Reader Submission #5 – Backing up the Accusations

On Tuesday we ran an article that broke down the strange, unjustified penalties that top drivers in RaceDepartment’s BMW M235i league received for minor infractions, and on Wednesday, we heard from a staff member who tried to provide some insight as to what may have caused both the absurd penalties and the toxic environment over at RaceDepartment.

There were two reactions to the reader submission yesterday. The primary reaction dismissed what the anonymous staff member had to say:

RD1The other reaction seemed to acknowledge that the drama and internal issues the anonymous staff member drew attention to were no surprise. Hopefully someone will tell us in the comment section what the TPS fiasco is…:

RD2Today, we received another reader submission from a well-known, well-liked member of the RaceDepartment community. This will be the last submission we’ll post on this issue.

Let me intervene, as this is getting out of hand. The cutting and penalties are ridiculous. Never have I seen these level of penalties ever handed out at RaceDepartment or in any other online league.

For a long while I defended RaceDepartment as much as possible. When any rumors popped up I dismissed them but once I heard it from more and more people I changed my views. I had many fights with guys like Keith Barick and Ryan Callan over virtual drama but in the end I couldn’t deny what was being shown to me. It was disappointing but I stuck around. Skype and other chat programs go pretty far back and I can bring chat things up if need be.

As for RaceDepartment staff ganging up, I was brought on-board with them as an advisor. It’s like if you are against their “machine”, you are left out. I had experience with much bigger leagues and wanted to bring some improvements to RaceDepartment ones. I suggested some things that worked for other leagues. Immediately I was sidelined and that was it.

On the “toxic” community, you should speak to previous staff members and partners of RaceDepartment. Scott Webber, Lars Brugman, Gijs van Elderen, David O’Reilly, Ryan Callan, Shaun Cole, Darin Gangi, Keith Barick, Toby Davis, Yuri Braham, Michael van Shepingen … they will tell you more than I ever could. They have been on the receiving end of bullshit and they got tired of it, and they left. Each has a different story.

I’m not sure to comment on the money thing. I have heard so many conflicting stories and the article yesterday was in line with what I felt to myself. A few years ago there was talk that the site was on shaky ground and having trouble sustaining itself. Yet I remember when people tried to help out with servers, Bram would always say “don’t worry about it.” Wouldn’t he jump at the chance for people to pay for things for him if money was tight? And I remember one night, I think it was teamspeak, we were all just talking as friends and he mentioned that he didn’t have any sort of job, and wasn’t looking for one either. A while later he said he bought a sofa set, and takes pride in his Volvo C30. How does this work? Then you look at premium memberships and ads on RaceDepartment, how frequently they can go out to different motorsports events, the site traffic, and its only natural to ask questions about how someone accomplishes this lifestyle when every social media account lists “owner of RaceDepartment” as their main achievement.

The dutch law talk is really beyond me. If you register as a legitimate business, you don’t have a choice on how to operate just because it’s a small website.

I guess it’s time for my take.

The penalties handed out were really goddamn stupid. Each website may have its own variations on different racing rules, but everyone who’s in charge of leagues generally understands how auto racing works and sticks to the same basic guidelines. There may not be a global online racing sanctioning body, but it’s very unlikely for rules and penalties to change this drastically from one league to another. Huge penalties for insignificant track limit violations are really absurd. You wouldn’t see this anywhere else, nor would you have seen it on RaceDepartment previously. It’s somewhat comparable to a blown call during a sporting event, maybe not the implications of the Tuck Rule that propelled New England Patriots Quarterback to stardom, but call it what it is – a blown call. And the way the aftermath was handled was similar to how NASCAR races are being handled in 2015 – the media circus defends the decisions of race stewards to the death and talk about how great the race was, even when the actual drivers are speaking out and being like “naw dude, this shit’s retarded.”

CAvlecwUIAAO1MN.jpg largeThis kind of behavior, whether it occurs in the virtual world or in the real one, is disrespectful to the drivers. They put in the time and effort to practice for the event, and they are supposed to have faith in the officials to police the event in a fair and justified manner. This is something that’s pretty universal when it comes to auto racing. Now, they can’t do that. I think Hany Al-Sabti put it best:

HanyIf at any point you’re able to mock the stewards, it’s probably a sign the stewards aren’t doing a good job. Teams shouldn’t be pulling out after the first race.

While I personally haven’t had problems with RaceDepartment, I definitely understand that things aren’t well. It’s been well documented on here that I used to write for them and really enjoyed doing so. Bram was always kind and understanding with me, especially when I ruffled the feathers of both iRacing and Codemasters. There is drama to some extent on any message board you’ll find on the internet, but I have been lucky enough to avoid it. As I said in my comments yesterday, I operated on my own schedule and submitted content when I felt like it because that’s how I roll. I avoided any conflict at all this way. It does not surprise me that there are cliques and cover-ups behind the scenes, but I operated in a way where I managed to avoid everything. Running my own site with Chris, we can operate on our own time, all the time, post whatever we want, piss off whoever we want, and we like it this way.

Some investigation may be needed on the financial side. I don’t live in the Netherlands, I’m way over in Canada, so I’ve had to read a bit and figure out the basics. I think a lot of things surrounding RaceDepartment get shady, but that’s for the immediate staff members to sort out and I personally don’t care how that goes. That’s their problem.

I wasn’t paid for the content I submitted when I wrote for them, and I never cared if I was or not because it was done out of sheer boredom and I enjoyed doing it. However, there are some guys that are on the forums virtually all day, spending copious amounts of time either helping with leagues, writing articles on a daily basis, or just plain moderating, who may be entitled to some financial compensation if they’re listed as staff members. If RaceDepartment is indeed registered as proper business in the Netherlands, that’s not allowed to be just for aesthetic value – there are a whole bunch of laws and regulations to follow. I was told by one of my teammates that it may be possible to register as a “one-man business”, but then at some point you’d have to explain the 20+ people listed as “staff members”. It’s an interesting can of worms and Google is your friend in this case.

I think the conclusion drawn over where the money goes may be at least partially correct, and it boils down to what’s called in legal terms circumstantial evidence. If someone primarily lists themselves as the owner of a website, indicates the website is their primary professional focus, implements a wide range of features in their site designed to benefit them financially, and lives comfortably in their 30’s where they don’t feel the need to find a traditional job, I’m sorry but what else am I supposed to think? If you don’t want these conclusions drawn, don’t make it so obvious.

Like I said yesterday, I can’t rag on the guy for that because if that’s all from RaceDepartment, then damn son, but if the site is truly classified as a business and you’ve got X amount of people listed as staff members, it’s going to get very hairy if some of the longtime contributors start asking the same questions brought up here and want to be compensated.

Go nuts in the comments section, guys. We don’t censor shit.

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