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Thanksgiving thoughts from a real turkey

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Nobody's ever accused me of being vibrantly original in my writing, and this blog post isn't going to change that anytime soon.

It's a standard trope for most writers when we hit the American Thanksgiving holiday - you write something about the things you're thankful for. Hell, this isn't even my first "I'm thankful for..." post at Pop Off Valve.

Having said that, there are some things I am very thankful for that I need to mention, so as cliché as it might be, that's what I'm going to leave you with for the Thanksgiving weekend.

First and foremost, I'm thankful for Jeff Iannucci and SBNation. Nearly five years ago, I was ready to give up on motorsports writing cold turkey. The reason why is a long story, but in retrospect, it would have one of the biggest mistakes of my life. In late 2009, Jeff persuaded me to write a couple of pieces for his My Name is IRL site, which piqued my appetite again - enough so that when SBN offered me the opportunity to publish Pop Off Valve, I was ready to get back into the game.

I'm thankful for Twitter. You know, Twitter gets a bad rap because of how it is generally used. But within the sports community it has taken on a different life than simply finding out what someone had for breakfast. The way I use Twitter - and the way that most of my followers use it - is more akin to a community gathering (an electronic Cheers, where everyone knows your name) than it is an exercise in narcissism. Through Twitter I have met - virtually and otherwise - some really tremendous people that I never would have otherwise.

I know that singling out anyone from the thousands (!) that interact with me on Twitter every day does an injustice to everyone else, but I really must in a couple of cases. First, USA Today's racing beat writer Nate Ryan has been a source of constant inspiration, good conversation, and good humor since our first interaction - which, ironically enough, was sparked by a misunderstanding of each other's tweets. And second, I cannot forget Donna Richeson, whose virtual friendship and shared love of racing has kept me connected to the world of NASCAR even though I am years removed from media centers and garage areas (I still owe you a pizza, darlin'!).

How can I not be thankful for the IndyCar world? At every level - from drivers to PR folks to series employees to fans - I've never felt less than welcomed. That's a tall order from someone who is as big of a blowhard as I am, but the level of genuine goodwill I have felt has been truly astounding.

I want to offer special thanks, however, to my fellow IndyCar bloggers. I'm singling them out because of their quality and insight, which in a world of so much noise-to-signal are unique characteristics for "non-mainstream" content producers. It is a real honor for me to publish the weekly Paddock Pulse because of the high standards to which you hold yourselves. Our blogroll grows every day, so I hope you all choose to look it over and give these great folks some deserved clicks. Allow me to single out a few for some added praise, however:

  • The newsies, headlined by Trackside Online and featuring exceptional sites like 16th and Georgetown, Indy Racing Revolution, and Open Wheel America. I tend to link more of the feature and op-ed stuff on the Pulse, but the independent news gathering of these sites is on par with any mainstream outlets.
  • The veterans - otherwise known as the crème de la crème of the IndyCar blogosphere - include George Phillips' Oilpressure; More Front Wing with Paul Dalbey, Steph Wallcraft, and Bash Beard; Bill Potter's SBN Indiana, which has expanded on his previous efforts at Drive Hard, Turn Left; Johnny Montona, who needs to get off his ass and write more for ...And He's On It; and, of course, Pressdog, the unquestioned capo di tutti capi of IndyCar bloggers, the guy that everyone in the sport reads and follows even though he calls himself "a relative ass pimple" with about as much accuracy as Scott Dixon might say that he's "an average bloke who is lucky to know where his gas pedal is located."
  • The newcomers. Over the course of the past season, some very good new content has come online thanks to Eric Hall of Another IndyCar Blog, Mark Wilkinson at New Track Record, Across The Bricks' Kieran Brughelli, Zach Houghton of IndyCar Advocate, Mike Knapp's 15 Days in May, Ross Bynum at Queers4Gears, Ross Fujibayashi of about a half-dozen different blogs, and Paul Henry of Wide Open Wheel. In an age where basically anyone can start a blog, I'm glad that these folks decided to do so - their wit and insight are very welcome in our little corner of the Internet.
  • Last but not least, Roy Hobbson, who, even though his sturdy spatula's superior snark is sadly sentenced to a siesta, still dominates the blogosphere like Elvis still dominates rock ‘n' roll.

You should feel lucky that these people and others are around the IndyCar blogosphere, because they reflect well on the sport that they love enough to write about it without a paycheck or benefits package.

I can't leave out the folks who are kind enough to help out with POV - Nate, Scott, and Dale, as well as Brian Neudorff who pitched in with his keen weather eye, and Shannon McIntosh who allowed us a first-hand glimpse into her personal journey up the racing ladder.

And though I know I'm leaving out too many others to thank, I want to finish by offering my heartfelt gratitude to my readers for indulging an aging, out-of-touch blogger and his predilection for writing long-winded and rarely relevant screeds. Your reactions and analysis of what I write - complimentary or critical - push me to try to make myself better at it. Thank you for making me want to be better.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!