PHOTO: VMM’s Justin St. Louis isn’t exactly sailing off into the sunset, but the times they are a-changin’.
-by Justin St. Louis
I created this website because I like telling stories. Here’s one you may not have heard before.
In 2008, I was working full-time as the media director for the American-Canadian Tour and Thunder Road — a job that I adored, and the place where I learned 95% of what I know in this business from the people who are the very best at teaching it — but being on the road and away from my young son was eating at me so I resigned.
I got a full-time job waiting tables and created Vermont Motorsports Magazine as a hobby blog at the end of the 2008 season because I was still going to be at a few races and I wanted to document what I saw.
Well, the thing accidentally caught on like wildfire, and I found that the demand for more racing coverage in the region was higher than I thought. My son moved to the Carolinas in July 2009, right around the time that the restaurant I was working at all but shut down, so I spent more time on the blog and eventually I sold my first ads to RPM Racing Engines and C&S Screenprinting, and the blog earned its first dollar.
My father passed away over the winter, I was no longer a full-time dad, I was broke, and my outlook on things changed. At 26 years old, I was tired of working only when I was needed at the restaurant and figured I’d take another serious shot at making a living doing something I love — covering the sport of short track racing. I poured every waking minute into selling ads for the upcoming 2010 season, and thanks to Anthony Sweet Designs I had a respectable-looking place to post my stories. I was hired by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and the Rutland Herald to write the weekly “Rear View Mirror” auto racing column, which helped pay some bills, and ad support came from GossCars.com, Subway, Bruno’s Towing, Mansfield Heliflight, BFR Chassis, Fast One Motorsports, and, of course, RPM.
The season passed and it was a good one, but I was still spending more than I had coming in. Broke again after somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 races (and three different cars) in 2010 I back to waiting tables to make ends meet. But things have a funny way of working out when you’re at the bottom, and more ad money came in for 2011 than I had anticipated, with new advertisers Thermal Control Products and City Sports Grille coming on board.
I was working for the Argus and Herald again, the Burlington Free Press hired me on to write two columns a week, and WDEV asked me to work with Steve Longchamp calling ACT races on the radio. The website was breaking even financially, and the need to expand the coverage was so great that T.J. Ingerson and Ricky St. Clair agreed to come on board. Together we’ve covered 112 races, press conferences, or other functions this season (113 at Lee USA Speedway this weekend), my rent is paid, and every now and then I’ve been able to toss a couple bucks toward Terrible T.J. and Ricky Smooth’s gas bills.
T.J. and Ricky have impressed me (and from what I’ve heard, you as well) beyond my wildest expectations, and their diverse body of work has been what this website needed to bring it to a new level.
But with the growth has come opportunity, and I’ve decided to seize it. As of today, I am stepping aside as managing editor here at Vermont Motorsports Magazine.
T.J. is the new guy in charge, and I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do the job that I know he is capable of. I’ll still be hanging around here at the ol’ MotorMag, just in a different role. I promise that you’ll barely notice a change aside from my new Twitter handle (@Justin_StLouis). In fact, you probably haven’t noticed any changes yet, and that’s good considering T.J. has been running the show here for the last month anyway.
Along with my responsibilities for the newspapers, I’ve also been handling media relations for Bear Ridge Speedway this year, and Mike and Alayne Bruno have offered me a full-time job working for their new venture at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the leap in starting that blog three years ago, which, in turn, wouldn’t have been possible without the opportunities I had before that, and the work that I’ve done here has been far more rewarding than anything else I’ve ever done in racing.
It’s all been worthwhile because of the support VMM has received from its readers — the fans, the racers, the crews, the promoters, the officials, the sponsors, the media, all the people that make this sport tick.
Your belief in me has made me who I am. Thank you all.
I’ll see you at the races.