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Editor’s Letter: Welcome

By Brett Smith

I told myself I was launching on my birthday, ready or not. It’s March 7. Here we are. Welcome to We Went Fast.

I’m no longer sure what the original idea was. In the moment, in my head, it was gold but, looking back, I had no clue what I was trying to do. The slick proposal I passed out looked really good (thanks, wife!) but the concept was vague.

It was 2014, a snowy mid-March morning in Morgantown, WV. I was in a career/life transition period; my family had recently moved to Baltimore and I was going from a full-time video production/part-time writing career to writing full-time with some video production on the side. I had been writing for Racer X Illustrated, Dirt Rider and ESPN for over a decade but had never tried to exclusively make a living with an ink pen, pencil and keyboard. Terrified pretty much summed up my feelings.

I sat in front of Bryan Stealey and Davey Coombs in their office at Racer X. They’ve been friends/colleagues/co-workers of mine for nearly my entire adult life and I thought I had the grandest ever idea for a website. It was to be called We Went Fast where people who grew up racing could bench race and share photos from their amateur ‘careers’.

Stealey, always the pragmatist, brought me down to earth with a better, more tangible idea.

“Dude, just start an Instagram account and see where it goes,” he said.

I was slightly bummed at first that he didn’t share my vision (albeit, a very blurry one) but I took his advice. I pulled out the shoebox of photos my dad took when I was racing District 14 in Michigan and scanned them all. @wewentfast logged its first post on March 16, 2014. It was me, in the summer of 1983, straddling a Yamaha PW50, wearing a Yoda t-shirt and a cue ball Bell helmet. A whopping 28 people ‘liked’ it.

I soldiered on but I couldn’t shake the idea of doing something more and I kept going back to that proposal to tweak it, refine it. My problem was that I knew better what I DIDN’T want it to be; I knew that I didn’t want to post press releases, type up results or write weekly race recaps/analysis. So many of my friends and clients are doing that already and they’re doing it very, very well. I can’t compete with that.

It took time to settle in to my new role as a full-time writer and appreciate what my strengths were as a reporter and story teller. I loved writing about snapshots in time, literally and figuratively. I love writing profiles and embedding myself with a subject away from the proverbial battlefield. I’m curious and unafraid to ask questions, even if it’s an uncomfortable matter. “Austin, We Have a Problem” is one example of that. “The Darkest Day in Motocross” is another.

I’m willing to attempt to find a story where we think we already know everything. Like in 1995 when Doug Henry fell from the sky at Budds Creek. You’ve seen the video, everyone has. But there was so much more to that story. So I wrote this for Meta (this link is the full article) and put to rest 20 years of curiosity over what the hell happened that day. Basically, I enjoy producing stories you didn’t even know you wanted.

That’s what We Went Fast is going to be; it’s a place to experiment with stories. Stories that are maybe too long for the magazines or too ‘out there’. It’s a place where I can take a much grander project (say, a book!) and build it like Johnny Cash did, one piece at a time. It’s revealing in depth personalities, past and present; it’s untold stories; it’s anecdotes of moments in time.

I’m not quitting my ‘day job’. I love writing for Racer X, META, Motorcyclist, ESPN and others and I encourage you to subscribe to all of them. I’m thankful that they’ve been encouraging toward my goals and dreams, too.

The content for this website is from a one-man band so don’t expect posts every day. What I can guarantee is that you won’t want to miss what does get posted so scroll to the bottom and sign up for the newsletter, which will compile the posts into one fancy package delivered to your inbox.

I’m currently working on a profile about Chad Reed and I was fortunate to be able to sit with him and his wife at their dining room table the morning after the 2018 Tampa Supercross. It was going to be the leadoff article for this site but this type of work can’t be rushed. When it goes live, you’ll be glad I didn’t.

We’re just starting but I want to thank my wife, Tera for always supporting me and for all the help with logo and marketing designs. Thank you to my parents for buying the dirt bikes and hauling me to the races every weekend. Thank you to all my editors who (almost) never question my nutty pitches and let me go find the story. And, of course, the people willing to let me write about their lives. Without you, there’s no story.

If you’re interested in joining me on this journey, consider becoming a patron. For as little as $1 a month, you can become part of the We Went Fast team. Thank you for reading.

— Brett Smith