How to write a race report


From 15+ years as a newspaper reporter and editor I couldn't help but learn a thing or two, and I'm going to share with you a particularly helpful gem: Memory is fleeting. The printed word is not.

When you compose your next race report, think about that. Write it the way you want it remembered, by you or anyone else reading it. I can go back now and read about races I ran three years ago. And what do I want to remember, and have everyone else read? Certainly not a collection of my worst moments.

Stop fixating on the one lap out of 50 you crashed and burned. If a reporter covered your event and wrote it up that way, you'd be pretty ticked. "Damned media!" Oh, wait, you wrote that yourself? Fool. In three weeks no one will remember or care you brain-farted yourself right out of the running. Unless, of course, you put it front and center for posterity.

Start off with your BEST moment, your favorite moment. I know. Now that I've said it, it seems like, "Yeah, duh, genius." But someone had to say it. Go for that one lap in the middle where you battled tooth-and-nail for 13th. Write about your brilliant, mathematically awesome pit strategy. Hell, if nothing else, tell about the incredible talent and focus it required to get in some sips of beer between shifts down the back straight.

And if you just gotta, then use the fine print at the bottom to mumble something about the fender bender *cough* that unfortunately sent you to the garage. Or don't. We won't think to miss it.

Pick someone and review a collection of their race reports. Do you come away saying, "This dude has the greatest races!", or is it "This dude can't walk and chew gum!", or even worse, "This dude's a real pisser!"

I do get it: You want to show how whatever end was not your fault, but it doesn't read that way. It reads, "... ... wreck ... wreck ... ... wreck ...". Harsh, but true. The race is over, my friends, and memory is fleeting. The printed word is not. Secret hint: Save the GOOD stuff.

Screenshots, too. They're an extension of your race reporting. Think about it.

And while I'm on the topic ... Don't, don't, don't begin your race reports with, "I'd never driven these cars or this track till 10 minutes before qualifying ..." Nobody is reading that and saying, "Ahhhhh, so THAT'S why he didn't win." They're reading it and saying, "Ahhhhh, crap, I have to be on track with THAT?" Seriously. If you were so poorly prepared, just let this fact quietly disappear.

I was watching an old episode of the TV show "NUMB3RS" the other day. One of the characters was being chided for having so much clutter in his office, and he rebutted it by explaining there was a clear organizational structure, "Chronological by height." It took me a moment: The oldest piles were the tallest. Chronological by height. I love that!

In my race report that's not me DNF'ing. That's me finishing faster and in fewer laps than all my competitors.

Todd Weiss


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