Over the past few months fellow NASCAR blogger Mike Maruska at 'Trouble in Turn 2' has been running a weekly series called "Get To Know Your NASCAR Bloggers: (your name here)", which I was honoured to be part of. Actually, if I'm not mistaken, I think I was the first NASCAR blogger to be interviewed for Mike's weekly column.
Anyway, Mike is a fanatical NASCAR fan and statistician, and if you haven't had a chance to read his blog then get on over there and read it, you won't be sorry. Since Mike is as humble as he is talented I've decided to turn the tables on him. It is now his turn to be the featured NASCAR blogger (heh, heh).
So read on and find out more about Mike and his passion for NASCAR blogging:
How long have you blogged?
My first blogging foray was three years ago with a friend where we blogged about Minnesota sports. Since I don't live in Minnesota, it became tough and ultimately died. Then in 2006 I needed an outlet to write my thoughts and started Turn 2. I was posting maybe four to five times a month and now I post every weekday.
What made you start blogging? Why do you blog?
When I first started reading about NASCAR online I would go to places like NASCAR.com or ThatsRacin, but a lot of it was just regurgitated press releases or groupthink without any real critical thought. I also tried a few forums, but since the capslock was broken on everyone's keyboards I quickly exited. I finally made my way to the DieCast Dude's original site and in turn your blog, 'NASCAR Ranting and Raving' and some others like Full Throttle (if you don't mention him he throws a tantrum) and One Bad Wheel.
I love writing and being creative and the blog could be my creative outlet. Long term I hope to have my writing turn into at least a freelance gig, so the blog forces me to write regularly. Being the sole creator and editor also allows me to try different things. I have tried a few things that were disaster, but was also lucky to find a few things that have worked well.
The other thing I've discovered is that the people I have "met" from other bloggers and commenters is this really cool community that I totally enjoy. Plus blogging beats shouting at the TV.
I've noticed your blog uses a lot of statistical analysis, do you do this yourself or do you get your stats from other sources and do you see this as a vital component to your blog?
I am certainly a sucker for numbers. Not all stats are equally useful, but the important thing is to use the right context. The thing I enjoy about stats is they take at least some of the subjectivity out of an opinion. Anyone can say driver A is the best, but it's not worth much if you can't back it up. Some people can rely on a motorsports background, a vast knowledge of the history of the sport or even personal inside connections. I don't have any of these, so statistics is the tool I have available to use. Obviously stats aren't perfect, especially in a sport with as many variables as NASCAR, but they are a start.
Where do you blog from? The city bus! I commute to work and lug my laptop pretty much wherever I go. Sadly I have never blogged in my mother's basement, to the chagrin of crusty newspaper reporters.
How long have you been a NASCAR fan? I have been a casual fan that knew most of the drivers for a long time, but the passion/borderline obsession was stoked in 2004.
Do you go to any races, and if so which ones? Where was your first race? I have been to Phoenix for the spring race twice ('06, '07). My uncle works for GM and got us pit passes which was really fun. Attending races is so much different than on TV. Living in Oregon makes it hard with the closest track 543 miles away. So I sit here waiting for ISC to build me a racetrack in the Northwest.
What do you enjoy about your blog and the NASCAR blogging community? I love researching, writing and discussing about something I enjoy. The fact that people stop by on a regular basis to see what I have to say is a little humbling. My current job pays the bills and takes care of my family, but blogging and all it entails is my creative outlet and what I truly enjoy.
The community is amazing. When I blogged about other sports, there was always this strange tension that everyone was competing. The people that blog about NASCAR are all incredibly friendly, supportive and willing to share and collaborate on things. It's also so much better than the garbage found in most forums in every facet.
Is there anything you don’t enjoy about blogging, or the NASCAR online community? Sometimes the maintenance can get a bit much. I know a bit of coding, but it's still sometimes frustrating to change something like a plugin or the layout and it screws everything up. The occasional bout of writer's block is never fun either, especially when I have the self-imposed expectation to post something of substance and length everyday(I'm almost obsessive with the word count). Long term I probably won't like the certain case of brain damage I develop from my blogging, but for now it's a blast.
How much time per day do you spend blogging? It can be as much as 4 hours, but since most of it happens on my commute or at lunch, it doesn't really cut into too much of my normal life. Although my wife would probably object to that answer.
Do you have a favorite driver? Before I "got it bad" as a NASCAR fan, strangers would sometimes come up to me and tell me I looked like Junior. Not the worst comparison in the world, so I ran with it. Discovering how funny and laid back he was sealed it. I definitely cheer for him, but try to keep that out of my writing in order to stay objective.
I also root for Boris Said just because he's funny and it blows me away that an enterprising owner wouldn't give him a shot at a full time ride. I mean, really, would he do any worse than the Jeff Greens of the world (said with only a little offense to Jeff Green)?
Is there one thing that was key to your blog’s success? A lot of cool people helping me at every turn. Gvav1 and TheStewartFan were the first two people to comment on my blog and they have no idea how encouraging that was that someone found my little corner. Another has been Darren Fauth, who was duped into letting me write on his site. Beyond that, almost all of the people I have interviewed in my Know your NASCAR bloggers series have helped me in some way.
I think the key to any successful blog comes down to consistent, quality content. Which I think is true for my stuff (or at least the majority of the time), although I'm loath to call it a success yet.
Name something cool that has come as a result of your blog. This whole deal is cool. I had no idea that companies would give me things to give away or NASCAR would approach me about media access. As I said before, I think the coolest thing is the tight NASCAR community that features a lot of really cool people without some of the typical chest bumping that is found elsewhere online.
Do you have any strange or funny stories about your blog (funny or outrageous comments or emails from people, etc.)? A few years ago when Jeremy Mayfield had the big falling out with Evernham, I wrote that I didn't think Mayfield was a very good driver in 2005 and 2006 and was responsible for the way it ended. Suddenly I got like three or four comments from members of the Jeremy Mayfield fan club telling me I was wrong and not to cheer for Mayfield. I tried to be polite and feared they would hound me everytime I posted about Mayfield. Well, two teams later and no Cup ride I feel better about that. And the Mayfield fans haven't returned.
If you could change one thing about NASCAR what would it be? More Consistency with the rules. I don't think the organization intends to favor teams or drivers, but that's not the way it comes across sometimes. If I could change two things I would allow Robby Gordon to throw his helmet at a car once a year.