This is an ongoing feature of Queers4Gears – where we interview someone from the world of Motor Sports and ask them SIX Questions. This week we interview Jeff Gluck – NASCAR writer for SBNation.com and a prolific user of Twitter(@Jeff_Gluck) He’s covered more than 100 Sprint Cup races for various publications, including 28 races in each of the previous three seasons. In addition to his NASCAR coverage, he has covered all of the “stick-and-ball sports” at every level, from high school football to the Super Bowl. I sat down with Jeff at Auto Club Speedway and asked him about Twitter – and being a Nascar Writer.
Jeff Gluck meets Nascar Fans at a Tweet-Up at Auto Club Speedway
Q: Have you ever written a Tweet and then immediately upon reflection deleted it?
A: Yes, although mostly for errors or I realized that I did something wrong. I really haven’t been a position where I tweeted something that was bad judgment. Because usually I think about it enough beforehand and ask myself – should I really say this. I don’t necessarily just fire stuff off. What happens a lot with me is that it has already been re-tweeted before I can get to it – so I will just correct it in another tweet. If you’re asking for bad judgment – then no, I have been fortunate. Misspellings? Yes
Q: Now that you are live blogging for SBNATION.com – do you have an editor like you did when working in newspaper? Is that an advantage or disadvantage?
A: An editor is always an advantage. Even if it something from a grammatical to asking me if I am sure that I really want to say that. You know, if you go too far with something. If I want to put something up on the front (page) of SBNATION site – I will publish it in the Nascar portion of the site and then say, “Hey take a look at this.” They will read it and decide if they want to put it on the front. But if I am just posting on the NASCAR portion – then no one is looking over my shoulder which is scary. It’s almost like not having a parachute – you have no safety net. So, I try to read it a couple of times but… Sometimes you’re in a hurry and you miss stuff. Obviously nobody’s perfect either – but some stuff does get through. I’ve even had my Mom text me and say, “Do you want me to bug you about typos because you made one.” And I’m like, “Oh really – yes I would like to know, thank you.”
Q: One thing I have noticed my first time in the press center is that Drivers seem to always be answering the same questions. How much effort do you put into making your questions original – or do the particular events at the track dictate or steer the questions for you.
A: Well, it’s interesting that you bring that up. I would say the times that you hear the same questions over and over –are not from the traveling beat people. Because we have already heard what Tony Stewart has to say about Danica. No one that travels is going to ask Tony Stewart about Danica. But you come out to a new city and somebody from the Riverside Paper – or the San Bernardino Paper are there and they haven’t heard that and they are not there every week – they are not following it. So they don’t know, they’re just asking the question –and then he bites their head off. That’s why you see the repetition. I guarantee every week that Tony Stewart, for instance, gets asked how are things different for you now as an Owner /Driver? He probably got tired of that question into early last year. But newspaper editors tell their writers they want to do a story on Tony Stewart and how ownership has changed him – so they get assigned that story and they have to ask that question. ……. And all of the sudden, BAM! They get their head bitten off. Tony is an extreme example. Some drivers like Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson they always answer the question very politely – even if they’ve been asked it a thousand times. I can’t tell you how many times Jimmie Johnson got asked about Chad Knaus about cheating that one year – remember that? Everywhere he went for the rest of the season he got asked every single week about that. And he did get tired of it – and a couple of times he gave shorter answers but he never was rude of bit their head off. They understand that it is all a part of growing the sports audience.
Q: A few weeks ago Denny Hamlin was upset with DW – and he let it fly on twitter for the world to see. To my knowledge he was the first driver to let that much emotion fly – do you think he was talked to by his PR staff? Do you think it could cause drivers to become less real with their Tweets?
A: I think not at all. The great thing about Twitter is that these drivers are pretty much themselves and their opinions. Even the Nascar PR people and telling the drivers, “Tweet away – tell it like it is.” They want that because that helps show more personality which is obviously something that is a priority right now in NASCAR. I mean look at Jamie McMurray – many thought he was kinda boring and quiet guy; and now you see him on Twitter and he’s very likable. It just shows a whole other side of people. The drivers realize its good, the PR people realize its good and so far I don’t think any driver has gotten himself in trouble. Nobody has said anything racist or sexist or anything like that. Well, you have had Scott Speed reveal too many details about his sex life or something but I think RedBull like that – they think that is cool and edgy. I will bet Denny wasn’t talked to about that at all. Maybe DW was like, “What the hell?”
Q: Are there any drivers that should never join/use Twitter ?
A: I would say they all should have an account. But if I am going to give an answer I would say Tony Stewart. I think you could possibly see Tony get into it with a fan and have a very public battle. Or he could lose his temper and it would look really bad for him. Or he would call somebody out and be really rude and say something that he would regret. Fans have this vision of Tony that he tells it like it is – when you’re the one that he’s talking to like that then it is not so fun. If he lost his temper with fans on twitter – I don’t think that would be very good for him.
Q: We all have to work hard at making or Tweets fit into the 140 characters – using “u” instead of “you”, ect Do you find that this affects your “real” writing ability when you sit down to write an story for SBNation.com?
A: Not yet. I feel like the real writing is…… you’re at a meal and you loosen your belt up after a big meal and you can breathe again, “AHHHH.” It is kinda like that…… being able to write a full sentence again rather than having to shorten it and watch what it like Twitter. I haven’t used any abbreviations in my writing yet – I hope – If I did I didn’t know about it.