(Bill W) March 13, 2018, Monroe, IA – Of all things, I happened to be sitting with Terry McCarl at a basketball game in Ames, Iowa...it was eleven years ago. His son Austin was an eighth grader playing in an AAU tourney, and had just fouled a guy who hit the deck pretty hard. Terry said, “Do you want to do driver press releases for me? I think it’s a good idea.”
The wheels were turning in my head. The press releases out at the time were for companies mainly. No one, at least in the sprint car ranks, had them. I went home and searched Hoseheads. “Man, these things were boring, but I could use a little side income!” I thought.
If someone did these for drivers, what would the people want to hear? They needed spicing up. Certainly, they didn’t want to hear from me! So, slowly I developed the driver press release. They would contain at least 80% quotes from the driver. When I read race stories, I’d often go straight to the quotes, so I thought these would work the same. We don’t have to be politically correct. In fact, that’s not much fun. But we need to have some grammar. I always tried to get a current photo with a credit to help out the photog, and “Tuesdays with TMAC” was formed. We included sponsors, fun facts about the driver, and questions from the fans.
Wayne Johnson liked what he saw, and then came “Wednesdays with Wayne”. My censoring and grammar editing heated up at that point (just kidding Wayne, kind of). Brian Brown was starting to hit his stride and jumped on board in 2007 too. Soon he would be out of a ride, and starting his own team. Those were the first three drivers of many to come.
It was never my intention to do it for a living. I still don’t know that you can do it and do it the right way if you’re doing it for a living. There’s just not that much time in the day to do it right. So, I charged a fair price for the driver and for me, and it worked out. I had to cap the number of drivers I was doing, as I had what I called “a real job” at the time. That allowed me to be picky about who I worked with too. I tried to always align with drivers and owners who were giving the fans their time at the track, and drivers who were fans themselves.
Through the years, I’ve been able to work with some great drivers and more importantly, people: Billy Alley, Skip Jackson, Kerry Madsen, Brady Bacon, Jerrod Hull, Kaley Gharst, Brandon Wimmer, Joey Moughan, Brad Loyet, Mark Dobmeier, Josh Schneiderman, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Austin and Carson McCarl, Josh Fisher, Chad Humston, Russ Hall, Caleb Martin and Bailey Goldesberry, car owners Mark Burch, Jimmy Davies, Troy Renfro and Matt Wood, and late greats Jesse Hockett and Bryan Clauson. Let me know who I forgot!
When the rivalries heated up between Hockett and Brown, Dobmeier and McCarl (or McCarl and Brown or anybody), Wayne or Sam and ASCS…it was fun to call them back to back and then try lay it out for the fans. The drivers always were great about it. In racing, we’re one big family!
A year ago, I began working part-time for the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum when my friend, Tom Schmeh, grew ill. There was the “Salute to Champion Sammy Swindell” exhibit and the annual induction banquet to get ready for…then it was the Knoxville Nationals, and our countless other things going on at any given time 24/7/365. I remained part-time with all my other duties in racing, chiefly my writing, also taking my time. I couldn’t commit to full-time yet.
Finally, last October 1, I went full-time. It’s the best move I ever made, but it didn’t leave the time I needed to do a quality job for my drivers, and they deserved that. So I made the hard decision to step back from the weekly stuff this offseason. You may notice other writers stepping in for me with these drivers, and they will do a great job!
When people have asked me over the years if I’m mad that my release style is being copied over and over by others, I think it’s ridiculous. Many have even called and asked advice. It’s the ultimate compliment when someone likes your style. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I started, but it seemed to have caught on…that’s pretty cool. And it’s cool to have seen it leak into other forms of motorsports. It’s for the fans, but it’s also for the owners, sponsors and promoters. I’ve found releases very informative as an announcer and a journalist when they are done right.
Will I miss getting home at seven o’clock at night and realizing I need to still write three or four releases before unwinding? Hell no! Will I miss the weekly relationships and great conversations with some great people in racing? You bet. It took me a while to break that I was stepping back to them…especially McCarl, Brown and Wayne. They were there from the beginning. I’m happy to say the friendships will always be there with all of the drivers I’ve worked with.
I’m not quitting writing by any means. I’ll still pen my race results and stories from Knoxville Raceway and other races I get to attend, as well as continue with Flat Out Magazine, Speed Sport and others. Not doing weekly releases will also give me time to focus on OpenWheel101.com as well. I will be freed to write more columns for the site and keep inputting history into the site for research purposes. I’ll still do retirement releases for FREE, though John Kearney knows that the second and third retirement have a fee!
The site will still see plenty of updating, so stay tuned! If you’re interested in covering races in your area, or blogging, no matter where you are, let me know! I’d like this site to have a lot of fan content. Tom Myers in Ohio has done a great job of following the All Stars and other organizations in his area, and we’re looking forward to more from him. Look for more guest columnists as well. I started writing from the stands myself, so those are my favorite ways to update this site!
Next week, the 2018 410 schedule for the Midwest Thunder Sprints presented by Open Wheel 101 will be announced. Look for other exciting news here concerning the 2018 season!
Bill W Media