So I’ll make this really simple. I own PaddockScene.com, which used to be a not-very-popular site for finding motorsport events. This is a eulogy for my life’s biggest project. Unless someone else wants it.
The site is real, check it out. The only caveat is if you look now there is pretty much no content on the site.
And I’m truly sorry about that, but it’s hard work, loading events on there one at a time, hour after hour, day after day... and I don’t get anything in return for it. The 2015 events have elapsed, meaning I need to get busy on 2016 if I want to have a website at all next year.
It’s supposed to look sorta like this (this is a mockup from wireframe design, not an actual screenshot, but you get the idea...).
And truthfully, I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I’ve realized that I enjoy building websites about as much as someone would enjoy eating pickle sandwiches every day for the rest of their life. I can’t stand pickles.
Of course like all bad decisions, this endeavor was based on an idealistic goal - that car enthusiasts of the world would socially contribute to the site by posting their own pictures of events, and having conversations about drivers, tracks, cars, and all sorts of fun stuff.
Three years ago, this is what you would have heard me say for an elevator pitch (roughly):
“Imagine if we had a one stop resource that you could simply plug in your zip code and find every automotive event in a 200 mile radius! Sort the list by Pro racing, and go buy some tickets to a race. Or check out Amateur racing of all different kinds. Sure you can go to MotorsportReg and find an autoX or a track day, but the user interface isn’t pretty and if you don’t race yourself this is pretty much a dead end. And that’s why there is a catch-all category for Non-Racing, so all the local car clubs and regional events could transcend their mom & pop websites and expand their reach to more people!”
Using a logical leap, I reasoned if that elusive critical mass was reached, the little venues and clubs would jump on board and eventually the big ones would follow suit. Each venue’s task would be simple... if you own a racetrack or run a car club, you post your yearly schedule on PaddockScene to get more eyeballs on your events. Job done.
The formula was sort of like this:
- Step 1: Build a motorsport database with some events in it
- Step 2: Market it till it becomes popular and enthusiasts contribute pics/posts
- Step 3: UGC (user gen content) grows; venues can’t ignore the audience
- Step 4: Profit.
Yeah... that all never happened. It was me, myself, and I, slogging through manual data entry for hundreds of hours a month, just to keep what little traffic I had returning.
The audience never showed up for a variety of reasons which I won’t get into here... some were my fault, others were way out of my control.
I dumped my life savings into the design and development, all starting about 3 years ago. This was well into the 5-figure range if you’re wondering, mostly because I hired an agency to do what I cannot... code and develop and design.
If you’re thinking, “hey, that’s a terrible idea! You have no idea what you’re doing building websites” you’d be right. BUT I had to try. For a couple of years I had been building spreadsheets cataloging every racing event I could find globally, and I built a really slick Google Calendar that my friends desperately wanted me to share with them. If it worked on a small scale, why not on a big one?
Anyway, PaddockScene is supposed to be populated with the full worldly landscape of motoring events, spanning literally every category of racing in every corner of the globe... let’s call it “LeMons to LeMans”, and everything in between.
I have built categories for Pro Racing, which includes F1, Indy, NASCAR, Australian V8 Supercars, DTM, British Touring Car, etc etc ad infinitum.
I built categories for Amateur Racing, which had various options for rallying, road course, run-what-you-brung drag days, motoX, snowmobiling, and included pretty much any weird ass motorsport out there.
There were non-racing categories for Cars & Coffees, all the national Auto Shows, manufacturer ride & drives, and much more.
Anytime I learned of a new racing series or event, I built it into the taxonomy of the site and added the schedule myself.
From a technical side, there are a lot of really interesting ways to administrate and monitor the site. Flexible levels of user permissions, modules that can be added or removed, notifications for all kinds of submissions. It’s a really cool system that needs somebody a lot more capable than me at the wheel.
At this point, I’m almost three years into the site and wondering if it’s even worth putting the many weeks worth of effort into compiling the events for 2016. It’s basically abandoned already but I can’t just let it go without seeing who might have a good idea for it.
And whoever wants it, CAN HAVE IT. At least, with a good reason. I’m not looking for money to sell it because I know it’s not worth anything without revenues. But if I found the right person/team/company to use it, I would like to see the idea live on in capable hands if it can be used for the good of the automotive community.
So, Jalops. Tell me why I shouldn’t just pull the plug. Help me think of ways this can be re-used, rebranded or re-imagined. Maybe there is a digital prodigy in our midst who can save PaddockScene from eternal anonymity. Or perhaps there is a good creative-commons sort of use for this website here on Jalopnik.
Or maybe it’s time to just move on.
PS: In the off chance anyone cares at all about this, I would be glad to privately share with you detailed history, timelines, business plans, scope of work docs, agency briefs, administrative privileges (if interested), and my professional credentials.
I’ll answer any questions in the comments. You can always email me directly through the contact info on the site as well... at least until I stop paying my hosting bills.