Diary Of A Racer Kid: Social Media

Ryan Fearn is an 18-year old driver in the Limited Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway. He is part of the racing Fearn family at Stafford, which also includes his uncle, Late Model driver Tom Fearn, and his sister, Limited Late Model driver Alexandra Fearn. His father Stu Fearn owns the Fearn Motorsports team. Ryan will bring his thoughts, views and behind the scenes observations of living the short track racing life to RaceDayCT in an occasional column titled Diary of Racer Kid.

Small update on the black flag/three strike rule. It turns out instead of a three week reset to the watch list, it’s simply an additional three weeks. In other words, when you get your second black flag, add three more weeks to your remaining watch list tenure. Third black flag will do the same in addition to the wrath of the race directors.

As a race car driver, social media is either your friend or your worst enemy. In all honesty, it comes down to how one utilizes such a tool.

“Everyone is watching. Friends, family, competitors, sponsors, officials, everyone,” quoth sister and teammate Alexandra.

With that in mind, let’s explore ways to create the worst possible image for yourself on social platforms. The list of things is endless, but whining, complaining, blasting competitors/officials/tracks, disassociating from your racing lifestyle with recycled memes, expressing strong and/or controversial political beliefs, and generally causing drama and chaos within your online social community are ones that come to mind first.

Generally, such behaviors will land you in multiple doghouses. When one is a racer, saying things like, “[My division] is full of hacks no wonder car count is abysmal #disgrace,” and, “Do [my track’s officials] even understand racing or their own rule book #posers #draintheswamp,” will drastically reduce your desirability when it comes to acquiring support, whether it be from the fans, potential/current sponsors, or even the track itself.

In short, if you’re an Olympic Pot Stirrer, the pot is bound to get stirred back the other direction at the worst times. Sponsors won’t want to associate with you, spectators will cheer when you wreck, and the track will have no sympathy making an example of you.

And no, not even a global Facebook status like, “Glad [local pot stirring champion] got what he deserved #titfortat,” will earn you 100% positive feedback. It’s best to leave remarks like that for the shop, should you really feel that way. In the words of our friendly Late Model enemy and rising SK prodigy Josh Wood, “Would you really say this in person? If you wouldn’t, don’t post it.”

Very smart words to keep in mind when at the helm of the USS Typewriter.

With the “don’ts” of social media out of the way, we can gaze port side from ye mighty vessel toward the “do’s”.

We learned that negative arbitrary posts in general will sink us, therefore positive racing posts will logically keep us afloat. For example, my sister and I didn’t reel in a victory or even podiums this past Friday, August 4th, but our cars remain in one piece. We can take the positive aspects of that night and make them our main focus in a status like, “Cars are in one piece, time to hammer down on improvements. Thanks to our sponsors, the crew, and the fans for the support. #tothefront.”

However, despite following these guidelines online, not everything is smooth sailing when perusing the news feed.

Everyone has haters, that’s simply a fact. There’s always going to be those weekly track-goers that find something off-putting about you. You’ll post something along the lines of, “Rough week, car’s gonna need some work, hopefully we’ll make it next week,” and Captain Keyboard of the aforementioned USS Typewriter will point her commenting guns your way, firing off a few, “Deserved it,” and, “Hack job driver,” remarks. It’s a bit tough to deal with these folks, but the reality of it is that you can’t control what others do.

But the buck doesn’t stop here.

Even offline, people talk about social media. At the shop, in the stands, out to lunch with the team, people bring up the latest headlines. People simply love to talk about their favorite (or least favorite) drivers and the newest drama. Even the nons that have never been beyond the grandstands and fried dough concession (Mr. Arute, please put fried dough on the pit area menu) will have their input on how they’d drive a racecar.

The moral here is that social media can be a dangerous place, no matter how you use it.

The thing about social media though, is that you pretty much have to use it to gain a large supportive following. Whether you’re making moves that others believe should be discussed or you’re running your own fan page, it’s definitely a great help to get your name out there and make yourself known. Block out the haters, minimize the general negativity, and keep posting.

Speaking of all of this, shoutouts for Safco Foam, King Ward Coach Lines, and Whip’s Sporting Goods for being the main sponsors of the Fearn Motorsports 12 and 92 Limited Late Models this year. Gratitude is also extended to the 2017 Stafford Limited Late Model contingency sponsors Mr. Rooter Plumbing, New England Race Fuels, and Sunoco, as well as Napa Auto Parts for sponsoring the weekly festivities in general for the past few seasons. Last but not least, we also thank the Arute family, the fans, and the track officials and staff for keeping Stafford Motor Speedway going, as we wouldn’t have such an amazing track to race at without them.

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Comments

  1. This is horrible writing
    No one cares about this division with like 4 cars

  2. Michael Wray says:

    I can’t decide if this was posted to be ironic, seeing as he wrote about how everyone has haters. However if you are actually just an unpleasant person, bravo on personifying exactly what he was talking about in the article! Really provides some nice context…although I’m sure he didn’t figure he was going to get hate for his writing style.

  3. Great timing. I recently saw a video of you on youtube Ryan just having won a terrific race in the Dare Stocks at some point in the past. Apparently you had come from the back to win in a first rate fashion. In your podium comments to thanked the normally troublesome drivers whom you would not name for not being troublesome. Sounded like whining at the time for events that could have taken place but didn’t. No it’s not busting your chops but merely mentioning a part of the learning curve you seem to already have navigated.
    Aside from social media there is currently turmoil in the crate engine program with T/A dropping out leaving only FAB to manage the program. Does the Fern clan have any views of where the whole thing is going and what it means to you? Are you satisfied the program is managed well and for the most part feel the playing field is level? Are you confident when engines are cracked open to be freshened that the work is completely consistent with the “crate engine” guidelines and that there is no monkey business afoot.
    Does Alexandra have transmission issues on the starts? Are you playing possum back in 8th, conserving your tire credits for use when you get a front row starting position. Forget that last question. It’s either a dumb question of one you’d never answer. But one that isn’t dumb is are tires matched strictly to the car or is it possible for multi car teams like you and the Saunders to cross apply tire credits?

  4. Fast Eddie says:

    Here’s my two cents, or maybe a nickel: If all associated and/or in love with racing want to help keep it alive, no matter how small or large a contribution we can make, it needs to be POSITIVE! There are some racing circumstances that rub me the wrong way sometimes, and I try to keep any negative opinions to my self. Anytime I speak to anyone about racing I try to keep it positive. My kids thoroughly enjoyed going to the races with me, and at some point I hope to show future grandchildren how much fun it is to go see a race. Everyone needs to do their part to help racing continue! — One of the first pit parties I went to at Stafford (about 15 years ago), all the racers were hanging out and autographing pictures. Then I saw the 92 L/M. There was Stu Fearn and family, talking to about a dozen people, entertaining about the same amount of kids and calling passers by over to the car to give them a goodie bag! They were working very hard and doing an awesome job of promoting the sport! I became an instant fan of their team! We all can take lessons from this family! Thank-you for your efforts!

  5. Stuart Fearn says:

    Fast Eddie – wow thank you for telling me about your experience. Stuff like that puts a smile on my face and keeps me going back even more than winning I’d say. You must have caught me on a good day 😉 I’ll be honest, most times at the track I’m all business and don’t smile too much while we are working. After the races or at the pit party are good times though, glad to have made a good impression so many years ago and please introduce yourself if you see me at the track.

  6. Another excellent read, keep ’em coming!

    Josh Wood nailed it… Forget racing and the public eye, I’ve seen opinions and rants on social media destroy long term friendships, even split families. Often, if these things were discussed face to face, with the respect that is normally included in that setting, a little back and forth could have you agreeing to disagree and moving on.

    Wishing you and your extended family continued safety and success on the track.

  7. For anyone interested Tony Membrino was kind enough to take the time to respond to many of the questions regarding crate engines I asked above and you can check it out in Shawns article, T/A Engines Drops Out if you care to.

  8. Ryan Fearn says:

    Michael Wray, it happens. Critical comments with nothing constructive to offer don’t bother me. If some folks don’t like the column, they don’t have to read it. I’ll keep writing for those that enjoy it.

    Doug, the only facts that I know of personally are that the offender was asked to take out his motor in tech, was caught with an illegal timing chain (not factory position as far as I know, which can add HP), and put the blame on T/A for the work after trying to blame RAD. I guess one way to word it is that I don’t have any particular personal feelings about it, I just think that cheating up a crate motor deserves harsh penalties, which were evidently handed out. I’ve heard speculation that some think Stafford is playing favorites, but even then, if you get caught, you’re still in the wrong. Last year in the Dare Stocks I drifted the entirety of turns 1 and 2 to save the car and had the rest of the top 3 claiming I had a locked rear. We got teched extra for the rear and still went home with the trophy, no complaints about the extra tech. As for the whole program, I really don’t know what the most level option would be. Right now, it seems like taking motor builders out of the equation entirely might have to be it, but who wants to spend 4 figures on a new motor instead of a fraction of that for a refresh? It might be worth it to find a way to have builders and officials collaborate effectively and efficiently to prove legality. I’m also not too worried about how level the playing field really is because I’m too worried about my own performance instead of someone else’s, to be frank. We go for the best performance the rule book allows and I expect our competitors to respect the rules as well, which is why we go to RAD for trusted, top notch work. Never a problem in tech with our motors.

    As for transmissions, my sister and I basically learned to drive manual in the racecars. I had a tiny bit of experience driving a ’53 Chevy 3100 up and down my neighborhood street, actually, but that’s about it. Sometimes these transmissions don’t like to shift, and there are a few factors that come into play for getting it smooth every single time. I’ll bet you won’t meet one seasoned driver that hasn’t missed a shift, it just happens sometimes.

    Also as far as tires go, I’m not in a position where every single detail counts toward a championship or something. I just need to set good laps and garner experience and finesse. We run the best we can every week, and some weeks aren’t as spectacular as others. It’s definitely easier to win from the front though, as these Limiteds have a surplus of grip when compared to the horsepower we have. Passing is quite difficult as a result. Furthermore, tire credits are on a per-car basis, so for example, my sister and I can’t have a “combined” inventory or “combined” tire credits. My tires are only to be run on my car and my tire credits are to only be used for my inventory, and the same goes for every single car at Stafford.

    Hope that comment isn’t too unorganized, tried to answer everything I could. Thanks everyone for the questions, stories, and constructive feedback.

  9. Actually I thought that response Ryan was outstanding, contained a few items that were remarkably revealing and appreciate you are taking the time to respond to all the questions. Thanks.

  10. Sharpie Fan says:

    Just to add one more piece to the tire rule…
    At Stafford, the tires go with the driver for that division. So for instance, if Ryan were to wreck his car and choose to use his sister’s car as a backup he would have to take his sister’s tires off and put his tires on.
    Yes, I have seen it happen.

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