CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's never easy to return to social or professional settings after you suffer through such a devastating setback like being laid-off. I admit I was quite hesitant to return to Charlotte this week for the annual NASCAR preseason media tour, not wanting to rehash being laid-off by Yahoo, what's going to happen to its NASCAR coverage, and so forth.
But as reluctant as I was to come here -- and quite frankly, I'm also doing lots of networking and job-hunting -- I'm suddenly very glad I did.
Sunday night at the annual National Motorsports Press Association awards banquet, I was shocked to learn I was the first place winner in the Spot News/Daily & Internet category for last May's column on Humpy Wheeler's abrupt departure from Lowe's Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Humpy's Sad Farewell
It took every ounce inside of me not to shed some tears not only for winning such a prestigious honor, but also because it reflected the work I had done at Yahoo -- only to see all that effort go for naught when I was laid-off on Dec. 31. Frankly, I had to bite my tongue -- literally; I have the bite marks to prove it -- to not lose it.
But perhaps more than anything, winning such a coveted award like this reaffirms that I have a talent which will hopefully soon resurface at another venue. Yahoo's loss will be another company's gain. When something like being laid-off occurs, you start doubting yourself, your ability, your talent and your future. That's part of the reason why it took me nearly a month to start my own blog, even though numerous people prodded me to do so earlier. I was just so self-absorbed in pity and depression, something that typically is not me. I felt like my career had come to a screeching halt, and I'd never get back to the level I was at with Yahoo, as the No. 2 most-read NASCAR site in the world.
More than anything, winning this award is not only a great honor, it also serves as incentive to get back to work and start kicking ass and doing what I do best: telling it like it is. It's time to stop feeling sorry for myself. There's millions more in this country, many of them NASCAR fans, that have also lost their jobs -- and I have to get back not only for myself, but also for them. If NASCAR is one of the few things they can enjoy in these hard times, I owe it to every reader to get back to work and give them information, entertainment and hopefully take them away from their troubles for at least a little while.
Which leads me to a request: if you or anyone you know is a NASCAR fan that has lost his or her job, please write me with your story about how NASCAR is at least somewhat of a motivating thing to help you get through some of the difficulty you're going through now. I promise that I will post as many of your stories as I possibly can in an upcoming edition of Trading Paint (most likely right around Feb. 1 or so).
E-mail your story to me at Motorsportwriter@MSN.com.
Thanks very much to the NMPA, its officers including new president Dustin Long and outgoing president Tom Jensen, the contest judges and also to all of you that have written in over the last week. It's amazing how much feedback I've already received from folks without any promotion or announcement of my blog. But don't worry, word of this blog will start making news in the next couple weeks as I get back to the same old Jerry that you know and the honest analysis you have come to expect from me.