until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

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The story of the first year of The Race

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

It was pushing 9pm, five of us were crammed into an office that wasn’t really big enough for four. The pub was calling – remember those days? – but still we kept finding a broken link, an image that wasn’t loading properly, text that was crashing over a pull quote.

But finally we were happy, and late on Monday evening, February 3, 2020, www.the-race.com was released into the world.

The year that has followed has been extraordinary. The impact of the coronavirus on motorsport and publishing has been massive. Launching a new brand into an already crowded space was a bold undertaking, doing it on the eve of the suspension of all topline racing was basically absurd.

Myself and Matt Witham had travelled to the Australian GP to host a dinner that would introduce The Race and its team to the F1 paddock. We had just picked up our passes when news filtered through of suspected positive tests at at least two of the teams.

There may not have been official confirmation, but it seemed inevitable that this was a fool’s errand. In spite of this, the dinner went ahead and was one of the last times the teams and media were able to mingle freely.

As word filtered out from the paddock to the base halfway around the world back at home, The Race was able to make an early demonstration of why we believed we could rise above the noise and succeed in this space.

On the Sunday evening when the Australian GP should have been taking place, The Race was using its lean, nimble set-up, its contacts and influence and its knowledge and experience of esports to make an immediate pivot. The All-Star Series was the result, with Max Verstappen playing a starring role in a landmark event that put The Race on the map.

We didn’t know at the time that for 15 of the next 16 weekends, The All-Star series would play a key role in providing a motorsport fix at the time when on-track racing wasn’t happening.

ROKiT came onboard as title sponsor, attracted by the star names and huge reach of the series. The format was expanded to include the Legends Trophy, pitting drivers like Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso against one another in a competition that seems frankly implausible when you write it down!

The return of on-track racing moved esports to the sidelines, but The Race remains committed to providing the most in-depth coverage on the highest-profile events that you can find on conventional motorsport media.

It sits proudly alongside F1, MotoGP, Formula E and IndyCar as the pillars of our coverage. And the audience has approved, as The Race has grown, attracting over three million new users during its first year, this commitment hasn’t wavered.

Alongside, the in-depth analysis that The Race’s world-class journalists have produced online, The Race has enjoyed a stellar year in video and podcasts too.

The YouTube channel now boasts over 470,000 subscribers, and over the course of 2020 the high-quality analytical content and live event streaming have received over 62m views, which equates to more than 6m hours of watch time.

The Race F1 podcast helped to tease out the brand ahead of the official website launch, and together with the innovative Bring Back V10 series, the MotoGP podcast and Gary Anderson’s show, we have now received more than 1.5m podcast downloads.

Oct 09 : Bring Back V10s: Spa 2000 with Mika Hakkinen

Across our social media channels The Race has established itself as a fun and engaging content provider that is also a trusted source of truth. This has attracted more than 65k subscribers, whose engagement with the accounts vastly exceeds the industry norm.

It’s been a stunning achievement, and one of which we are all very proud. In just 12 months, The Race has successfully established itself as a key player in a highly competitive field. It has shown itself to be nimble and reactive, going deeper and further in an effort to give its readers the full story.

Everybody involved took a gamble on becoming a part of this adventure, but their faith has been rewarded and their efforts have been tremendous. A huge thank you goes to them, but also to the legions of motorsport fans who have made The Race their go-to place for motorsport content. Thank you!

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