A Sad Day In The IndyCar Blogosphere

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There was a gaping hole that was blown into the IndyCar blogosphere yesterday, when Roy Hobbson announced that he was hanging up his keyboard and ending his stellar career at The Silent Pagoda. This will not be a weak attempt at witty sarcasm, nor will it be a sappy monologue to try and evoke tears from stunned Pagodites. Instead, I would just like to acknowledge the literary talents of a guy I had never heard of two years ago, but who eventually became a good friend.

Before I started this site, I had rarely been to any blog sites – not just IndyCar blog sites, but any blog sites. When I started, I had no idea what I was getting into. I’ve often said that there were three established IndyCar bloggers that went out of their way to help me in those first few weeks; Jeff Iannucci of My Name Is IRL, Bill Zahren of Pressdog.com and Roy Hobbson. I was aware of the first two, but I had never heard of Hobbson.

Hobbson first showed up in the comments section of my site within two weeks of my very first post, when I wrote a post listing Indy’s Ten Worst Drivers over the past twenty years. He was intrigued about Dr. Jack Miller – the Racing Dentist (who I listed at No. 2). I clicked on the site he listed and it took me to one of the funniest post I had ever read to that point. I left a comment there and a friendship was begun.

For months we swapped e-mails back and forth. Then he challenged me to a bet last December. The winner of the Colts-Titans game got to take over the loser’s site for a day. Although I lost the bet, Hobbson worked his tail off writing one bizarre post after another. Almost a year later, that day still ranks as highest amount of traffic this site has ever had. Many of the Pagodites that had never heard of this site before that day, became regular readers after that.

Prior to the bet, Hobbson and I started talking over the phone. What was apparent in print became more apparent over the phone; he and I had absolutely nothing in common. I’m in my early fifties; he’s in his early thirties. He was a college basketball player, while I was a career college student. We sit at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Roy is from the Midwest, while I’m decidedly southern. I like the history of the Speedway. He likes the history of the Snake Pit. He’s married. I’m divorced. But the funny thing was, we got along great. Over the past year, we’ve had marathon phone conversations that barely even discussed racing. We’ve bounced different things off of each other and taken advantage of the other’s widely differing perspective on certain subjects. Simply put – we’ve become good friends.

All the while, we made fun of each other on our respective sites and on Twitter. Surprisingly, even though he is the one with the “snarky” reputation, I was the one that fired more volleys. I think everyone knew it was all in good fun.

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The Silent Pagoda and Oilpressure roaming Gasoline Alley – May 2010.

I finally got to meet Roy this past May at Indianapolis. It was and wasn’t what I was expecting – all at the same time. What I was expecting, I got – a nice guy with a quirky sense of humor that went out of his way to introduce me to everyone in the media center at IMS. What I wasn’t expecting – was someone who was, quite possibly, the most hyper-active person I’ve ever been around. In our phone conversations, Roy came across as somewhat laid-back and easy-going, which sort of belayed the image he portrayed on his site. In person, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone bouncing off the walls as much as Roy.

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Trying to match Hobbson beer-for-beer, but he was always two-fisted.

Although he was sitting in a chair in the media center, he was going 90 mph. His right leg kept pumping up and down with the nervous energy of a hummingbird. He religiously checked his Blackberry no less than once every five seconds as he kept fidgeting and looking around. I offered him a beer just to try to calm him down. It didn’t work. I saw him throughout that qualifying weekend and came to know that this was the true Roy. It should not have surprised me, because this is what comes out in his writing.

And it’s that writing where Roy’s true talents lie. I’ll let you in on a secret. I know what Hobbson does for a living. I won’t divulge what that is, but his talents are misplaced. My day job is involved in identifying professional talents and trying to steer careers in the right direction. It is my opinion that Roy Hobbson should pursue a full-time career in writing. He’s that good.

His humor is off-beat and quirky, but it is the unique phrasing he chooses that typifies his writing. He expresses things much more clearly than most well-known (and well-paid) professional writers. I’ve also read Hobbson when he wasn’t trying to be funny. His post at Versus.com; about an afternoon with his son for a practice day at the Speedway, literally brought tears to my girlfriend’s eyes. There was no biting sarcasm or comments about hurling projectiles. It was simply a poignant look at the side of Hobbson we rarely see – Hobbson, the father. This was as eloquent, as his Pagoda posts are hysterical.

But Roy Hobbson has his reasons, and he has decided to pack it in for now. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him now and then, but it won’t be the same. Anytime I had a spare moment, I always checked The Pagoda just to see if there was anything new – either a new post or something funny from the Pagodites. But now that ritual has been ripped from my day and I’ll miss that. There are still some witty bloggers out there that I’ll keep reading, but we will certainly miss Hobbson. Within six months, the IndyCar blogosphere has seen the “retirement” of two iconic giants – Jeff Iannucci and now Roy Hobbson. They have left two gaping holes that I’m afraid will never be filled.

So, I’ll close by not offering anything sappy or sarcastic. I’ll just simply say; Thanks. Thanks for the laughs, Mr. Hobbson.

George Phillips

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13 Responses to “A Sad Day In The IndyCar Blogosphere”

  1. It is a sad day indeed. I was very upset to read the last Pagoda post. Roy is certainly a very talented writer and hands-down the funniest writer I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

  2. Say it ain’t so George! I am going to miss Senor Hobbson’s terrific sense of humor. The Indy blogosphere will never be the same.

  3. CurlingRacer Says:

    This is a great tribute to Roy. Awesome to hear about your friendship with him. I hope that I have the privilege of running into him sometime in May 2011 to shake his hand and thank him for the many posts where he lifted my spirits and stopped me from going nuts here at work.

  4. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to get through today, or how I can replicate my sense of reading The Pagoda. Scrubbing bubbles? Gone. 409 Surface Cleaner? Totally dry. Lemon Pledge? Long since down the hatch. Zep’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner? Gone by 11:00 PM last night. Wife’s perfume collection? That strung me along from about 3:00 AM until about 5:30, but that’s all gone right up the sinuses as well. What do I do today?!? ROY! COME BACK!!!!!

    In all seriousness, great piece, George, and thanks for writing this on behalf of such a solid dude. I’m proud to say that Roy’s among my small but ever growing group of online/in-real-life racing/blogging/catching a beverage when rarely possible buddies. Here’s to bigger and even better things for The Crazy One, and here’s hoping that he’s not out of our lives for too long.

  5. I don’t know how I managed to not meet either of you this past May.

    Oh wait, yes I do – the IZOD party the night before the race and stumbling back to my downtown hotel at 3 AM rendered all on race day a bit hazy. That and massive consumption of free Red Bulls had me firing around Gasoline Alley like Cornholio.,,

    Seriously Roy is a great guy, and I’m sick of everyone pulling this Brett Favre thing ;)

    (no I wasn’t referring to the cell phone pictures…)

  6. These things are awfully hard to respond to. A simple “thanks, George!” seems painfully inadequate … but then again, nobody wants the comment-section version of a makeout session either. (“You’re great!” “No, YOU’RE great!!!” etc …)

    So I’ll just say this: this post means a great deal to me and I am very, very appreciative. I’ll talk to George about the rest; no need to bore you all with the details.

    Although ONE detail may need expanded on here — and that’s the one where George portrays me as some kind of jittery Tyrone Biggums-like CRACKHEAD LOOKING AROUND FRANTICALLY FOR COPS AND POTENTIAL CARJACK VICTIMS!! This is a blatant falsehood, and maybe even libelous as well. I am perfectly calm on most days, although Media Centers do in fact make me uncomfortable & jittery. Still, pay that business no mind. George is a southern landowner not unlike Foghorn Leghorn, and so he just moves slowly. All. The. Time. He moves at the speed of Congressional filibusters … so anything moving even SLIGHTLY faster than that is considered “hyperactive.”

    Glad we cleared that up.

  7. All of the best wishes to you Roy in all of your future endeavors.

  8. Savage Henry Says:

    Roy Hobbson will be sorely missed. Very sorry to see someone so talented go. Hopefully he’ll turn up elsewhere so we can continue to read.

    Thanks for the link to the 10 Worst Drivers post. I hadn’t seen that before. I actually have a piece of carbon fiber from Dominic Dobson or Mike Groff’s car in my wallet from their crash in the 1994 race. I was sitting in the bottom row on the outside of Turn 1 that day. They hit the wall literally at my feet and my whole section got showered with pieces of carbon fiber, rubber, etc. I picked up some of the “souveniers” that were scattered everywhere.

  9. I’m a little bummed about Roy not writing for the SP anymore too. I too cried when I read the story about his son. I needed some kind of “feature” and was really out of ideas then he dropped that bomb on me. Outside of the Helio blow up storyline Roy’s article was/is the most read item on our site. <3 the hobbson.

  10. saddened Brian McKay Says:

    I am dismayed …
    Variety is the spice of life …
    (sigh)

  11. I was without internet service for a few days. When it was restored today I did what I usually do and checked out the Pagoda. (Sorry George, I generally go to your site later when I’m sober) Anyway, what do I find from Roy but one of those Favre-like “I’m outta here” speeches but written as only Roy can.

    The only news worst than this is if a bunch of Republicans got elected. Oh, wait.

    George I would like to suggest that when the snow finally melts off the Pagoda this spring you and some of your fellow bloggers and bloggerettes travel to Indy armed with spatulas and a case of Ritalin and drag the Hobbster back to his keyboard.

    In the meantime, perhaps one of you could see to it that his body of work gets published (no cell phone pictures please) and marketed to raise money for his favorite charity. (And/or a six-pack of turpentine)

  12. I’ve been wanting to comment on this for a couple days now, but couldn’t quite boil down what I wanted to say until now, so here it is.

    Reading all these tribute posts on Roy’s behalf aren’t just fantastic, but they also affirm just how damn good of a community the IndyCar blogosphere is. I’ve never met any of you – and in fact I’m sure plenty of us have never actually met each other (or am I just an outsider?) – but that doesn’t matter. Each and every one of the bloggers I read, I feel like I know personally.

    I felt like I knew Roy best of all. I try not to write like it, usually, but the sense of humor that came through in the Pagoda posts matches up with mine very well. (I have a Scott Dixon mood finder on my fridge, no joke.) But those occasional serious posts stood out even more because of the crazy ones. It was a move of genius. Write a half-dozen BATSH*T INSANE diatribes on things like the contents of E.J. Viso’s car, and then BAM – we get a post about how home repairs inspired him to get over the stupid IndyCar trophy debate. Classic. You’re right, George – the man’s a writer.

    And seeing as I’m in college, I should have no problem living vicariously with the inspiration of the Pagoda posts. (It’ll also make me the life of every party I attend.)

    I know I’ve said it before, but thanks for everything, Roy. And thanks for this piece, George – this was one of the best tributes I’ve read to anyone in a long time. Hopefully I’ll meet you both this May. Can’t buy either of you a beer, though. Too young. You’ll have to take the cash from me.

  13. I don’t know if it’s my lack of real-world English, his abuse of American-referencing jokes or my lack of effort, but I’ve had trouble understanding and even enjoying Silent Pagoda’s humor. My top three IndyCar writers of this year have been Planet IRL / More Front Wing’s Stephie, Pressdog and last but not least you, George.

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