Let me preface this column with a word of warning. I”m about to stir the bee’s nest and I figure there’s going to be some pretty angry yellow jackets coming out of the woodwork. Many of you that don’t know me personally, will likely accuse me of being a whiner, sore loser and braggart. That’s fine I have broad shoulders. Those that do know me and those that have trained me and mentored me will understand where this is coming from. Like it or not, you are always free to leave your comments at the bottom of the page.
Lately I’ve been asked a lot why Wing Side Up isn’t covering supermodified races with WSUpdates like we used to. Well, I think it’s time to get the facts and truth out about some things that may explain where I and the rest of the crew are at.
It all pretty much started with my departure from announcing for ISMA and MSA, the folding of SMRA and the denial of credentials for Oswego,(those are stories that I will only share with those that ask). I felt that working with Must See Racing was the best option to stay involved and help the division. I was asked by Randy Burch to come on board and had already talked to Jim Hanks prior to the date that the supermodified division was formed about doing some work with Must See Racing Sprints.
With that thought in mind and because I wanted to be closer to my family, I moved back to IN from NY. One of my personal goals has always been to rebuild the division in IN and MI and I really believed that it could be done through a lot of work and effort, dedication and passion, and the money that MSR could bring to the table with sponsorship.
Hopes Are Dashed
Now the supers have, in my opinion, been sold out by MSR, (read Jim Hanks), and left a lot of us, (racers and officials included), that had backed and banked on its success with nowhere left to go. He failed to allow those that understand how difficult this division can be and have experience dealing with the personality conflicts help him to grow. He became impatient, he gave up. I think he probably lost his rear end financially and that was as much as any reason to dump the supers. I can’t say as that’s wrong. I can’t say that I blame him. We’re an odd lot us supermodified people. But if you say “I have a three-year plan,” I think you should stick to it.
I still believe in the MSR model and after talking to a lot of racers they do too. Car count wasn’t great but the core group that signed on in January the first year continued to support the group. Due to life, financial woes, etc, some teams couldn’t make it out. Don’t tell me they aren’t racers. For most, if they have to choose between paying a mortgage or paying to go racing, they’d choose to keep a roof over their head. Can you fault them? ISMA and MSA are really in the same boat as MSR when it comes to all this talk of car counts, but I’ll save that for another column.
Let me honest here and say that you can read what you want and believe what you want about low car counts being the reasons for the cancellation of the season and there will be a 2014, but I’m here to tell you that it’s PR spin and I do not believe there will be anymore Must See Racing Supermodified Series, at least in the incarnation as we came to know it. Randy and Rhonda Burch and the team they formed are gone. That was one of the great things about MSR. Just like the sprint car guys understand that side of the sanction, the supermodified people understand our side. It was a team that desired to do things right and make it work. Of the good folk left who’s going to take up the slack? You tell me that this isn’t similar to key figures leaving west coast or east coast supermodified racing and the void those departures created and I’ll tell you that you’re full of bologna.
What all of this means is that our coverage of the races has essentially stopped because we can no longer afford to travel every weekend to a supermodified show. It’s not because we were getting paid to cover the shows and that’s the only reason we did them. Yes, I got paid to announce and to be very honest, while it’s none of your business, I want to be transparent here. I made between $100-$175 a show. I also on occasion had flights purchased to go west. I also, on occasion, have been handed a key to a motel room. I also, on occasion, have been given a food voucher. And I also, on occasion, have been given a gas card to fuel up with. I say on occasion, because of the literally thousands of miles put on the vehicles, most were paid for with the check I received the Tuesday after a race for doing a job. I can’t tell you how many times I slept in the car or bummed a ride with a race team just to get to the track to announce.
Now pay close attention here. I AM NOT COMPLAINING! It was and is my choice to live my life the way I do. I’ll admit I’m a bit of gypsy and seat of your pants, live for today kind of guy. It’s not easy and many people don’t understand it, but it’s my life and I love it. I am no more important than the myriad of other officials that do thankless stressful jobs to keep the division alive. I don’t believe that I am owed any more than the next guy and ultimately it’s my choice to make whether or not it’s worth the hassle. I truly have enjoyed meeting and spending time with people. Learning from race teams what it’s like to field a supermodified. Learning from promoters what it’s like to pay for a supermodified show at their track. Learning from fellow microphone handlers how to do the job better. And learning from fans the things they love about the division. Again, let me re-iterate. I AM NOT COMPLAINING.
Call Me Frank
To be very frank, there is simply NOBODY that covers supermodified racing like we do here at Wing Side Up or through WSUpdates. There are very few in the supermodified world that are in charge of running sanctions or tracks social media plan, (I’d say Dan Kapuscinski is one of those but he’s about the only one), that understand and truly get social media marketing. Shoot many don’t even WANT to understand or use it. When it does get done, it’s an afterthought or novelty instead of the being part of the overall marketing plan that includes goal setting, metrics measuring, website traffic analytics and demographic charting. Most see an increase in “Likes” and they think they have done something. Likes are good sure, but how many are coming back regularly and engaging with the content?
We Lead-The Rest Can Follow
We led the way with short codes in Tweets to give the facts in 140 characters or less. We were the first of any supermodified people to understand the importance of #Hashtags and @mentions as well as when and how to correctly retweet. We were the first of any supermodified people to use video, photos and audio interviews instead of just text to tell the supermodified story from the track. We were the first to grasp and understand the technology of live webcasting or audiocasting.
Ever hear of a Twitter list? We have. We use them extensively to keep up with what supermodified sanctions, tracks, drivers and promoters as well as sponsors or potential sponsors are tweeting about. We want to know and understand the market so we can help the division. Using Twitter lists is a no brainer to us because it helps segment those people who follow and we can embed tweets here or there from a particular list. If you follow @WingSideUp you can subscribe to any of our public lists.
We were the first supermodified people to understand that not everyone has a Twitter account so we explained on Facebook how to follow our updates via Twitter’s sms feature.
We were the first supermodified people to embrace Facebook from the standpoint of social media marketing. We understood immediately the importance of Shares vs Likes. We quickly grasped the 500 ‘like’ limits for friend pages,(which a couple of tracks STILL have), and created Fan pages. We adapted early and changed to the timeline cover before most others knew it was coming. We changed it again when Facebook said that you couldn’t use more than 20% of your pixels in the graphic as text. We understand the importance of highlighted and pinned posts. We know the ideal size for graphics to drive Facebook traffic. We knew that Hashtags were coming to Facebook and were using them for a long time prior to the official rollout.
We understand Facebook algorithms and how page ranking works and that’s why we use Twitter NOT Facebook to update our followers. Are you a fan of spam? We’re not.
We adapted to Google+ quickly used Hangouts on Air to broadcast Wailing with Wing Side Up straight to our YouTube Channel as well as on the website. We understand the HUGE potential to sanctions and tracks to help supermodified fans interact with their heroes using this medium.
We were the first to adapt to FourSquare and understand how it could help supermodified travelers looking for a good place to eat, get gas, or sleep. And we also understand how it can help a supermodified sanction or track with check ins and recommendations a lot more than Facebook can.
Now I will say, not all of these ideas were original. I read a lot of non racing websites that deal with Search Engine Optimization, social media marketing, blogging, and the like. I also watch what IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, and major stick and ball sports do. I get weekly newsletters from LinkedIn groups that have marketing studies and I subscribe to countless email newsletters that help explain best practices for websites, social media, sports marketing and the like. So, while I’m by no means calling myself and expert, I do have a pretty good understanding of these things and matched with some pretty good street sense and advice from the WSUCrew, I put it all into one big ball and use it for Wing Side Up and ultimately the supermodified division.
I parked the @OswegoSpeedway Twitter handle to save it for when they finally figured out Twitter was a good way to keep fans in the loop. I was worried, because of all the turmoil going on during the Gioia/Furlong regime, that someone would take it and use it for sarcasm and negative tweets. I turned it over to Danny K. when he took the job at Oswego. I even gave him a few tips. I think he’s done a pretty good job with it.
D-Nett and Terry Strong set up the original Oswego Speedway Facebook page as admins because there was none and using the Wing Side Up model grew the audience without the track even understanding what was going on. They added Deb Bond as an admin and from there (The Official)Oswego Speedway fan page was created once Danny K. took over.
T-Netty set up the @ISMASupers Twitter account and Facebook Fan page. He used the Wing Side Up model to do it the right way the first time. He managed all the updates and did it the only way he knows how-perfectly. He’d still be doing it but ISMA decided they didn’t want to pay him to do the work. $200 a week was too much to ask for doing what is really a full-time job.
I put Annamarie Strawhand in touch with the ISMA powers to do the original revamp on the ISMA website. Biggie G. created the 35th Anniversary logo for ISMA using elements from the old logo. When ISMA decided they didn’t want Annamarie, Keith Shampine became involved. Someone correct me if I’m not thinking about this right, but I am pretty sure I put Keith in touch with Anna in the first place. Keith then contacted Biggie to do some graphics for the ISMA site. It all kinda works out doesn’t it?
I set up the @MidwestSupers Twitter account for Randy and Rhonda Burch. It’s still there. Nobody uses it because everyone that knows the password is gone, including me and nobody now involved with MSA has asked. Guess it’s not important enough to them yet.
Wing Side Up managed the MSA website and after a complete revamp increased page views substantially. With Biggie G.’s help great looking graphics and event posters were created. Photo galleries were updated regularly after each show and progress was being made in a positive direction. It was anything but a static page. Now, I’m not talking about the one you are looking at now, I’m talking about the one that was there from 2010-2011. Just wanted to make that clear.
When asked for help by my friend David Sink, I took over the Must See Racing Twitter feed and Facebook pages, (one was originally a friend page and not a fan page), increased their following more than their original likes in less than a year, engaged fans and racers and created content to keep people interested.
By the way go visit http://www.Twitter.com/MustSeeRacing. Do you like that background? I had Kevin Timmons from BreezeGraphics.com making those. Other than the fact that it hasn’t been changed since May when the keys were taken away from me for no clear reason. That’s right, the timeline covers on their Facebook page promoting the teams, tracks, fans, and events? My idea. The creation of events on their Facebook page? My idea. The changing of the Twitter page backgrounds to promote events? My idea.
Again as with ISMA and Oswego, Wing Side Up got kicked to the curb for reasons that STILL have not been explained by Mr. Hanks. I came home from NY and the passwords were all changed.
Down but not Done
I believe that Wing Side Up and in particularly me, has been blackballed, especially from Oswego Speedway, because of our involvement with Must See Racing. I can’t prove it other than one conversation I had with Eric and John Toresse prior to the running of King of Wings in 2012, but I have my feelings.
We set the stage for these groups. I am proud of what we have accomplished. I am not ashamed of pushing people’s buttons to encourage change and thinking outside of the box for promoting this division. I could never have done this without the WSUCrew and The Original G Squad. Those may just be cute names to you, but to me, it’s the reason I keep trying to re-invent this website and am staying involved. I owe it to Tom Netishen, Barry Goldberg, Chris Meyers, Myles Maxon, Rob Warren, Buddy Cottom, Robert Gill, Danette Ray, Ricky Sapp, Wendy Sapp, Bill Gangwer, Sue Gangwer, Shelby Urdantta, Sheldon Gangwer and Taylor Gangwer.
What I would like to do is offer up some solutions for those of you that have come to rely on the WSUCrew and me to lead the way in supermodified coverage. We won’t have any WSUCrew feet on the ground at Star Speedway today for the ISMA #StarClassic BUT our friends at Myracenews and Speed51.com will be providing supermodified coverage on par with, if not better than, what you’ve come to expect from Wing Side Up. They may not be supermodified ‘people’ but they are darned good journalists and are factual and timely. The Dillner crew at Speed51 have been at this longer than I have and equip their crew to give great coverage.
On the Sandusky front, I really like NE Ohio Racing News for the same reasons as stated above. Timely, factual, and even a little fun. It’s a relative new site and not just focused on supermodifieds, but they get the job done very well.
I urge you to visit their websites, Like all of their Facebook pages, and follow them on Twitter. I know how much work it is to do live events and I’m sure they’d love to know it’s worth their while to cover the supermodifieds. Just tell ’em Bobby G. and the WSUCrew sent ya!