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The Sordid History of SMACKEDforum

Wonder why and how this forum came about? Well, how about reading a little history of SMACKEDforum and the important role Cam Gibbons and others played in it’s original formation and continuation after it was originally launched and then taken down by threats to its existence.

Many of the members never met Cam in person. Most only knew him as one of the founding principals of our favorite forum where the members bantered back and forth over the ugly state of American Open Wheel (AOW)/Indy Car Racing, the main topic for discussion as were other topics filtered through the jaded thoughts of a bunch of disgruntled racing fans.

It should be noted, we are all racing fans. Period!

While that is a simple statement, it seems hard for those that don’t understand while many don’t follow current AOW racing in the state it finds itself, it does not disqualify you from being a fan. What ever became of discriminating tastes accepting nothing less? It all went out the window when the sport suffered a fracturing due to a fight for control of the sport. And like in all civil wars, the people in the trenches, the fans, had to choose sides or just go away. What made the sport great was put to the side so a war could be fought.

(To understand background on what SMACKEDforum considers “the Split” read here http://smackedforum.net/gomerpedia/gomer_page_2.html )

The history of racing forums is reflected by the same split in the fan base. One of the first popular computer bulletin board/forums where IndyCar racing fans started out was the RASI forums. At that time people were just glad to have a place they could talk racing with other fans around the country.

Then along came the Speednet forums, operated out of the Indianapolis Star newspaper web site. Being that it was the home town newspaper for the “big” race, the Indianapolis 500, it enjoyed a rush of popularity by racing fans, It also came along just about at the same time ‘the split’ was the big topic in racing, so while it was popular, it also started to show there would be problems controlling the newly fractured fan base.

SpeedNet eventually tried to calm the users by giving them forums dedicated to both sides of the split with a forum for IRL fans and a forum for CART fans. With very little moderation and control over user accounts, it simply became a war zone. No one stuck to their own sub-forum, they needed to post in the other side’s forum so they could stick it to those fans with whom they disagreed.

With new software making it easy to setup up a forum, new forums would come online and try to be homes for one side or the other with stronger control over their members.

In the late 90’s 7th Gear started as forum more or less for the CART fans, but also allowed others as long as they were under control. This left SpeedNet for the IRL fan. That didn’t stop the warring factions though. Members would still sign up at either and fight over what they thought was the best series and who would eventually win the war. It could and did get ugly. Moderation of the members became key, but that only led to more and more frustration with both the forums and the sport.

There would be other generalized forums that would try to control users by holding them to standards herding them into special sub forums and trying to keep that all in order. It would work for some, but it wouldn’t work for those that still wanted to tell the other side where they could go!

Some of those general sites were the MSF/Motor Sports Forums operated by a European magazine and accessible through an American Race News web site, AR1 (AutoRacing1.com). Also SpeedTV had forums for everyone. But like in the other forums, fighting and trolling amongst the members made them shut down and reconfigure many times trying to gain control through different methods.

By 2000 with the split in full force there would be the launching of two popular sites that made it clear where they stood in the politics. Crapwagon.com/ChampcarFanatics.com was designed for the CART/Champcar fans and TrackForum.com became the new home for the IRL/Indy Car fans.

These one-sided forums worked well for a few years and continue to this day. However, as both AOW racing series started to have problems fighting for teams, sponsors, tracks and of course the fans, the racing was becoming even more affected.

From starting as general havens for all AOW racing fans, to controlled tolerance of both sides of coming issues, to full blown splitting of the bases into individual forums we now saw newer issues within forum members. Individualized forums, due to not being one sided enough for some members, were forced to protect certain behavior and define what would be allowed to be discussed. So much for freedom of expression. Now a member needed to swear allegiance to the cause and become a soldier. That led many to say fuck all that!

Since the split and like the split itself, it was now clear most racing forums found out the fans couldn’t discuss racing issues any more than politics and religion. You know how you’ve always been told you should never discuss religion and politics. It was looking like forum members were having problems discussing AOW racing!

Racing is religion, it is politics. At one time it was about racing. War does strange things to people.

XXX Image of IRL fan boys And like with all religions and passions, there became internet personalities, the preachers of the cause. You could see it in the nicknames many of the IRL/Indycar supporters or the super-supportive CART/Champcar fans. All declaring they were the defenders and protectors of some truth known only by one side or the other from corners of America...Florida to as far away as Alaska, They all knew more than anyone about the real reason their racing religion was the right one, the pathway to racing glory.

Racing war does strange things to people. Now we actually had little Hitler types rising to control forum members and plotting final solutions to rid the world of the other side. It also created certain personality types; gas bags, pompous fools, people that take themselves way too serious and internet characters posing as more than they are. You all know who you are.

But as in all passions, things are never all that black and white, one side or the other. And there are always those that aren’t necessarily stuck in the middle as they are just sick of the stupidity of all the polarized arguments. They grew sick they had to choose one side or the other ignoring important arguments about either, or no argument at all as much as a realizations things are just so out of control and there might be no hope for the sport. If you found yourself in that type of position, it was clear a lot of racing forums were just not for you.

So, all brewing in a cauldron were these factions of fans and now non-fans of either and those trapped in the middle. Are you getting the feeling that race forums were becoming breeding grounds for bad behavior? Hundreds of pages of text would be needed to explain the whole racing forum mess. We only touch on some of the more popular sites as they give you a feel for why something else would be needed for a group of forum users now cast off from mainstream race sites.

Where could all that frustration be expressed? Well, why not have forums where all behavior is tolerated within a very loose structure of rules. You know, a place where you could stretch your legs and feel unconstrained.

Along came SMACKforum. The home for the member that doesn’t see all this as religion to believe and factions to keep. The home for the wayward that was run out of the other forums because you were not the good soldier for the cause or didn’t swear your undying loyalty in a particular way. Those that found they couldn’t buy into the group thinking and just wanted to let it all out. Individuals with all the traits that come with them like boldness of thinking, creativity and a desire to say whatever they wanted.

But importantly, those fed up with forums and their own self importance and stances just wanted to talk about what happened to the racing, what might be done about it, or why it might not come back. These are not popular topics for the average fan that just wants to see cars going around an oval, or up and down a road course.

An open forum does bring a lot of freedom, freedom that will cross lines depending on your view point and what you could tolerate. And lines of toleration would be and were crossed.

When the first launch of SMACKforum occurred in 2007 it immediately came under attack by fans of the other side, threatening to shut it down. Why? Shortly into its early operation a creative individual, the kind attracted to the openness of the new forum created a now infamous Photoshop animation image of two of the more notorious defensive fans of the IRL/Indycar/IMS truth squad in a simulated act of sexual enjoyment even if they were both men...not that there is anything wrong with that. Of course it was all in jest, but some people can’t take a joke even though they clutter plenty of forum, comment and blog space with their own truths and pomposity. Do you get the feeling that is why these two IRL/Indy Car fans were targeted? They wouldn’t see it that way.

XXX Image of IRL fan boys So what was wrong with a crude joke animation about two super fans that just about everyone eventually figured out were full of the proverbial bull refuse? We may never know, but it did cause some of the opposing fans to write threatening letters to the early ownership of SMACKforum stating they would take legal action due to the image and its character assassination. Thus the sordid history of race fan forums and how SMACKforum would break new high or low ground depending on your viewpoint.

Were they being serious about legal action? Did they have a case? Or, were they just using this graphic incident as an excuse to get an early jump on shutting down a frustrated fan forum that was completely open for critical and humorous comment on the sad state of racing after the split between Championship Auto Racing Teams and the Hulman/George family of Indiana. Maybe it was a chance to shut up what they saw as a notorious group of fans known to be obstinate “haters” of their cherished track and overbearing need to control the sport and even the fans.

Cam Gibbons, aka “Smacked”, already a member, who along with the support of some other original members decided he would take the controls of SMACKforum knowing that the threats were only threats. It is a free world after all, and saying you can’t do something is tantamount to waving a red flag in front of a bull to Cam. Who knows, maybe the site would be hosted out of the country and away from the clutches of some who thought they could bully it out of existence.

And by the way...why was it started as “SMACK” forum. Well, smack talking is an urban term for “talking crap” about others in a fun way. It was originally part of inner city sports, especially the talk found on the playground basketball courts. You had to not only have game, you had to be able to talk it. And be strong enough to put up with it. Your own ox stood to be gored as you were goring others.

Add in the fact that the name also was a humorous play on the name of one of the most popular fan sites for the Indycar supporters and you had a double-meaning for the name. Twice the fun!

The name has since changed with the sad passing of Cam. That is why we decided that it would go forward as SMACKEDforum as a tribute to his nickname of Smacked. However, the SMACK is still a big part of it all. Enjoy it.

If you are here or considering it, you’ve been warned!