It’s Tough Being Outside The Loop

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Some may see this as nothing more than a pointless rant. If you’re not in the mood for that, I might suggest that you move on and check back here on Monday. I promise to have a racing-based post with an historical slant to it. If you’re in the mood to hear a defensive sounding whine that comes close to alienating and insulting the lifeblood of a blogger – a reader, then feel free to continue reading.

We bloggers open ourselves up for criticism every time we post. We understand that. There are a lot of folks out there – the Legions of the Miserable, as I’ve always called them – that like to slink around from site to site just to play the game of “gotcha”. We know that from time to time, someone is going to misinterpret something we wrote or not understand our point of view. A lot of times, it’s our own fault for not conveying our message better. I’ve certainly fallen into that trap more than once.

I consider myself to be a fairly even-keeled, thick-skinned guy. I guess all of us have those moments when something sets us off, yet you can’t really pinpoint why. I experienced one of those moments on Wednesday morning.

Since I first started this site in May of 2009, I have received more than a few comments and e-mails correcting me on different pieces of misinformation I have put out into the blogosphere. When writing about a subject I’m not very familiar with, I try to research my topic before I start blindly typing away. For example, I’m not a gearhead. I know who the engine manufacturers have been over the years, but I do not understand the minute differences between them enough to explain how or why Honda regularly embarrassed Chevy and Toyota in 2004 & 2005. But if I were to write a post about it, I would try to read up on it enough to at least be conversant on the subject.

Every now and then, I get a little too confident in my ability to recall tidbits that I thought I had committed to memory – especially when I write about the Indianapolis 500. That is a subject I feel the most confident talking and writing about and I sometimes rely on my memory without looking something up, and it bites me. Sometimes I’ll misstate a fact and get called on the carpet on it by readers of this site, as it should be. When that happens, I’ll quickly acknowledge it with something like “Oops! I stand corrected” or something equally non-witty.

Some corrections are comical, although they don’t mean to be. One comes to mind from a couple of years ago when I was writing about Helio Castroneves. I mentioned that Helio might be saying something under his breath in Portuguese. A reader posted a comment pointing out my supposed flaw, stating that Helio isn’t from Portugal; he’s from Brazil and speaks Brazilian. Hmmm…

Sometimes readers will point it out on the comment section, which is fine. Others will have the decency to send me an e-mail pointing out something I mistakenly said. Whichever means of correcting me is fine. I really don’t mind. If I’m clearly wrong, I don’t mind. If someone shares a different opinion than mine, I don’t mind.

Somehow you knew there was a “but” coming. At the risk of sounding defensive, I received an e-mail on Wednesday regarding my post about Sarah Fisher, that rubbed me the wrong way. It didn’t bother me at first, but as the day went on it irritated me more and more as I stewed (and yes, I’m a legendary stewer).

It started out nice enough. The reader, who shall go unnamed, stated how much he liked my blog and thought that I was doing a good job. So far, so good. It was the next paragraph where this e-mail took a strange turn. The reader implored me to please do a better job of research about Sarah Fisher Racing. He went on to explain very carefully that although the team is called Sarah Fisher Racing, Sarah was only the face of the team and handled only the PR side. He then informed me that it was really her father-in-law John O’Gara and husband Andy O’Gara that really ran the team. Really?

However, it was the next sentence that really made me fume throughout the day on Wednesday: “I mean this with no disrespect to you, but with your not being located in Indy and only being around teams once or twice a year at Indy and a couple of races a year, you aren’t in the loop”. When I first read it, my eyebrows raised. As I continued to think about it, it kept gnawing at me throughout the day.

The first question that came to mind was; what in the world does geography have to do with anything? It is true that I don’t live in Indianapolis. It is also true that I am not a journalist. I am a fan and I do this as a hobby. But in my immediate response, I explained to the reader that I have written several posts on Sarah Fisher over the years, I had a personal interview with Sarah and Ed Carpenter both this past May, and for the most part – my research has been spot-on. I also felt the need to explain that I was fully aware that Sarah handled the PR end, while her husband and father-in-law made the racing decisions.

The reader also pointed out my not understanding that Dollar General made their decision long before the end of September and that had I been more in the loop, I would better understand PR spin from the teams. Grrrr!!!

Again, I felt the need to defend myself. I tried to point out that (even though I tend to be morbidly verbose) for brevity sake, I didn’t see the need to get into every piece of minutia in my post – just to show how much I know. I told him that I knew there was much more to the ResQ story than just a sponsor not sending the check. There were major miscommunications on both sides and things got really ugly. Because I didn’t go into those details, does that mean I didn’t know them? Is that an indication that I’m out of the loop?

Curiously enough, this e-mail was from a person I had never heard of. He has never left a comment (under this name), nor has he ever e-mailed me before. To add to the confusion, he never identified any group or organization that would make him considered to be "inside the loop". Coincidence or not, I happened to receive another e-mail from him last night that appeared to be a spam e-mail sent to many others about how to start a home based business. Nice.

I have seen other sites where a blogger will personally attack anyone in their comment section who does not agree with them. I always tried to follow the rule that it wasn’t ever a good idea to attack your readers. Instead, be glad you’ve got them – they are the reason we keep doing this. I never understood bloggers who hold their own readers in contempt. Personally, I’ve always been a little cocky that the readership here was more than a cut above many of the other sites. Perhaps I overreacted to this reader only because it was 5:45am when I read the e-mail. But I could not understand the logic that by me living outside of Marion County, somehow made me less able to understand the sport.

There are many things I don’t know about IndyCar racing. I don’t pretend to be Curt Cavin, Robin Miller or Marshall Pruett. But give me a little credit. I’ve been following this sport long enough to know a few things. I know that Sarah handles the PR end of her team. You know what else? I also know that Larry Foyt makes the day-to-day decisions at AJ Foyt Racing instead of his legendary father; and that Paul Newman and Carl Haas no longer call the shots at Newman/Haas. And before I get more e-mails, I am aware that Paul Newman is deceased.

I welcome corrections and constructive criticism – I really do. All I ask is to please base them on facts and logic. I realize I’m shallow, superficial and petty, but I do want to get things right. If my facts are wrong, please tell me. I have family members who alert me to typos every day, but misstated facts get past them a lot. Because, yes – I get things wrong sometime. But please don’t assume that because I live in Nashville and not Indianapolis, that I am completely isolated from the goings on of the IZOD IndyCar Series and am therefore – out of the loop.

George Phillips

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24 Responses to “It’s Tough Being Outside The Loop”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    I agree with you George, however, I think that devoting your entire Friday blog to comments made by someone who clearly does not follow your blog and knows very little about the overall consistent quality of your posts, was perhaps a mistake. I think sometimes we, myself included, spend way too much time and far too much effort in defending ourselves against criticism from egocentric miscreants.
    Truthfully, I would much rather have read a story railing against the announcement of the latest international race being held in China.

  2. Not being in “the loop” is EXACTLY why we need and read blogs like this. Imagine if all political bloggers had to be located in DC?

  3. That person’s comment was ridiculous. *If* distance had anything to do with the problems he (I presume it’s a “he”) identified, *then* he should have demonstrated the link between those problems and you not being in Indianapolis. If he didn’t, the charge is baseless.

    This is the information age. Distance as a problem can be overcome. One of the best September 11th historians I’ve read lives in California (he routinely quashes conspiracy theorists spouting nonsense over the event); another is in England, while a third is in Italy. Yet, I’ve heard from people living *in Manhattan* who don’t know basics about the New York end of that day’s history. Regarding movies: One of the best American Civil War movies I’ve seen was made by Ang Lee, the same Taiwanese director who shot Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I can go on, but the point is made: Distance does not have to mean a thing. Yes, it *can* be a problem in information gathering, but not only does it not have to be, it must be demonstrated that when something is said to be wrong that it was wrong because the claimant was too far away to get it right.

    Citing distance alone is not the most disciplined of thinking. In the information age, distance is one of the things that’s been shrunk or waylaid as a problem.

    George has a perfect right to make his plea: If someone’s got a disagreement, base it on facts. Not assertions.

  4. I’m in Hamilton County (adjacent to Marion County), and man, there’s a lot I’m sure I don’t know about what goes on. But honestly, it isn’t as if you portray yourself as a Pruett or a Miller, George. You write about IndyCar, and do a fine job of it. In the electronic age, facts and interaction are available like never before. Everyone makes mistakes, regardless of geographical location.

    Although, I guess it was nice he at least took the time to send you an email, however misdirected it might have been.

  5. You are not the idiot so who cares what the hateful person has to say. A.J. Fovt does not live in Indy nor does Roger Penske even though they are directly involved does not mean you are not entitled to your opinion. Where you live and who you know is senseless bullshit from a reader who needs a wake up call. I enjoy you opinion and I do live in Indy so screw the idiot who thinks he is the man. Keep doing what you have done for the fans who are open minded and willing to say I do not know it all nor will I ever. Great article because I see all kinds of critics about IndyCar who go back and talk about cart like it was the best thing that ever happened and forget that cart failed for a reason and it was not Tony George who made it happen. Some so called fans just live in the past and cannot see the issues of the day.

  6. Paul Newman is deceased?

  7. Honey Badger don’t give a shit (about haters)! Don’t let the anal wankers get ya down, George. If anything, IndyCar is TOO focused on people “in the loop” in greater Indianapolis.

  8. billytheskink Says:

    I’m half-surprised the guy didn’t tell you that anyone who doesn’t live within I-465 is “outside of the loop”.

  9. Carburetor Says:

    George, I greatly enjoy your blog, and learn something almost everytime I read it. I am way out west and nowhere near the ‘loop’ but it doesn’t make me any less of a fan of the sport. In a crowded entertainment and sports marketplace, IndyCar needs far less elitism, and many more proponents of the sport like you and your dedication to your blog. Keep up the good work!

  10. I think you always do a great job of researching the topics of your posts (articles?), and that you do it both out of professional duty and personal interest. So no problem there.

    And, what if you were based in Texas, near Foyt’s team? Or Chicago near NewmanHaas and Coyne? Wouldn’t that still count?

  11. Someone said the “comments section” has reduced discussion to A: “Blah Blah is awesome!” B: Blah blah sucks and so you you! C: Eff you! You have a pretty good group that follows you George–I think that’s a reflection of the way you write and edit your blog. So don’t let the occasional yahoo get you down.

    Also. If it makes you feel any better (according to Wikipedia) the official language of Brazil is Portuguese which is spoken by 99% of the people.

    And also: please buy the Nashville track and sponsor an Indy race there before we run out of oval tracks. Thank you.

  12. I really get tired of the elitist “I am Indy” crap. Living in Indianapolis is just living in a city in Indiana. It doesn’t make you prescient or superior to any one else who loves racing. Indy is only 1 race out of many.

    • Let’s not get carried away, Pete. I love Indy, love living outside of it, but I agree we Hoosiers don’t have a monopoly on fandom. But Indy is not 1 race out of many, it’s THE race out of many. :)

      But yeah, living here doesn’t make you any more a “true fan” than someone living in Trenton or Nashville or Toadsuck, Arkansas. If anything, it just means you’re fortunate enough to have a closer commute to The Greatest Race Course In The World. :)

  13. Savage Henry Says:

    Perhaps your reader should start his own blog. He could call it “In the Loop”. (Actually, that’s not bad)

    He could fill it with all of the awesome insider information that he gets from his aunt’s first husband’s brother’s friend that lives near IMS.

  14. In my opinion, anyone who has a sit down interview with Randy Bernard is “in the loop.”

  15. Let’s see:
    AJ Foyt is in TX, so he’s “out of the loop”
    Johnny Rutherford lives in TX, so he’s “out of the loop”
    Kevin Kalkovin lives in CA, so he’s “out of the loop”
    Jimmy Vasser lives in CA, so he’s “out of the loop”
    Bobby Rahal lives in OH, so he’s “out of the loop”
    Dario Franchitti lives in TN and Scotland so he’s way out of the loop
    Helio Castroneves lives in FL, so he’s “out of the loop”
    Mario, Michael & Marco all live in PA, nowheres near the loop
    TK, Vitor, Scott Dixon are all in FL, over 900 miles from the loop
    Izod is in NYC
    APEX is in Brasil
    Does “Mr Knowledgable in the Loop Critc” think all of these, plus most of the drivers, are “out of the loop”?
    Deep breaths George, you’ve been the victim of a drive by of an internet keyboard commando. Someday he’ll move out of Mommy’s basement and accomplish something. Maybe, if he’s lucky, he’ll be as well regarded as you and your blog are!

  16. Outside of the whole “in the loop” thing, which I think is a pretty specious argument, given the general high quality and information contained in your blogs, I have no idea what corrections the guy thought he was making.

    Let’s see: “…Sarah was only the face of the team and handled only the PR side. He then informed me that it was really her father-in-law John O’Gara and husband Andy O’Gara that really ran the team.”

    That’s nice, fella, but I don’t remember George making any assertions about who does what jobs at SFR in the original post. Or, maybe I just read too fast and skimmed over the parts where George said that Sarah personally picks the roll of helicopter tape that is applied to the car before each session and is the one who personally roasts the fine, fresh coffees that the team brews up in its transporter. It’s called “splitting the responsibilities”, dude. I think we all know how that works, but thanks for the master class in race team management.

    “The reader also pointed out my not understanding that Dollar General made their decision long before the end of September and that had I been more in the loop, I would better understand PR spin from the teams.”

    Um, I think that George’s original quote says it all here:
    “But her celebration was somewhat tempered as she announced Dollar General’s decision in victory lane. Although others may have known it, that was the first I had heard of it.”

    At no time did George claim that Dollar General told her that they weren’t coming back for next year sometime in the middle of the Kentucky race, or when she was on her way to victory lane, or some other particular time. George said that he wasn’t aware of Dollar General’s leaving before Sarah said they were going during that victory lane interview. Funny, but I think I’ve heard quite a bit of surprise surrounding that bombshell, not just from George. Or, did I miss all of the columns from that previous Thursday from the “in the loop” types, breaking that news, and then just George was left in the dark until the end of the race on that Sunday?

    Really, George, it’s just some guy who feels like pointing out the shortcomings of others. Which is fun, and feels so good, but it helps when you actually have the skills to read and understand the original content. This guy gets a “zero” in that column.

  17. H.B. Donnelly Says:

    Let’s see….looking over the blogs in my bookmarks, some locations are Nashville, Baltimore, Phoenix, Des Moines, and Toronto, and last I checked, Marshall Pruett is based out of San Francisco. All of those people are clearly out of the loop.

    I grew up in the D.C. area, but I was just outside of the Beltway. That means I know nothing of how the politics of D.C. and the United States works.

    Don’t let the haters get ya down. Part of being in the public eye is that there is always some high school dropout who thinks they’re better than you. However, being from Nashville, I do expect good insider info on the country music industry ;-)

  18. I live just north or Indy and don’t feel very “in the loop” sometimes. It’s nice that I can get from my driveway to the gates of IMS in 20-25 minutes and it’s nice that I know people who work for several of the teams, but that doesn’t make me more knowledgable than a passionate fan who lives outside the area. Sometimes I’m just glad that there still ARE passionate fans who aren’t from central Indiana.

    Don’t sweat it George. That’s like a person from Louisville telling someone who loves horse racing that they don’t have a clue because they don’t live in the shadow of the twin spires at Churchill Downs, or someone from Nashville telling others they can’t have an opinion on country music.

  19. Some corrections are comical, although they don’t mean to be. One comes to mind from a couple of years ago when I was writing about Helio Castroneves.

    Modifikasi Motor Tiger : http://modifikasimotorunik.com/modifikasi-motor-tiger-2005.html

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