz amongst the series either and that is a result of a overall lack of sponsorship which ultimately translates to lack of funds resulting to not much news. Bottom line is winter sucks. I am personally excited about the engine tweaks and Aerokit development which is exciting on what will now be a 5 year old chassis.

  6. If George wanted to take a break when there’s not much news to talk about, I think we would all understand. And we truly appreciate all the work and time he puts into his writing. I often wonder how he does it. I hope to meet you guys in May.

  7. I miss the spark of generating content and that is on a WEEKL basis, not three times per week! I was honored that George asked me to write a guest blog and I still have lost the love from such a long off season.

    George is now recognized as the Dean of the Blog (ask Cavin and Kevin!) and obviously is a recognizable name by anyone that seriously follows the sport. Take a breather, keep pounding keys with machine gun frequency and give it up when one feels like it. Total respect for both of you folks and I remain delighted that you and George found each other in life. That is what really matters….the rest of the speed stuff is just icing!

  8. Thanks Susan for sharing your perspective. I have often marveled at how much knowledge and content George shares with us each week. Finding this site was a blessing and I have enjoyed reading and commenting. I have thought about starting something of my own, but am totally intimidated about the time commitment and the fact I want something of quality and won’t settle for less. So, I will revel in what both of you gift us. Maybe when I retire…

  9. Mark Wick Says:

    I got hooked on the INdy 500 when I listened to the 1959 race with my dad. Sid Collins called the race. Dad took me to my first race in 1963. A few years later I started high school, took a journalism course, and began my career as a sports writer, then editor of my high school paper.
    I covered my first 500 in 1972 and covered every race through 1995.
    Then, I was burned out on racing and I was done. I was also at the end of my journalism career.
    In 2001 I got that “itch” again and covered three more 500s. i was done again.
    A few years later I just missed the Month of May too much and spent three years as part of the IMS Safety Patrol.
    Then I really was done.
    I have been back for two or three 500s.
    I won’t be back again.
    I still follow Indycar and the 500 closely.
    I know what a grind this can be for George. While I wasn’t well paid, I was paid.
    I got to do something I loved and combine it with something a loved for many years. I got to mingle with the drivers and others who had been my heroes. Over the years I was able to meet and cover an amazing variety of people in racing, and who came to races.
    For the last number of years George has been my main link to Indycar and reading these block have been a staple of my weakly routine.

    George Oil Pressure Phillips is as much a part of my unique memories and people from all those year of journalism and Indycar racing as the Andrettis, AJ. Foyt, Jim Hurtubise, Mike Hiss, Andy Granatelli, Tom Bigelow, Tom Binford, and many, many more.

    I understand where George is and how difficult it will be to walk away and stay away.

    While it will be an end, it will also be a beginning.

    Thanks George.

    I am looking forward to at least one more year from you.

  10. Susan, Thanks for your contribution to George’s blog. It gives us more of an insight to his dedication and hard work. I think burnout is the fear. Perhaps once a week would be enough, quality not quantity. I enjoy this sight and would hate to see him walk away. In the month of May I would understand many posts but the rest of the year one would suffice. He found a special woman to be his wife! And to be married at the Speedway! Wow!!

  11. It’s always a pleasure to read George’s writing. I may not always agree with his take on things, but the content is always generated fro an adult perspective.

    When you see the embarrassing output from some sights, particularly like the “Disciple of IndyCar” blog, it makes me appreciate Georges, and your efforts much more.

  12. I’m coming to the table late here on Sunday night so I’ll be brief.
    The time and energy that George and Susan put into this column results in a read that is more often than not very entertaining, interesting, and thought provoking. So much so that doing it once weekly during the off season would benefit the authors and still provide plenty of content for all of us open wheel junkies to ruminate, cogitate, and contemplate over. Hell Curt Cavin takes breaks and he gets paid.

  13. Randy Holbrook Says:

    Thank you Susan for helping to get us at least one more year of Oil Pressure. I have always enjoyed George’s blog even though I am more of a lurker and seldom comment, I always get around to reading everything on this site. He does an awesome job of entertaining us. I’m sure he would never do it but maybe you could add a “Donate” button so some of us could at least buy him an occasional e-beer or an e-coffee?

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