Are You A “Trackside Online” Subscriber?
A couple of nights ago, I gladly renewed one of the most vital services for any true IndyCar fan – my annual subscription to Trackside Online. It is, without a doubt, the easiest twenty-two dollar decision I make all year. For the cost of a bad meal at Applebee’s, I get the most up-to-date information in the IndyCar world delivered right to my inbox.
Several years ago, one of the few Nashville IndyCar fans that I know to exist, mentioned something he read on Trackside Online. I had to admit I didn’t know what he was talking about. He couldn’t believe it. For the rest of that season, he would forward a few of the really “meaty” Trackside e-mail reports to me. Then, just before the start of the next season – he surprised me with my own year-long subscription. After that, I’ve picked up my own tab ever since.
For a mere twenty-two dollars a year, you get access to their website and their huge library of photographs. You also get e-mails that come at just the right intervals – not too sparingly, but you’re not getting bombarded either. The e-mails vary from PR press releases from each team, each manufacturer, Firestone and INDYCAR. Those can be interesting if they are actually newsworthy, but they sometimes have a little too much positive spin to be very useful. I mean, how positive can Dale Coyne Racing be to write that James Jakes suffered a mechanical gremlin on Lap Two? Yet, to read some of these team’s releases – it sounds like each driiver had a great day.
But the main reason I subscribe is for their own analysis – mostly because I usually agree with them. Anytime I see an e-mail from Trackside Online and it says “TSO News” in the subject line, I know it is going to be a well-written account of the news of the day in the IndyCar world. And I’m not talking about just race weekends – Trackside Online keeps us up-to-date throughout the entire offseason.
What I like about TSO is that you don’t feel like you’re getting your news from some sterile news conglomerate that is just recycling the same stale report you see on every site. It has a bit of a smaller, homey feel to it – and I say that in the most complimentary way. Then again, it’s not so small that you feel as if you’re dealing with a one-man outfit (like this site, for instance).
Actually, as best I can tell, TSO is at least a two-man operation – Joe Berkemeier and Patrick Stephan write the bulk of their communications. But they have others that pitch in from time to time, as well as some excellent photographers.
But where Trackside Online shines is on any race weekend and the month of May in particular. Usually, there is at least one reporter on-site for every race – including those overseas. I actually enjoy some of the non-racing reporting from the international events in order to get just a little local flavor.
TSO will pass along the obligatory PR statements from the teams, suppliers and the series as quickly as they receive them, but they are also quick to post practice and qualifying speeds. But I can eventually get that anywhere. Where they excel is in providing detailed information that I can’t get anywhere – things like pit assignments, what slight changes are being made to the car, etc. On top of all that, they are amazingly quick to give their own spot-on analysis and commentary. They can also deliver one of the quickest and most accurate race re-caps you’ll come across anywhere.
All in all, Trackside Online is one of the best bargains out there. For twenty-two dollars a year, how could you beat it? For budgetary reasons, I allowed my racing magazine subscriptions to lapse about three years ago (although I was given a new subscription to Racer this past Christmas – I had missed it). But one that I never gave any thought to giving up was my subscription to Trackside Online. It’s the only website that I have ever paid to access, which should tell you how much I value it. Are you a Trackside Online subscriber? If not, you should be.
To check out Trackside Online, go their website here.