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So on Tuesday when I posted about the NASCAR Citizen Journalist Media Corp formation Valli (whom I love) made the comment that she hoped I got nominated or included because she would love to read about ME standing at Tony’s hauler asking him questions. This made me giggle to myself.  This is something I can NOT imagine myself actually doing. Maybe standing on the edges of the media hords and if I am feeling REALLY ballsy maybe snapping a picture or six.  Not that I wouldn’t LOVE to do it…I just am not the bravest of people although I have gotten better.

Case in point: The first race of any type that I attended in the flesh was an Indy Car race at Laguna Seca when I was in high school (this was before they split into the two leagues known as IRL and Champ- and was then known as CART). He bought weekend passes complete with paddock passes and brought his big Minolta camera (before dslr’s were affordable by the public) and he would basically just wander right into the team stalls if they weren’t roped off to take pictures. My little, shy teenage self was mortified at him doing this and would usually wander away when he would pull these shenanigans. He even somehow bs’ed his way into the Team Havoline Hospitality Tent that was set up near the grandstands where we were sitting. Granted I was more shy then (I am sure I have told you the story about how he basically had to push me up to AJ Foyt to get his autograph because in my brain I was ALL THAT IS AJ FREAKING FOYT!!! and then I froze).

Fast forward to a couple years ago- my dad got comped tickets to see the Sportscars series running at Laguna Seca that included access to the paddock. He has one of his Canon DSLRs and I had a camera with me too…and I started wandering up to the different stalls and taking pictures but I always made sure I stayed dutifully out of the actual stall and out of the way of any crew members. We both walked up to one of the garage stalls and I took a picture and carried onto to the next stall. Suddenly I feel like I have lost my party so I look around…and he has actually WALKED INTO the garage stall I was just peeking into and is all squatted down to take his picture.  I just chuckled and stood outside waiting for him because I have this complex – I am not big on breaking rules…and the garages are like their domain – I am just there trying to take a picture or seven- so I definitely wouldn’t just wander in like my dad does.  If I really really felt the need to wander into the garage stall- I would ask the nearest crew person. My Mom,  who went with us even asked “Is he suppose to be in there?” I shook my head no and said “No…he just has balls of steel when it comes to that kind of thing.” Of course she was horrified that I would say that in public but it’s true.

So I guess I would just have to learn to be braver than I am…but it would definitely be an experience.

There has been a lot of talk in the NASCAR community including by NASCAR (as in the sanctioning body) itself about how to make the sport better. How to increase race attendence (um lower ticket prices) and television viewer ratings and the like.   A lot of suggestions are being talked about and batted around by various media and fans and guess what? NASCAR is starting to listen.  First they recently created the NASCAR FAN COUNCIL a tool NASCAR will use to survey their fans about opinions on all sorts of topics and ideas regarding NASCAR and how to make it better.  I think this weekend we saw the first baby step towards that with the new double-file restart (shootout style- so drivers will NOT have to worry about battling lapped cars for position).

Even more recently, NASCAR has announced that it will start giving more access to citizen journalists (and by that I am going to interpret it as bloggers). I think this will be an awesome opportunity and all I can say is “How do I sign up?”  Seriously.  Sign me up.  I don’t know what would qualify one to be a “citizen journalist” but it sounds like a great idea to me.

There is some grumbling from traditional NASCAR media that this is NOT a good idea- that allowing us mere “bloggers” to have a little bit of the inside stuff will make their readership suffer and honestly I really don’t see how that could be the case. I think there is a different standard and a different expectation of information coming from a site say like mine that has a bent for a specific driver when compared to traditional media coverage. To me it’s like apples versus oranges. Obviously my posts focus on Tony Stewart. I mention other drivers and other happenings within NASCAR because I love the sport and it is all intermixed. However I am not going to write articles like the ones you are going to find at NASCAR.COM, FOXSPORTS.COM, YAHOOSPORTS.COM, ESPN.COM etc.  My articles would still have a bend towards Stewart. They would also be more personal experiences less reporting of news. They would be more the human story type of thing.

When I think of a NASCAR Citizen Journalist I think of people like Valli at TheFastandTheFabulous.com. I absolutely love it when Valli makes it out to a race because I know that she will write about it the following week.  But its more about her experiences and less about rules and standings and points and that kind of thing. Its more about what it was like to stand with the traditional media at Kasey Kahne’s hauler.  Or what it’s like as a fan to stand in the garage area and watch drives buzz in an out. What it’s like to to interview someone like Kyle Petty or David Gilliland.  Or about experiences at a track she hasn’t been to before. I think you get my drift.

I think that both traditional and “citizen” journalists have important things to say about the sport and I really think that NASCAR is doing an awesome thing thinking about this seriously.  I don’t know yet what kind of exeperience NASCAR is looking for in a citizen journalist or what kind of access they would give that blogger…but its an interesting idea…and I am still raising my hand to volunteer.