I shouldn’t even have to address this as “opinion.” This should be common sense. I don’t drive to Texas Motor Speedway to steal the show, gain YouTube likes, or ask questions in the post-race press conference that make others question my sobriety. I go down there to gather content and report weekend news.
Yet here we are, with one “outlet” being exposed for outright plagiarism, one “member” asking nonsensical questions in the post-race press conference, and a Twitter beef between a seasoned, yet abrasive, member of the racing media and the owner of a satirical sports site that appeals mostly (not all) to people who look up and down before crossing the street and/or wash paper plates. There’s more talk on this than Matt DiBenedetto’s runner-up finish to Joey Logano or Bubba Wallace’s stout sixth-place run. I feel not only for the drivers but for the fans as well, having to deal with this crap.
To start, there was the issue on Twitter with the so-called racing site Motor Racing Insider, LLC. They were outed unceremoniously on Twitter for blatant plagiarism in both print and photo, and to be fair that story gained more traction on Twitter than the race itself, at least in my perspective. They even had a sacrificial lamb in YouTube personality Joseph Lombard, leaving him to take the brunt of the damage while they deleted their social media and several posts on their site.
This was followed by someone called a Mark DiBello (from a DiBello Production Company; nobody had heard of them and they left after the post-race conference) asking something resembling a question despite there not being a clear structure or point to the question. Many on social media questioned the guy’s sanity, many questioned his sobriety, but many also wondered if it wasn’t just some stunt done to garner a reaction because why not.
Then of course, there’s the Utter/Barstool beef. Now, Utter, as hard-working a guy as he is when it comes to news, does himself no favors on social media, and sometimes that comes back around and bites him. Then there’s the unprofessional conduct, such as when he tried having Michael McDowell’s car towed in 2017. No points, no favors.
But Barstool is no saint in the matter either. Sure, they bring exposure to NASCAR, and that’s something the sport needs. However, look at their overly misogynistic content. Look at their podcast selection (Call Her Daddy looks like the epitome of cringe from my standpoint, but hey. You do you). Look at the way Barstool creator Dave Portnoy relies on Twitter tough-talk (I can’t respect anyone who threatens others on social media, especially when it comes to “making memes of someone until they cry” or “not blocking him in person.” Really? Are we 12?). There’s a seven-letter word for people like that, and Denis Leary made a song with that title in 1993.
Hey, did you know Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got a third-place finish after leading several laps? What about Jimmie Johnson actually scoring a top-five? How about the top Toyota was Kyle Busch in 15th? No? Maybe it’s because the big story was select identities in the media making complete fools out of themselves.
I’m a part-time “civilian” journalist. I don’t have Utter’s clout, or Jeff Gluck’s talent. I’m not as driven as Matt Weaver, and I’m doubtful I’ll ever have the presence that Claire B. Lang has. I’m there with Frank Velat from Frontstretch, the Schuolers at Kick In The Tires, I consider Toby Christie (TobyChristie.com) and Rob Tiongson (The Podium Finish) to be good friends, and those are just some of the names that do what they can when they can on a weekly basis. They’re a small portion of the people who need to cure that journalistic itch just as I do, and I admire and respect all they do.
It’s something more to them like it is to me. They know, like I do, that it’s a privilege to be there in the Media Center or Press Box. They know, like I do, that it isn’t about us but the drivers and personalities. They know that it isn’t about our stupid little egos but about you. The reader. The subscriber. The listener. You give us the opportunities to be your eyes and ears, and although I can’t speak for them, I can speak for myself when I say I love you guys for that.
When something like this circus happens, I can’t help but worry. As I said, it’s a privilege to be accepted for credentials to a professional racing event, but stupid stunts tend to put that at risk. Twitter beefs discredit what we do in the media. They’re inevitable, unfortunately, since social media brings out the best and worst in our personality, but they’re pretty non-conducive to what our ultimate task is.
Here’s the thing: I have my opinions (that’s why I addressed this post as “Opinion”) regarding the matter. I’m madder than hell about the plagiarism and whatever it was DiBello was trying to pull. I cringe whenever Utter utters something that isn’t racing news, and I think the NASCAR/Barstool marriage will do more to harm NASCAR’s image in the long run. But that’s my opinion.
To be frank, most of the time you guys don’t ask for my opinion, so it’s my duty to be fair and unbiased. That’s what you ask of me, ultimately. That’s a part of my duty. Not only is it my duty, though, it’s the duty of everyone who dons press credentials. We have to adhere to a certain set of ethics when it comes to being media members, and that includes removing ourselves from the story and making sure we put in the work and earn our respect.
It isn’t about us. It’s never been about us. It’s about the drivers and personalities that make up the sport we love. That’s the way it’s been and the way it will be. I can promise you that you can expect nothing less than the best and most professional from us on the Speedway Media staff, and that’s something you can take to the bank.
So thank you for reading, thank you for listening, and thank you for subscribing/following us. But most of all, thank you for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this scene that we love so much.