It was almost exactly a year ago today - and by "almost exactly" I mean I can't remember exactly if it's true and I'm way too stinking lazy to look it up - that I officially dragged myself out of a self-imposed stupor of retirement and re-entered the thrilling world of motorsports journalism.
Pop Off Valve didn't make its official Internet debut until December 28, 2009, but the groundwork was laid in November of that year to establish the site on the SBNation sports blog network. It's now a year later, and guess which blog is now the FRONT RUNNING, MASSIVELY POPULAR, PAGEVIEW-EXPLODING star of the SBN network?
Well, not this one. (I think it's one of the hockey blogs.) Hell, we're barely keeping up with the Male Fitness blog for page views. I keep getting e-mails from the SBN guys saying, "Hey, how can we help you get more exposure?" which, of course, means, "I can't believe we're wasting server resources on THIS."
Still, it's been a hell of a fun ride for me and everyone involved with POV. And considering the time of year, I think it would be appropriate to thank a few people for getting us on this ride in the first place. So while you're dealing with your tryptophan comas, hit the jump and see our list of "Lovable Turkeys" without whom we'd be well and truly stuffed.
The First (But By No Means Last) Annual Pop Off Valve Thanksgiving Honor Roll
A healthy, hearty, turkey-infused THANK YOU goes out to the following:
- Tyler Bleszinski and Chris Haines at SBNation, who decided to take a chance on an IndyCar blog even though their network didn't really have much demand for one.
- Jeff Gluck, chief of SBN's NASCAR coverage, whose good-natured and relentless attempts to get people to read POV and follow our Twitter account resulted in us having about 1,200 more followers than we might otherwise have.
- Jeff Iannucci of the late, lamented My Name is IRL blog, for giving me a space to write and then meeting me for lunch one day and encouraging me to come out of my self-imposed retirement. May I do the same for you someday, brother.
- Arni Sribhen and Amy Konrath of IndyCar PR for including me and POV in their media doings and making me feel like I belong in the IndyCar press corps almost as much as Robin Miller does.
- The "legitimate" media and PR peeps who have treated me like a pal instead of an interloper, particularly the completely awesome Pat Caporali, Michael Kaltenmark, Karina Redmond, Jeff Olson, Rick DeBruhl, John Oreovicz, Ryan McGee, and Nate Ryan.
- Donna Richeson, for sharing old memories and new (and hopefully soon, a mouthwatering pizza!), always being a friendly "face" on Twitter, and helping me keep people informed during the Shane Hmiel vigil with her on-the-spot reports.
- Bill "pressdog" Zahren, for apportioning a dose of his own intimidating levels of schwerve so that POV might become accepted in the IndyCar blog pantheon faster than it might have otherwise. Manly tears, bro.
- The drivers and crew guys in IndyCar who made themselves available for questions and comments from a lowly blog and its troll-like employees, including but not limited to: Pippa Mann, J.R. Hildebrand, Vitor Meira, Max Papis, Alex Tagliani, Ed Carpenter, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Extra-special thanks to Tony Kanaan for actually following me on Twitter for at least a day and a half in November!
- The cast of rascals who make up the Word Butcher community, especially Simba, Ponch, BP, Monica, Meesh, Johnny, Paul & Steph, George, Dex, and the turpentine-guzzling Hobbson, for letting me call you by stupid nicknames and tease you mercilessly every Wednesday in the Paddock Pulse - I hope the ten extra page views a week are worth the aggravation!
- The miscreants who spend their race days in the EMOTICONIC Race Day Chats, because they could be watching the races without the snarky comments and ultra-loud sound effects... but choose not to because they're crazy or something. A special rendition of "Yakity Sax" for all of you!
- Everyone who takes the time to sign up for an SBN account and add their names to the Pop Off Valve commenter community - for good or for ill - for participating, validating us with praise, and helping us improve through criticism. A special shout-out to Andy, who - when he can stand to read the site - keeps me honest by making sure that I know I'm not nearly as smart or clever as I occasionally pretend to be.
- Our Twitter followers and Facebook "Likers" who constantly remind me that social media is not a waste of time, and for giving me a chance to indulge in occasional giveaways to reward you for sticking with us.
- My wife and four kids, who put up with my racing addiction with good humor and aplomb. I love you, girls.
- Last, but not least, the incredible cast and crew of Pop Off Valve - my right-hand man Scott Whitmore, for extending "La Vida Freelance" to include an IndyCar blog even though he's doing more legitimate work in NASCAR; "Fleshwound" Nate Gruenholz, who will forever wear THE POWER GLOVE for his outstanding work on our Power Rankings; Dale Nixon, for dropping in every once in a while from an undisclosed secret bunker somewhere in hockey country with truly excellent reportage; Ryan at JuniorOpenWheelTalent.com, who edited our Ladder Report until his real life intervened, even though his own site is a far better resource for Road to Indy news; and last but not least, to the fantastic Shannon McIntosh, because she acts like blogging for POV is actually almost as cool as her real life (which is, to me, truly awesome). This site would suck llama livers if it were not for you excellent folk.
Of course, as usual I'm probably leaving out a whole host of people that I should mention and, because of my own ineptitude, will never speak to me again. WAIT! COME BACK! GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE!
Anyway, stay safe over Thanksgiving and enjoy your pumpkin pie, your TSA patdowns and nut-zapping full-body X-rays, and slightly awkward in-law interactions.