Standards

There is a lot of rumour and speculation in the motorsport world. There isn’t anything wrong with a good bit of rumour on fan sites, blogs and discussion groups. It helps keep us all interested and we all like a good “what if” scenario over a pint.

Problems occur when these rumours are presented as hard news and people start believing them to be true. Us hardcore fans can often see through it but I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation where a casual fan, or just someone who knows we are fans, strikes up a conversation based on a falsehood and you have to patiently explain to them why they are wrong.

The respected F1 journalist Joe Saward has written on his blog about this problem and a fascinating discussion broke out in the comments. It is very long but it is worth reading every comment. This is about the future of web journalism.

http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/thieving-from-the-thieves/

For a while now a certain agency has presented rumour as news. I will never write an article based on the output of this agency. People like that give the web a bad name among traditional media and among the people being written about.

Why We Are Here

I’m a bit late catching up with my RSS reader, as I am with so many things. Nevertheless, I would like to associate myself with remarks made by Joe Saward recently. If you are disillusioned with the endless politicking in F1 and other motorsports be sure to give it a read – and also the comments, because the second comment is from motorsport historian Gerald Donaldson and there is also a comment from F1 PR man Nav Sidhu.
It is nice know that in a world where we can all write what we will, there is still a place for the professional writer to help us express ourselves more clearly.

http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/two-crashes/

Back in the world of the bloggers, I also echo Alia’s response to that post:

http://formula1home.com/forum/weblog_entry.php?e=844

I don’t wish to ride on their coat-tails, merely to pass on some good writing which deserves an audience. See you for Singapore.

One Year On

Eighteen Months Ago I Was Just a Fan.
When the 2008 season started I was just discovering blogs after years residing in a newsgroup community, and reading the news and rumours on the popular racing news websites such as Autosport.com and GrandPrix.com.

This was the time of the death of Champ Car and the absorption into the IndyCar Series, I had been watching both in 2007 for the first time in about six years, and when they came together – while sad about CC going down – I was tremendously excited that they’d finally done it! The problem? I couldn’t find many other people who were excited with me within my existing racing circles – so I looked elsewhere for news and rumour and gossip about the merger. Who was moving over? Who wasn’t going to make it? I NEEDED to know.

The first places I found were MyNameIsIRL and Pressdog, very quickly followed by IsItMayYet? and Meesh’s blog which Pressdog has since dubbed “SHWIT!“.
If there were any F1 bloggers working as hard as this quartet I hadn’t discovered them by this stage, although in fairness my F1 needs were already catered for elsewhere.

In actual fact, some of the above began to start talking about F1 in the absence of Champ Car, because they wanted a second series to cover alongside IRL. It was interesting reading their experiences as they learned the ropes, coming from a completely different perspective to the one I’m so used to here in the UK. I found myself commenting on their posts with increasing regularity and length, usually about F1 or connecting an IRL thing to F1, because that’s what I knew. Sometimes I tried to explain something about F1 they didn’t know (and sometimes pretended not to know for comedic effect, which I’d missed!!) in return for their excellent posts educating me about the world and culture of IndyCar racing.

These bloggers also frequently post notes which they write during the races. I thought this was a fantastic idea but by mid-season I’d identified something – they were all commenting on the same feed! Not too much of a problem because they each have their own views… yet I couldn’t help but think the F1 coverage I was receiving was better than what was being described to me, and that I could offer a different take on IndyCar, perhaps describe a similar journey as above but with that series.

Over a period of a few weeks I gained the desire to write similar posts from the UK perspective and TV feed, because not only would it be different to the above but I also hadn’t seen anyone else approach the UK feed from that angle before. Not that I expected many readers, it was just a nice idea to have somewhere to keep a record of my thoughts.

I’m also interested in a broad range of motorsports and I’d hoped to be able to relate F1/IRL goings-on to what else was happening in racing. To be fair this only really came up trumps when Mike Conway moved to America and nobody there knew who he was, whereas I’d spent two years watching him in GP2.
That’s probably the highlight of the last year for me. In the preseason break I’d described him in more than one place as fast but erratic, looks odds-on for a really good finish before the magnets pull him into a wall, or a light knock just ends his race. I haven’t been able to pay as much attention as I would have liked, but I’m getting the impression this is how his 2009 has been so I’m pretty chuffed with the original assessment!

So by July ’08 all I needed was the guts to actually start it. In the first week of August I decided to bite the bullet, set up a blog and write an introduction.

One Year On
It seems to have been reasonably popular. I mentioned the site around a few places and was amazed to find people not only visiting, but returning! I was getting 10-15 regular readers every week after just a few months. It trailed off heavily over winter, I got the impression it was the same for everyone though, yet as soon as the F1 car launches started happening in early 2009 the number of readers actually rose above previous levels! I was stunned. This was helped in no small part by copious plugs from the bloggers I talked about above.

Then a friend from the F1 community I was on at the time suggested I check out Sidepodcast. Not only a podcast about F1 – bear in mind I’d never listened to a podcast in my life before – but also an interactive community with daily discussion about racing and everything else in life. I said hi. Was asked to plug the blog. Not only did readership jump again (!!!) but I found a really great group of people to hang out with, many of whom now have their own blogs. SPC were even kind enough to plug the blog on the show, more than once!

By the time the F1 season started in March I’d joined Twitter, connected with lots of other bloggers in comments or on Twitter, appeared on various Sidepodcast and PlanetIRL podcasts and I even got a mention on Midweek Motorsport!

These days I’m getting roughly 40 regular readers and I’m truly amazed to have as many as that, especially since the blog has been pretty quiet since the season started because I have been working on accountancy studies (which are thankfully over for the time being). I honestly expected to stay at just a small handful of readers, if that, because I’d started this as somewhere to keep a note of my thoughts.

I hope to continue this for the forseeable future, and in fact I’ve got a lot planned as I begin what I call the Big Massive Catch-Up to watch a lot of the racing I missed while studying. I’m in two minds over whether I’ll post much about that, right now I’m leaning towards very short updates on all but F1 and IndyCar. I’ll probably skip most of the news because this has never been a news site. I do plan to write notes on the IndyCar races but they won’t be as long or verbose as last year or like the other bloggers’ notes. I hope you stick with me!

So, there’s only one thing left to do:

For their regular links, comments, tweets and general encouragement, my thanks goes to:
Bill / Pressdog
Jeff / MyNameIsIRL
Meesh / SHWIT!
Christine & Mr.C / Sidepodcast (and everyone there!)
Dex / MidweekMotorsport @RLM
Kohl / PlanetIRL
Allen / FuriousWedge
Andy / TheSpeedGeek
Gavin / F1Numbers
Duncan / vee8
Everyone else in the sidebar and anyone who has linked me (I can’t list you all!!), and last and not least to all the other readers and commenters who have dropped by over the last 12 months.

Here’s to another year!

To London!

Tomorrow I and a large group of fellow listeners to the world’s greatest F1 podcast will be hooking up with show host Christine and her trusty sidekick known only as ‘Me’ (or Mr.C). We’ll take a wander around the Science Museum in London where the McLaren F1 team have set up a series of exhibits under the title, “20 Ways F1 Is Changing Our World”.

There’s a lot cool techie stuff about applying F1 knowledge to real life and I think there will be about 20 of us going so it should be a lot of fun!

Here is the Sidepodcast post about the meetup including a video from the BBC which I think is UK-only but others might as well give it a go anyway.
Here is the Science Museum web page about it all and the New Scientist had a gallery of it. I hope to bring you a little report on Thursday as well as some photos if they’ll allow us to take any. I also hope to make use of Twitter and Twitpic from my mobile, if I can get them working.

I’ve been to London several times before but only once in the guise of a motorsport fan, this back in 2004 for the “F1 In Regent Street” demo runs where I stood three feet from F1 cars and didn’t see a single one! Pics! But don’t click that, there’s nothing there worth looking at.
Let’s hope that hyped up F1 fans will not be blocking all of the exhibits tomorrow in a frenzy of excitement. Look, a KERS device, crowd around it!

You may think I am mad for going all the way to London to meet some internet people in a museum, and you would be right. I started to wonder about my sanity when I saw the increased train prices..