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Whistlin' Jack Smith >> Features >> Survey

Thank you to all of those that participated in the survey the results are quite interesting and I believe I have collated more valuable data than any of the short oval promoters in this country during a month period. It seems that everyone who responded did accurately but the number of participants was quite small. For the development of this website I will look at those opinions for the better. It did seem weird that people skipped certain questions, also I know that some questions may have seemed too similar.

Question 1 – your name

In reality this question was irrelevant but it enabled me to see what each person has to say. No personal information (addresses, emails) was collected so it can’t be passed on. Of the names that were filled in, I have no need to mention these names within this response document. With that out of the way let’s move to the interesting bits as it already sounds like the Local Council response to the trees being cut down for the much needed town by-pass.

Question 2 – How are you connected to racing?

hot rod survey Interesting that the biggest section was drivers, I would have thought there are more fans by a long way. I have never thought my site is more driver friendly; it seems the fact is there are more people racing than watching. This is a major concern as the promoters need the money through the gates to keep the tracks running. People have often commented that there are more people in the pits, a challenge for the whole sport to change.

I could turn a blind eye and say ‘not my business, not my problem’ but it is my problem, I love hot rod racing and want it to be bigger and better. I’m not sure how to sort out getting more fans on the terraces but I don’t want it to fail. I’m hoping promoters take note of these figures, the sport needs more fans.

Question 3 - What is your favourite hot rod formula?

hot rod survey Basically the top answer was National Hot Rods by a long way and drivers aspire to race them who are currently in lower budget hot rod formulas. Next up was 2 Litre Hot Rods; it makes sense to run these two together whenever possible. In England (barring the Spedeweekend) it happens once every 18 months – bangers get the green light more often.

For those mathematicians out there that can work those numbers equal 122%, some answers contained multi responses. Stock Rods or Lightning Rods didn’t appear in any of the answers.

My intention here was find out what formulas to concentrate on, perhaps I should have asked the question, do you want bangers alongside National Hot Rods? Promoters will always argue that bangers make the money and pay for the racing of the others. The company I work for will chop a product/ department if it is losing money quickly – promoters hold onto hot rods because they love them, they think they will make money or don’t want someone else to make money from them if they lose drivers/ fixtures.

Question 4 - How many meetings do you attend per year?


an avid fan of hot rod racing watches 18 meetings per year

This was the first of my errors when creating the questions that I didn’t specify the responses needed to be a number or have a general number system e.g 0-5, 6-10, etc. That error meant that two answers were difficult to validate. Based upon the valid answers those that answered see an average of 18 meetings per year. I do not believe that each fan on the terrace attends 18 meetings per year but I do think that an avid fan of hot rod racing watches 18 meetings per year. This is purely based upon the fact a fan that watches pays little attention to the sport would not be viewing the website that often or felt compelled to participate in the survey.

Now this moves on something else, I believe that there are no promoters in the country that have bothered looking into the sport to see what the fans actually want, how far they travel, etc. It is quite poor really, the only time I’ve seen a survey like this carried out was in Short Circuit magazine before it lost its way.

Question 5 - How far would you travel to watch a hot rod race?


maximum distance travelled is 195 miles

This links nicely to the previous question but again I should have specified distances as almost half wrote places but a lot of them can be calculated. I would have to assume that the distance or time is a one way trip. That means the average maximum distance travelled is 195 miles for an English based fan, using non-English fans would heavily distort those numbers plus the European based fans that have replied with the country only.

Question 6 - How often do you visit the site? (whistlinjacksmith.co.uk)

Third question in a row where I should specified a number because the answers were a little bizarre to be honest. Once a week, every day great answers; ‘lots’ or ‘frequently’ not so good but I’m to blame there. From those that replied that I could verify the answer is 6 times per month.

However having a text box did allow some people to have a little rant about the site. One response was “not much now as it’s never updated” – this is quite interesting not on the feed-back but how the human brain works – I personally think how can you comment on lack of updates if you are not visiting the site. As for the lack of updates please remember: I am not a promoter, I do not run a formula, I do not have 10 people consistently contributing to the site, I have one promoter who allows me to copy and paste from their site. I think this is pretty poor (other expletives can be used instead of poor) considering that promoters are businesses that can’t be bothered to utilise free marketing avenues. Maybe they just do not realise the power of the internet and how people use it so heavily now. I know I am not the only webmaster in this position. So even against all these obstacles I have still added content to the site.

Let’s look at the month of September to how much I add to this site. To start the month I created a Lightning Rod World Championship preview, this was more in depth than Incarace/ Spedeworth’s version online or within the programme. The results of each race were published online instantly and the full review was again more in depth than anywhere else online (thank you to mkpics for supplying images of this event). Moving on from that event there has been 13 updates on the news page, 4 formula pages have been amended, an article on the first World Final 40 years after the running of it when no other website felt it necessary to mention this monumental anniversary; multiple ‘on this day’ tweets that are viewable on the home page and another 24 updates through that form of media.


no other website felt it necessary to mention this monumental anniversary

That means a total of sixty updates during September, and yet people want more from this FREE service. The only way you are going to get substantially more will be if others assist the site; apart from uploading pictures to Facebook it seems like the fan base or promoters are not bothered to do anything else; there’s only so much I can do. Please don’t think this rant that has spun from the feed-back has made me bitter in fact quite the opposite, I am determined to be the best. Even with the amendments to the site in a month’s period I can make I honestly believe there could be more (yet it is not as bad as some perceive).

It now possible to say that a whistlinjacksmith reader (ie someone that has participated in the survey) has on average 9 new pieces of information each time they return. Traditionally it is difficult to ascertain who is new or returning as I can only record an IP address (different computers who be classed as different visitors). As further information for you, only 1.3% of unique site visitors in September were able to put aside time from their busy lifestyles to fill in the survey. Perhaps 10 questions were too many or it is difficult to type on a mobile phone.

Question 7 - What is the best thing about the site?

For those that are not involved with web design there is plenty of free software that can be used to get information about viewers to the site. I know the most people visit the home page and the news page is popular however that is frequently updated so viewers will come back to that page – that however doesn’t mean it is their favourite page – hence my question. A page that is continually updated will continually get traffic; it is very unlikely somebody would read the same document several times. The responses will enable me to develop pieces that are enjoyed.

There was a huge variation of answers and people responded with multiple points. Looking at the most common responses it sets me the challenge of what can I do with this information?

Opinionated, honest and unbiased reports
Good, I am not changing the way I write – I have no allegiance to any formula or promoter so I will continue to write what I see. All the people that contribute to magazines and websites I congratulate you, but I honestly feel the other race reports are tame as race incidents are diluted. To me its like something bad has happened so lets not mention it - an example its the same as Zidane's headbutt in the World Cup final a few years being omitted. I will not hold back on what I’ve seen – especially now I know it’s what you like (this was the most common response in all questions barring the news page and National Hot Rods being the favourite formula).

On this day
The original format for this was a few dates in history during the month added to the news page before it sat on the home page through the Twitter feed. I have a lot of information I need to tie together so next year there will be more of these. If I can suss out an automated service I would do that instead of using the Twitter.

The champions page/ stats
I am very proud of this and it has taken years to get to the current stage and I still don’t think it is complete as there are missing drivers. I find it absolutely bonkers that the promoters or formula organisers do not possess this kind of information and it’s left to people who love the sport to collate. If you see a blank space, please drop me a line as I don’t think it is complete. I would personally like to have the top 6 for National Hot Rods, 1600/ 2 Litre Hot Rods, Stock Rods, Lightning Rods and Super Rods in the major championship (those that require a roof to be painted). That means the champions section is about 70% is complete.

Question 8 - What features would you like to see more of?

Perhaps this and the next question were too similar but using the words ‘more of’ it really meant what was already on the site.

Driver profiles/ interviews
Already started on this one and so far nothing on the site. The first idea I have will blow your mind, it is something I worked before I started the site so has taken years to complete.

A few on the site at present. There are a few things that have held me back with a photo section. Let’s step back ten years before I had even thought about the site, I was taking pictures during a race and would realised I’ve watched a race through a lens and hadn’t a clue what happened as I was more interested in trying to capture the perfect scene that never materialised. My desire for snapping away in the races stopped. From then until now times have changed, the digital age is upon us which means more pictures are taken from different abilities and have become more widely available. There are several photographers who have kindly offered these pictures to be used on the site – thanks. Issue here is me uploading pictures that can already been seen on their site or another. Then 200+ images need the time to be uploaded and the memory to be stored. I lose time and money (storage costs) for no gain – the visitor to whistlinjacksmith can see this elsewhere online. I am happy to place a link to a photo album if that correlates to a feature/ result based on the proviso that the photographers tells me they want me to link there.

I do however have a library of pictures that have seen by a very small number of people – taken by me and my father. I should add that my dad has a digital SLR camera and occasionally takes a gem of a picture but doesn’t know how to upload – in fact he struggles to turn on a computer. Before that he clicked away with a normal SLR camera. Over the winter I will update the current page with pictures, these will be pictures not seen before online. Plus a host of images from the last 25 years. Nothing from before that, Short Circuit magazine stole my father’s images (never returned which is the same in my eyes) from the 1970’s nor did they pay when they clearly stated they would. Then to throw salt into the wound they failed to acknowledge him correctly.

Classified section
More adverts required, although I can be creative with my content it stops here, I can’t simply create hot rods being for sale – I want to stress here my classified section is free to use and is viewed by thousands of people, there is no better value for market service for selling a hot rod or spares parts online. If you want to sell wheels, a diff, panels, etc all can go through the site.

Bring back top 100 drivers
I did miss this out last year but I have been working on this each month with a points championship that is based upon the results shown on the site.

Small promoters and formulas
This has been taken on board – I’ll see what I can do, not making any promises here.

Question 9 - What could be changed to make the site better?

The improvements are not just what content I add to the site but how you navigate through the site or access the site in the first place. Probably half of the responses thought this was too alike to the previous question and didn’t give a real answer. Those that did it provided useful information – probably the most important answer I will keep to myself but looking to the other responses.

Inclusion of local/ budget formulas
Some wanted them to be removed but four times more people wanted them included in the site – as I said a few lines above I’ll see what I can do. I can’t be everywhere at once so I do need your assistance; one or two lines and results are appreciated.

Do not clutter site
I have no plans on changing the website, I could change it but would need to do that to close to a hundred pages and I see no reason in doing that. I work on the basis of content is king, Google, Ebay, Amazon simply white background with text and boxed areas – no flashy logo’s. As educated humans we are trained to read black lettering off a white back-ground.

This isn’t going to happen. I spend long enough working on the site I have no desire to spend my time vetting responses from people I don’t know, people hiding behind names and having to sort out squabbles. ovalracingforums is good enough and the national hot rod is full of content. I can’t see what benefit there would be for be for the site – this would not attract more people to the site as they would go to the forum instead, I believe the content forums/ social media sites produce are of a lower quality.

Social media
I had a Facebook page dedicated to this site and only one person contributed to it, all I was doing was adding a link to tell people I had made an amendment to the site. I added a link to every page on the site and not many people joined it. Twitter is used basically for streaming up to date information as it is so much quicker than formatting pages for reports and features. I personally see no benefit to using these sites differently. I am looking at other ways that viewers can tweet or Facebook the site quickly.

Technical areas
I have wanted to do this for a long time but I do not have the knowledge – I can tell you how to remove a clutch from a Fiesta mk5 in four days if that helps! Yet again this would fall into the category of – if someone can help get in contact. The way is see this working is looking at current cars that are being worked on/ built and the challenges the drivers have had to overcome to – not just the car but expenses or the facility they work from. I wouldn’t expect all their secrets to be given away but anything that helps turn man on the street to man on the track is beneficial not to the site but the sport in general.

Keep up to date
I’m still puzzled by this as another person mentioned it earlier – latest news is shown on the Twitter on the home page of the site. I have viewed this from several computers and phones and never had a problem but it does make me think some people can’t see it. This news is shown as fast as I get it. I guess some people just want even more news. On the other hand so many more people enjoy the site and have been very complimentary about what I already do.

Question 10 - Is the news page too long?

94% of people think the news page is fine. One comment that stuck out was being focused, which I will take on board. I have decided the race reports will be added to the features so National Hot Rods reports are batched together, 2 Litre’s together, etc. The news page will still contain the results and a paragraph or two as an overview of that meeting linking to the said report. That will compress the physical size of the news page without removing content from the site.

News items from last year and beyond can be read accessed from the bottom of the news page.

If anyone would like to know more about this survey or has further information to add to the site please email

The points covered above have created a 16 point mission that I want to have sorted by the end of the year, I can complete this in a few days if someone wants to pay me the same as my regular job. Which would be similar to running this as a business, if I could raise real sponsorship I would ditch the real job – any takers on sponsoring the site?

Paul Ballard

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