- F​ormula E racing in Long Beach, California (2015)

How Auto Racing is Covered in "AutoMatters & More"

Hint: With lots of my original photography, as you will see!

35w ago
23.6K

As incredible as it is for me to believe, this is number 663 in my continuing series of columns, written over nearly 20 years. In that time, I’ve shared information with you about a wide variety of subjects.

D​rifting at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (California) (2018)

D​rifting at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (California) (2018)

From the possibilities of what I might have shared, it was necessary for me — as it would have been for anyone — to be selective in terms of what made it into each individual column, and in what ways. How did I make those decisions, and why? I will try to answer those questions here with regards to my coverage of auto racing throughout the years.

I​MSA

I​MSA

My objective has always been to share the topics with you in a such a way that would be informative, accurate, interesting and representative of the subject matter. My audience consists of a broad cross-section of the general public, so I write in a conversational style, much as I would talk to friends. It is less technical than a column that, for example, is intended for instruction or a technical analysis of the subject matter. I continually vary the topics, so as to keep this column of interest to audiences with a wide variety of interests. Auto racing, therefore, is just one of many topics covered in “AutoMatters & More.”

T​ransAm at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (2018)

T​ransAm at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (2018)

To some extent, content of the coverage is dictated by the format of how it will be presented. There are print and online versions of “AutoMatters & More.” In a print publication, the choices are to describe the event in words and perhaps still photos. You’ve probably heard the saying: “a picture tells a thousand words.” Still photos of eventful moments in a race may effectively take the place of many written words to describe those moments. Beyond that, the text can refer you to other sources and types of information, including links to videos and more.

S​tadium Super Trucks race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, California (2018)

S​tadium Super Trucks race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, California (2018)

The format of publication is a significant factor in determining how much information can be shared. Notwithstanding the advisability of how long a column should be to retain the attention of its audience, print publications are limited by the amount of available space they choose to provide for specific content. For ongoing columns, publications typically allocate a fixed amount of space, so for years I have written to a word count of approximately 750 words.

M​ichael Andretti

M​ichael Andretti

M​ichael Andretti

M​ichael Andretti

M​ario Andretti

M​ario Andretti

I​ndyCar driver Takuma Sato from Japan

I​ndyCar driver Takuma Sato from Japan

A​ corner worker, without whom no races could be held.

A​ corner worker, without whom no races could be held.

Additionally, I provide the publications with several edited photos — typically five — in both color and black & white. From those photos, the editors of the publications choose which of those, if any, to use, and then they position them where they deem appropriate.

I​ndyCars at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

I​ndyCars at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

I​ndyCar driver Alexander Rossi (formerly a Formula 1 driver and contestant on "The Amazing Race."

I​ndyCar driver Alexander Rossi (formerly a Formula 1 driver and contestant on "The Amazing Race."

In contrast, in online publications, length of the text, as well as the number of photos and videos, are potentially unlimited.

W​GAS Motorsports at the San Diego County Fair

W​GAS Motorsports at the San Diego County Fair

P​ictures can tell the story in a way that words cannot.

P​ictures can tell the story in a way that words cannot.

Since it is impossible to share everything, what makes it to the top of the list, why and how is it presented? Access is a significant determining factor of what can be presented. Furthermore, the experience and perspective of the journalist plays a significant role in how a race will be presented. A racer, with their first-hand knowledge of racing and the participants, might well report a race differently than would someone who does not race.

A​utocrossing at the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational at Las Vegas International Speedway (2019)

A​utocrossing at the OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational at Las Vegas International Speedway (2019)

At a race, it is physically impossible for me to be everywhere at all times, so I try to go to a variety of places around the venue to see race preparation, the fans, racing, post-race activities and more. I collect printed race notes and other materials, and record drivers’ comments, to refer to when I write my columns. I also take lots of still photos, since I prefer to use my own photos rather than supplied images. Typically in professional race series, shooting video is strictly restricted to the broadcast partners.

J​immie Johnson's farewell appearance at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California (2020)

J​immie Johnson's farewell appearance at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California (2020)

N​ASCAR at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (2020)

N​ASCAR at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (2020)

Depending upon the type of racing, auto races may be short (for example, drag racing), long or somewhere in between. Before the actual racing, all forms of auto racing require much preparation. Afterwards there are celebrations, packing up and leaving the event site.

R​ed Bull Global Rallycross, Las Vegas, Nevada (2015)

R​ed Bull Global Rallycross, Las Vegas, Nevada (2015)

R​acing in the rain

R​acing in the rain

The reactions and various race-time activities of the fans, and comments from the crews and drivers, also tell part of the story.

Ultimately, what I choose to report is determined by what I think you would most like to see from what I have seen. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year I've hardly seen anything. Hopefully life will return to normal in 2021.

I​n case you may be wondering, yes, I was getting soaked taking these photos!

I​n case you may be wondering, yes, I was getting soaked taking these photos!

Copyright © 2020 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #663r3

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Comments (6)

  • Jan, thanks for the explanation. It’s more comprehensive than I expected. You ARE doing considerable new work to build on your archive of 671 columns. I’ll certainly follow your new website when it’s up and running. If you know anyone on YouTube or Instagram, they should be able to give advice on monetization. David.

      5 months ago
    • Thanks David. In rereading my previous reply to you, I noticed that I'd made several "typos" (more likely Apple word substitutions), so I edited and added to my reply.

      Jan

        5 months ago
    • Don’t worry about the typos. They happen to me all the time and I’m constantly correcting. They actually are Apple substitutions, and happen when you go to press one if the three alternatives and your finger brushes a letter in the top row of...

      Read more
        5 months ago
  • Hi Jan. You had given me a “heads up” on AutoMatters & More so I looked it up. While my interest is primarily F1, I see you are covering all aspects of Motorsport. There are only 24 hours in a day. How do you visit all these locations, with photos from everywhere?

    Maybe I don’t understand the process. Do you have fellow correspondents at other events who provide raw information and you work it into a useful form? Don’t give away trade secrets but it seems a gigantic undertaking. All the best with your website.

      5 months ago
    • Hi again Jan. Before you reply to my comment above, I realize I’ve misunderstood the source materials you will be using for AutoMatters & More. I now see that most material will be from your archives of 600 or more articles you have written...

      Read more
        5 months ago
    • Hi David,

      Until March of this year, I had been covering events in person from my home base in San Diego, California. Each year I've been covering IndyCar and NASCAR (Cup and Xfinity) Series racing in Southern California. Over the years I've...

      Read more
        5 months ago
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