This Pandemic Is Crushing Our Industry. It Could Crush GRM, Too.

Tom
By Tom Suddard
Apr 4, 2020 | #SupportMotorsport

We may have been smiling when this photo was taken, but right now, things aren’t looking good. 

There, we said it. And we’re not talking about us. We’re talking about you. You’re hurting. You’re scared. You’re bored. You’re tired. You’re ready for this all to be over.

We’ve watched our community lose their minds, lose their jobs, and even lose their loved ones in a sprawling Coronavirus thread on our forum spanning more than 100 pages

We’ve watched our site traffic spike as people suddenly find themselves with no work to do on a weekday morning. 

We’ve seen a marked increase in digital subscription access, since even the mailbox has become too risky. 

Look beyond the personal level, and the news in the broader motorsports industry isn’t much better. 

Today the SCCA furloughed most of its staff in a bid to survive the coming weeks. More than 30 states have completely shut down. In just over a week, an entire country’s worth of race tracks, sanctioning bodies, parts suppliers, safety gear sellers, and more–the entire motorsports industry–did a panic stop in order to prevent this virus from hurting more people than it already will. Some have shifted gears, now building PPE for medical professionals instead of parts for car nuts like us. 

It’s worth mentioning that most of the players made these calls, the calls that could end up costing this industry its life, before government action made them inevitable. The industry stepped up, and now it’s facing ruination. 

One thing is certain: Cars, racing, enthusiasts and the world we’ve built around them will survive this, just like it’s survived every other setback since the horse went out of style a century ago. 

But it’s not at all certain what the car world will look like when this is all said and done. We’re not naive–we know playing with cars requires a certain amount of disposable income, and that income is often the first to go in a crisis–and a world built on money that ebbs and flows will always be in a constant state of change. 

But this time feels different. The SCCA, an institution for 76 years and the creator of modern sports car racing, has had rough years, but it’s never laid off most of its staff. It just announced its #SupportMotorsport campaign in a bid to keep this industry alive. 

In fact, the events business as a whole, already a tough nut to crack, seems to be reaching a dead end as mortgage payments and bills pile up while the gates remain padlocked. Remember when noise restrictions were your local race track’s biggest issues? They’d kill to have those problems back today.

Between the broader economic uncertainty and the lack of places to race, it means very few people are ordering parts for their cars, buying tickets to events, ordering T-shirts, or doing anything else that normally keeps our world functioning. 

This isn’t a complicated industry. Unlike the real world, there are no wolfs of Wall Street running elaborate hustles and no vast interconnected global financial systems. In fact, it’s refreshingly simple: People make money at their day jobs, then throw it at their cars on the weekend. And when they stop, well, so does this. 

And it affects us, too. Like any media company, most of our revenue comes from advertising. In the past we’ve had advertisers withdraw from our market, but never like this. Our sales staff now spends their days at home, quarantined, leaving voicemails on phones that might not be touched for months, and reading out-of-office replies from senders who may never login to that account again. 

Our hardship doesn’t compare to the hardships faced by so many right now. Nobody’s died, nobody’s lost their homes, and all of our employees are still employed at their full salaries with paid-for healthcare despite being stuck at home. But that can’t continue forever, and it can’t even continue much longer unless you show your support. Frustrating though it is, just as you’re relying on us now more than ever to be a source of comfort, distraction and community, we’re now relying on you more than ever. 

Put simply, we face an existential threat unless you #SupportMotorsport and support us, too. We’d like to still be a part of the motorsports world when it emerges from this crisis in a few months, but we’re not going to be unless you support us any way you can. 

How can you support us? If you don’t already, please subscribe to the magazine. Our subscribers pay our bills, our production staff, and our writers. They’re also the prime audience our advertisers hope to reach, and every additional subscriber is another member of a market that will save this industry. 

After that, please consider picking up some merchandise from our online store. It might just be a super sweet $10 T-shirt to you, but to us it provides a chunk of payroll, a reason for UPS to keep our friendly driver employed (Hi Juan!), and a way for our always-local T-shirt printers to keep food on their tables, too. 

There's also a brand new way to show your support: We've started a Patreon page, where you can quickly and securely pledge a few dollars per month to support our efforts. Though this is a new project for us, we're excited about its possibilities, and about the new ways it will allow us to continue creating the content and experiences you've come to expect. Click the button below to learn more. 

 

Become a Patron!

 

If you can’t send us money, we understand, but we will still ask you to do one thing: Help us spread the word. Share us with your friends. Watch our YouTube channel. Click on some banner ads to look at all of the cool stuff our advertisers have built for you. In a world where success and failure are just a few page views apart, your presence here matters more than ever.

Above all, though, stay safe. Lock yourself in your garage and finish that damn project. Order some parts, even if it means spraying them down with disinfectant once they arrive. And don’t be afraid to start racing again once this all blows over. Hopefully we’ll be here to unlock the gates with you.

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Comments
z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
4/1/20 3:08 p.m.

I was about to buy a T-shirt, but looks like for us rotund fellas, the XLs are sold out in multiple styles. 

 

I'll be more than happy to buy one as soon as they are back in stock!

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Dork
4/1/20 3:08 p.m.

And those $10 shirts are super soft and totally worth it.  

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
4/1/20 3:15 p.m.

Need a lg in the 2020 short sleeve. When they get back in stock, I'll order.....

slowbird
slowbird Dork
4/1/20 3:19 p.m.

I subscribed last week, and I'm going to check out the store now. Hang in there. A world without GRM isn't one I want to live in.

stanger_missle
stanger_missle GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/1/20 3:24 p.m.

The newer style shirts are awesome! Thanks for reminding me I need some more. GRM merch makes up about 80% of my daily wear.

 

Any word on when the work shirts will be back in stock?

stanger_missle
stanger_missle GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/1/20 3:25 p.m.
NermalSnert said:

Need a lg in the 2020 short sleeve. When they get back in stock, I'll order.....

They were in stock just a few minutes ago. The 35th Anniversary shirts are out though.

_
_ Dork
4/1/20 3:26 p.m.

As a subscriber, and rotund shirt wearer, I like my shirt. 
as far as Mr. Suddard and his state of union address: I think this will cause things to go more our way. The grassroots way.
 

While we consider the "norm" to be High dollar racing vehicles and safety equipment that costs more than the Miata its in, I can see tracks closing, big venues and sanctioning bodies rollin down the proverbial bay doors, etc. 

And, yet, I feel motorsports will continue. Henry Ford once said “Auto racing began 5 minutes after the second car was built.”

tracks? What tracks? Safety gear? Didn't exist. Sanctioning bodies? To hell with that. Some guy like cleetus Mcfarland will open a race track and host some form of automotive competition. We will survive. The magazine will too. It'll just be more grassroots. 
 

heck, maybe this will allow all of the low rung cheap forms of motor sports and racing to become the cream of the crop. Have you guys considered expanding the $2000 challenge?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/1/20 3:26 p.m.

Sorry about that, shirt inventories are now updated. We've got plenty of XLs arriving on a truck tomorrow!

RadBarchetta
RadBarchetta New Reader
4/1/20 3:27 p.m.

If they don't have your size in stock, buy one as a gift for someone else!

Christmas is right around the corner!

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/1/20 3:28 p.m.

In reply to NermalSnert :

It's in stock, not sure why it was showing otherwise. Is it still showing as sold-out for you?

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