The Frontstretch: MPM2Nite: Ethics or Pathetic? by Matt McLaughlin -- Thursday March 3, 2011

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MPM2Nite: Ethics or Pathetic?

Matt McLaughlin · Thursday March 3, 2011


I was extremely disturbed to learn a couple days ago that Frontstretch owner and Editor-in-Chief Tom Bowles was fired from his day job at (Sports Illustrated online) allegedly for cheering when 20-year-old Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in the Wood Brothers No. 21 car. Under attack from some other shadowy media members, Tom then allegedly defended his actions on that thing they call Twitter. I have to admit that I am not a Twit. I have never Tweeted. I have no idea what that crap is all about. All I know is there’s a lot of people who do it and you’re confined to 140 characters or less. Hellfire, I can’t write my grocery list in 140 words or less even though I can condense the top three items each week to A,T,F. But it seems to me that Twitter is sort of like how email used to be. It’s a social medium you connect to with other people to communicate thoughts when you’re off work and on your own time. Only back in those days, the thoughts conveyed between two individuals were to a degree private between those folks… and the Russian Hackers.

Let me start by saying I am not a “journalist.” I’m a writer whose typical gig is to express an opinion. Over the fourteen years I’ve been writing about this sport, both on inky paper and on this internet conundrum I’ve put my thoughts out there. As is the nature of the medium, once I do I’ve heard back from other race fans both pro and con on what I’ve said. I’ve never considered myself anything other than that, a race fan with a pretty cool job. Your opinions are no less or more valid than my own. Back in college I majored in English, Psychology and Religion. My game plan was to write the great American Novel using psychology to flesh out the characters, then pray like Hell it sold well enough I could retire to the islands with a cute blonde many years my junior, ride Harleys, work on old cars and fish every evening. Obviously, that didn’t work out. (Well, the blonde and the Bahamas part didn’t…)

There’s been internal fighting between the “real” journalists and the Internet type almost since I began. I thought that war was over and a truce had been established. I started with a print paper back in the day. It was a free paper we published occasionally and used to haul to convenience stores in bundles to give away in the back of my boss’s girlfriend’s RAV4. I then moved on to several Internet sites and was surprised to learn that I was no longer a real writer. My applications for press credentials were denied. The Internet was not a legitimate medium, NASCAR stated. I, and a whole bunch of others weren’t real journalists. The Internet was never going to amount to anything. Yeah, they said the same thing about the Model T.

Fast forward a decade and a half. The “legitimate” journalists, those with degrees, who write the beat for name newspapers even in the Deep South have been reduced from an army of insiders to so few folks you could probably ride the lot of them in the press box home in a mini-van after the event – despite the stupendous girth of some in that group. The rest of the folks left covering the sport are the citizen soldiers just out there plugging away or, as some would have it, “Working on mysteries without any clues…”

Yeah, I thought that war was over. They wouldn’t have me and writers of my ilk in the NMPA. Now we’re welcome, but I subscribe to the theory of Groucho Marx that I wouldn’t want to be a part of any club that would have me. Instead, I once proposed a group called NIMPH, the National Internet Motorsports Press Hacks. Somehow, the idea never took off. (Damn it, I’d spent hours writing up my own set of inalienable rules everyone else would have had to adhere to. No, actually I didn’t. My aging hippie mantra has always been, do your thing and I’ll do mine. It’s only when our two things interfere with one another we’ll need to sit down, reach a mutually acceptable solution with peaceful conflict resolution, and then break into a few verses of Kumbaya.)

When the Daytona 500 celebration carried over to the media center, a line of journalistic ethics was drawn.

But over fourteen years, the landscape has changed. The big league papers are now using AP reports rather than sending reporters to the races. Newspaper readership, even from august journals is dropping precipitously. People get their news online now. It’s fresh and it’s current. I don’t want to wait sixteen hours to pick up a paper to see the latest from Libya or learn where the Dow Jones average closed the previous day. And I surely don’t want to wait a week to read a sports magazine that covers what happened last week and thinks that one issue with softcore porn every year somehow makes them relevant. Nowadays, it’s about reading writer’s opinions on what happened at the last event to provide additional insights.

In the interests of full admission, I once pretended to be a journalist back at Speedworld. But the journalist and I who covered the sport there got into a bit of a tiff. She quit. Derek asked me to write race reports on the Truck and the Busch Series, so I didn’t write my opinions; I did what journalists do. I covered the race. On lap 10, this driver passed that one. And then, on lap 25 this guy wrecked the other guy. Then, there was a real big wreck on lap 150. With two laps to go, this driver passed another and went on to win. It was terribly boring to do. I could cover the average race with about 25 minutes of writing. I hated it. “Why am I telling people about what they just saw?” I asked Derek. “Because a lot of people didn’t see the race and they want to know what happened,” he patiently explained. The gig paid $100 a column. Making $200 an hour? I was down with it. Who, what, why, when and where. I got it. Beer in the fridge, gas in the bike, and new headers for the Chevelle.

Even back in those days I’d get email from some of my fellow scribes telling me my latest column was “biased.” I wasn’t a real journalist, even as boring as I was trying to be. I’d called a driver out for wrecking another. That wasn’t how the game was played. Apparently, you were supposed to write, “On lap 499 Ernie Darnhardt apparently made contact with Gordie Jefferson, stuffing him into the wall.” “Apparently,” my skinny white Irish ass! I saw it happen and that’s how I wrote about it. Derek found someone else to write the journalist stuff. “Apparently” is the great divider between writers who are passionate about the sport and journalists. It is OK to write, “In what was apparently the dirtiest move ever made in NASCAR racing, Ernie wrecked Gordie.” Leave yourself some wiggle room to appease the editor who never even watched the race. Or the wealthy new website owner looking to cash in before the Internet bubble burst. Apparently, some professional journalists still have a stick up their asses.

Yeah, back then I was an angry young man willing to defend what I did to anyone who took me to task without looking at any possible valid argument they might have offered. Back in the day (and as far as I know, still today) these bastions of journalistic integrity were all too willing and eager to go on the preseason Media Tour and accept what they used to call “swag,” gift bags full of stuff from individual teams on the tour intended to elicit nice words on their cars, sponsors and drivers. I really wanted one of those lined brown leather jackets the “real media” folks got from one team. It wasn’t because I thought I’d look cool; it was because I couldn’t afford to heat my house that late winter with what I was making writing.

I pointed out that in an effort to gain positive reporting, NASCAR and the tracks provided free meals to accredited journalists in the press box. The late (and great) David Poole wrote me, “Dude, it’s just lunch.” I replied that the easiest way to avoid biting the hand that was feeding you was not to accept a free lunch. In my press box days, I always stopped on the way to the track and got myself a roast beef sandwich with horseradish on the side and a few soft drinks in my cooler. (Yeah, I had another cooler with not so soft drinks waiting in the car.) In the most egregious of detachment from professional journalism, I can recall Chevrolet gave NASCAR’s top writers of the then fledgling sport a free new ’57 Chevy to make sure they wrote positive things about the Bowties effort.

Over the years, things started to change. Tremendously talented writers, writers who I will not dare to compare myself to, people whose work I looked forward to daily, became Internet writers as well. The respective papers they wrote for saw the change in the wind and established websites of their own. Writers who worked for relatively small newspapers found themselves suddenly available to the whole of NASCAR fandom on a daily basis (Thanks largely to at first. That’s where this minor leaguer came from). And the ones who succeeded were the ones who responded to their readers, leaving the ivory towers of journalism to get down and muddy with the fans in the trenches. Guys and gals like Ben White, Poole, Mike Mulhern (the Pit Bulls), Monte Dutton, Lee Spencer, Larry Woody and countless other talented writers got ahead of the wave. I consider Mike Mulhern one of the greatest NASCAR writers ever, but if he only wrote for the print paper in Winston Salem you’d never have heard of him. Ironically now that paper, in the heart of NASCAR country relies on stringers for print coverage and Mike runs his own website.

This sport is about passion. It’s about love for their favorite drivers, and a diminishing but still substantial number of fans still follow the media coverage of NASCAR for both. It’s a virtual cornucopia for fans of the sport with the internet these days with the ability to surf (do we still use that term?) to websites most closely aligned with their views on the sport, be it cheerleading or browbeating. There’s a lot of bandwidth out there, and NASCAR suddenly found themselves no longer in control of the media. The death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001 set off a virtual firestorm and the organization has been back on their heels ever since. I think Hosni Mubarak understands how a popular uprising among the citizenship can lead to a dramatic shift in power. But Brian France sounds more like Charlie Sheen.

I’ve had this argument countless times, as recently as this week in the comments section below my last column. I took Kyle Busch to task for causing the wreck that took out Carl Edwards. (And, like a moron, had the lap number of that wreck wrong. My apologies. No excuses. I was just wrong. Note to self, get a spare pair of reading glasses so when you crush one you can still read your own notes written in longhand in what approximates my handwriting since I decided to punch Route 30 at 80 MPH falling off a motorcycle when I was 18. I should have a laptop to make notes but I can’t afford one. I left my last one on the roof of a car leaving Dover.) I was not, as some claim, trying to disparage Busch’s ability to drive. On a dispassionate level I consider Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson the three most talented drivers in the sport. And I wouldn’t walk across the street to talk to any of them on a day off.

Here’s my take on the situation. To cheer one driver over another coming to the line at a race would be unprofessional and unacceptable. It would be even more egregious if Tom cheered Bayne because Ford or Motorcraft were advertisers on the site and there was hope of financial re-numeration or a free set of wheels for doing so. To cheer after the race is fait accompli because there was a thrilling result should be OK. Some of you know before I was a writer, Bill Elliott was my favorite driver. (That hardly put me in an exclusive club.) But here’s the litmus test. If today, Elliott were to win a race off of turn four and beat any other driver to the finish line by inches I would say it was a great race. By the same token, if Bill was leading off of turn four and some other driver beat him to the line by inches I’d still say it was a great race.

I’m not quite sure why Tom is getting singled out here. If the august members of the journalists want to get their panties in a wad, why not turn on the members of the FOX and SPEED broadcast teams? They play to millions, not thousands. The brothers Waltrip are particularly galling. Already, we’ve seen DW in his Toyota commercial (for which he was compensated.) We’ve seen him cheer for his brother and make excuses for him. If there was a single mention that SPEED broadcaster Michael Waltrip’s race-winning Daytona truck was found to be illegal, and there were monetary and points fines levied as a result, I never caught it during the Phoenix truck broadcast. And for DW, it’s always the NAPA or FedEx Toyota as opposed to the No. 99 or 16 cars.

The most abhorrent of TV “journalism” lack of ethics occurred many years ago at the Firecracker 400. (And yes, that’s what I still call that race. Why favor one soft drink company over another?) The race that evening was the “Pepsi 400.” Jeff Gordon drove for Pepsi. Six other drivers, all big names and contending cars, were sponsored by Coca-Cola. The six Coke cars were all but invisible during that race, but Gordon the No. 24 car was on the air almost continuously with frequent mentions of his soft drink backer. Funny, I don’t recall the enraged artisans of journalism rising up to burn the camera truck afterwards. Maybe they didn’t see the broadcast because they were there live, not “sitting on their couches”. Bull hockey. Every press room I’ve sat in is equipped with multiple TV sets tuned to the race broadcast. I don’t care what an eagle-eye observer you are. A critical pass, pit stop faux pas or big wreck is going to take place while you’re looking elsewhere. Or, you’re going to be in the pisser when the key moment of the race takes place. (I have yet to hear of one of these couch-o-phobe professionals being catheterized prior to a race.) The replays tell the story and as a bonus, you don’t piss your pants.

Others will cite noted and legendary Ned Jarrett calling his son Dale home to the line in the Daytona 500. Yeah, that day frankly I was surprised. But it was a made-for-TV moment. Jarrett had always been scrupulously careful to let others in the booth comment on his son rather than him. He showed no favoritism. And here’s the part of the story you might not have heard. The week after “The Call” Ned Jarrett went up to Dale Earnhardt and apologized to him for what he felt was unprofessional conduct favoring his son. Earnhardt smiled, shook Jarrett’s hand and replied, “Ned, I’m a daddy too.” As best I can recall, there was no media uproar that day.

A breach of etiquette. Who gets to decide that? Dead white guys? Yes, according to Miss Manners tomes written during my childhood I should remove my ballcap when entering a shopping mall. A man does not wear a hat indoors especially in the presence of ladies. I don’t do that anymore. And I have yet to get thrown out of a mall. Back in the day, even adults addressed only their closest friends by their first name. Everyone else was Mr. This or Mrs. That. Nowadays, my friends kids call me “Matt” or more often, “Yo Dude.” (Which I dislike but don’t comment upon. It beats “Dude-man.”)

Times and mores have changed. So why do the “professional journalists,” perhaps jealous the “citizen journalists” have been allowed to breach their inner sanctum, still expect the rest of us to adhere to their antiquated rules? I mean when Rea White encounters a puddle, does she expect someone of my lowly ilk to lay down my suit jacket to allow her to cross without sullying her pumps?

Let me sum up here. In arguments over the professionalism of what I’ve written, I compare what I do to being a movie reviewer. (Which was my first writing gig back in school.) I watch the movie or the race, be it on DVD or in the theater. Or I watch the race from the track or in my lounge chair. Sometimes, I am going to write a movie was very good or even excellent. Other times, I will say it was poor or even relentlessly putrid. That’s my opinion. You might love a movie I hated or hate a movie I raved about and that’s cool. It’s still being a professional as long as I am not accepting payment or even a free ticket from the movie studio, an actor, the theater, etc. to sway my opinion and say a poor film was great. I wouldn’t green light a movie because I like Bruce Willis or some other star. And yes, very occasionally (I’m remembering the Sixth Sense, Shakespeare in Love, ET, Apollo 13, Forest Gump, and American Graffiti) at the conclusion of a film I will rise to my feet and applaud. I am not applauding because I’m paid to or I wish to help the movie become a financial success. I am applauding because I am a human being seeing what I consider a great piece of filmmaking, a compelling story well told, two hours of storytelling that made me forget about my worries and feel something new about the human condition we all share. And if you’re going to tell me to sit down and shut up, screw you. I might even put my damn ballcap back on just to piss you off.

The late Dale Earnhardt said one evening in Bristol regarding the fans, “If they ain’t cheering, they better be booing.” If you, Mr. Professional Journalist, don’t feel passion or emotion anymore after an exciting finish, maybe you ought to be covering ice hockey or tiddlywinks.

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IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


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03/03/2011 04:39 AM

While I agree that cheering at the end of the race because you were moved to because of the outcome shouldn’t be an issue at all… from what I have read, it was the #1 rule of things not to do in the media center. It’s as simple as that.

It’s pretty much the yellow line rule at Daytona and ‘Dega when you are coming to the checkers… it shouldn’t count then, but it does. Plain and simple.

Did Tom Bowles not know this? From what he has had to say, it seems like he knew the rules rather well, but got caught up in the moment and dismissed them.

But rules are rules. I highly disagree with a lot of rules/laws, but I have to abide by them.

Why should this be anything different?

Yes, the outcome sucks. Granted, I haven’t picked up a copy of SI in the past 20 years except to look at the models in the swimsuit edition. And frankly, I never understood, even 20 years ago, why someone wanted to read about a sporting event a week or more after it happened, but maybe that’s just me.

I do have to highly disagree with one thing you said Matt. Brian France doesn’t sound like Charlie Sheen at all. 2 1/2 men reruns get higher ratings than almost every show on TV… the syndicated reruns, not just the reruns that air during the normal prime time spot. If Brian France could say that about NA$CAR, I would have to question my thoughts about what he has turned this “sport”… uhh, I mean “show” into.

And if you didn’t notice, even at Phoenix every Cup driver referred to the “race” as a “show”. So obviously the drivers don’t even like what is going on, and it’s not just the plate tracks I’m talking about.

Some people may ask if I am so fed up with NA$CAR, why do I keep watching. Well, first of all, I’m only giving it another race or two before I do stop watching. Seriously. But most of all is that I grew up watching it when it was awesome. Now it seems like it is geared towards people that like watching wrecks and “rules” created controversy.

When the rule book is published and pit row speeds aren’t secret… then maybe I’ll give NA$CAR another chance… if it still exists then.

03/03/2011 06:40 AM

Matt, I always enjoy reading your columns, and you are dead on point about the hypocrisy here. If reporters are not supposed to cheer, DW should have been fired a LONG time ago.

I think people should be focusing on a larger point here though, that being that Bowles was by far NOT the only person cheering on Bayne’s win.

That he was singled out for firing, I believe, may have had something to do with his running a website that employs Matt McLaughlin. We’ve seen insiders in NASCAR blaming the press for their low ratings and not the moronic playoff or boring tracks or constant commercial interruptions followed by a frigging dancing gopher. It wouldn’t surprise me that NASCAR and SI collaborated to take credentials away from a “citizen journalist” who didn’t kiss NASCAR’s butt.

The idea that a publication owned by CNN would fire a reporter for bias is laughable.

Stephen HOOD
03/03/2011 07:34 AM

It’s important to remember who you work for. Fox doesn’t care that Daryl is a cheerleader for whoever because he is paid to act the way he does. He probably crosses the line now and again and he is less “professional” than Troy Aikman, who seems to be a able to get through a Cowboys game without cheering. Yet, Daryl broadcasts NASCAR races and he gets to set the tone for the race broadcasts on FOX because he was in the booth at the first race there was a FOX NASCAR broadcast. Again, it is important to remember who you work for.

I am not a journalist, but I do serve in a profession that requires a certain professional behavior. Times have changed and there are moments when I think to myself that some of the things I have to do are ridiculous. I go to meetings with my peers and many of us agree that things need to change, yet there are others in the group who argue about the importance of tradition and the need for continuity with the past et al. Both groups make good points. Currently, I work in a community that sides with the “traditionalists” camp, so I have to honor those professional behaviors that I often find oppressive or silly or ridiculous. I can breach those professional behaviors, I can attempt to change the system by challenging the status quo, but I shouldn’t be surprised if I get fired. I could get scolded and told to stop. But, I could also be shown the door and encouraged to go practice my profession in a more forgiving environment.

I don’t know Tom Bowles and I don’t know if he should have been fired by SI. Yet, it seems to me he crossed a line that SI didn’t appreciate. Whether or not SI is duplicitous or just behind the times, apparently they don’t want their reporter clapping or defending his clapping via Twitter. After reading Tom’s piece on Monday, I felt his righteous indignation at his firing was indicative to the fact that he probably needed to be fired. Not because he did anything morally wrong, but because he worked for an organization where he didn’t want to live by their rules. Their rules might be ridiculous, silly, and inconvenient, but the rules are theirs. Its important to remember who you work for. Now Tom works for himself and he sets the rules and now he can fire those in his employee for not clapping in the pressbox.

Ghost of Curtis Turner
03/03/2011 07:53 AM

Yo Dude!
Right On! or should I say Write on!

03/03/2011 08:47 AM

As usual Matt, your column is right on. I have been in NASCAR press rooms as a a photographer for a racing annual, and once for a fairly large website (the old in 2000 and 2001. I didn’t like it, felt really second class to TV and radio. In hindsight, it was amazing I was even there. I have always had a sense of fairness and at one time did Winner’s Circle interviews at a local dirt track. I often said that every winner was my favorite driver for a few minutes. It is really difficult to not feel good about a winner, they have an incredible amount of exhuberance. I was almost always the first one to the car and it was great. Trying not to show it was difficult.

At any rate, great job, thanks!

03/03/2011 09:05 AM

i find SI pathetic, i don’t pay pay attention to it.

I challenge anyone to find ONE just ONE “journalist” covering the nascar product.

“But Brian France sounds more like Charlie Sheen. “ BEST LINE EVER!!!

as far as the greatest “show” on earth, didn’t someone say that there was a sucker born every minute? What? are we all watching nascar’s “show”?

Carl D.
03/03/2011 09:08 AM

With very few exceptions, I don’t read the columns by “real” sports journalists because I don’t need a recap of something I just watched. And as a longtime Nascar fan, I find that most “insight” provided by traditional journalists is usually common knowledge or obvious to those of us who closely follow the sport. I’d much rather read the stories and opinions of Frontstretch writers who don’t insult my intellegence by explaining things to me I’ve known for years.

Whether or not Tom Bowles violated the rules of journalism is unimportant to me, though I am sorry he lost his day job; I’m just glad he now has more time to devote to writing for Frontstretch.

03/03/2011 09:19 AM

It IS true! Great writing IS like pornography! I cannot describe it, but I know it when I see it.

Goldman, Volcano or any other troll be damned. This column is great writing.

Bette Geraud
03/03/2011 10:43 AM


LOVE YOU,LOVE YOU!!!!!I agree with most of the letters above. So sorry Tom lost his job. Think SI made a mistake. Frontstretch is by far my favorite read. No.I don’t always agree with everything you write and never will but isn’t that my right?
Kevin from PA
03/03/2011 10:45 AM

Why Tom was singled out – who knows.

What I do know is is unreadable due to their pro-NASCAR bias (and very very poor web design); SI, Yahoo, and ESPN manufacture and create big stories over a small issue when it is a slow week; the local beat writer and his full page coverage has been replaced by some AP robot writer’s generic four paragraph .

To me Tom’s clapping is no worse or better than the current state of “professional” journalism.

Finally – Matt – you really applauded at the end of “Shakespeare in Love”? After reading your columns since the R1 days, this might be the most shocking thing you have ever written.

Bill B
03/03/2011 10:58 AM

So what do we have to do to get FOX to apply these standards to their broadcasters…. outbid the advertisers? I think most fans would forgo unbiased written word in the media, for unbiased broadcasting in the booth. Afterall we are forced to listen to their drivel if we want to watch the race.

To anyone using a rule is a rule argument….
Hope you get fired the next time you are a minute or two late for work.
Hope you get a ticket the next time you are 1 mph over the posted limit.
Hope the IRS audits you the next time you forget to include that $20 you found on the street.

The Mad Man
03/03/2011 11:29 AM

Most of the so-called journalists suffering the “righteous indignation” at what Tom did are some of the biggest Kool Aid swilling, butt kissing, suck-ups to walk the face of the earth.

Which is worse? Being highly biased towards NA$CAR in your NA$CAR reporting while writing for a company whose bills are paid for by NA$CAR or clapping for a race winner?

One of the suck-ups said that if you have a media hard card you have to be totally unbiased no matter what. Well, guess what kiddies? Guess who has a media hard card? All the shills and cheerleaders who work for Fox and ESPN. How come they’re not being taken to task for their biased views, cheerleading, applauding, and shilling?

These so-called professional journalists” are so hypocritical it’s not funny. Report one thing then Twitter something totally biased on what’s supposed to be their “official Twitter account”.

Right now, the only reporting that’s even close to being interesting or factual isn’t coming from these so-called professionals. It’s coming from the outsiders the detest so much.

Write on Matt, Tom, and the rest of the FS staff.

Mr 3 Faces of Eve, get some professional help.

Kevin in SoCal
03/03/2011 12:41 PM

I would rather see and read articles from writers who actually care about the sport they’re covering. Its a better read than just “John passed Joe on lap 198 to take the lead. Chris got into Charles on lap 203 and started a wreck that took out 5 other cars.” I read Matt’s articles and the rest of Frontstretch for their opinions based on the race they just watched. I dont always agree and my opinions are usually in the minority, but I’m thankful for the chance to see things from another person’s point of view. Its how we grow and learn, and respect our fellow humans. If a “professional journalist” is cheering for a certain driver during the race, or booing a driver during the race, that is uncalled for. But being happy for a driver (AFTER the checkered flag) who just won the race and congratulating him on a job well done doesnt seem like bias to me.

03/03/2011 01:29 PM

Amen, Susan!

And Matt, I’m still puzzling over the Pepsi 400 example you gave. If you’ll recall, Jeff WON that race, after running at the front all night. THAT’s why he got loads of exposure. The Coke drivers were all non-factors in the event. Are you suggesting that TV is obligated to give equal time to, let’s say UPS, if the Fed-Ex car is leading? I thought TV was there to cover the COMPETITION.

And yet, after reading all the way through this bloated column, I’m still not clear on where you stand on the original issue. Your columns tend to be long on colorful phrases, and short on clarity.

03/03/2011 01:54 PM

The Golden Rule.

The guy with the gold, makes the rule. Don’t forget it.

Kevin from PA
03/03/2011 01:54 PM

In regards to the Pepsi 400 race, it is true that the Pepsi car won. However the TV cameras were clearly avoiding showing the Coke cars (forgot which new Coke product they were shoveling).

Something is up when 15% of the field is never shown at all – especially at a restrictor plate race. I seriously remember only seeing those 6 cars maybe five times at most during the race.

03/03/2011 02:21 PM

If a reporter claps in an infield media center, I guess it does make a sound.

Thanks for reminding me of the apology that Ned Jarret offered DE the following week after that Daytona 500. That’s a poignant reminder of the respect that these guys all had for each other…

Its too bad that journalistic integrity seems to be considered more important than the objectivity of race officials then.×500.jpg?1274148728

I’m sure that any perceived slight of NASCAR’s “COde of Ethics” (sorry, I giggled when I wrote that) would be swiftly deemed “an act detrimental to stock car racing”…with fines and suspensions forthcoming.

Glad to see SI will stay as relevant as it has been the last 20 years.

Bob Chimento
03/03/2011 02:54 PM

This incident with Tom Bowles just goes to show how common sense needs a place in our daily lives, even if it crosses the line (double yellow that is.)

Yes, it looks like most would agree; Tom crossed the line by applauding the amazing finish to what was truly one hell of a race… I too found my self applauding and yelling out loud over the amazing finish I had just witnessed from my lofty $350.00 Sprint Tower padded seat at the start finish line…


I wasn’t applauding Fords, Yotas, Bowties, or Dodges… I wasn’t howling at the height of my vocal capacity for Trevor Bayne… I wasn’t even happy with the ending of the race… hell, I was wondering what happened to the Double Deuce and Montoya, they were heading for the lead out of turn 2, but finished 5th and 6th… I wasn’t even cheering for the mighty Wood Brothers racing of yesteryears gone by…


I was applauding the day… I was applauding the fact that our National Anthem wasn’t sodomized… I was applauding a day in my life that I shared with 180,000+ fans… who, along with I, witnessed another in a long list of races that made my emotions overflow…


It’s just common sense to realize Tom Bowles shared his emotions as well… It’s sad he was fired for just being a fan!

03/03/2011 03:09 PM

Charlie Sheen actually makes much more sense when speaking,than Brainfart
Goldman Nacho piss-off

Joe W.
03/03/2011 03:20 PM

I agree with you on this one Matt!! I am so sick of hearing D.W. sell toyota but we can’t have a guy applaud for a 20 year old kid in his 1st Daytona 500 winning for the oldest team in Nascar. Oh no that isn’t proper. Well to hell with that!! I am as biased as they come and proud to admit it. I am A Ford fan and cheer every win by Ford in any racing series. I HATE toyota being in MY SPORT. That is how many of us older fans feel. So when D.W. stops wearing his toyota polo shirt on Speed Channel and stops telling us how great Kyle Busch is well then maybe we can talk about the other “bias” stuff but not until. Thanks!!

No spin
03/03/2011 03:40 PM

What has been proven? most print editors have worked for years in their yoga classes learning the art of putting their own heads up their own ass that is unless they are kissing Nascar ass.

Remember when Hot Rod Mag. told us what happened at Daytona or ABC wide world sports, and I use the ABC bit loosely

Bad Wolf
03/03/2011 05:24 PM

Another great read Matt.

I bet DW was given the biggest Toyota truck ever built to carry all his swag home.

Carl D.
03/03/2011 06:01 PM

Susan: “The proliferation of sites like this one has blurred the line between expressing personal opinion and presenting unbiased reporting and analysis. That really is too bad, because it lets FS equate itself with a professional news organization when it is really just an open forum for any self-appointed expert who comes along.

Susan, I’ve scoured this website and can’t for the life of me find anywhere that Frontstretch describes it’s website as a “professional news organization”. Do yourself a favor and click on “Learn About Us” under the FS menu banner. Take the time to read it. I think you will find that Frontstretch has a firm grasp on it’s role in the Nascar online community.

03/03/2011 06:08 PM

Good work Matt, well written.
My 2 cents, SI was looking for a reason to get rid of Tom, their loss.

Looks like the we have a couple new names from the same old troll this week…

03/03/2011 06:42 PM

Susan, are you paid by NA$CAR and FOX to praise everything they do?

Bob Chimento
03/03/2011 06:53 PM


I wished I was paid… The drive from Charleston to Daytona… Two overnight stays… Tickets for Cup (3 Sprint Towers) and Nationwide race… Food… Drinks… Beers… Glad my bank card never ran dry…


Common Sense… to me it means someone making a sound judgment or coming to a conclusion of solid reasoning… and it looks like you absolutely have little… Why?… who is the “Frustrated” one here?… Surely it is not I… for I stated that most would agree a line was crossed… by thy, on the other hand, believe… the responsibility of press cannot be distinguished from the responsibility of the fan.


I must point out to thy that if common sense was applied to Toms emotional outburst while inside one press box… oh, what a cheerful place that must be… thy would understand that one may be bias for that one moment… or more… while still reporting in a unbiased way…

You see…

for Tom did not report his biased interoperation of the finish that transpired in real time… no… he reported in print a moment in time that past us by… allowing for, I hope, an unbiased opine…

btw… nice read Matt… and how about that race????

03/03/2011 07:12 PM

Matt – Nice article.

Tom – It’s just a bump in the road…

Jeff Meyer FS staff
03/03/2011 07:34 PM

Susan, how funny it is that you fail to mention that FS offers not only commentary but news as well. Yes, we do it all. (just so happens us commentary guys are a funner read usually!) And if you know me, I got NO QUALMS about telling folks that I do in fact have a favorite driver. I do not, however, let my love for my favorite overshadow my common sense. I simply calls it as I sees it.

And another thing that bears mention…its not like Tom Bowles was whooping and hollering in the media center for Bayne like he’s been known to do at FS company picnics!!! Tom may be the only one that got fired, I don’t know, but I DO know that several people showed the same amount of passion in the media center that day. Hell, I would have….but then I aint got to worry about Tom firing me….!

03/03/2011 09:08 PM

AncientRacer, i think you have a hard on for Randy Goldman. It’s funny that you are bringing his name up when he has yet to comment on this article.

03/03/2011 09:19 PM

I guess I’m the only one that thinks Tom was fired for purely financial reasons….

They grabbed him because of his work on FS, that brought instant credibility to SI’s Nascar coverage. Then he has a master’s in journalism so he was likely the highest paid Nascar writer on the site. Now they have three writers and Tom became expendable. And they found the excuse they needed to cut their expenses.

Its been happening in every single industry for the last ten years. Why would SI be immune from it?

03/03/2011 10:11 PM

Hey Mike, this link you included in your post wouldn’t open. What is it?

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
03/03/2011 11:45 PM

We are equally if not more professional than other sites describing the action of cars going around in a circle for 3 hours.

This was a sport that I can still remember was not always televised, and when it was, was often on a tape-delay and condensed down to fit an hour timeslot.

If Al Micheals can build a career (and the basis of a movie) out of believing in miracles, then maybe the alleged “unbiased media” (which is in and of itself an oxy-moron/nonsequitur/misnomer) and cease with their pontificating of “The Golden Rule”.


03/03/2011 11:47 PM


Can I ask you a question? It seems off topic but it concerns me and I like to know who I am speaking with. Is your husband’s name Mike and did you used to live in Southern California?

03/04/2011 12:17 AM

Don’t ever sell your soul to the devil.

03/04/2011 09:03 AM

Susan, Why do you even read frontstretch? You pretty much disagree with everything & anything Matt writes about. maybe you & randi should hang out & compare notes & complaints about frontstretch & then maybe the 2 or 6 of you could come up with something worth typing…

Tommy T.
03/04/2011 09:30 AM

The most troubling aspect of the whole matter to me is the possibility that Tom Bowles reputation as a journalist coule be tarnished. After many years of representing folks that had been treated unfairly by corporate heads the heavy-handed treatment that Tom received from SI is not shocking. Employees are treated unfairly and disrepectfully everyday.

Tom committed a small infraction of an unwritten rule (as did a good number of other journalists) and it certainly would have been understandable if SI had verbally reprimanded him for it. But nothing more excessive was approprite.

Seems to me that a small, vocal minority is relishing in this injustice and almost taking delight in Tom’s firing.

In my three plus years writing for the FS I was continually amazed at the degree of focus, journalistic integrity and committment to hard work Tom always exhibited toward his chosen profession.

This issue will die down to be replaced by another one. Hopefully, Tom Bowles reputation that he has worked so hard building will not be a casualty of this corporate idiocity.

That would be the biggest injustice.

03/04/2011 11:40 AM

I bet Susan is hot.

03/05/2011 10:40 AM

The gathering of malcontents and griping hacks that compose the majority of everything here are Bowles’ liability.

Writers have expressed emotion in the press box before.

They weren’t editor in chief at a website that chooses to dwell on negatives rather than being fair and balanced.

Karma… what goes around comes around. I don’t ever want to see anyone get drubbed, but in this case, it’s understandable. Like Matt getting canned elsewhere around the internet, you can say anything you want, but nobody has to be nice in return while you aren’t.

SS Mike
03/05/2011 01:17 PM

MATT, this Susan is not the Susan from Ky. married to me and who took over OOAL and moved to So.Cal.

Glad to see your back. How about an update on your latest project?

03/06/2011 01:08 PM

Mr. McLaughlin Well Said

03/06/2011 09:42 PM

Gee and I usually have to pay the gypsy lady ten bucks to get dime store psychoanalysis.

Depression, yes. It runs on the male side of my father’s family. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, just a chemical imbalance that is easily treatable. Paranoia? Hmmm. Never heard that one before. I don’t care about what you have to say about what I write. Over fourteen years I’ve developed skin thicker than saddle leather. What would concern me is potentially losing a friend like the other Susan who I’ve known many years. Friends, fast cars and Harleys are the three things I value most on this earth.

Wow, you’re bringing some issues to the table, aren’t you. I always liked Bill. I didn’t freak when he defected to Dodge and Ray. It was just a business decision. I was thrilled when he won again and was running well there for awhile. I’d stuck with him through the bitter dissapointment of 1985 after all those joyous afternoons celebrating wins. I was thrilled for him in 1988 when he finally got his title. 1992 was a weird year. So many strong runs, so many wins. Leading the points so long. But in retrospect knowing what happened in 1992 I am glad Alan got his brief time in the sun. I just wish Davey could have won a championship as well.

The Wood Brothers pretty much carried Ford’s flag after Holman-Moody closed up. Before this season the head of Ford Racing heard they might be closing shop. Out of loyalty to thier long time stalwarts they brokered the deal with Roush. After all if the Chevy teams were going to by cynical and claim Stewart-Haas isn’t a sattelit of HMS, why should they play by the intent of the rule rather than the letter? Young lady, if it weren’t for the Woods, the Pettys, Junior Johnson and a few others you’d probably be watching drag races or open wheelers on Sunday afternoons. NASCAR wouldn’t have made it after the factories pulled out. (Off topic but did you know in 1972, NHRA Pro Stock legendy Grumpy Bill Jenkins was tied as the highest compensated person in sports, tied with Lew Alcindor. They both made 250 grand. How times have changed, but Bobby warned me about that. Here’s another bit of Dylan wisdom you might want to study, “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.”

I wish Trevor and Chase (if he ever makes the Cup level) many happy and successful years of racing together as part of the next generation. I don’t want to see them going after each other to settle some perceived slight of thier fathers. Then again I’ve never allowed bitterness to lodge in my soul as you obviously have. It’s a toxic weed that ultimately kills those who harbour it, not the intended recipient.

It’s interesting that you feel I’m obcessed with fixing all of NASCAR’s failings. In doing so you seem to admit that that such failing are indeed in a plentitude.

And if me and the rest of the writers here are a bunch of half-wit drunks what is so lacking in your life that you spend all this time over here reading what we have to say?