When you think of NASCAR media, you probably think of Fox or NBC, or maybe MRN/PRN on the radio side, but over the past few years, a new category of media has developed — fan media. One of the podcasts at the forefront of fan-based media is the Michigan-based Lapped Traffic podcast with its host, Brandon Croud.
A podcast is simply a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to computers or phones — usually in the form of regular episodes. That’s exactly the what and how of the Lapped Traffic podcast. In its second season, the NASCAR-themed podcast features NASCAR personality interviews, race recaps, and NASCAR-related commentary by its host, Croud. Croud talked with ClosetNASCARFan recently to talk about his podcast, NASCAR rules, and straddling being a fan and doing media as a hobby.
Love for the Sport
Croud’s grandfather worked for General Motors, eventually getting transferred to Detroit.
“Back then, if you think back to the 60’s and 70’s, from a car manufacturer perspective, you were dedicated to your employer and they were dedicated to you,” he said.
While his grandfather didn’t work with the cars, NASCAR was a big part of the company.
“I remember growing up as a kid, the races being on and not caring,” he said.
But once he got to middle school and high school, he started taking an interest in the sport, really getting into the sport around 2000 or 2001.
Croud said his uncle too is a die-hard NASCAR race fan as well. His Uncle appeared recently in during the recording of the podcast, and has run a fantasy NASCAR league for nearly 20 years.
“He’s always done it manually — before any electronic web site thing,” Croud said.
Lapped Traffic Creation
Croud, a long-time NASCAR fan said the podcast was a “bar idea.”
“I love NASCAR,” Croud said.
“I watch it. I talk about it. It seems everyone’s doing a podcast. What, the hell? Let’s give it a whirl. Let’s see what I can do with this thing.”
To start, the future podcaster did some research on equipment, web site costs, email, and some basic marketing items, such as drink koozies with the Lapped Traffic logo on them and he was off to the races, so to speak.
“It’s expensive — for a hobby,” he said.
“It’s not like a Tuesday night bowling league.”
Croud said neither he, nor his wife really had a clue how much dedication it would take though until he got into it fully.
“The show took off quickly, and I didn’t want to BS it,” he said.
The NASCAR podcast host said it’s a running joke the preparation and show sheet length that he ends up create for each episode. Fellow NASCAR podcasters from the PETM Podcast often give Croud grief for the length and detail, he said.
He added recording the show every week is the simplest part of the whole process.
Between the access that NASCAR gives its fans, and Internet technology, the two have made it easier for the die-hard fans to get involved in the sport. NASCAR-themed fan media have popped up over the last few years — podcasts like Lapped Traffic, and sites like ours have become part of the NASCAR culture.
Croud said he does not consider what he’s doing as media.
“It’s a hobby podcast at this point,” Croud said.
“The mere fact that anybody’s willing to take time out and come on and recognize the work that goes into it and the small audience that it does reach, to view that as beneficial to take their time to do it, just means the world to me.”
Previous guests to Lapped Traffic podcast include drivers such as Matt DiBenedetto, Landon Cassill, and Tyler Reddick. NASCAR media guests include MRN Radio’s Jeff Streigle and NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast.
Stroud acknowledged that each guest helps get the next one.
“There are some people that acknowledge the benefits of a podcast,” Croud said.
The Wave Around Hotline
In evolving the podcast, and wanting to get fans more involved, Croud introduced a new segment for the Lapped Traffic podcast’s second year — a call-in hotline called “The Wave Around Hotline.”
“I’ve gotten calls every week, which is awesome,” Croud said.
He noted it’s not a live interaction with the fans, but tries to hype it up via social media. The hope is that fans will continue to set time aside to call in.
He said the hotline was the big addition to the Lapped Traffic podcast for the second season and hopes that will continue to grow throughout the season.
In terms of the at track product, Croud said the sport needs to continue to evolve its rulebook.
“The mere fact the crew chief gets fined for a lugnut issue — why?” Croud asked.
Croud said there are gray areas in all the stick and ball sports, and questions whether NASCAR should continue to have some subjective calls as well. He added tha common sense needs to come into the picture more when applying calls and penalties.
Given the choice to adjust the rulebook in some way, he would want to change who got penalized for an incident.
“Should they maybe add driver points and pit road points, and then add those together?” Croud questioned.
“I get that you have to penalize the team, and the standings because it is a team sport,” he said.
Croud also questioned the implementation of the standardize pit guns in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year. He said in the past, things were tried and tested in the lower series first, before doing it in Cup. He feels NASCAR should have gone that route with the pit guns as well.
Implementing the pit gun as a standard has to be nearly perfect, Croud noted.
“You don’t want that to be your wildcard,” Croud said.
You don’t want that to be why someone doesn’t win a race.”
Young Versus Veteran Drivers
Several big name drivers have retired in recent years, meaning a lot of rides are being taken over by youth talent. There have been many storylines acknowledging the young talent. Croud said the hype and focus are both legitimate and warranted.
He noted that near the end of the 2017 season, there were 5 or 6 rookies in the top 10 standings of the Camping World Truck Series, while in the Xfinity series, drivers were finishing alongside Cup drivers on a regular basis. Croud said the youth movement is in full effect, with the young talent competing at a high level.
“The hands of the sport are in good hands,” Croud said.
“The sport is going to be ok in terms of on-track competition.”
Milestone Episode Coming Up
Next week marks the 60th episode of the podcast, where Croud will celebrate with fellow NASCAR podcasters from the PETM Podcast. Croud also anticipates the week topping 25,000 downloads of the podcast and 2,500 followers.
Croud said it’s fitting for PETM to be on the 60th episode.
He said they both like going on each other’s shows and attributes PETM talking about Lapped Traffic as part of the success and upward trending of the show.