Saying Goodbye To Old Friends

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The number of IndyCar blog sites has been dwindling for the last few years. When I first started in the spring of 2009, there were more than you could count. One by one, they’ve either fallen by the wayside or they’ve really cut back.

Some that come to mind that I really liked and exist no more were: My Name is IRL, Is It May Yet?, The Speedgeek, The Chrome Horn, IndyCar Advocate and of course The Silent Pagoda. Others that have either changed direction or cut back include our good friend Pressdog, Monica Hilton at The Race gIRL, 15 Days in May, Meesh at So…Here’s What I’m Thinking…, JPIndyCar, …And He’s On It, 16th and Georgetown, Grounded Effects, IndySoup, etc. Anyway, you get my point.

The point is many good ones have gone. Some new ones have come onto the scene, but many of them disappear about as soon as you hear about them. I still read some of the current ones. One of my current favorites is Mark Wilkerson at New Track Record. I like Mark, because his site most resembles mine – it’s mostly one person’s voice.

When I first started, there was a site that intrigued me; even though I hated the name – Planet IRL. What intrigued me was the writing of a few of the bloggers on their staff. The ones that I liked were the genesis of a new site that came around in 2010 – More Front Wing.

More Front Wing (MFW) raised the bar for everyone. They put this and other blog sites to shame. Actually, they didn’t because they were so much more than a blog site. Comparing MFW to other blogs was comparing apples to oranges. Not only did they have all the bells and whistles of a major website, they did actual news reporting as well as offer their well-rounded opinions.

Unfortunately, this past Wednesday – MFW announced they were ceasing their operations immediately and they posted their respective farewells.

This was not a blog site, in my opinion. To me, they were a major news outlet that happened to be run by passionate fans. Most of us, myself included, sit at our keyboards and opine about news that has been out there for days. MFW actually went out and uncovered news.

I know less than a handful of drivers that might actually recognize me and call me by name when they see me. I also happen to know a few more people in various positions with different teams or sponsors that might feed me a nugget of information. When they do, they do it to give me a heads-up but they don’t want me spilling the beans before it’s announced. Over the years, I’ve never violated their trust and that’s why they talk to me.

But rarely do I do interviews, and since I’m trusted with the few people I know – my site is not a news source. MFW was a news source – and more. Unlike me, they were all on first name basis with all of the drivers and teams, as well they should have been. The Event Summaries that they posted each event weekend, set the standard in motorsports journalism. IndyCar.com should do all they can to put something like that on their website. What made MFW “more” was that they were fans. They didn’t try to guess what fans wanted – they knew what fans wanted because they were fans also. No offense to some of the sites that have gone away in recent years, but this may be the biggest blow yet to the IndyCar blogging community.

I feel fortunate that, at various times, I got to meet all four that were involved at MFW – Bash Beard and John Lingle were both contributors and did a very good job. I’ve interacted with both of them via the internet mostly over the years, but had the pleasure of meeting them once each at IMS.

But the two that I have grown to know well and respect – Steph Wallcraft and Paul Dalbey – will be sorely missed from the IndyCar blogging community; but selfishly – I will miss them, on a personal basis.

I met both of them in May of 2010. I had been blogging for a little more than a year. We had swapped e-mails and Twitter messages for a year, before finally meeting them both. My first impressions were correct – Steph was cordial, and Paul was a wisecrack – but in a very fun-loving way. Over the years at different tracks, Susan and I always looked forward to seeing our two friends that could not have been more different in so many ways – but there was an undeniable chemistry in their friendship.

The demise of MFW was not a result of any rift in their friendship. Life simply got in the way. Steph has gotten a great motorsports journalistic opportunity in her hometown of Toronto. Juggling motherhood and marriage and a career is tough enough. Throw in the demands of maintaining a site like they had and it’s a wonder she stayed with it as long as she did. Paul wrestled with the idea of going it alone, but not for long. A site of that magnitude and that polished requires many collaborative minds working a lot of hours.

I will miss our friends in the blogosphere. Our friendship evolved beyond blogging. Paul was actually kind enough to serve as our photographer when Susan and I got married at IMS in May of 2012. Nowadays, when we are together in the month of May – we’ll actually go out to dinner and discuss things other than racing. For a little while anyway, but it always comes back to why we are together in Indianapolis.

I’m hoping this doesn’t signal the end of our May get-together with Paul, Steph, John or Bash; and I don’t think it will. Three of them have other projects going on that will probably bring them back to IMS in May. As for Paul, I cannot imagine that he doesn’t already have something in the works that will put him square in the center of things by next May.

So, even though we are bidding farewell to the site More Front Wing, I have a strong feeling we’ll be hearing from all four of them next racing season. Let’s hope so.

George Phillips

On a personal note: Unfortunately, I am not finished with my goodbyes. I am sad to report that last night (Thursday, Oct 16), Susan and I made the painful decision to end the suffering of our 13 year-old lab Luckey.

You may recall that two and a half weeks ago, Luckey suddenly lost the use of her hind legs. The vet found that she had a tumor on her spleen that had produced a blood clot in her spine, causing her to lose the use of her legs. He said she would probably never walk again and he suggested she be put down immediately. In shock, I brought her home to say our goodbyes. But Luckey rallied and regained complete control of her legs. She was our happy and playful dog again, for about a week and a half.

But last Sunday, the effects of the tumor became apparent and Luckey took a dramatic turn for the worse. After a few days, it became obvious that there was not to be another rally in our old friend. We decided to spare her any more pain and suffering.

Dog lovers understand what we are feeling right now; but I’m happy we gave her a great home after she was abandoned by her original owner. She was spoiled rotten and that was by design. I just hope we brought her as much joy as she brought us all these years. Thanks to everyone who has asked about her for the past couple of weeks. Thanks also to those that have indulged me talking about my dog. She was a good friend. Here is a picture of Luckey made in our back yard in 2007 at age six – in the prime of her life. – GP

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20 Responses to “Saying Goodbye To Old Friends”

  1. brianmckayfsu Says:

    Sorry about Luckey.
    But thanks for IndyCar-blogging steadily all these years. I suppose that your deep love and knowledge of the sport AND your decision way-back-when to blog regularly – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – enable you to ‘keep it up’ while so many others fade away.
    Thanks again.

  2. Mike Silver Says:

    So sorry about Luckey, George.
    Great tribute to MFW. It was a great site for news and fans. I looked forward to their event summaries. They were a great way to start a race weekend. Hope you will still be around a while longer.

  3. Ah, George. I am so, so sorry to hear about Luckey. I only met her a couple of times, but she was a great dog.

  4. Jim Peabody, Colorado Springs Says:

    George, so sad to lose a family member. I’m sure you gave as much as you gained from Luckey. My condolences. Also please know that YOUR blog is a beacon in the dark for all us old time, die hard Indycar fans. I saw my first Indianapolis 500 in 1963, when I was 10 and became hooked for life. Thanks for all you do for our slow dying sport.

  5. I, too, enjoy the work of Paul Dalbey and I don’t think there has been a more dedicated writer of auto sports. Hopefully, Paul will find an outlet for his talent and studied perspective.

  6. So sorry to hear about Luckey. Always hard to make a decision like that. What a beautiful girl and what a beautiful life you gave her.

  7. billytheskink Says:

    I always hate to lose any Indycar blog, or site in general. MFW was one of the best, both for commentary and discussion and for being about the closest thing Indycar had to Jayski, with those excellent event summaries. Nothing will ever take MFW’s place, but I hope the remaining Indycar blog community can pick up and fill some of the roles the MFW crew performed.

    My condolences for Luckey. Losing a pet is always so hard.

  8. George, this is so unbelievably touching that I don’t even know where to start. Paul and I had an inkling that a few people might be disappointed we were shutting down, but the outpouring of gratitude and support since Wednesday has truly been overwhelming, your tribute most certainly notwithstanding.

    I’ve grown to deeply appreciate the friendships I’ve developed with Paul, our contributors, and you and Susan and many of the other passionate IndyCar fans I’ve had the privilege to cross paths with over these past five years. You bet your backside you’ll still be seeing me (and all of us, I would imagine) in May, at other races, and any time I find myself passing through Nashville. You won’t get rid of me that easily!

    Thanks so much, George, and keep on keeping on. Of those that are left, your site is easily at the very top of the heap.

    PS Very sorry again about sweet Luckey. You and Susan did right by her until the very last. I hope grief gives way to good memories very soon.

  9. Mark Wick Says:

    George, I am sorry to read the expected news about Luckey. Harry was part of my family for 17 plus years. Like Luckey, he suddenly became unable to function, but we nursed him for several days after a trip to the vet which offered little hope. He rallied for about three weeks before he faded quickly.
    As I was sitting with him in my arms in a back room at the vet’s office, he raised his head and looked into my eyes for the last time and I became aware of the music in the room. The song playing at that moment was “What I Did For Love,” from “A Chorus Line.”
    I still miss Harry, but I also cherish that moment.
    I also got emotional reading the goodbye stories at MFW, because I am also sad to see that shut down. Back when print was the only to distribute written words, I had to make the decision to end a special sports labor of love also.
    That wasn’t the end for me and, like you and so many others, I hope we haven’t read the last from those who brought us MFW.

  10. So sorry to hear about Luckey. I so enjoy your blog and I appreciate you sharing this part of your life with your readers. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  11. that’s why it’s important you keep writing George. I look forward to reading with my coffee every M, W & F!

    Does the disappearance of Indycar blogs have any correlation to overall interest in Indycar? I sure hope not.

  12. Donald & Laurie McElvain Says:

    We are so sorry for your loss and know how painful that can be for all concerned.

  13. Excellent piece, George. As soon as the news came out about MFW, I was looking forward to your reaction. They definitely made a great, positive impact in the series, and we can all learn so much from them.

    Sorry to hear about Luckey. Unfortunately we can all relate to losing a friend like that.

  14. number one sorry to see you lost your dog. we lost three in a year so I can relate. mfw was as you said always very informative and fair and balanced in there views.

  15. Sad to hear about Luckey. We put our Rudder down last year and still think of him every day. Hang in there.

  16. Thanks so much, George, for the incredibly kind and gracious words – even if I am the wisecrack. I guess we’ve known all along everyone loves Steph more, so why change now? 🙂

    I don’t know what 2015 will hold for me yet, but I don’t much care for the idea of spending May without bringing coverage to the IndyCar Nation one way or another. I hope to find my way behind the lens somehow.

    As you said, I too value our friendship and appreciate that it has grown beyond simply the discussion of racing. Your calm demeanor, yet “somewhat” excitable underbelly (perhaps known to only a select few), have been a great source of comfort and wisdom to me over the past several years. I certainly look forward to enjoying many more tenderloins in the years to come, even if we have to march allt he way out to Turn 2 to find the good ones!

  17. So sorry to hear about the passing of your dog Luckey. I will look at my Bassett hound Roscoe with extra appreciation tonight.

    The passing of MFW will also leave a huge void. Certainly Paul and Steph were or are the gold standard. I think I wlll spend the evening paging through the MFW photo gallery. I am particularly grateful for the 1954 and 1955 Indy500 photos as those were my first “500” races. Then I will grab a fermented beverage and listen to the classic TO balcony podcast.

  18. Great tribute to MFW, they’ll be missed.
    I’m very sorry for your loss of Luckey. Thanks for sharing & I hope you two eventually are able to open your hearts to another (spoiled) pet.

  19. Jane Hamilton Says:

    This bears repeating: “IndyCar.com should do all they can to put something like that on their website.” I wholeheartedly agree.

    And I am so sorry about Luckey.

  20. belated condolences about your dog

    More Front Wing was a great group. I had the honor to meet Stef Wallcraft and Bash over the course of two years at Sonoma. First, MFW was independent. You cannot really say that about the major outlets like Racer (which is sponsored by Verizon). Also, MFW was (as noted) not a blog. It provided news on a constant basis, which is difficult. There are very few reliable and trustworthy open wheel news sits. Running a news site is a huge challenge in terms of time and commitment, and it’s too bad that high quality content is not enough to make a decent wage.

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