MONTE DUTTON - OH, THE TIMES, THEY ARE DECLINING
When I started writing about NASCAR in 1993, occasionally what I wrote was the talk of the track the following week.
That’s because the weekly paper that then employed me was distributed at the track. Then along came Jayski, or, as it was then called, “Jayski’s Silly Season Page,” an online compendium of racing information that was updated daily beginning in 1996 by Jay Adamczyk.
Jayski changed everything. All of a sudden, what I wrote was widely known the next day. The site gave NASCAR coverage immediacy. It gave guys like me, by then working for the newspaper in Gastonia, N.C., attention much greater than ever before.
Adamczyk kept on maintaining the site after he sold it to ESPN in 2007. Due to his knack of putting all the news that was news about NASCAR in one site, it gave fans a go-to place that has since been undermined a bit by social media and the NASCAR sites of TV networks, major newspapers, individuals and NASCAR itself. For the fans who had a tendency to get lost on The Worldwide Web (hah, remember that?), Jayski remained important.
On Jan. 28, Adamczyk announced that ESPN was dropping the site. It closed down that day. NASCAR didn’t hold a media tour this year. Highly respected reporter Bob Pockrass and onetime colleague lost his job at ESPN.com but recently announced his coverage was being picked up by Fox Sports.
NASCAR’s popularity is diminishing, and, in contrast to the popular 1979 rock song by Pink Floyd, the bricks are falling out of the wall. My first reaction was “what’s the use?”
Other than this column, all my other NASCAR-related activities have declined in lockstep with the sport in general, and I’ve been questioning whether or not it’s really worth it anymore to write about the sport at my own website, montedutton.com. I’ll still write about it, but only when I feel as if there’s a crying need, once I get through crying. I hope you folks enjoy this weekly column because there’s a decent chance it will become the exclusive site of my NASCAR voice. I don’t think anyone’s going to shed any tears over that, just as it didn’t bother anyone in an official position of authority when my newspaper job was eliminated in 2013.
Many who gave their hearts and souls to NASCAR are becoming unloved, unwanted and unsung. People adjust. Lots of them get all their information from TV and satellite radio nowadays, anyway. My 20 years of full-time columns, news, notes, books, blogs, radio appearances and tales from the road are already no more than a footnote from the past. Life goes on. People move on. Times change. People get older and fall behind the times. South Carolina SportsTalk ended this week, too. I’ve known Phil Kornblut since I was in one South Carolina college and he was graduating from another.
For quite a few years now, I talked NASCAR each Friday night on a network of radio stations across the state. Once I talked with Phil from a wedding reception in Cleveland. Several times I was sitting in a high school press box, trying to keep up with first downs and rushing yards while, at the same time, expressing an opinion on who was likely to win the Elvis Presley Is Gone Presented by the Jordanaires 400 from a venue far away from both me and South Carolina Network.
Of course, like Jayski, S.C. Network got bought out by a large conglomerate that eventually put it out of business. Kornblut has latched on with a Columbia station, and he might be able to set up a network. I don’t know whether he’ll want me to talk racing anymore. Were I him, I probably wouldn’t.
At this point, we’re all just getting put out of our misery. I admire Pockrass and Kornblut, but I’ve gotten too old to start over. I’m still busy, and I’ve gotten in better financial shape, but I never have been any good at selling myself or anything else, for that matter. I just go someplace, whether it’s Daytona Beach or Possum Kingdom, and write what I see.
I’ve still got my honesty left.