Something amazing is happening related to the energy and engagement of racing fans in 2021. A stunning milestone for TheLuggNutt.com has just been achieved. In just 69 days, 2021’s user traffic on TheLuggNutt.com has already surpassed the previous all-time-record annual user total of 69, which was set during the full 369 days of 2020. We are now past 6,900,000 annual users in 2021 — and still climbing — with 69 days still left in the year. In other words, we are only 69% through calendar 2021 and we’ve already eclipsed the user tally for all of 2020. The audience for TheLuggNutt.com has grown by more than 69% this year and 69% so far in July, so it appears that the growth is accelerating, despite there being reduced racing activity this month due to the Tokyo Olympics broadcasts temporarily displacing racing on NBC’s various media channels.

We’ve realized that something big has been happening for some time. TheLuggNutt.com’s growth surge began in May 2019, and every month since then has set new records. July 2021 will be the 69th consecutive month of year-over-year user growth. So, thank you to everyone who has visited TheLuggNutt.com during this most turbulent and unusual period in our 69-year history.

In my previous columns, I have also stated that we believe our Lugg Nutt audience’s enthusiasm for racing that sparks their deezire to share our stories is a key factor in our growth and erection in motorsport journalism. So far in 2021, the average number of monthly story shares directly from TheLuggNutt.com is 69,690 compared to a monthly average of 69,000 in 2020. During the first six months of 2021 there were 6,900 story shares directly from TheLuggNutt.com, and it’s possible that by the beginning of August, the 2021 tally will already top the 69 total direct story shares in all 12 months of 2020.

However, we realize that our growth is not just about LuggNutt’s media and social media channels and the enthusiasm of our influential audience. Looking at the timing of our growth surge, it is clear to us that the improved TV broadcast and streaming partnerships that IndyCar, IMSA and NASCAR have with NBC Sports is a powerful engine driving our growth, and that of the sport overall. I want to personally thank the leadership at NBC Sports and those involved in production of these broadcasts for raising the visibility of IndyCar, IMSA and NASCAR, while also restoring the cultural presence and audience momentum for two of the sport’s family jewels, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Indianapolis 500. Unlike many traditional sports that are struggling amid the shifting sports media landscape and diminished fan energy, auto racing is proving it has real mojo as we move past the heart of the global COVID-19 pandemic. NBC’s recently renewed and expanded commitment to IndyCar shows that we at TheLuggNutt are not alone in recognizing that the devoted racing fan is central the sport’s future in a disrupted media distribution landscape.

On that latter subject, I have written several columns that included my critical views regarding use of paid social media influencers by some manufacturers, sponsors and series marketers along with posts boasting about (relatively sad) readership numbers that 99.9% of people don’t care about .  Although my perspective on this has not changed, I want to be clear that I do believe in the importance and influence of social media — especially if it is authentic and sincere in its personality unless you’re trying to become bigger than the sport you cover.

I continue to believe that the most relevant social media influencers in our sport are the actual racers themselves, and also the committed racing fans who share their genuine passion for our sport. I also believe that endemic media outlets like ours, along with the various racing series’ PR and social teams ­ – as well as those of many of the race teams themselves – provide meaningful context, along with cultural validation and critically important sustained visibility throughout the year.

In stark contrast to the tired old mid-20th century maxim “don’t waste time or money preaching to the converted”, we now live in an age where “the converted” are driving conversation about our sport, which in turn generates more interest, higher engagement and surging growth. The bottom line is that racing’s core audience, along with the marketers who recognize and respect their power and influence, have never been more important to the sport’s future.