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Regretfully, gentle readers, this will likely be my last commentary column, at least for the foreseeable future. I’ve been at this NASCAR writing gig for sixteen years now and trust me, it’s tough to walk away. For all my cynicism, bitching, and occasional panic if I’d be able to find anything interesting to write after a boring race, I’ve loved every minute of it, being able to provide many of you with a few minutes of enjoyment or making you think on various issues while reading my columns. Your comments, both positive and negative have made a better writer out of me after a near hopelessly amateurish start to my so-called career.
So why is it time to pull the plug and roll on the highway? Many of you don’t know that since my days at the now defunct Racingone.com site this writing gig has been a part-time profession for me. For years, I had another part-time gig selling auto parts at a mom and pop parts house nearby. The hours rarely conflicted with writing about races except during rain-delayed Monday events, and I’d amassed enough personal days I could work around most of them. Either that or I’d work all day, scarf down a couple AM-PM hot dogs on the ride home from work, watch a tape of the race and write until all hours to get the job done.
Well some time ago, mom and pop decided that they’d rather own a second hardware store than an auto parts outlet as the chain stores – particularly NAPA – began nibbling at, then battering on our business by lowering prices to a point where we were hopeless to compete. The store shut down and I lost that income.
Over the past year I’ve tried to find a replacement job for that one, while living on what I sometimes referred to as my retirement savings and sometimes thought of as my 2013 FXSTFB (sorry, Harley-Davidson Fat Boy) fund. That meant not even considering jobs in the auto parts business that required Sunday hours or working past six in the evening weekdays. I don’t have that luxury anymore, as things are just too tight. I know I am hardly alone in struggling with the loss of job and income in the present economy, so I’m not asking for your sympathy — just your understanding. For those of you struggling with similar issues in your lives, including many former NASCAR writers, I understand your pain and wish you the best. You’re in my prayers.
In a way, I feel fortunate I am single and don’t have kids unlike so many dealing with current economic crises, because at least I only have to take care of one rapidly aging, ugly old hippie… me. Hell I even got my hair cut today for the first time since I left the planet of the 9-to-5 (OK, 7-to-6 and four hours Saturday) world.
I think I look like Beaver Cleaver but I’ve got a couple interviews this week and looking like a roadie for a Foghat reunion tour doesn’t cut it.
I feel truly blessed that so many of you have decided to ride along for the Magical Mystery Tour that has been my career, following me from site to site as I wandered like a saddle tramp. I consider so many of you friends and I will miss you terribly and sincerely. For you newer readers, don’t think for a second that I don’t appreciate you any less. Your comments both kind and unkind truly made me a better writer. If I can no longer respond to emails the way I once did when writing was a full-time gig it’s simply because the volume got to be too much (over 100 emails some days) and I had that other 50 hour a week job I needed to get on with to pay the rent and keep gas in the Harley.
I have truly enjoyed working with the Frontstretch staff over these last six years. They are an extremely talented, diverse, and hard working bunch of guys and ladies. We sweat bullets to provide all of you with varying points of view on the issues and they are all an incredibly talented bunch of writers, even if we have knocked heads from time to time. I know that they will continue to flourish in my absence and I hope you’ll keep reading their weekly missives.
I’d like to send a note of thanks to Tom Bowles, fellow writer, owner of the site, and my friend for pretty much letting me vent my spleen without censorship for six years. We’ve endured some “duck and cover” moments during my tenure in the trenches, but there’s only been a few times that my more outrageous opinions were edited out. If in the future, I land some Sundays off, I might contribute a few columns of my own because I’m like one of those retired fire horses put out to pasture. I hear those bells ringing and I still want to run with the pack, headlong and headstrong charging right into the midst of the blaze as fast as I can go, hellfire be damned.
Truth be told, I slit my own professional wrists back in February of 2001. In the wake of Dale Earnhardt’s passing I wrote a column titled “Blood On Their Hands” stating basically that NASCAR® officials were responsible for Dale’s death with their refusal to install SAFER barriers and require the HANS device for all drivers at every track — even after the deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper the previous season, all of which were caused by basalar skull fractures.
I absolutely seethe when I read how NASCAR® instituted all these safety changes in the wake of Earnhardt’s death. Folks, I was there. Mike Helton once called SAFER barriers “a cure worse than the disease.” NASCAR was not going to “react for the sake of reacting” on the head restraint devices. I think everyone can now agree that the idea of racing at tracks not lined with energy absorbing walls and with drivers not wearing a HANS device would simply be barbaric, the modern day equivalent of feeding Christians to the lions. Yet when I toured Dover this year, I still saw vast stretches of walls where there were no SAFER barriers and it made me so nuts I wanted to strangle the life out of someone.
No, it’s not likely those areas are going to be run into a lot, but as Elliott Sadler’s wreck at Pocono a couple years ago proved, these drivers will find a way to run into any unprotected surface short of the concession stands in the parking lot or the Denny’s three miles away.
While we now accept SAFER barriers and the HANS devices as a fact of life (and death), back in 2001 my opinions weren’t so popular — especially since I spent most of the week working various radio outlets repeating my opinion NASCAR had killed Earnhardt by sins of omission, not commission. No less a personage than Bill France, Jr. got in contact with my bosses and demanded that not only should my column be taken down, but I should be fired.
There was a logistical problem there in that no column, mine or anyone else’s had ever gotten as many hits as that one. I didn’t lose my job, but a few months later I was told at Pocono that despite having a letter stating my credentials were confirmed, I was no longer going to get into any NASCAR® race on a press pass — which makes it hard to work a paying gig in this biz. Then I kept writing anyway for free; as it turns out the ISC, sister company of NASCAR®, bought the site and had me fired days before the start of the season.
Professionally, I guess that’s when my career died, but I kept on hanging on, even writing for free at times, just to piss those SOBs off. To the extent I have done so and for whatever minor contributions I have made to saving a driver’s life or at least limiting the extent of his injuries, I am proud.
But as they say, “pride goeth before the fall.”
There was a time this decision I made today would have devastated me. But in truth, I also feel an element of relief. Over the last few years I’ve endured more NASCAR races than I’ve enjoyed, out of a sense of habit. The racing has just become so sanitized, ordinary, and yes, boring, I don’t feel like I’m quitting the circus. I feel more like I’m being let out of high school detention early on a nice spring day. My heart, my love, and my lady isn’t the sea but riding my Harley on the blue highways of Chester, Berks, and Lancaster counties. If my Sundays off are going to be rare that’s how I plan to spend them, sun on my back, shadows twenty yards long, and drawing the envious stares of my fellow motorists in their air conditioned, four-wheel cages as I roll past. Someday I might get killed on my Harley (not a bike; kids ride bikes, I ride a Harley.) but I’m OK with that.
As Jimmy Buffett once wrote, “I’d rather die while I’m living, than live while I’m dead.”
I’ve been predicting the declining interest in NASCAR racing for years before it happened — as have many other more talented writers, including Monte Dutton and Mike Mulhern. I’d have loved to be around not only to chronicle that decline, but eventually what I hope will be a resurgence of the sport back into a more popular era, featuring races like I remember in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Golden Era, as I term it — but it’s not to be. If NASCAR survives and even prospers, I probably won’t be around to see it.
Again, in closing, let me say how much I appreciate all my loyal readers. If I don’t see you again in this lifetime, I hope we will meet in the next. You have been a source of joy to me more than my limited words can express. I wish you all joy, prosperity, contentment, and happiness beyond your fondest dreams. I can’t finish this column with words of my own so let me borrow some (paraphrased) words from my buddy Jerry Garcia who used to follow me all over the country…
Ten years ago, all my dreams were riding tall,
Tonight I’d be thankful, Lord, for any dreams at all,
Some folks would be happy, just to have one dream come true,
But everything you gather,
Is just one more you can lose…
Come again, walking along in the mission in the rain…
PS (And besides, Taylor Swift hates me.) ™
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I hate to see you go, I have followed you from the beginning through the many sites you have honored.
While I did not always agree with you, I loved the honesty and passion you wrote with. It was refreshing to read someone who put their principles above a paycheck.
It has been nice to read their were others out there who believed as I did, and see that someone had the BALLS to tell it as he saw it. And not just follow the company line.
This is a truely sad day for me and many other race fans out there who could not wait for Monday and Thursday mornings to read your column.
GOOD LUCK AND GODSPEED
Good luck. I really looked forward to your writings each Monday.
I hope it is till we meet again, rather than goodbye.
Best of luck, Matt. Sad to see you leave but I understand your reasons. You did it your way and if someone didn’t care for it, too bad. Going to miss your passion for the sport. Take care.
Oh Matt – your commentaries are an integral part of my Mondays. I’ve been following you for years (yes, I have a copy of “Blood on Their Hands” somewhere) and I will truly miss you. I do understand though – Nascar sure isn’t as much fun as it used to be. You called things as you saw them & to me you are quite irreplaceable. You made a tear come to my eye this morning. Godspeed and I hope things work out for you & perhaps this is not the end…
Good luck Matt. You and your articles will be missed. I wish you all the best. I guess nothing lasts forever. It won’t be the same on Monday mornings after the race. I hope better things lie ahead for you.
Matt, You have confirmed what I’ve been thinking for a long time. I’ve been following NASCAR and you for a long time. The sport just is not the same and neither is my interest in it. There are too many other things to be doing on the weekend. You have been my main source for race reviews on Monday and I’ve always read your Thurday columns as well especially the tributes. I will miss your insight and stating things your way. I’m sad to see you leave but I wish you well and good luck! Thanks for the memories.
A sad day for me, as I’ve followed your writing thru all your wanderings. Believe me, I understand your reasons for leaving…many of us are facing the same issues. While I wish you all the best, know that many of us will find a big hole in our reading. Thanks for your honesty and your passion all these years, and I wish you all the best. Like you, I feel that for the last few years I’ve watched racing for the same reason the kid shovels through the big pile of manure, thinking there has to be a pony under there somewhere.
Sorry for our loss, May God Bless You in your Search.
While I have called you some unflattering names from time to time, I will miss you.
To be good you must make a stand and any time you make a stand you endure boos along with the cheers. But I always appreciated the fact that you took that stand and didn’t follow the leader.
Good luck in the future and enjoy those PA roads. They are some of the best for two wheel rides.
Matt: Sorry to see you leave but I wish you the best in all you do. I have been a “Matthead” since SpeedFX days.
I have attended over 50 Cup races, the last one Daytona 2003. Now I don’t even bother watching races on TV. Just looking forward to reading your thoughts every Thurs and Mon. has been my only connection to a sport I once loved. Now that’s gone too.Interesting you chose the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death to announce your passing from our lives.
Godspeed old friend, you will be missed.
“I’m going back to New York City, I do believe I’ve had enough.”
Thanks for your articles.
I remember that article about Senior, but lost track of you until the last couple of years. I have looked forward to each Monday and Thursday since.
I was not aware of the repercussions of that article, but am not surprised.
Nascar is dying a slow death. The racing is what brought us to the tent, and it is the racing that will empty the tent. They are losing fans faster than they are gaining them – but are too arrogant to recognize it.
Like others, I used to plan my weekend around the race, but no longer.
I hate to say Good Bye.
Anyway – good luck and God Bless.
One piece of advice (if you don’t mind) hold hard to the future – you never know what good things it holds.
August 16, 2012 THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED
Sadly it is the end of an era. You made the COT, Top 35, the free pass and the corporate takeover of NASCAR bearable. As I read over these comments, I can see that many other fans are coming to the same conclusion—there are too many other things to do on a Sunday afternoon than watch another boring and mediocre Nascrap race. Your decision to leave now is perfectly understandable. I, like many others, will miss your wit, humor and often jaded insights into the inner workings of NASCAR. Even on a rare bad day, your column was worth a full six-pack of the “Nectar of the Gods.” In your honor, I’m gonna drop the top on the red Mustang and do a lap of I-270 with Springsteen on the stereo and a deep sadness in my heart.
Matt – Good luck. Over the last few year, my race watching has declined, but I have not failed in reading your post race recaps and Thursday commentaries. These were the last vestiges of my NA$CAR fandom. Good luck in finding a new job.
Thanks so much for all the great columns. You will be sorely missed. (Hope you change your mind and come back soon)
Wow, Matt, and I just quit because I decided NASCAR wasn’t worth my time and effort anymore. Sorry to hear about your misfortune but things will be better.
I went from being a diehard who never missed a race to actively avoiding a sport with zero regard for its core fans. I haven’t watched an entire race in a year and a half, but occasionally I will turn on a Fox broadcast and in five minutes I will remember everything NASCAR has done to Chase diehard fans away.
Sorry, not trying to make this about me, just saying my only connection left with NASCAR was reading yours and Richard Allen’s columns.
You were great at Racing One, and you helped make the Frontstretch the best racing website out there. I was proud to share the site with a writer of your talent and guts—and sense of humor. I have laughed out loud many times at your diatribes.
I will miss your columns more than I currently miss NASCAR.
Despite over a half century as a Stock Car Automobile Racing fan, as distinguished from simply NASCAR, I have followed you for years (well before I began making comments; in fact well before such was possible) for the same reason I, despite only a modest interest in baseball, read/listen to Keith Olbermann and for the same reason I do likewise with Frank DeFord: because, riffing on James Carville, “It’s the writing, stupid.”
I owe words, written and spoken, for whatever I have in this life and I learned long ago, despite what some in the Creative Writing Professoriate contend, that “if you wish to write well read good writing” is true.
Aside from the writing itself I enjoy reading you because your attitude and outlook are compatible with mine. As a lazy sod I have been perfectly content to lay about in exquisite indolence whilst you did the heavy lifting for me and to know you disturbed the peace in the sport’s executive offices was a real bonus. Were I you I would wear the fact Bill France, Jr. went about howling for my head as I would the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Speaking of heads. The haircut disturbs me. Long hair is nowadays truly an old-guy thing. It is one way we recognize fellow travelers; those of us who were there, man.
I admire as well that you did it at all. I toyed with the idea of submitting an entry in the recent become a new Frontstretch writer contest, but shied away out of concerns if I won it might change my relationship to the sport. Monetizing something can have that effect.
Godspeed, and please be sure to tun off the lights in the Literary Allusions Room as you go. I fear it will not be used much now.
PS: Did you plan it this way? I mean did you consciously plan to exeunt on this day? The anniversary of Elvis’ death? Nah. You probably did not. That is the kind of cheesy stunt I’d pull.
Godspeed, Billy Jack.
Matt, I am so sorry to hear the sad news. You were a big part of my Mondays and Thursday when it came to reading about NA$CAR – and that will be sorely missed. I too am one that misses more racing than I watch nowadays. Interesting in reading through all the comments and salutations, there were more names that I didn’t recognize than did. That should tell you a little something – you had a great run, a hell of a following, and whether they agreed with you or not, they had respect for your point of view. And that is always the greatest gage of a successful writer. Best of everything to you, keep the sun at your back, the wind in your face, and may the road always rise to meet you.
More bad news on the door step!
I’ll miss reading your columns, Matt. Good luck and I hope that you find a great job very soon so that you can enjoy your “retirement” and ride your Fat Boy and have fun.
I doubt that any of your regular readers are surprised to find that NASCAR couldn’t handle the truth. They are the experts at burying their heads in the sand, killing the messenger and apparently no one can tell BZFrance that his ideas are responsible for the sports decline.
NASCAR has lost the appeal that it once had. Apparently that’s a big secret to TPTB, but not to many long time fans. Once upon a time, I would record whatever NASCAR programming I couldn’t plan my weekend around, but those days are long gone. Now, it’s fine to just catch up with qualifying, practice and even the actual race whenever I have time and sometimes only by reading about it online. It’s amazing to me how NASCAR could take a sport that was on the fast track and was so much fun and run it into the ground in so short a time.
I’ll say again, Matt that I will miss your writing because IMO, it was the column I always looked for and read, whenever it came out. Good luck and God Speed.
I’ve been following you for years and I’m really going to miss your insight and honesty about the sport I’ve loved for a long, long time. Your Monday morning race recaps have been a must read for me. It’s been real sad watching the slow death of nas$car and I have no hope of it getting any better in the forseeable future. Thanks for the memories and God speed.
I, like many others here, don’t watch the races nearly as much as I used to but I still read your Monday morning column religiously.
I have been reading your stuff since speedworld.net and I have enjoyed all of it. Back when Nascar used piping to keep drivers from jumping on the roof of their cars in victory lane (yes it sound idiotic even now), you wrote that something to the effect that what you would propose to do with that piping would involve a little vaseline and a lot of pushing and that made me laugh out loud at work which does not happen very often.
While my interest in Nascar has tanked, I am still a huge Springsteen fan as you are as well. Take care in the future.
Good Luck to you in all your endeavors. I hate to see you go. “Thinking Out Loud” was the reason I got up on Mondays. You’ve helped me through many a political science class, I’ll tell you that. I’m going to miss your honest and frank opinions (even the ones I disagree with). Good luck in all you do, and to steal from one of your colleagues…
“Keep the Shiny Side Up”
you know how i feel…..i have blood on their hands and when you wrote that you spoke for all of us. we knew all those deaths would lead to something bigger than the sport itself. 2/18/01 was the day that nascar died. people say i’ve never been the same since then, part of me died. maybe seeing it on tv, maybe writing letters pleading with the idiots to change things before a death that would kill the sport would happen. i have always said that nascar had their heads buried in the sands of daytona beach. and never would take the blinders off.
i have enjoyed your writing all these years and will have a huge hole in my monday mornings now. especially since i really haven’t watched an entire race to completion in about 2 yrs.
enjoy the ride in the shadow of the turning leaves. best of luck. you will be truly missed!
Matt, those of us at Frontstretch, including just a once-a-weeker like myself, are going to miss your stuff a lot. As I’m sure many of our readers will. Good luck.
We will miss you buddy!
The best of luck to you,
and come back and visit us from time to time!
Matt, I wish you the very best. Have followed your writings from way back and I always looked forward to your reviews on Monday. phrases such as “lick the sweat off a dead wombat” have entered my language thanks to you. I’m currently sharing your job search also, I hope we’re both back to regular employment soon. take care!
I give you six tall cans of almost frozen Colorado’s finest for a job well done. Enjoy the ride.
Thanks for all your contributions! I have always appreciated your point of view and you’ve brought many a laugh over the years!
I understand the employment issues you’re dealing with and wish you the best of luck in finding something even better for you than what you’re hoping!
When you do, please come back! As you can see, there are a large number of people who will miss you and your important insights on this sport!
Matt, I wish you well on your next leg of the trip. I’ve been reading your columns on and off for quite a few years, and I love that, in your last one (for now), you’ve still called ‘em as you see ‘em. I haven’t always agreed with you, but I’ve always respected you and your writing talent.
(Keeper of OOAL)
It’s hard to say something that hasn’t already been said by a fellow reader. You will obviously be missed by many! Somehow, I had a feeling that your mention of a pending announcement wasn’t going to be good news, but no one can fault you for your decision. You need to look out for number one- because no one else will !
I will miss the Monday recaps- especially when I didn’t bother watching the race the day(s) before. Of everything you’ve written, the Father’s Day tribute is my favorite because I can easily imagine my late dad & I in that scenario and it never fails to bring a tear to my eye and/or a lump to my throat. That’s the sign of a good writer.
A few years ago, I wanted to write a column on NASCAR racing (to make use of my useless college degree in journalism) because I thought that it would be fun & easy to be paid to write about something that I was passionate about. Like many others, my passion for NASCAR has diminished greatly and I’m thankful that I didn’t pursue writing about the current racing because it wouldn’t be fun nor easy- it’d be work. I already have a job I don’t care for, I wouldn’t want another.
Thanks for all your work and the laughs and thinking it inspired. I imagine I’ll find another race recap to read on Mondays (or later) but it won’t be the same- much like NASCAR.
I hope that your employment situation improves soon and that you enjoy your well earned freedom that comes with it!
Wishing you the best of luck in all of your future adventures in life. NASCAR changed after that day in 2001. What a Long Strange Trip is has been!
Thanks for the ride Matt. I remember scanning the internet when you disappeared from Racing One. Really don’t remember when I started reading your writings?
I’m looking forward to the occasional appearance of the ‘retired fire horse’!
Wow…hate to see you go, Matt. Been a reader since the early days, thought all the different sites, and always looked forward to your recaps and articles. Heck…I remember many times watching races and thinking, “Hmmm…Matt’s going to have something interesting to say about that.”
It’s been a fun ride…hope things work out for you in the future. At least you got a great finish to your last race going out…even if it was a road course!
Good Luck, man!
You will be missed Matt. Best of luck in whatever you do. Have some fun!
Just a simple Thanks
It’s been a long strange trip, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Don’t be a stranger at racingstalkers
Damn. Now I don’t have anyone to back up my dislike of NA$CAR! You wrote the honest view that always made more sense. Hope you can find time to write for us again and always piss off the “kool-aid” drinkers.Ride to live-Live to ride Dude.
I’m one of those guys that followed you from site to site and I still have a treasured copy of a response you sent me when I commented on one of your first columns at Speedworld back in 1997 when you were Nascarkid and I was Nascat018. You told me about the teens in your neighborhood that drove the neon-green Luv truck, the purple K-Car wagon, and the white Ford Festiva low-rider; I still pull that out and read it when I need a good laugh. You will be missed.
I’ll just leave you with a hearty thanks and best wishes. Long may you run.
Thanks for being on that hill for us where dreams are found and, sadly and perhaps inevitably, lost.
You have truly told us more about our sport, racing, and living life in just “Fathers’ Day” and “1313 Turkey Court” than most people could hope to write in their entire lifetimes.
Thanks for the ride. Hope to see you further on up Thunder Road sometime.
Good luck in the future Matt. We will all miss your writings and look forward to the day when our Mondays will be a little less dreadful thanks to you disecting the NASCAR race again.
Damn Matt, I don’t know what to say… I’m another faithful follower of yours from way back in the era of speedfx. I remember when I first found you for the first time(through Jayski I believe) and the first thing I did was go back in the archives and real all of your articles. We have exchanged a few emails over the years and you even helped me with the loss of my cousin who was killed 3 days after you wrote an article mentioning that riders need to take a motorcycle safety class. I regretted never sending him a copy of your article because he was an inexperienced rider and only 18 years old. I still have some of your old emails and plan on holding onto to them forever. Thanks again for all the memories, you will be sorely missed. The best of luck to you in the future and please come back and visit from time to time!
Matt I have been reading your articles since the 90’s and only read racing on Monday and Thursday. I also don’t watch full races anymore and get the story from you. I have enjoyed your columns and hope you will be able to submit some stuff off and on and will be looking for it. I am praying for your good fortune with a job. Keep on enjoying the riding. God bless.
You and Alan Kulwicki both “did it my way”; that is something to be proud of! Enjoy those long rides on our PA highways and I hope you find what you’re looking for; you deserve it!
I knew this was coming when you dropped a hint in Monday’s column. Still, I hate to see it. I’ve been reading your columns since the racing one days (10, 12 years?) and it seems like an old friend is moving across country.
Your commentary has always been good, and for too many years, it’s been better than the race. (I realize that’s not a compliment, but your column has been really good.) You should consider doing a more general interest humor/commentary column like Lewis Grizzard or Dave Berry used to do.
And I agree that NASCAR has Earnhardts blood on their hands. Their reaction after that wreck said to the Petty’s, Irwin’s, and Roper’s that their sons didn’t matter. Only a big name matters.
Godspeed and I wish you the best.
Rock on, Matt! And thanks for the memories. Good luck in whatever you do and where ever you go.
Now I’m alive I can breathe the air
Feel the wind, smell the earth in the air
I watch an eagle rise above the trees
Project myself into what he sees
- Eagles Fly by Sammy Hagar
From a 72 year old racing fan, I will miss your writing. It’s sad that nascar is in decline but when I saw what they hired as president I knew nothing good would come of it. your dedication to the racing sport was appreciated. good luck in your future life.
I can’t top what everyone else has been saying. Monday’s and Thursday’s won’t be the same anymore. I can’t remember how I first came across your articles but I’ve followed them from speedfx, through when racingone was bought by NA$CAR just to get rid of you, I lost track for a while but luckily found you here.
The chase, cookie cutter tracks, the loss of Rockingham, Wilkesboro in favor of Chicago & California and the final straw of moving from IRP to the brickyard has decimated my interest in so-called major league stock car racing, your articles was one of the few things keeping me connected to something I really enjoyed in the 90’s.
I hope you’ll be able to occasionally write an article for frontstretch, hopefully they’ll continue to run your father’s day classic along with the Tim Richmond tribute
Good luck in your future endeavors, if you get a chance keep tweeting so we can keep up with your thoughts.
Good luck Matt and always look both ways when crossing a street. You will be missed by many. Stay in touch. And don’t take any wooden nickles. Remeber, lightning never strikes twice. No matter where you go, there you are!
I just realized something…apparenlty the only one that won’t miss Matt….well that would be NA$CAR.
Thank you for all the good reads. I’ve followed you for many years now and enjoyed all of it. You will be missed. Good luck with what ever you have going on in the future.
I will really miss the insight and humor in your columns. You being local I would of liked the chance to buy you a beer. Watch out for the blue hairs making left turns.
Thank you all so much for the kind words and for having tagged along with me so long. I’m going to admit my eyes have been a bit moist all day reading your comments and notes. It’s been a grand adventure and I will truly miss all of you and writing. As for the future I’ve learned never to say never. But I’ll only be back if I can do it well, not rush jobs. You deserve nothing less than the best I am capable of.
To repeat the only bit of useful advice I’ve ever offered in a column: If you find yourself lost in the funhouse look down at the carpet and follow the heaviest wear pattern out. But of course doing so means your fun is over cause you’re following the herd and not taking time to reflect in the mirrors.
Forgot to mention there’s no need to worry about me. I have found a job. The pay is decent, the benefits quite good and there’s lots of room to advance. The hours…well what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Unfortunately they include every weekend.
For those of you out looking for work, I know it’s a scary and discouraging process sometimes, but keep the faith. The Lord in his mercy will provide.
Like everyone else, I’ll miss you. I love Frontstretch, and you are my favorite writer here. There are too few who are willing to speak their minds, and even fewer who’s viewpoint meshes with mine. Hope the employment opportunities turn around for you, they’ve wiped out 90% of my savings as well.
dang it matt…..i’m crying with laryngitis….
i remember the piece you use to do at year end it was your version of the old winston cup banquet. i remember reading those and laughing so hard my sides ached.
at least we have the memories and priceless friendship.
i remember years and years ago when you fell on the ice, i called every hospital in pa to see if they had a matt mclaughlin as a patient. remember talking to you when you were loaded up on some intense pain killers.
Godspeed my friend.
Thanks for the memories Matt! I wish you the best as you realign your life wherever it takes you. Now don’t tell my wife that I won’t be reading your columns on Monday morning and Thursday afternoons, she might want me painting the house or crazy stuff like that!!!
I’ve been reading you with my morning coffee a long time, Matt. I’m a creature of habit and you just effed up my day.
Good luck with the new job. You’re a hell of a writer and I’ll look forward to those occasional columns you submit for our enjoyment. Damn, I’m going to miss you.
I doubt if you have any idea how much you will be missed. You are about the only honest man connected to NASCAR. I feel like there’s been a death in the family. God I will miss your honesty, wisdom, talent, and skillful writing. I’m hanging on to this sport because I’ve been hooked for 57 years. I doubt very seriously if I’ll be around in another two years. It’s just not fun anymore.
God bless you. May a good job come your way soon, and may you and your Harley spend many wonderful hours covering the neighborhood streets. My life would not have been the same without you.
Noooo! I have followed NASCAR since before the Winston Cup days. I rarely watch NASCAR on TV any more. The only way I keep in contact with NASCAR is to read your Monday column. We will miss you, Matt. Please write a few guest columns if you find the time.
I never did get a copy of “Aces and Eights”. Are you still selling them?
Several years ago a dear friend told me about the Matt McLaughlin character who wrote about NASCAR and did it well. I took her advice and checked it out. Glad I did.
Frontstretch.com has a super lineup of writers, though now one of its shining lights has dimmed a bit. Best wishes to you, Matt. I’ve appreciated your writing for all these years, and hope for only the best for you.
What is there to say?
I was overjoyed to discover your writing that had a tone so similar to the feelings I held after every race, good or bad. Your rants gave me much needed humor and something to look forward to when I would feel down. Thank you for all the happiness you have added into my life.
I’ve had a similar mood when it comes to NASCAR. I found myself watching out of habit. I tuned in every week hoping the magic I felt when I first started watching would return. But it usually failed living up to the past, and the present hasn’t been super for a Jeff Gordon fan. I figured why waste my time being unhappy when the weather is fantastic outside. I’ve found it a lot easier to walk away this summer and miss some races, it wasn’t as dreadful as it used to be years ago missing a race.
I certainly hope you can land on your feet soon Matt. With a mind and passion like yours, you have so much to offer.
Best of luck in the future Matt. Long-time reader, occasional comment-er. You always kept it real and spoke your mind. Many others have said it more eloquent than I but you will be sorely missed and Monday and Thursday mornings just won’t be the same. Hope you keep Tweeting and listening to Bruce ;) Best of luck in ALL of your endeavors!
Good luck to you, Matt, wherever you end up. I hope we still hear from you now and then…….your columns are always guaranteed to get the masses thinking and talking.
Matt, just wanted to add that I’m glad to hear that you have a job, that eases my mind a lot – even if it won’t allow you weekends off or the time to keep writing. Don’t forget to tweet to your peeps once in a while anyway – please. Even a few words from you would be pithy I’m sure and would keep us in touch. Friends are something no one wants to lose.
Matt, I will most certainly miss you and your Thinkin’ Out Loud race recaps, and your insight, opinions, and knowledge of NASCAR. Good luck to you and your future, which will be very bright.
Just also wanted to add my thanks for all the columns cause I looked forward to them every Monday and Thursday. It was a must read for me for more years than I can remember. I also loved the turkey trot as it reminded me of going to the snakepit at Indy every year (years ago of course). So my best to you and possibly we will meet on the web again. Thanks for the memories.
Wow, what more can I say that has not already been stated. I think about all of us feel the same way, but understand also. It is so sad this sport has ended up like this. And honestly, maybe for whatever reason there just is not enough of a market to support good quality auto racing, nobody has ever really seemed to compete with NA$CAR. Thus there is really just this void. Part of getting older too I suppose, that things just are not what they used to be.
When I read this article headline/info on my phone, it was def. a moment…of change.
Best of luck.
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Wow, DD, was that a reprint of my first article? I can’t tell which end is sneezing and which end is farting.
Matt, I won’t keep you long. What can one say about the end of an era? I know you have to go, and I do understand, but it’s a door that I hate to see close. It won’t be the same without you Kid. God Speed and God bless. You know where to find me. Wear a helmet! ~PK
Matt, been reading your stuff as far back as I remember. I think FrontStretch was the best place you settled. It’s a damn fine group of writers here.
Please please PLEASE check in with a column every now and then. We need to know how your Harley is doing.
You went out on a good note, giving a (deserved) six-pack to a road course race. What could be a better swan song than that?
Hey Matt, thanks for the memories and good times, especially back in the day on the forums of Speedfx and Racing One. Those were some good times, my friend.
I’ve been out of it for a couple of years now, and really only came here to check out your thoughts and to see what I missed since I don’t tune into the races much anymore. I used to be a diehard who would never miss a race, but now just don’t really care. Nascar is a hard mistress to give up, but with the direction it is taking these days this mistress has turned into a nagging, whiney spoiled little Princess that needs to be kicked to the curb.
Glad to hear you have found gainful employment, and enjoy the Sunday rides (if you can sneak a couple in) before the cold blast of winter comes again too soon.
Godspeed Matt – hope to read your articles again someday, but hope more that you find that in life that which makes you joyful.
a sad day for me Matt,
i’ve followed you since racing1 and your contribution to “soup.”
you do have a gift for writing, making pictures in people’s heads using only words, you’ve proved capable of evoking emotion with written language and even more than effective at giving the gift thought.. allowing even the simplest of racing fan to pause, think and take a position. as a fellow creative (not in the literary arena… obviously..) i know how important it is to excersise and use one’s gift. so i encourage you to continue to do so even if only for yourself. i wish you the very best and thank you for causing this simple racing fan to think, laugh, cry, seethe and dream. you will be missed. thanks for the fish.
Thanks for the memories Matt. I’ve been reading since the racingone days; one of the true, proud dissenting voices left in the media.
You and your brass bs will be missed good luck GOD BLESS
Again, thanks for being one of the few nas$car writers who wasn’t afraid to take the daytona mafia to task for their inept leadership (sic) of the sport. Monday mornings will not be the same without your honest recaps of races. Don’t be a stranger. Drop an occasional column on us. And keep chasin’ open space.
Many good thoughts and well wishes here. I’ve been reading your work since the old SpeedWorld days. Many good memories. The mental images you painted of you and your Dad in the rented dune buggy from Orlando to Daytona in the rain have never dimmed.
Although it has been quite a while since, thank you for always answering my emails. Like so many others here, I have gone from planning my entire weekend around the race schedule, to barely paying attention now. Your departure from this space is, for me, a significant milestone in the slow death of NASCAR.
Thank you for your dedication to covering a sport I used to love. To you Matt, a six-pack of Colorado Gold, and tonight Sir, I raise a toast in your honor.
Will the last person to leave the NASCAR circus please turn out the light.
You sir, are a writer.
Matt, You and the members of this site wrote it as you saw it and that’s why I keep coming back.
And while I didn’t always agree with what you stated sometimes, it made for some good banter.
Best of luck in the new chapter of your life. It sounds like you really like to write so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we saw you again down the road. Hell, maybe by the time you come back, Nascar will be on the way back up…..wishful thinking anyway.
by the way, does anyone have a copy or a link to the “Blood on your hands” article. I don’t beleive I have read it and would surely like to. Thanks
Mondays will never be the same.
I have been following you right from the start and I have always enjoyed your insights. I don’t like that you are moving on but I understand.
Lately my only method of following the races was through your column. I still cannot bear to watch the parades so I guess I will just have to let go of NASCAR and move on to my other pursuits as you have.
Thank you Matt for all you have written, I have enjoyed every bit of it.
Good Luck Matt
Matt, I have been a Jayski reader for quite a long time, but unfortunately I did not discover your wisdom and humor until about four or five years ago. I have a pretty good idea of how much I’ve missed out on.
I don’t post comments very often on this site anymore, as NASCAR is killing me off as a fan. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading. I’ve always looked forward to your columns in particular, like many others have.
You Are The Man, and You Will Be Sorely Missed.
I don’t want to accept your position, but I have to respect it. You have always been an inspiration to me and I wrote longer than I probably should have. As dear a PKL is, I have be totally upfront about not getting into the “grind” again. It’s hard to write about something when you just don’t feel it.
God speed, friend, and I hope I can call you that. I will miss you more than you know.
Sorry, but after reading everyone’s responses…
I have to say again… DAMN! SAD, very Sad, what the business has done to the sport we all loved.
Same thing happened to my first motorsports love, Indycar!
Seems the same thing happened here. I guess when we meet in the end we will have somethings to reminisce about….
Some things about getting old really SUCK!
Glad you found something, I’m still looking! I know it will be better!
Loosing you and JD at the same time will be like quitting some kind of addiction, well I guess racing is also!
Hope you do better at that than I am!
Good luck MAN!
I’ve been a follower of yours now since my college days back in 1998 to 2002, and I think I first found you through Jayski when you were writing for Mike Calinoff’s site. I’ve followed you from site to site and kept on searching when you were in website limbo. Much like you, my interest in the sport has gone from must-see to might watch. Last year I didn’t even watch the Bristol night race for the first time since 1995. Anyhow, my family and I have written you over the years to share our thoughts and you never failed to write back like an old friend. I’ll tell you now that “Blood on Their Hands” is some of the finest writing I’ve ever seen. I’m also partial to “Kid Lightining.” However, my all-time favorite was “Dale’s Greatest Hits” that you wrote right after the 1999 Bristol night race. I still have it saved in my computer. Maybe I’m not the first one to think of it, but I know if a site felt like posting your old commentaries and historical articles on a weekly basis, I would certainly be a regular visitor. On a personal level, if you ever decide to visit the West Virginia countryside, I’d happily buy you a cold one. And as someone who works weekends somewhat regularly, a country drive on a pretty weekday can be pretty satisfying too. See you on down the road.
Matt, I’ve only been reading your articles since early 2005 when we got our first computer. I’ve searched for your article after Dale’s death & can’t find it. Could you possibly make it available one more time? Anyway, thanks for all of your honest thoughts about the decay of NASCAR. How I wish you were running this once awesome sport instead of the damn Florida palm tree lover! From one old hippie to another, ride on & peace. Oh, & happy birthday.
Denny, I would if I could but I lost my only copy to my computer meltdown five years ago. Racing One thoroughly purged that one (and the entire history series) shortly after the new owners took over. If anyone has a copy I’d like it as well. I do recall after the France phone call the title was changed to “At What Price Entertainment?”
Matt, there is a birthday present in your inbox. Happy Birthday!
Matt, I’m gonna miss you. You’ve been a great advocate for driver safety over the years and a great voice for the fans. Safe travels my man.
I am not able to top any of the previous sentiments,only echo them! I will definitely miss your column. You Sir, Have earned a cold twelve pack of Sam Adams for your column content over t
Corporate money has ruined what was once an exciting sport….NOT SHOW!
Godspeed in your future endeavors
Patty Kay sent me
Good luck Matt. We will miss you. Been through it myself, and know it can be turned around.
A sad day – I am another person who has followed your writings since the beginning. Monday’s are now more useless than ever.
You were the exception to the rule in regards to
the politics of n$scar, and the void will be felt from this time on.
Sad, but GoodLuck! in everything that happens to you from this time forward.
I’m sorry to see you go, (for hopefully a short time), but like others here I understand the situation you’re in. Like others have posted I used to plan my weekends around the Busch and Winston Cup races. Back when the Busch series seemed seperate and apart from the Winston series unlike today where Saturday’s race seems to be a chance for drivers to warm up for Sunday’s race. Nowaday’s I rarely watch a race due to many of the reasons that others have mentioned above. That being said I_never miss checking in with Frontstretch, especially columns written by you, (my other favorite is John Potts). I will truly miss your columns as well as your cynical humor.
Today, in your honor, I put on “Foghat Live” and let Lonesome Dave, Craig, Rod, and Roger rock from start to finish, (I always thought it was a bummer that the album only had six songs on it). Anyway, I hope the employment deal gets better for you and in the meantime why don’t you get some “Road Fever” and take the Harley out.
Matt, you and Miss PattyKay (a.k.a. the Lady in Black) were by far the two most entertaining, informative, and opinionated writers that I read a regular basis over the last decade. It was sad to see Patty Kay’s column depart, and is even sadder to see yours leave us as well.
Most the time, you made more sense than anybody else writing about NASCAR. Mostly, I agreed with you; sometimes, I thought you were full of it, but all the time, I appreciated your passionate insights and opinions on the sport that we love and hate to see continue its long slow decline. MPM2Nite had so much thoughtful insight, it was a joy to read each week even if I disagreed with your conclusion. And I always look forward to your “Thinking Out Loud” entries, with your trademark sarcastic humor that is increasingly rare in NASCAR writing these days.
It is a gross understatement to say that you will be missed, heck, I can’t even say for sure how long I will continue to watch these ever-more- boring races week in and week out.
I know that Frontstretch is full of talented writers, and I will continue to read them, but you are still the kingpin around which everything revolve here. And in the words of the great Kool &tge Gang: “Who’s going to take the weight?”
Godspeed Matt; we hope to see you around again real soon!
I’ll miss you compadre. Your take no prisoners, no nonsense approach made my Monday mornings. NA$CAR is run by greedy men who try to stifle criticism and censor any opinions other than favorable one, which are deservedly lacking these days. Its a far cry from the good old days, which seem to be really over for good.
As a long time reader of your columns, I just want to say thanks for the hard work you put into them. I will miss reading your insights but I understand the decision. Best of luck to you, and safe riding my friend.
Hi Matt – First off – I am glad to know that you have already found a new job. Even though you have made a living from racing in the past, there is no escaping the need to pay the bills…
I have been like many of the people here – followed you since the SpeedFX days, have also had my interest decline dramatically over the last few years, and my only real touchstone to the sport is your column each Monday and Thursday. I think I watched the Richmond race in May, and may watch at least some of the Bristol race this Saturday night if I am home. I don’t think too much about it normally; but, when I do, I get aggravated that I don’t find enjoyment in it anymore. I (like you) was passionate about following the sport, and would eagerly search out all news I could find. I liked it better when you had to seek coverage because you cared about the sport.
I thought ‘Blood on Their Hands’ was a very brave and emotional piece. I recall being struck at how raw the article was when you wrote it. While much of the sport was still wringing their hands over Dale Sr.‘s tragic passing, you were the first to be so pissed off that you pointed out the total lack of action on NASCAR’s part to even acknowledge that there was a problem in the 10 months leading up to the 2001 Daytona 500…
Thank you for having the balls to write that article. I have always secretly enjoyed the fact that you made NASCAR squirm – and you have had some editors that let you share that with your readers!
Many of us talk the talk about doing the right thing. When you are a writer, that means sharing your thoughts and opinions with your readers – especially when you feel as strongly about something as you did. While I am sure it brought you no joy to write that article, you probably have never second guessed that decision.
I’ll close by saying that I hope you will be able to share your commentary on this site – even if only occasionally – because the sport needs that. Your race recaps have been very good – but, I am frankly more interested in your observations, and hopefully you will find the time and desire to do that every now and again!
Good luck in the new job, and ride safe!
Best of luck! I’ve truly enjoyed reading your columns over the years and my Monday/Thursday mornings won’t be the same.
Oh Matt, I loved your sharp wit and no-nonsense writing style. You’re simply the best and you’ll be missed! Best of luck in the next chapter of your life.
I was bummed when I read about your retirement last week, but it didn’t really hit me till today when I couldn’t read your column over breakfast as I usually do.
I am a Dale Jr fan, I was a Senior fan first and foremost, along with my Dad, since the day he introduced me to the sport by sitting my 14 year old self down in front of the tv and making me watch live as Dale battled Dale in the 96 500. When the son came onto the scene in 98 it only made sense for me to follow him. I remember that after Senior died, in one of his interviews Jr. was asked what it was that made Senior so special. Without hesitation, Jr. started talking about how Senior possessed something that is sorely missing in NASCAR today, common sense. That he had common sense far beyond most men and that that was what allowed him to build all that he had.
It was that same kind of common sense that lead me to read your column every Monday morning first thing through these years. What makes your retirement so damn depressing is not just not having your column to read, but opening up the articles and links page on Jayski and seeing so many links to stories by guys who have none, who are just drumming something up to get a paycheck. Fabricated stories, fabricated drama, all leading to fabricated interest. It’s like a vegi burger, all substance but no meat. I felt the same thing about the “old media” the other week when I turned on a non-race NASCAR show for the first time in years only to find a 15 minute long segment featuring Kyle Petty putting different outfits on Kyle Busch’s wife’s dog. Depressing.
Enjoy the hell out of your Harley Matt. Journalism is the fourth estate, an important part of keeping a nation running and keeping a nation honest, the same goes for sports. If NASCAR wants to kick you out for being honest and challenging the status quo, then they deserve everything that is happening to them now, and you deserve to not have to deal with their crap. Those long shadows sound nice….
Good luck to you and thank you for so many wonderful insightful articles throughout the years. I’m really going to miss you.
I feel like you are a long time buddy. Your columns have been the source of many discussions within my group of friends, you always seemed to write exactly what we were thinking. I along with almost everyone else who posted here used to be a huge fan of Winston Cup and Busch (yes I never stopped calling them by those names) and now I barely watch any of the races and don’t attend any.
The only races I attend these days are my beloved modifieds.
Have fun riding that Harley and maybe one day we’ll meet on the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk.
Matt- Thank you!
Best wishes to you…
As with everyone else and believe me, it took me the last 15 minutes to speed read through all of this, your wit and wisdom is irreplaceable to me.
You are the one thing I read every Monday to see how my feelings of the races coincided with yours. Surprisingly they most often did.
The sport is dying and your unwillingness to smooth over the death throes was what I loved.
I hope you come back occasionally to comment, but I find there will be little to entice me to check any of this any longer. It is a sad day for me.
Godspeed Matt and good luck.