Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?

There is no question, at least in my mind, that the Verizon IndyCar Series is on a definite upswing. It is one of the few sports across the American landscape that actually showed an increase in television ratings last year. There is a new car (built around an old chassis) for 2018, car-count is up for the upcoming season and we keep hearing rumblings about a third engine manufacturer on the horizon. Couple all of that with some long-sought schedule stability and some much-needed tweaks to the rule book, and things are looking much better for the future of IndyCar than they did just a few years ago.

So why is it that the number of IndyCar bloggers has dropped to an embarrassing low? With apologies to Peter, Paul & Mary (Google it if you’re under forty); Where have all the bloggers gone?

When I started this site almost nine years ago in the spring of 2009, I couldn’t tell you how many IndyCar blog sites there were – but there were a lot. When I list them, many of you will look at the list with fond memories. I was a lot younger then, but I was still one of the oldest, if not the oldest blogger of the bunch. Now I’m considered ancient.

Most of the IndyCar blogs back then contained very witty and creative humor. I couldn’t fully relate to bloggers who were half my age, but I appreciated their humor and even got most of it. While I admired their sense of style, I knew I couldn’t pull it off trying to be like them – so I just decided to be me. That might explain why I had such a poor following at first.

But somewhere along the way – a few of the bloggers took note of the new guy that played it straight and didn’t try to be so funny, while discussing serious and not so serious issues within the IndyCar universe. Three of the most established blogs at that time, My Name is IRL (Jeff Iannucci), Pressdog (Bill Zahren) and The Silent Pagoda (Roy Hobbson) all gave me unsolicited shout-outs on their respective sites. I owe them a ton to this day, because those shout-outs jumpstarted this site.

Within a year, I had met Bill and Roy (not his real name, but he chose an alias to protect his career) at Indianapolis. To this day I have never met Jeff, but I feel like I have because we have exchanged many e-mails over the years.

As we take a trip down memory lane for the IndyCar blogosphere, you may remember some, if not all, of the more prominent blogs at that time. Aside from the three that I just mentioned, there was (in no particular order) Planet IRL, IndyCar Advocate, The Chrome Horn, The Backmarker, The Speedgeek, Pop-Off Valve, Open-Wheel America, The Race gIRL, Indy Racing Revolution, Is it May Yet?, 11 Rows of 3, JP IndyCar, …And He’s On It and …Here’s What I’m Thinking.

Most of those are now either gone or very inactive. There were some that came along after I started this site; like The Dark Tower, Paul Dalbey’s (and others) More Front Wing, IndyCar Mom, Indy Soup, Open Wheel Now are just a few, but they have all gone away or are on a very long hiatus.

There are still a few of us going. 15 Days in May, James Black’s 16th and Georgetown, Another IndyCar Blog, Grounded Effects, I Kissed the Bricks, New Track Record, No Fenders, Jeff Iannucci’s One Lap Down, Open Paddock, The Apex, The First Super Speedway, Through the Turbulence and Wide Open Wheel are still posting either regularly or sporadically enough to be considered active.

There has been one new site come on board within the last couple of years that is certainly worth checking out. Mike Silver’s The Pit Window is similar to this site, in that he doesn’t try to be a news site, but rather an opinion site. These active and even some inactive sites are listed on the blogroll on the home page of this site.

I was happy that Mike Silver started his site, but we need more like him. Paul Dalbey has hinted that he may be returning to the IndyCar blogosphere in the very near future, but we still need more.

One thing that shocked me was how friendly and helpful the IndyCar bloggers were to me when I started. I always thought they would all look at other bloggers as threats or the competition. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was like joining a community. Not only did they give me free publicity on their own sites, but they offered me a few tidbits on what and what not to do, and a lot of encouragement.

I believe I speak for most of my fellow remaining bloggers in saying we’d like to have more of us out there. Yes I picked up a lot of default traffic when some of the other sites closed down, but it’s more fun when there are more of us doing this. It’s sort of like when Honda was the sole engine provider for the series from 2006 through 2011. They wanted others to join them.

I’m not sure where the bloggers went. Did IndyCar blogging become unpopular due to the fact that the sport is somewhat of a niche sport? Is blogging a fad that has gone away across the board? My ex-wife became a food blogger not long after I started this site. She lost interest after a coupe of years.

Did the other IndyCar bloggers just lose interest? Not long after I started this site, someone told me on Twitter that no one over fifty ever needs to be an IndyCar blogger. I think it’s the opposite. When I was in my early thirties as this person was, I never would have had the time to blog. Being a parent to young kids was a fulltime job besides trying to have a career. Now that those parenting years are behind me, I have the time to write at night.

Not that I’m the end-all, be-all for bloggers – but if anyone is interested in becoming an IndyCar blogger, I’ll be glad to help. Feel free to e-mail me at geophillips14@gmail.com. I can fill you in on the time commitment required. I won’t kid you, it’s sometimes work to come here three times a week and post.

Other times, it comes with very little effort. If I’m mad or excited about something, it takes no time or effort to pound out a post. That to me is the most rewarding thing. I’ll have something on my mind concerning IndyCar and I can type out my thoughts. Sometimes, people don’t respond very much (like Wednesday). Other times, people are very vocal either agreeing or arguing with what I say. But if you don’t have thick skin, you might want to stay on the sidelines.

I started this site very reluctantly, at the urging of others. Nine years later, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. So for 2018, I’m mounting a campaign to get more bloggers to join the IndyCar blogosphere. There’s never been a better time. Any takers?

George Phillips

22 Responses to “Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?”

  1. Thanks for the shoutout, George. I agree. The more the merrier. I miss a lot of the blogs you mention.

  2. I’ve been thinking about my blog alot and that I need to step up my game. I think the post out in my head but don’t always write them. Thanks for the reminder.
    Also Thank you George for your dedication to your site. I always enjoy reading your thoughts. -Patti

  3. James Henke Says:

    Great read George, I’d forgotten most of those blogs that you listed. When I think about it was guys like you, Pressdog and The Silent Pagoda that really helped me to become an avid Indycar fan in the late aughts.

    In my opinion I think Twitter has begun to phase out blogs as it’s a bit more user friendly in that you receive news within seconds and everyone can respond right away

  4. Solid read, my friend. At least you know one of those former bloggers went to work for INDYCAR itself, and a few others have worked for teams. The passion for the sport is still strong – the free time just isn’t there, and our true thoughts should be (*ahem*) politically-correct for the current environment.

    Keep blogging, sir! Always enjoy your 2-cents, plus interest. And keep the One-Take-Only videos. I may have to crash one of those one day 🙂

  5. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Thanks for the mention George!

    Now I’m feeling the need to post and to read more variety of Indycar blogs again.

    My original intention with the blogging was mostly personal: I started with a personal blog and wanted to write only when I felt the juices flowing (which seemed to be most frequent regarding Indycar). As my thoughts and writing gravitated more to Indycar issues I focused on it with the public response being my feedback/critiques.

    Needless to say that while much has changed in Indycar over the last 10 years, I found less desire in recent years to post with high-fiber regularity or to skewer current issues with any residual teen angst that remained. Maybe it’s the aging process talking but I enjoy sitting back and enjoying the sport more now, which has been excellent in my view.

    Grounded Effects was born of a desire to reflect a thoughtful approach and possibly alternative voice to what was essentially a fan site. Something akin to well-written editorials or think pieces. I tried to imagine how it would sound if Dick Schapp were reading my editorial during the Sports Reporters on TV. Not always did I succeed, but I plan to keep trying, and with the season just up around the next bend…

  6. I think there is a number of things going on. First – I think it is naive to think many of the blogs that were started were altruistically begun solely for the love of the game. In a PR/blogger meeting I sat in on once, Amy Konrath in talking about bloggers, said something to the effect that each blogger had their own motivation towards beginning a blog and that full blown silver badge credentials were not in order for a blogger who blogged in order to position themselves for job opportunities in the sport. Others have blogged for increased access to the drivers, teams and pits. All of these angles have diminished in recent years. Team consolidation has led to fewer PR openings. There is less digital media coverage of the sport and fewer digital reporters. Once the reach of bloggers was well understood, credentialing and access was reduced to reflect actual reach and not the potential reach of an unknown digital wilderness. The series has been hiring for general sports marketing knowledge as much as racing specific knowledge. The perks and incentives for blogging have gone away.

    I think the way opinion is spread digitally has evolved since the late 00’s (which is when I think of as the heyday of IndyCar blogging). As younger people are less likely to want to reach 5000 word dissertations, people moved to twitter to express opinions and reactions in a more timely manner. Today, as twitter has become a most toxic form of discourse, people do not keep up on their feeds – of my 700 followers, only 80 or so regularly see my tweets. So not only have blogs become dated so has twitter which replaced it. Podcasts are now all the social rave. You can spit your hot take onto your phone upload it and not have to deal with pesky things like comments or replies. The challenge with a podcast though is that traditional media, like Marshal Pruett or Trackside (for out of market residents) reside in that space and they take up 4 hours of time each week, who has time to listen to another 15 minutes from someone much less connected to the sport?

    A challenge I had personally was content. I never spent the time doing breakdowns or recaps of specific races – I figured people had seen the races on tv and that my color insights weren’t all that insightful relative to TV commentary or full time media. Nor would I even want to pretend to have technical expertise. So I focused on over the top humor/satire or long term strategy. With the humor there becomes a fine line between making fun of situations and making fun of people. While I thought I was often doing the former, sometimes I realized I was doing the latter. For strategic analysis, the stories never change that much: When will ratings rise enough to get more sponsors in, what is the perfect schedule, why did the street race du jour fail this time, who/when will be the third engine manufacturer. Same stuff today as ten years ago – why continue to write the same redundant commentary?

    I think the current opportunity for “blogging” (I use that term broadly) is that of a more historical nature – that is a niche audience but one that will be loyal if well served. I also think the sport can use an independent off the payroll “Insider” someone who always seems to be at the track, pumping out behind the scenes “Racing Lifestyle” instagram posts from the pits or who can snag a driver on a rainy day and quickly go live on snapchat (or some similar forum) and ask questions not only about the race or what the latest planking pose is. I also think the sport could use an artistic photographer, someone who may have some basic event coverage responsibilities, but also can take the time to do some of the cool types of things that Jamie Price does for F1. https://www.jameypricephoto.com/portfolio/C0000NAYncQBdGJs/G0000tq_uCTMc.gA

    Anyway – some thoughts…and I didn’t have to remember the password to my old blog to post them

  7. George – I left a comment that was Speedgeek- like in length. it also had a link. It may have wound up listed as spam…or perhaps it just disappeared into the ether…

  8. I can only speak for myself and what happened at More Front Wing. When we shut down in October 2014, there were a number of factors that went into it (most of which I haven’t previously made public), but the biggest were that teams and other media who were originally very supportive and willing to work with us had become increasingly distant, and in some cases even hostile, to the point it made what we did increasingly difficult and less pleasureable.

    One of our biggest features was our weekly podcast. In the last year or so, it was like pulling teeth to get PR reps to even respond to our requests for interviews with drivers, owners, team managers, etc. It increasingly felt like we were a nuisance rather than a benefit to the IndyCar Series.

    We also felt like we had become competition to other media outlets, who (some though definitely not all) in turn no longer seemed willing to support us and help us out as they did in the beginning. One incident in particular following the 2014 Houston Grand Prix left a terribly angry and bitter taste in my mouth about the entire effort I was devoting. We were called out in a “professional” publication as an “amateur fan site” simply in search of “fool’s gold” when we had a story that had legitimate interest to fans and ramifications to competitors. That same publication later produced several articles based on an interview that Steph had with Dan Davis, then the head of Ford’s racing division, and never once gave any credit to Steph or MFW, pushing the content and information solely as their own. Again, it was just a complete slap in the face that made me realize we had really taken MFW as far as we were going to be able to take it.

    By the time late 2014 rolled around, it felt like I was putting more and more effort into MFW and getting less and less out of it. At the time, I was a divorced, single dad who had many other commitments that were requiring my time, so the increased requirement of MFW was even more difficult to justify. I enjoyed the podcast and the community, but it was feeling more like work and less like a pleasurable hobby. I was burned out, and I certainly wasn’t getting paid enough to put up with it feeling like a job. (As a side note, Steph and I made the decision early on to never run ads on our website unless it was an actual site sponsorship. Because of that, we never made a single dime off our site and funded it completely with a substantial amount of our own money, though I doubt any bloggers who run ads make more than a handful of dollars off them. The only income we ever had was when Mike Silver made a very generous contribution that allowed us to hit up a number of late-season races in 2013 we definitely wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. For that, Steph and I will always been extremely grateful to Mike!!)

    When Steph made the decision to focus on her professional journalism career, I knew then it was my time to step away as well. I needed the break. I also knew there was no possible way I could have maintained the high standard people had come to expect from MFW without Steph on board. She was the mastermind behind the very popular Weekend Event Summaries, which certainly filled a niche of finding all race weekend information in a single location. Surprisingly, nobody had done that before, and while IndyCar.com has tried to replicate it since, nobody has really been able to duplicate what we did with that. It’s a real shame because that was a great service and weekend info spot for all IndyCar fans.

    A quick note about IndyCar itself: The folks on both sides of 16th Street in Indianapolis were always unbelievably helpful and wonderful to work with. I don’t think we ever went to them with a request that was turned down for the sole reason that we were “bloggers”. That doesn’t mean we got everything we asked for, but they were always willing to listen and supported us every possible way they could. I can’t imagine another sporting league in existence where the new CEO of the company would do his first major sit-down interview with a fan site (as Randy Bernard did). I can’t imagine another sporting league in existence would have it’s director of operations do a sit-down interview before their next game after an incredibly controversial decision in the previous game (as Brian Barnhart did after Edmonton in 2010). For all the frustrations I had working with others in the IndyCar community, working with INDYCAR itself was never anything less than pleasurable.

    Now that I’ve had a few years away from the site and more time to reflect on it, I do miss it. I’m so grateful that George on this site and James Black (16thandGeorgetown.com) have allowed me to tag along over the past couple years doing some guest posts and photography to keep me involved with the series. But I miss having a place to call my own, to write what (and when) I want, a place for my photos, a place for dad’s historic 500 journals. And that is why I’ve been giving series consideration to restarting the blog. I just haven’t figured out what form it will be yet. Out of respect for what Steph and I did together, the new site won’t be called More Front Wing, but my guess is that it assume all the old content and social media channels from MFW. I hope to have a decision made by the end of the month and get started before the start of the season at St. Pete. Nothing is official and definitely nothing is set in stone yet, but that’s the hope.

    As you mentioned, the bloggers (as much as James still hates that term) are a fantastic community, and the camaraderie between everyone was one of the greatest aspects of doing it. If there is any way I can help anyone who is interested in getting involved, I would be glad to do so. Even if it is just to speak honestly about what is involved, what are the benefits, and what are the pitfalls, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m easily found on Twitter (@Fieldof33) or email me: paul@morefrontwing.com. Make no mistake, it is a lot of work and commitment. If it’s not a lot of work and commitment, and your’e not willing to put in both, your blog will probably be another that quickly falls by the wayside as fast as it started. But for those who are willing to devote the time and effort necessarily, it is an incredibly rewarding experience!

  9. Hey George, just wanted to let you know about Open-Wheel America. I am still running it, we just have a different address. The site is http://www.OpenWheel.wordpress.com.

    I believe that you and I started around the same time, and I always find your topics interesting, even if there are just a couple that I don’t always agree with. Thanks for posting regularly, and being open to perspectives of other people. I wish there were more people like you out there.

  10. I also appreciate the mention up there in the original post, along with the memories of the old blogger group of 8-10 years ago (of which I was one of the most sporadic posters, even back then). Those were fun times.

    This comment will probably be long (THANKS FOR REMINDING EVERYBODY THAT I HATE BREVITY, JP…not that anybody needed reminding of that) and self indulgent (as pretty much most of my comments are), but George, DZ, JP and Paul hit on a lot of the stuff that’s happened to me, as well. I started my blog back in 2006 (I had to look that up…I thought for sure it was a year or two later, but Blogger never lies[?]), and since then, my life has changed a bit:

    2007 – married, moved to a different state, switched jobs
    2008 – got a dog (not any kind of excuse, but did explain some of my sleep deprivation and lack of coherence for a while)
    2009 – had a kid (explains the remainder of my sleep deprivation and complete death of coherence on my part)
    2011 – moved to a different state, switched jobs
    2013 – had a kid
    2014 – moved (within same neighborhood, but it still sucked)
    2016 – had a kid
    2017 – moved to a different state, switched jobs, turned 40, spent rest of year contemplating my mortality and sanity

    So, since starting my original blog, I’ve gained a wife, a dog and three kids and moved four times (I swear I’m not running from the law…so far as any of you will know until the statute of limitations runs out), so the hours I used to spend crafting(?) a several hundred (or thousand) word blog post have been taken up with cleaning baby bottles, disinfecting diaper changing tables, telling kids to go back to bed literally hundreds (or thousands, I’m not sure) of times, and on and on and on. I do miss blogging, though I’m happy that I get to keep up a bit with the folks who do still blog and those who I just see now on Twitter. Thanks to everybody for not completely dropping out of sight.

    As for blogging again, The Grab Bag Sports guys (who went from having 4 total kids when we launched the site in late 2010 to now having 8 total kids, which may be related to why our site has dwindled to only 3-4 total posts per year) is going to resurrect our annual Blogathon for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. I’ll be posting my seldom imitated (for good reason) class previews in the week leading up to the race in a couple weeks. Stop on by and check those out, along with our 24-ish hours of blog posts during the race. I’m hoping that jumping back into that gives me the bug to post some more going forward again (but it might not, because, HAVING THREE KIDS DESTROYS YOUR FREE TIME AND WHY DIDN’T ANYBODY TELL ME THAT WOULD HAPPEN). Oh, and for anybody with a “fantasy sports” bent, I’m also looking for folks to fill a couple openings for team owners for my All-Racing Fantasy League (we use F1, IndyCar, World Endurance Championship, IMSA and NASCAR Cup as our core series), which kicks off with our draft in a week or two. If anybody is interested in playing, please drop me a line at andymiller23 at gmail dot com. The thoughtful folks around here, it would seem to me, would be perfect candidates.

    Thanks for keeping the IndyCar blogdom alive, George, and I hope to see everybody at the track(s, plural, fingers crossed, but definitely at The Big Track, for sure) this year.

  11. Lynn Weinberg Says:

    I don’t know what the answer is. I’m in the same age group as you (and I know that Peter, Paul and Mary aren’t biblical figures), but I was thinking perhaps that blogging was going out of style. According to my grown kids, Instagram and Snapchat are “where it’s at” these days. Of course, those are very different platforms for communication than blogs. While I like to soak up every piece of IndyCar information and opinion that I can, too many blogs is overwhelming for me. I would suggests a collaboration of bloggers on fewer sites. Also, regular and year round posts are essential.

  12. John Oreovicz Says:

    Some of the blogs are pretty decent. I appreciate yours because you don’t try too hard to be funny or clever. I don’t pay attention to anyone who uses a fake name. That’s just weak. Have the confidence to put your own name on your work and be willing to accept that not everybody is going to love you.

  13. billytheskink Says:

    I don’t think I can say anything here that has not already been said by the blogging veterans above… which is quite likely the reason I do not and should not have my own Indycar blog. I actually do have what I think would be a unique element to bring to the Indycar blogging community, but I really doubt it has much appeal beyond me. That and I would want to call the site “Chip ‘N Dale”, but don’t want a letter from Disney’s lawyers.

    I happen to very much like the column-style blogs like Oilpressure that were once so prevalent, but can certainly see how the average blog consumer has gravitated to the more-instant short-form platforms like Twitter and Instagram for content on the subjects they used to read blogs about. Even the major media players have started gravitating toward shorter stories and more multimedia. I am encouraged by the trend that has seen several new sites pop up to showcase long-form writing for super fans, but thus far these sites have largely functioned as patron-funded life rafts for professional writers locked out of the limited writing opportunities at major outlets. I would love to see something like that with Indycar bloggers. Perhaps a site hosting a sizable rotation of writers could alleviate some of the “burn out” that has resulted in several shuttered blogs over the years. I’m sure that’s not a new idea, but it is something I wanted to register my support for.

    In any event, I am grateful for the folks in the Indycar community who continue to write their blogs. You all are a big part of my racing fandom and I encourage you all to keep blogging as long as you continue to enjoy it.

  14. I always had a special connection with a lot of the blogs that were visible and present from the late 2000s through the early 2010s, as I was beginning my own career. Many of the ones mentioned added great touch and depth to IndyCar coverage that maybe weren’t going to make a national media outlet or something of that sort, as well as be a resource or a fun bench racing spot. George, yours has been one I’ve always checked in particular, Paul mentioned MFW which as he noted really grew in stature, and others such as IndyCar Advocate, One Lap Down, Pressdog, Pop Off Valve, Silent Pagoda all sort of laid the groundwork.

    As the media world’s changed in the last 2-3 years in particular, it’s become a lot harder for stories to stand out because we’re all largely working on the same posts. Meanwhile other forms of social media have popped up providing a more micro home for bloggers’ voices, where bloggers have perhaps opted to eschew their traditional blog for the social media platforms instead. If there’s more blogs that focus on original content and fun I think there’s a place for more to come back. I appreciate the people who put the time and energy into caring about IndyCar and do so with actual words!

  15. Perhaps the reason you did not get more comments on Wednesday was the question you asked. As soon as I saw the word “ruined” I deleted the blog.

  16. I have posted a few motorsport articles on my (Spanish-language) blog, but never really got into it.

    Apart from writing on Wikipedia, my motorsport discussions have been focused on forums (Ten Tenths and Trackforum), and more recently Reddit.

    Both forums and blogs are 2000s platforms. This decade is all social networks. I sometimes use Facebook and Twitter to discuss motorsport, but they lack depth and timelessness.

    About current IndyCar forums, I must mention IndyCar al día. ESPN doesn’t tweet about IndyCar, and the last Spanish-language tweet by the IndyCar Latino account was from IndyCar al día, so it’s possibly the only full-time Spanish-language IndyCar media.

  17. A little late to this post, but I blogged about auto racing in general and IndyCar racing, from 2009 to about 2014. I think my experience echoes those above who found that doing something for free is great, until real life (bills, family) gets in the way. The IndyCar series in particular has unique challenges; it is perpetually “on the upswing” or it is just on the cusp of “moving the needle.” That became a broken record. The cars have not changed much, and so engagement is limited to diehards who are rarely critical of the series. It’s not fun to write about something when 90 percent of the readers feel that the sport’s best days are in its past. Plus, it’s not a lot of fun to have people take shots at your writing when you’re doing all of it alone (especially when it comes from armchair warriors who have never actually gone to a track and tried to write and photograph an entire weekend of events). In the end, I felt that my blogging was really more for me than others, and it certainly didn’t justify the time and expense of asking a circuit press manager to give me a credential and provide support all weekend. Also, in response to comments above – 1) anonymity is important if – like me – your employer had auto industry connections and anonymity keeps me from getting fired; and 2) I think “pro” journalist showed tons of hostility on Twitter towards the “amateurs.” I appreciated the people I met and the fun we had, but it was not sustainable.

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