Between technology and access, there’s no better time to be in media surrounding NASCAR. The Georgia-based duo of Andrew Sherwin and Rusty Wallace have embraced NASCAR fan media via their podcast, The Official PETM Racing Podcast, both enhancing and polishing their show on a near weekly basis.
Sitting down 30 minutes prior to the recording of their latest installment of the PETM Racing Podcast, the guys have their process down. The two are in the same room — literally at arms’ length, allowing them to subtly pass the conversation back and forth. Their friendship and knowledge of NASCAR come through immediately, and they have become at ease behind their mics.
Sherwin said it’s so much more fun being in the same room doing the podcast. From the beginning, he decided to commit to catching a Lyft to Wallace’s place for the podcast recordings.
“When we have guests on, it goes really well,” Wallace said.
“But you have to be a host to that guest,” he said.
Wallace said when the other people aren’t in the room, you have to prompt them and it makes it more difficult to hand off back and forth between the hosts, on top of the guests.
The two NASCAR PETM Podcast hosts were fraternity brothers at Georgia Tech and formed a friendship then.
As NASCAR and sports fans in general, the podcast idea first formed out of conversations they were having on the couch, drinks in hand watching the race or other sports back in December 2014.
“In the months/years prior to that, we were both listening to podcasts,” Wallace said.
“It was so much fun listening to them,” he said.
But at the end of 2014, the two were hanging out, talking NASCAR, as they often did, watching the post-Christmas college football bowl games.
“Why don’t we do this but record it?” Sherwin asked.
Wallace did some research and the podcast world didn’t have any fan NASCAR shows at the time.
“NASCAR on NBC didn’t exist,” Wallace said.
“MRN didn’t have a podcast at the time. It was Marty and McGee. Nobody had anything. So why don’t we just start recording this stuff?” he asked.
Learning the Podcast Craft
Six months passed between their original thoughts of doing the podcast and actually doing the podcast. They admitted they were slightly intimidated.
“Props to Sherwin,” said Wallace.
“All he did was record on a potato — I think two minutes about Kyle Busch on Spreaker and put it online. That sort of put me in motion, and lit a fire under my ass,” he said.
The next week, they recorded their second episode.
“It was hot hot liquid garbage,” Sherwin admitted.
“One of the things we’ve been willing to do this whole time is to not be worried about perfection,” the PETM Podcast host said.
“We’re going to start this, and whatever happens, happens. For about five episodes, it was a wet bucket of garbage.”
“Rusty had to do an hour and a half’s worth of editing, if not more.”
Neither comes from a journalism background — with one in software, the other a textile engineer. Wallace said it was a trial by fire, and they have learned as they’ve gone along.
PETM Podcast: Making it Their Own
The drinks have carried over from the couch into a ritual for the podcast. Each episode starts with talking about what beverages are being consumed — both by the hosts and their guest. Sherwin and Wallace always err on the side of something with some alcohol and often with a theme to the track NASCAR has been at or are going to be at.
The night we spoke, they were more than double-fisting a variety of beverages — both of the liquor and the beer varieties. Options are always good.
Patreon for the Sport
As two hosts doing the podcast as a hobby in their spare time — neither wanted their PETM Racing Podcast to pay any bills.
“We’re not leaning on this to feed anybody,” Wallace said.
Wallace recognized the Patreon model, getting a few bucks from a few people was going to net them more than anything else as a startup podcast. Early on, they entertained a few syndication offers and networks, but the duo didn’t want to compromise the show, with commercials being inserted in the middle of the audio.
Wallace said the Patreon model allows both them as hosts and the patrons freedom.
But the money actually collected via Patreon is going back into the motorsports they both enjoy watching and talking about.
“Every race fan wants to be a part of a race team,” Sherwin said.
“It is extremely expensive to sponsor racing. This is the narrative across all levels,” he said.
They offer contribution levels as low as $1 a month, making the ability to contribute easy for most listeners.
“It’s an opportunity for us to all pool together, and everyone can be on the car,” Sherwin said.
He said listeners have contributed at a level they didn’t think was possible.
“We gathered enough Patreon funds last year to pay for all of a driver’s entry fees for a Legends season and buy his tires,” Sherwin said.
“That feels like a pretty strong contribution, and everyone got to follow this person along,” he said.
Additionally, the two think that by giving it all back to the sport, they’re probably collecting more than had they split the money between the two.
Future of NASCAR
When it comes to money within NASCAR, prices to run a team have only gone up. When asked about where they saw the sport in ten years, the two PETM Podcast hosts think there’s a lot of potential.
“NBC has certainly doubled-down on motorsports,” Sherwin said.
He said if Fox were to leave, it seemed likely NBC would pick up the whole NASCAR season if it’s working for them.
“NBC is basically going to be hockey and motorsports,” he said.
“It’s fun to be optimistic,” Wallace said.
“I’m not sure how realistic it is to think it’s going to be bigger than it is today, which I think can be a good thing too for the fans of the sport.”
Wallace said there’s a changing of the guards right now.
“The people who have historically paid the money that it takes to win a championship are done with that hobby,” he said.
Both think grassroots efforts are going to be big — especially in the lower NASCAR series.
Were the pair of hosts able to get any interview within the NASCAR world, they said they would love to have Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Chase Elliott on, and hit them with some non-NASCAR topics — barbecue for Earnhardt, and aviation for Elliott.
“Both thos kind of topics for those guys are things they never get to talk about in an interview setting,” Wallace said.
“I think that’d be fun.”
Not Just NASCAR
The two though aren’t just about NASCAR. Their most recent podcast surrounded the most recent Chili Bowl with motorsports reporter, Georgia Henneberry, while next week they’ll talk a little bit of soccer before the 2019 Daytona rolls around. In the past, they’ve talked a little Atlanta Braves baseball, and on occasional let their Georgia Tech roots show.