More than a job – a thank you to NBC

New Year’s Day marks my last published pieces for NBC Sports. 7,781 articles have been written, 98 Formula 1 races have been covered, countless tweets have been sent – but it all ends here.

I’ve touched before online about the significance of the job that I got with NBC back in 2013. That night at Suzuka when I found out the news – finding out on Twitter that you’re set to lose your job hurts as much as you’d imagine – it was all I could think about. What could replace it? What would fill the chasm of a job that not only springboarded your career, but changed your life?

How can a job change your life? More money and greater stability? Yes. Brighter prospects? Certainly. But most significantly, it gives you a chance to live.

When the precocious, naive – perhaps underprepared – 17-year-old got an email out of the blue in the early months of 2013, he could not have possibly imagined the journey that would follow, nor the immediate impact it would have on his life.

As an only child to a single mother, things were always pretty tight growing up. We didn’t go on holiday or have a huge amount left at the end of each month. With my first paycheck, I was able to get broadband internet, replace my broken laptop that only had half a working screen, and sort out a Sky package so I didn’t have to cover races listening to BBC radio (my first two races for NBC were covered that way, remarkably!).

But it was most important when my Mum got sick and wasn’t able to work anymore. To have a proper job at 17 was crucial. It was life-giving. It kept a roof over our heads, paying the mortgage and the bills. It meant I could go to university and get a degree. It meant I didn’t have to give up trying to crack journalism at an early hurdle and find work elsewhere to make sure ends were met.

All the professional stuff aside, that’s what the NBC job was. Sure, there was more than a deal of good fortune in getting it. Sure, there was criticism in some quarters that I’d even got the opportunity. But it made life so unimaginably different to what it could have been – a scary, different dimension that is hard to really make sense of. And for that, I am so, so grateful.

Mushy life stuff over with. Promise.

Professionally? It has been a remarkable stint. To work with one of the biggest broadcasters in the world at such an early stage in my career was a true privilege from the word go. I was thrown in at the deep end with little experience, but grew into the role and grew in confidence as time passed by. And all things considered, I don’t think I left much on the table.

There are a huge number of thank-yous to make. On the TV side, special thanks must go to the entire production team – they’ve truly been incredible through the last five years, helping to significantly increase the viewership of F1 in the United States. A huge amount of thanks must also be offered to the on-site team, Will Buxton and Jason Swales, from both of whom I have learned so, so much and have been great guides.

Editorially, there are so many names behind the scenes who make the NBC Sports website as strong and cohesive as it is. From the video team working hard to cut clips to the editorial desk keeping abreast of all manner of sports, they put in a remarkable shift. In particular, thank you to Mike Miller, my boss, for taking that chance on me back in 2013 and keeping faith in me through some big professional and personal challenges.

The bulk of my work has been completed on MotorSportsTalk (and a couple of cameo appearances on NASCAR Talk) alongside a really tremendous team. To Kyle, Jerry, Chris, Daniel, Nate and Dustin, thank you all.

I must make a special mention to my editor and my friend, Tony DiZinno. We’ve been on MST from the very beginning and really become great friends over the years. From the snarky in-jokes to the journalistic guide and even the life advice from time to time, it has been a true, true honour working with such a professional and outstanding journalist so early in my career. Thank you, brother.

And finally, thank you to everyone who has read any of my work for NBC Sports. Primarily serving the American audience has been a real privilege. I truly hope that I have played a tiny role in helping aid your following of Formula 1 and wider motorsport.

So now what?

Plans for 2018 are pretty much in place. It’s just a case of crossing the Is, dotting the Ts and getting everything finalised. But I am really excited for the year to come and for when I can lift the lid on things.

It’s something I didn’t think I’d feel when the news arrived at Suzuka. All I could see was the downside of losing a job that held my life together through some really tough spells. There were tears, a good deal of anger and frustration, some ratty phone calls to my parents and very little sleep that night. It wasn’t pleasant.

All anyone could seem to say was “it will be OK!” or “you’ll sort something!” – which at the time was absolutely the last thing I wanted to hear. No, I won’t find anything! It’s all over! All of it!

It wasn’t until a walk of Suzuka on the Thursday night that I was really able to calm down, take stock, and get my head around things.

And damn – they were right. Things are OK. Better than OK. I’ve got a giddy excitement for 2018 – the same feeling the 17-year-old had when he walked out of a school assembly to find an email from NBC nearly five years ago, dreaming of what could follow.

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