T.J.’s Notebook: Prioritizing in the Rain

Typical Saturday morning in T.J.'s office.

By T.J. Buffenbarger

At least two weeks every Spring a large portion of the races around the country are cancelled due to weather. This is not only problematic to fans, race teams, and track operators. It’s very problematic to us. Having a business that is based on racing news and not having any results during a busy time of year is a challenge I’ve been tackling for over 20 years.

The approach at TJSlideways.com is not to fill with stories that are not results related on the weekends. With 365 days to fill with content that material is needed more during the week than it is on a rainy day. The work to overcome rainy weekends actually begins every Monday with the All Star Performance Open Wheel Calendar. The week starts with auditing that week’s list of events with tracks and series that tend to make their schedule changes less publicized. The schedule is also sent off to other people that do similar record keeping for comparison in an attempt to be as accurate as possible.

During that audit process every race is assigned a letter A-D based on your interest with “A” races being the most popular and read about on the site, “B” being popular enough to appear further down the front page, “C” for not as popular but is readily available to us, and “D” where the information is either nearly impossible to find or the only reader that has interest in it is me.

Races in Australia and New Zealand are given an “I-“before their letter ranking because the results are available in the Eastern Time Zone the day of the scheduled event. That helps me know that I can use results from Saturday night at Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand or Valvoline Raceway in Australia in our Saturday morning update with the later Friday night results from the United States.

Every weekend with a full slate or acing I try to identify five “A” stories and anywhere from 10-20 “B” stories and have all races set with a letter priority by Tuesday morning at the latest. The schedule is then set aside unless schedule changes start being made…including rain outs.

As races are cancelled for less than optimal weather I remove cancelled races and move a race up from the next letter down. As Thursday and Friday progresses you’ll see races bump up from B to A, C to B, or in extreme cases some of the “D” races brought up to the forefront to be ranked “A” or “B”.

Going through this exercise every week of the year is my attempt to give the readers the best experience possible, especially on the weekend. The primary reason is to keep my own sanity. Over the past 20 years my life has changed immensely. Certain Saturday and Sunday mornings require a level of prioritization to make sure the website runs as efficiently as possible so I can still experience life away from my keyboard.

If (or when) the cancellations pour in on Thursday and Friday I’ll be looking at a list prioritizing in hopes of giving you a front page full information from places lucky enough to avoid bad weather.