I’m starting to type this at 3:18 in the morning. I have a mix of Deftones music playing in the background (you can find it on YouTube by searching “Deftones Mix – Outer Space”) and I’m still wide-awake, like usual. Don’t show any pity on me for that part…normally, I’d be going to bed at three in the morning and waking up sometime about ten in the morning later on in the day, so this isn’t anything new. But this story isn’t a normal one for me…I didn’t dredge YouTube for something more random than the new subscriptions list, nor did I go through my feeds for the latest news on this subject. All I did was manage to break into my LinkedIn account after paying exactly no attention to it for at least a year. While I was poking around, updating information and checking on contacts I wouldn’t otherwise see, I took note of one thing: it’s been five years since I started writing for BangShift.
Holy shit…five years have passed? Really?
They have. It’s been five years since I graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, five years since my few seconds of fame on an episode of Roadkill, five years since I planted roots in Bowling Green and got started on a career path that I would’ve never expected to have. It’s been a blur, year after year. Each week, I look forward to the challenges, whether it’s just making sure I have enough content for you to read posted up, or whether I’m driving across the country to another event and what I’ll do for the next few days. In the short time I’ve been hammering at the keys, learning the basics of automotive photography, figuring out how to run a livestream kit and how to properly film motion, and stuffing my brain with ten times the knowledge I thought I had coming into the BangShift show, I’ve kept busy one way or another. Each day I’m trying to come up with some way to be better, to do something that can be good.
Just taking stock in the accomplishments of the past half-decade brings up some gems. I got to go on a press reveal for a new vehicle. I’ve test-driven a list of cars. Prior to BangShift, I had autocrossed a few times and had bracket-raced a few times…now, I’ve done land-speed racing, road course racing, and have done some desert blasting in UTVs, and I’ve ridden drift monsters and pre-runners that would embarrass the most cocky Raptor owner. I’ve had late evenings that left me seeing in triplicate, I’ve caught the SEMA strain of the flu that could knock out a horse while waking mile after mile shooting pictures, and have dodged sketchy weather in my job performance. I’ve stepped in to assist Brian Lohnes in announcing duties (which, for a complete amateur, is a deep-end dive kind of move).
The coolest thing, by far, of this job has been learning about the human side of the show. I wish I could tell you how many people have come up to me at races or events to say hello to me just because of this job. I’m not a natural personality like Brian and Chad are…I’m an introvert doing one hell of a job faking it. But many people I’ve had the privilege of working with have helped me in seeing more than just their “standard” positions. Dina Parise is a badass racer, yet I first knew her as the lady who kept Chad and I well-fed at Indy, bringing the kind of dinners that I’d pay $50 a plate for any day of the week. Mike Finnegan is one of the brightest stars in the game right now, but that dude always has a minute to spare and I’ve gotten the privilege to see how he treats everyone the same, with respect and friendship. I’ve met no-shit legends of the industry, the kinds of names that I watched on television. I’ve been on phone calls with ex-racers as I ask them about their old cars. I’ve chatted with OEM execs, had dinner with Baja racers, celebrated with an entire community as a dragstrip went down in flames, and the crazy thing about all of this?
It still doesn’t feel real.
You’d think, after five years, that I’d be a bit jaded over, that I would’ve gotten past the surprise and the thrill of being able to go track to track, to meet the racers, meet the pit crews, meet the voices that bring the action to the masses. You’d think that the novelty would wear down. In fact, it was something I was genuinely scared of when I accepted this position. “You never make your hobby your career”, I was told many times over. You didn’t want to lose the special part of all of this. Five years in, I haven’t. Five years in, I still get excited when it’s time to bring the cheap racer to NCM for some fun in the cold. Five years on, I still drive to the next live streaming race with excitement. Five years on, each plane trip is an event of itself.
Thank you for hanging with me so far. Thank you for your positivities, your criticisms, your encouragements. It’s all taken in and I do my best to grow and be better. Hell, I’ve gotten a car running and driving in 2019 already! It’s not the Imperial, and there is no guarantee that I don’t sell it to fund something else, but dead car to daily driver in about a month is a pretty solid shot for a guy who hadn’t built his first engine as recently as the middle of last year. Here’s to the next few years, may they be as much an adventurous blur as the first five have been.
It’s now 3:51 in the morning and I’m going to bed. I’ll be back tomorrow, ready to do it all over again.