Jeff Gluck is in a bit of a different situation at SB Nation. He comes to us with a wealth of daily beat reporting experience. But that's what we felt we needed in order to really accelerate our NASCAR offerings. Gluck is outstanding because he's passionate about the sport he covers so he meets the criteria of what we're typically looking for when we go out and recruit some of our bloggers. Gluck is passionate, intelligent and knows his sport better than most out there.
But don't take my wonder for it. Without further ado, let's get to know SBNation.com's NASCAR editor Jeff Gluck.
Tyler Bleszinski: Tell me about your role at SB Nation.
Jeff Gluck: You remember those videos in school where the little bird sits on the rhino's back and eats the ticks? The bird gets food and the rhino gets free insect removal, so it works for both of them. That's kind of what I'm trying to do with SB Nation and my NASCAR content. SB Nation has given me a home and an opportunity; in turn, I want to write really interesting and relevant stuff about NASCAR so that the site becomes a great destination for race fans. That way, we both win.
Bleszinski: How challenging is it to try and build up coverage of a sport that SB Nation isn't really known for?
Gluck: It's challenging for sure. That's my biggest objective for the year - to let people know that SB Nation is a good place to read about NASCAR. But I'll tell you what, it's a hell of a lot easier thanks to all the support I've gotten from my friends on Twitter. When I was looking for a new job, a lot of them wrote in and said they'd try to read my stories wherever I landed; I think a lot of them have come over and checked out SB Nation, so I really appreciate that.
Bleszinski: How do you approach bringing NASCAR fans over to SB Nation?
Gluck: I feel like the best thing to do with all the freedom I have at SB Nation is to simply write stuff that NASCAR fans are interested in reading. I view it as writers should be representatives of the fans: Ask the questions and get the stories the fans want to know, just as if those people were in our shoes. I'm not going to write anything I think would waste their time or be boring, because I'm only writing it for them anyway. That's why I'm trying to do things like the "Gluckometer" crowd noise meter and the interviews with drivers outside the top 12. Fans say they want to know this stuff, so I'm putting it out there. And hopefully people will like what they see and spread the word.
Bleszinski: You've been charged with building up a motorsports league for SB Nation. What are you looking for in order to really build up our motorsports offering?
Gluck: Fresh ideas. I want to do things that are outside the box and just really interesting to people. My mind is going all the time: What would people like? Who do they want to read more about? What's a story people may not know? I think once the season really gets into the swing of things and we get toward the summer months, you're going to see SB Nation's NASCAR content coming along with even more new features and hopefully some new blogs, too.
Bleszinski: How'd you get interested in NASCAR?
Gluck: I grew up as a "stick-and-ball" sports fan and never paid any attention to NASCAR. Actually, I though it was pretty dumb. Cars driving around in circles? Really? Then at my first job, in eastern North Carolina, my boss sent me to cover a race at Rockingham. It clicked immediately for me. I got it. I understood why fans love it: The speed, the sound, the smells, the spectacle of it. The access to
the drivers was amazing: "You mean to tell me I can be in the pre-race drivers meeting?" I was hooked and wanted to know more about it right away.
Bleszinski: You've covered NASCAR for a number of years now. Share some memorable stories you've covered during your time.
Gluck: The one that sticks out the most is Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007 and joining Hendrick Motorsports. That was wild. It was my first year on the beat full-time, and it was just
insane to see all the cameras at these press conferences, the fans lining the streets outside to try and catch a glimpse of the action, the national morning shows talking about NASCAR and making a big deal out of it. I can't imagine any other driver's move to another team would ever get that much attention again. Other than that, Danica Mania was kind of crazy just this year. And I'll tell you what, this whole Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski thing will certainly be something people talk about for awhile, just because it's been such a divisive issue.
Bleszinski: You're also a bit unusual in our network as having a lot of journalism experience. Did you ever think you would wind up working for a network like ours when you started out?
Gluck: No way. Because really, who knew something like this would even exist? When I was starting out 10 years ago at my college newspaper, your options were either newspapers or magazines. I don't even think web sites had any full-time writers yet. So it wasn't like I said, "When I grow up, I want to be a blogger!" But now you can blog and get paid for it. What a great country!
Bleszinski: You use Twitter extremely well. Was that something that just came naturally to you?
Gluck: My Twitter philosophy is to treat people like they're your friends: Don't talk AT them, talk TO them. Listen to what they have to say. If you're just on your soapbox preaching about your views, that defeats
the purpose of Twitter. It's supposed to be interactive. The fun of Twitter is to have a ton of people engaged in the conversation. If I ask a question, I want to get a boatload of responses back. Really, that becomes a great tool to see what people are interested in and talking about.
Bleszinski: Finally, tell me something about yourself that your readers and followers might not suspect.
Gluck: I used to be really shy about meeting people. When I was younger, I'd never answer the phone in our house because I didn't want to talk to strangers. Now, I tweet to people I've never met and ask them to meet me for race-day tweetups. Last week in Atlanta, we had more than 40 people show up! Kind of weird to have gone from being too shy to answer the phone to now organizing tweetups.
Bleszinski: Thanks so much for your time.
Gluck: Thanks so much for giving me a job.