Speed Racer joined Creators quite a while back, but in the past few months he's become more visible as he's jumped in to provide advice and share a few tips along the way. His network, NASCAR NATION is a reflection of his attitude: friendly, chatty, and always looking to share new ideas to see what works best. We asked him to take a quick pit stop and answer a few of our questions about the history of his network.
Your network, NASCAR NATION, is all about racing. How did it get started?
Before I moved to Ning from a phpbb forum hosting service, I hosted a NASCAR NATION and a Football Nation (for college and professional American football). The NASCAR forum was doing much better, and I'd really kind of over-done the football forum. There was just too much there, and it was overwhelming. I decided to move NASCAR NATION to Ning and get it built, get the members moved over, and start engagement. I liked everything I was seeing with Ning, and I wanted to focus all of my efforts into building NASCAR NATION to be a great community — and not be overwhelmed with running two. So here I am now!
Did your network develop the way you thought it would when you started? Have you had to rethink your strategy at any point along the way?
Honestly, I expected it to grow a lot faster because social networks were growing like crazy, and NASCAR has a huge fan base. After just over three years, I’ve never spent a dime advertising, only word of mouth. I created a Facebook Fan Page last year for it, and that has helped it grow. I also started using Twitter this year with some success. Just this week, I spent my first money advertising. I have an ad on Facebook for my network and another ad for the Fan Page. Both are both getting some success. I have a couple other ideas I'm going to try to market with. We’ll see where it goes.
Where would you say most of your members are located? Any idea if any of them are friends in “real life”?
Almost all of my members are in the U.S., and I was surprised to find out that so many are from Ohio! There isn't even a Sprint Cup track there, but there are tons of dirt tracks and tons of racing fans. Many of us are personal friends in real life. We talk frequently and sometimes meet at races.
Does your network heat up when live broadcast events occur? Do you do anything special around those real-world events?
Yes! When the races are on, especially the Sprint Cup races, I always post on Facebook, Twitter, and other places to have people join us in RaceChat, and the chat is very active for the duration of the race. We have a good group there, and we meet up a lot during the week. We have several Fantasy NASCAR leagues centered around the sport, and that really helps day-to-day engagement.
What’s a myth about NASCAR fans you can dispel for us?
We are not a bunch of dumb, poor rednecks! I went to the Spring Talladega race this year (courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports), and the guys who were next to me were all car dealership owners from Rhode Island. That race is an annual trip for these guys. You’d be shocked to find out how many very wealthy and intelligent NASCAR fans there are!
Do you go to NASCAR races? Ever get in the pits? Or do you prefer to watch from the comfort of home?
I’ve gone to at least one event each year for the past three years. TV does the sport no justice, really. To really feel the speed of the cars, you have to be there! I’m hoping to attend more in the coming years. I’ve applied for a NASCAR media license, which will give me passes to any race that I pre-request a ticket for. This will get me garage access, access to meeting the drivers, and a reserved workspace in the media centers at the tracks. I'll be able to interview drivers, crew chiefs, team owners, pit crew members, anyone in that area I come across that has a moment for a short interview! I'm hoping to be able to stream live via UStream my garage-area interviews and experiences. People will love to come every week to see that.
You’re always so helpful on Creators. Who helps you on your site? Do you have Admins, or do you tackle it all yourself?
Thanks! I’ve met some awesome people out here on Creators, and I like to try and help out where I can. For the most part, I do everything myself. I have chat moderators for the chat, but no administrators at this time. I’d like to see Ning give NC's a control panel for Admins that would allow them to control access to what Admins can access in the Dashboard they can access. I don't want anyone besides me to be able to delete members or see member contact info. Basically, I’d like to have more help than just moderating chat but without having to give Admins access to all areas, having the ability to place scripts on the site, etc.