The Struggle of Covering Racing (And Why It’s Worth It)
I’m just going to come out and say it — I’m exhausted.
For six out of the past seven weeks, I’ve scoured the Midwest and even snuck a trip to Alabama to cover the Verizon IndyCar Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
I’ve been blessed to attend everything from NASCAR at Talladega Superspeedway to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 during the stretch, events I never thought I would get to experience without an expensive ticket. Life’s been incredible for the last two months.
However, it’s also been the biggest challenge I’ve faced since I started writing about racing.
For any who don’t know, I work a full-time job as an accounting clerk, balancing the job with my writing.
Typically, the balancing act is an easy one to follow. I work during the day, write at night, get up in the morning and do it all over again, knowing that when the weekend comes I can catch up on sleep. However, between travel and days at the track, opportunities to catch up on sleep have been fleeting at best.
I can’t remember the last day I got more than seven hours of rest at this point, nor can I remember the last time I got to just go home and relax.
During this stretch, I’ve been stressed. I’ve endured long, painful days at the track, and sleepless drives through the night. I’ve gone to work on Monday mornings with as little as a half hour of sleep the night before, limping through the day and heading home to try to write more before I crash.
There’ve been times along the way where I’ve wondered if it was worth it.
“Why do you do this to yourself,” I ask.
Then, I take some time to think about it, and I remember what makes it all worth while.
Yes, you. The one reading this. The friend that supports me whenever I need an ear to listen. The buddy that I can always count on to make me laugh at the local dirt track races. The inanimate orange traffic cone with a major passion for the sport, and an equal sense of humor. THE BUDDY WITH GREAT HAIR WHO LIKES TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS.
If it weren’t for you all, I’d likely have given this up a long time ago.
When I first started writing about racing, it was mostly because.. Well… I was lonely.
Two years ago, I found myself stuck in a college rut. I had a full load of classes, and worked upwards of 40 hours per week at a local Chik-Fil-A to make enough money to get by.
I didn’t have a lot of free time, and I rarely got to watch races. Quite frankly, I was lonely and a bit depressed.
However, on a rare Saturday off in the fall of 2013, I finally got to sit down and watch a NASCAR XFINITY Series (then Nationwide) race, and I was immediately drawn back to my passion for the sport.
For the next few months, I continued to work, yearning for those great days spent sitting back and watching the races.
This continued into 2014, and when the racing season finally came, I decided that I wanted to find a way to engage with my favorite sport.
I just needed to find a niche.
As it turned out, mine was writing.
When I was younger, I used to write novels. I once wrote a fantasy story that reached into the hundreds of pages in Microsoft Word, only to have the story lost to a hard drive failure.
I’d been watching racing since I was old enough to understand what was going on, and I’d been writing since I first found out how to do it on a computer. For some reason, though, I never thought to combine the two passions until a chance encounter with one of the sport’s prominent writers.
I don’t remember the circumstances of why I asked them, but one day I took to Twitter to ask about how I could engage with the sport I loved so much.
You can probably guess the answer: Make a blog. Start writing.
Immediately, a lightbulb clicked.
I’ll spare you the specific details of the last two years, but essentially what happened was I started a (terrible) blog called Aaron Talks Racing, wrote for it for a year, was noticed by Frontstretch, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to this weekend, and the two years of hard work have begun to reap rewards.
I won’t make a dime this weekend for covering Michigan, nor will I get any sort of opportunities from a major publication.
What I will get to do, though, is see some of your shining faces.
After 20 years of following a sport with no friends to share it with, I’ve made more than I can count in racing over the last two years.
For the first time in my life, I know people that I feel comfortable with. I’ve found my home, a place where I feel like I belong.
I often post requests on my social media for my friends and followers to tweet me, add me on Snapchat and otherwise engage with me. Many of my fellow writers in the media center do the same, looking for more readers and numbers.
Me? I just want to get to know you all.
I may seem like a broken record, but I genuinely appreciate each of you that takes the time to engage with me and support me. It makes my day whenever I see a friendly face at a track, or hear from you on social media.
I may never make it as a top-tier writer. I may not always be able to drive to Alabama on a whim and make the eight-hour drive home to work the next morning. I have no plans to give up writing anytime soon, but for all I know life could force me to shift priorities at any moment.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but what I do know is that I’ve made friendships in this industry that I plan to keep for the rest of my days. That’s worth the lack of sleep, the long days and longer nights, the brutal work days exhaustion.
I’m off to Michigan again in the morning. I hope to see some of you there.