Social Spotlight with Brendan Gaughan

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. Up next: Brendan Gaughan, who is currently 12th in the Xfinity Series point standings for Richard Childress Racing.

One thing I saw recently was, you got so mad after Mid-Ohio that you didn’t want to post on Twitter. You’re like, “I gotta keep myself from posting.” How often does that happen?

With me, not very often. I tend to normally keep most of my emotions in check, but I was pretty hot after Mid-Ohio. Nowadays everyone in the world wants to vent so quickly. It’s very easy, and sometimes you have to remember that sometimes easy isn’t the right thing to do. So yeah, I stayed off Twitter for a couple of days because I wasn’t real excited about what I would have said.

That was probably a smarter move, because I’m pretty notorious for screwing my life up with my mouth, and for a change, I kept it quiet. I like to say I’m pretty proud of that. I’m only 42 years old, and I finally got there.

So in general, when you’re not having that self control, are you on Twitter everyday?

I don’t tweet everyday. I take a peek at it and look around. Nowadays, like everybody, I get most of my news off of my Twitter account. You follow the things you are interested in and you get the information you want you see the news you want. So I definitely do look through it to get some of my news, some of the social commentaries of things.

But I’m not a guy that posts everyday or something like that. When I do post, it’s normally about personal life and some racing stuff or answer people that ask specific questions. I like being able to respond to fans with it. It’s fun to give them a little bit of access to where they can get ahold of you so quickly, so easily.

You don’t respond to all of them, like if someone says, “Hi.” Sorry. Hi, yes. There. If somebody comes with a real question or something, it’s enjoyable to interact with the fans on social media.

Compared to earlier in your career when that wasn’t an option, how much has this enhanced your enjoyment of the racing? Has that made the fan experience more fun for you?

Well, I mean, actually for the most part, it’s made it less fun, if you want the truth. Here’s the problem that I have with social media, and I try to tell the kids this: I am glad that I did not grow up in this era, because of the ugliness that is on social media, how easy it is for people to be ugly.

But what’s funny is, you look at people who we like to call haters. You look at the haters that are on an Internet site or on Twitter, and you look at their (accounts). They generally have nothing nice to say about any facet of life.

So you go through, you look at a guy that’s saying something nasty about you. And he knows absolutely nothing about you, but most of the time it’s just kind of like what all the old psychology books tell you: If they hate you, it’s because they’re probably jealous.

And so you look at some of the stuff. They’re bashing on a football team, they’re bashing on a cheerleader, they’re bashing on some actor. They don’t have one positive thing to say. And so if that gives this poor guy who’s living in his mom’s basement at 35 years old some peace and happiness, then you know what? If it makes him happy for a moment of the day, let him have it. Because that guy needs happiness way more. I have it in my life.

But it’s tough though, for these kids. They’re 18, 19, 17, and they come into the sport, and there’s so many things that can quickly be said, be seen, be found and it’s tough. You have to be very mentally strong, because no matter who you are, you’re gonna get nasty things said about you.

At 18 years old, man, without having the mentors — I was lucky, I had great mentors in my life and got to come into this later after I had learned a lot of life experience. So I feel comfortable with it. But man, a lot of these kids, it’s gonna be tough for them to really stay happy sometimes. So I always tell some of them to stay off it. But we can’t; it’s too much part of our business model now.

You have thicker skin and you’re used to dealing with critics over the years. But an 18-year-old, like you said, is not necessarily equipped to be thrown into the fire on that aspect. So what do you say to them? What’s your advice?

I mean, everybody’s different. You can’t wrap one answer to the whole world. If it’s somebody that’s very personal and likes to interact, then you tell them to keep interacting and when the negative stuff comes in, just roll right on by it. If you’ve got somebody that’s a little shier or doesn’t like it, then don’t respond to most things and just use it for your business model.

You gotta play it by every person’s personality. And if you’ve got somebody who’s snarky and a moron like me, likes to go back and forth sometimes, it’s fun to pick on the haters. It’s an amusing day. You can always tell when I’m really bored, days that I try to do some of that.

So it is one of those time sucks — that’s all we talk about in this day and age, the time sucks are amazing. Candy Crush and Facebook and Twitter. Really, it’s a giant time suck.

How do you personally deal with the haters? Do you pull out the block button a lot?

No, I only block if you say nasty things about kids, family, get really ugly and dirty. I don’t tend to respond or listen to fake accounts, the “Not So-and-So” accounts. I pay zero attention to them. As a matter of fact, most of them are muted. I use the mute button a lot because then you don’t have to see, you just don’t have to deal with it.

And they don’t even know.

But that’s an easier button because you don’t have to see it, you don’t have to worry about it, and even the ones that are positive, most of them that are fake. The Orange Cone, that’s the only (account like that) I pay attention to. But for the most part, I tend to mute most people who remain anonymous. That’s part of the problem with the world today — it’s way too easy to be anonymous.

That’s for sure. So in general, even if you’re not looking at social media the entire time, are you on your phone all the time? Is it in your hand a lot?

Yeah, I think I’m one of those guys who’s guilty of it being surgically attached to me. It’s pretty bad, but my wife gets mad about it and I get mad the kids are using it too much. Then it’s in my hand when I’m saying, “Don’t.” So it’s a little bit hypocritical on me, but it’s fine.

You and I are old enough to remember the days before we carried these in our pocket, before we had everything in the world at our fingertips. My family had an Encyclopedia Britannica with all the addendums. So I remember doing book reports, and that’s where you went. Nowadays, you just pick the phone up and you can find out just about anything, and it’s made it really easy for some.

I’ve been racing for 20-plus years in NASCAR, and I remember before you left (for a race), you had to get a road atlas and try to figure out how you’re getting from the hotel to the airport to the track. You had to figure it all out ahead of time.

So it’s fun. Even the haters are fun. What I get amused about with social media is you get the guys that are haters that want to say nasty things, especially in our world. You get race car drivers at local tracks that want to say what they want to say.

I do have one favorite one, and I’ll leave his Twitter account unnamed. He is a guy who’s always just trying to say nasty things about a lot of different drivers. But I’m one that he loves to do it with. I even said back to him one day, “My favorite part about this is I know you’re going to walk up to me at an appearance one day and say you’re a big fan.” And he’s like, “Blah blah blah.”

Well, I found out the racetrack he raced at and I found out who he was. Amazingly enough, he actually won a (contest) from one of RCR’s sponsors years ago. Like to come to a racetrack and be a guest — and this is a guy who bashes Austin (Dillon), bashes me, bashes all of us. And he won a (contest), and he showed up with a picture, sat in the autograph line for me and said he was a big fan. And I signed it to him saying, “Told you you’d sit in my line and be a big fan.”

So it’s amazing. That’s the one thing I would say about me: You know if I like you or not, I’ll let you know. I’m not gonna hide it. (Social media) allows personalities to come out, and when you do get those people who are keyboard warriors, as soon as they’re in person, that warrior stuff really goes away.

It’s so difficult to say something mean to somebody’s face, so once you have that personal interaction with them and you know there’s a real person on the other side of it, it’s not so easy.

I’m a psych minor in college, and one of my favorite experiments was learning about the study between what people would do if they pushed the button and you heard somebody screaming in the other room. If you didn’t hear them, everybody pushed the button, just about. If you did hear him, less (people pushed it). If you could see him, (even) less. If you were in the room with him, (even) less. And it’s amazing what breaking that barrier down (can do). And that was a study from the 60’s.

So now the phone is just a live model of that psychological experiment. It’s really easy to say things when people are not in your face, and when they get there, they’re your biggest fan.

Speaking of actual fans, it does help keep you close to people who are your closest fans. I know there’s this one woman, @dianeinla, she’s a huge fan of yours.

Diane’s my old scorer! She was my scorer back when we had scorers. She was an old scorer for us and she was a great lady who still is a fan, still comes to races. She’ll be at Road America with me.

And of course, we would be remiss if we did talk about positive fans and didn’t say Raeann (Plumley), the lady with the tattoos. Everybody knows Raeann as the tattoo lady, and she is very active on social media. That poor thing, she gets picked on a lot on social media. I love Raeann.

I talk a lot about the negatives, but a lot of the positives — there are a lot of great people in the world too, and you can really keep up. As a matter of fact, a girl who’s a big fan of mine, her name is Cherri Montgomery, she’s out there in Arizona. She’s a handicap girl, who back in the Winston West days, she used to show up with Cabbage Patch Kids of Ron Hornaday, of me, of Mike Snow, my old PR guy. And she has all these Cabbage Patch Kids and she’s this sweet little handicapped girl.

Just (last week), she had to go back to the hospital and had a bunch of problems. I don’t keep in touch with the family that often, but on social media, they were able to get ahold of me and say, “Cherri — she’s struggling today.”

So I tweeted her this afternoon and just tweeted her a message of, “Hey, love you, miss you, you’re doing fine. Get up, walk, never give up. I don’t wanna hear this (excuses) crap. And then watch the race tonight.”

And they sent a picture to me two minutes later of her walking down the hallway. So there’s so many great things that come from social media, too, so you can’t ever let the negativity ruin something that can be so good and kind.

We talked mostly about Twitter, but do you use other forms of social media regularly?

You know, it all started because NASCAR really embraced social media before anybody in the professional sports world, and I wouldn’t have known anything about it except for they wanted us to start trying to use Twitter. That was six years ago, seven years ago or something and started using that.

I do Instagram; I do not have Facebook. So anything out there saying that’s me on Facebook, that’s not me. That’s all I really do social media-wise: Instagram and Twitter.

Last safety stop. Awesome dive and Operation Dog Tag was a success ???? #lakenormanscuba #scubadiving

A post shared by Brendan Gaughan (@brendan62) on

I’ve got too many jobs. It’s amazing how so many people have time in their lives. I have too many jobs; I gotta actually go to work. This next week, I’m in Mesquite on Monday at the CasaBlanca, our casino. On Tuesday, a new company I’m starting, we’re doing a big deal at the South Point in the hotel towers. Wednesday, I’ve gotta do a deal with my liquor company. So I’ve got too (little) time to spend to spend any more on social media.

Any last thoughts as far as the future goes? Like we’ve talked about how it is now. What do you think is next for social media?

God only knows, man. The technology world is so quick nowadays. One minute a computer is new, and the next minute it’s archaic and you’ve already got the next thing. So technology goes so fast now, it’s amazing that Facebook and Twitter are still making it. Who knows what the next one is going to hold: holograms and God knows what else. It’s an ever-changing world and the people who keep up with it will keep growing.

This interview was brought to you by Dover International Speedway. The cutoff race for the first playoff round takes place at Dover on Oct. 1. Here’s a link to buy tickets (and make sure to come say hi at the tweetup).

2 Replies to “Social Spotlight with Brendan Gaughan”

  1. Brendan is always a fun one in the interviews, though as you said he was not a very happy camper after the couple of races. Which was highly unusual. I’ve saw him joking and going on after a lot of wrecks. Brendan and Spencer Gallagher are a lot alike in my eyes.

  2. Great Spotlight interview Jeff.

    BTW… tickets to Dover have been on my desk for a few months. Always a good race, but methinks Nascar and Dover really do need to chop off about 50 miles.

Comments are closed.