Ryan McGee, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine interviewed me the other day about Queers4Gears. He has been a reporter and producer at ESPN and he pinned the script for the documentary film “Dale.” You can read Ryan’s “Chicken Bone” blogs here – and follow him on Twitter.(@RyanMcGeeESPN)
You know the place. The first few rows of the racetrack grandstand that by the end of 500 miles end up being the catchall for anything and everything – crushed cans, empty party cups, and yes, chicken bones that’ve been gnawed naked.
This is where I dump my racetrack reporter’s notebook out onto the worldwide interweb and into your browser. So grab a spork and come with us…into the Chicken Bone Section.
Queers for…do what now?
Two weeks ago, during Carl Edwards’s weekly media center visit at the Auto Club Speedway, there was a subtle yet no less great moment that slipped by most people in attendance and watching at home on the internet.
Before every question, media members are asked to identify themselves by name and affiliation. You know the drill. You see it on CNN and ESPNEWS all the time. But even Edwards, who is as smooth and media savvy as they come, paused and smiled as if to say, “Come again?” when he heard this: “Michael Myers with Queers4Gears.com ”
See the moment for yourself here: You can hear Myers and his question at the 1:38 mark.
Myers is a 37-year old sales manager based out of Las Vegas. Yes, he is gay. Yes, he is a NASCAR fan. And yes, there are more race fans out there just like him. A lot more.
“I started the site in September 2009 and the steady increase in traffic has really been encouraging,” Myers said by telephone on Wednesday. “And the correspondence I’ve gotten is a lot of, ‘Man, thanks so much for this, there are a lot of us out here!’”
Talking to Myers and hearing his excitement over the number of gay NASCAR fans that have discovered his site reminded me of another conversation I had nearly two years ago with the original gay racing webmaster, the honorable Betty Jack Devine, who started Gaytona.com in 2003. His real name is Dave and, as always, he’ll be at his hometown rack, the Atlanta Motor Speedway, this weekend.
That’s right. There isn’t just one successful site aimed at gay NASCAR fans. There are two. But where Gaytona is admittedly loud and proud, Q4G is a more traditional blog, news-driven and updated on a daily basis. “I have two approaches to covering races,” says Myers, who grew up in Spartanburg, SC, hometown of David Pearson, Bud Moore, and Cotton Owens. “The first is nuts and bolts. Its information, opinion, and stats, totally centered on the racing itself. Then there is the Gaynalysis, which is a look at NASCAR from the perspective of what might of interest to gay NASCAR fans. Celebrities at the track, grand marshals, food, that kind of stuff. For example, the media center at Las Vegas has a spa. I’ll be writing that up soon.”
Myers is so dedicated to serving his audience that he’s willing to cover even what he doesn’t care for. For example, he thinks that reality show celeb Kim Kardashian is a bit of a joke. But when she sashayed into the Vegas media center to promote her new perfume, he knew he had to resist his personal desire to bail. “If you’re going to do a gay NASCAR website,” he said with a sigh and a laugh, “Then you have to interview Kim Kardashian.”
Fontana and Vegas were Myers’s first official visits to the track as a writer. He was admittedly nervous about how he would be received, but was pleasantly surprised by the reaction he generated in the garage. After the smile-and-answer from Carl Edwards, the driver’s PR rep quickly assured Myers that Cousin Carl thought that Q4G’s presence at the track was great and that he’d done interviews with gay and lesbian media outlets before. In the deadline room Myers was offered greetings and advice not only from some of his fellow scribes, but also racetrack management and NASCAR itself.
“Once everyone was sure that I was there to cover the races and not just there as a gawking fan, they accepted me pretty quick. It’s a real honor and privilege to be credentialed. I know that and I want to do that justice.”
- Here’s my 2008 story about Gaytona.com and webmaster Dave, aka Miss Betty Jack Devine.
- My buddy Jay Busbee of Yahoo paid a visit to the Streamline Hotel in Daytona, the building where NASCAR was founded, and found out that it now caters to gay clientele: