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02/07 2019

Yet Another NASCAR Tradition Seems To Have Run Its Course BY:  DAVE CALDWELL

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Jayski.com was launched in August 1996 and posted news every day about NASCAR from Jan. 5, 1998 until this past Jan. 28.ESPN

Jay Adamczyk, known far and wide around NASCAR as Jayski, tells me that he is looking for a new home for his stock-car website, which was dropped without much warning by ESPN.com in January after nearly 12 years. He plans to retire, though he says he could still work part-time.

NASCAR, as everyone knows, has faded in popularity in recent years, and ESPN.com has backed away from racing coverage, dropping Jayski.com and the ace reporter Bob Pockrass to rely largely on wire services. Pockrass has since been (wisely) hired by Fox Sports as a NASCAR “insider.”

Jayski.com’s future is cloudier. Until the site closed on Jan. 28, Adamczyk and his staff compiled as much information about stock-car racing as was available. The site’s traffic had dropped to 70 million annual page views from 92 million annual page views a decade ago.

Adamczyk, a former computer programmer for Federal Aviation Administration, launched Jayski.com on Aug. 26, 1996, the story goes, because he could not find enough news about his favorite race team, Melling Racing, which the legendary Bill Elliott had made famous.

Jayski’s Silly Season Site began including news, speculation and rumors focused on NASCAR’s “Silly Season,” roughly mid-summer to early fall, when teams scrambled to hire drivers and crew chiefs for the following NASCAR season. It became a must-stop for fans — and employees — because the site was updated every day since Jan. 5, 1998.

Jayski.com’s content began to be featured in 2001 on thatsracin.com, a site then overseen by the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain and now by the Charlotte Observer web site. Freed from selling advertisements, Adamczyk, who’d actually become known as “Jayski” during his time in the U.S. Air Force in the 1980s, added all kinds of information about stock-car racing.

Jayski.com had everything imaginable, from statistics to TV ratings to paint schemes to birthdays. Jayski.com’s most valuable resource, at least to me, was its links to news and feature stories, which was updated daily, even during NASCAR’s heyday in the early 2000s. Jayski linked every piece of NASCAR news, good and bad. He loved the sport, but he was not just a cheerleader.

(Full disclosure: Almost everything I have written about NASCAR in the last 22 years, including these recent pieces for Forbes.com, were linked on Jayski.com, so racing officials, owners, crew chiefs and drivers were often familiar with my work, at the very least. In Jayski.com’s last 12 months, my work at Forbes.com got 27,000 clicks via Jayski.)

ESPN.com then incorporated Jayski.com into its site, and Adamczyk had two staffers, Scott Page and Amanda Brooks, working to gather information on NASCAR’s top three racing series. It was a lot of work, but they loved racing and enjoyed what they did.

A native of southern New Jersey, Adamczyk moved to North Carolina, but never really became a well-known face around NASCAR, even though everyone knew about Jayski. He liked keeping a low-key profile, never commenting about what he was posting. His site was all about stock-car racing, not him.

Several news aggregators have a keen interest recently in posting news and features about stock-car racing, like Yahoo and Flipboard. There is still a @jayski Twitter page with news updates. The website Racing-Reference.info has a megaton of interesting facts and figures about NASCAR stretching back to its inception.

Perhaps Jayski.com’s time had come and gone, but 22 years is a long time for a website to stick around, and Jayski never took his foot off the gas for as long as the site was up and running. It sounds like there is a chance Jayski.com could resurface, in some way. But, during its time, it had earned its place as a cool tradition in a sport filled with them.