A farewell to More Front Wing

Counterpoint, IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on October 15, 2014 6:56 am
Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn2Email this to someone

What follows is a pair of letters from co-editors Steph Wallcraft and Paul Dalbey on the closure of More Front Wing. Please read on and share with us as we express our thanks for all this site has given to us over these past five years.

*

*

I write this letter with an impossibly heavy heart.

For the last five years this website has meant the world to me, and I’ve given it my all. Under the vision and direction of Paul and me, it morphed from a simple IndyCar blog to a legitimate source of news, statistics, entertainment and more that spanned the entire IndyCar development ladder in as fan-focused a way as we could muster.

Sadly, it seems the old adage is true that all good things must eventually end.

I’ll be up front: it was me who initiated this process, though it took months of heart-wrenching internal debate. I had hoped that Paul, John and Bash might be able to carry the torch without me, but Paul has quite rightly decided to turn his attention to work and family after determining that he can’t commit to maintaining MFW at the level it has come to deserve.

I thank him for being honest about that. I think we all agree we would rather go out at the top of our game than let what we’ve built wither and die under neglect.

For me, as much as I’ve invested my heart and soul into this site, I’ve known deep down for a while now that the time has come to move on. Some of you know that I’m one of the lucky ones who has managed to turn my passion into a somewhat respectable career (if I dare say so myself) at home in Canada as a motorsport and automotive journalist. These days I’m a regular contributor to the Wheels section of the Toronto Star, Canada’s most widely distributed newspaper, and I also write occasionally for PRN Ignition and other outlets. I was recently accepted as a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. To use a worn cliché, I truly am living the dream.

But along that same vein, I’m called upon to know about and write about a lot more in motorsport than IndyCar these days, and so for me MFW has turned into a bit of a pigeonhole gazing out over the open sky. I’ve known for some time that I need to expand and diversify to permit myself to grow and be the best I can be at my work.

So, to reiterate more succinctly: I am not leaving motorsport. Heck, you’ll probably find that I’m not even really leaving IndyCar. I’m in the process of exploring potential avenues for new projects right now, and I expect to have news by the new calendar year as to exactly where those roads will take me.

In the meantime, while preparing to say this goodbye I’ve been reflecting a great deal on the many gifts that More Front Wing has given me over these past five years. It goes without saying that without this site I wouldn’t be in my current career, but it’s not so widely known that I also wouldn’t have my husband or my daughter with me today were it not for this site and my passion for open-wheel racing. Immersing myself in all that MFW entails has indelibly shaped my life and allowed it to blossom from lost loneliness into the joy it currently holds. For that, I will be eternally thankful.

I’m also extremely grateful for the vast support we’ve received from the IndyCar Nation, both from inside the series and on the fan side. Many of IndyCar’s biggest fans started out as complete strangers to us but have turned into honest-to-goodness friends. It’s amazing how racing brings like-minded people together, and I look forward to continuing to interact with many of you throughout and after this transition.

I also want to say a specific thank you to Mike Silver, who supported us not only in morale but also financially as we attempted to monetize the site last year. That a fellow IndyCar fan was willing to invest in us so deeply meant an enormous amount to us. In spite of this news, Mike, I hope we did you proud.

And, of course, I’m most grateful for my co-conspirators here at MFW. It was an honor to work alongside John Lingle in the media center in Houston these past two years and to play a small supporting role as he released the book that is his pride and joy, Hard Luck Lloyd.

In Bash I met a deeply kindred spirit who is as happy to geek out at 2 AM her time (that’s 5 AM to my Eastern self!) about racing as she is about science fiction as long as it’s over a glass of wine (but only one), and I have little doubt that the pilgrimage to San Francisco and the Sonoma Valley will quickly become an annual tradition.

And then there’s Paul. When we first met back at Homestead in 2009 – thanks to that little blue backpack with the Canadian flag patch on it – we were so vastly different it was laughable. I don’t think either one of us had any idea of how much we would fundamentally influence each other’s viewpoints over time. I’m so grateful for the years we spent as co-editors here, getting yelled at in media centers for having too much fun and recording our blithering foolishness on Skype and various Toronto balconies. You’ve given me memories for a lifetime, my friend, and I hope that though the context may change we still have many, many more to come.

There is a great deal of change in the works for the next few months, but one thing is already certain: we’ll miss this thing terribly.

But on the other hand, the more things change, the more they stay the same. After all, you just know that Paul and I won’t be able to keep ourselves from arguing about IndyCar on Twitter.

Until next time, race fans. It’s been a slice.

See you at the front.

- Steph

*

*

Every once in a while, some people are fortunate and blessed enough to be involved in a project they never thought could happen. So it has been for me since July 2009 when I first started working with Planet-IRL, the precursor to what would become More Front Wing.

To say I consider myself lucky to have been part of this experience would be a massive understatement. It has honestly been the fulfillment of a dream. But dreams don’t last forever, and the time has come that More Front Wing is best left to our memories.

When Steph told me she needed to step away to focus on her career aspirations, I knew it was time for me to step away as well. It is a decision I had been wrestling with for quite some time anyway, and now it is clear that the time is right. I could have kept the site going for a while longer, likely bringing on a few more friends to try to replace the gigantic hole left by Steph, but unfortunately life has just demanded too much of my time and energy to continue with the site properly.

Since we re-launched in August 2010, More Front Wing has had a special way of doing things. We have always held ourselves to the very highest standards of content, presentation, and professionalism. I simply don’t have the time or energy to uphold the gold standard that Steph has set for us.

And quite honestly, I just didn’t want to go on without Steph. From the very night she and I spent hours upon hours at a Starbucks in downtown Toronto during the 2010 race weekend painstakingly planning out exactly what we wanted to do with our new site, we have been side by side through this. We have been blessed to have some truly fantastic contributors to our site whom we are extremely proud and grateful to have worked with, and I thank each of them from the bottom of my heart. But More Front Wing has always been a bit of the Paul-and-Steph show. This has been our baby that we build from the ground up, something that I know we are both extremely proud of, and something that I just don’t think would work without the entirety of its pieces. Going on without Steph is like Queen going on without Freddie Mercury – you can play the same music but results just aren’t the same.

Part of the chemistry of MFW was the dichotomy of our views. We are opposite in every conceivable way expect one – we both love the sport of IndyCar racing. Those differences of opinions, largely resulting from the gardens in which our racing seeds were sown, made us work naturally as a team. It’s not as straightforward as simply plugging another person in.

We are not shutting the lights off at MFW because of any animosity between Steph and me. Steph needed to leave MFW behind to focus on her journalism career, and I realized it was time for me to take a break as well. I completely understand why she needed to do so, and I wholeheartedly support her decision. Steph is the type of person who makes everyone around her better, and I know she has made me better over the last five years of working with her. Maybe in some small way I helped her as well. Even though we occasionally drive each other crazy (as happens with any personal or professional relationship), I have, I do, and I always will consider Steph a very good friend. I could not be more proud of her, and I wish her nothing but the very best as she continues to work to claim her rightful place among the best of motorsports journalists.

As for me, I’m not sure what the future holds for me in terms of the Verizon IndyCar Series. My goal all along had been to see this through the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016, so you might see my name associated with another site by the time the 2015 IndyCar season takes off. I will look at this time, though, as a good opportunity to recharge my batteries and my IndyCar fandom. I don’t need to tell any readers of this site that being an IndyCar fan can be challenging at times, and trying to bring some of IndyCar’s biggest and best stories and personalities to our fans has presented many other challenges. But IndyCar racing has been in my blood since I was seven years old. Nothing I’ve done and nothing I’ve seen has changed that.

There are way too many people to thank that have made this website the success it has been. All the drivers, team owners and managers, PR personnel, and officials from INDYCAR have had a hand in helping us get to where we are. On the INDYCAR side, though, I want to specifically mention the people who were always gracious with their time, who bent over backward to help us out, and who were always willing to ensure that a fan site with a tiny fraction of the reach of the bigger news outlets was given equal access. Special thanks go to Arni Sribhen, Kate Guerra, Amy Konrath, Tracey (Todd) Iles, Mark Miles, Randy Bernard, Brian Barnhart, and IMS’s Tim Sullivan. We could not have done what we did without the help of each of these people, and we are eternally grateful for each of them for letting us play in their sandbox.

Five years with a website like this is a long time. In that time, we have seen many IndyCar websites come and go. I’m proud to still call several of the people who ran or run those websites my good friends. I don’t take lightly the incredible opportunity that was afforded us, nor do I fail to see the great work that we did. I am so very proud of the 112 podcasts and countless interviews we put together that totaled nearly 75,000 downloads. The event summaries that we put together since 2012 have set the standard for accessing IndyCar race weekend information in a single location. Our 2011 Indianapolis 500 Centennial Interview Series, the work I am most proud of from my time here at MFW, presented 21 of the 27 (at that time) living Indianapolis 500 winners, accounting for 37 victories since 1962. For a site that was supported entirely on our own as a “hobby,” I’d like to think we did pretty well for ourselves.

But all that we did, all we accomplished, and all the opportunities we were blessed to be a part of would have been useless, or more likely nonexistent, without the support of the fans of the Verizon IndyCar Series. I know it sounds cliché, but I truly appreciate and am grateful for every single person who sent us messages, sent us emails, tweeted at us, stopped us at the track to say hello, who listened to a podcast, who read a post on the site, who commented to us on the site or on Facebook, or who in any way offered their support. Without people reading or listening, we simply would not have been able to have the opportunities we had. For that, I simply offer my sincerest thanks.

And with that, I close the chapter of my life called More Front Wing. It has been an incredible journey and one that I will forever look back on fondly. It has been a time of personal and professional changes, and I am blessed to have been able to share it with all of you.

God Speed, my friends.

- Paul

 

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn2Email this to someone