We've published some 7,200 articles at RACER.com so far this year, but invariably it's the controversies and the surprises that grab the most attention. Here are the news stories that attracted the most mouse-clicks on RACER.com in 2012, with links to the original stories:
10. Andretti: Politics can't spoil IndyCar
The simmering discontent in the IndyCar paddock that culminated in the departure of Randy Bernard as CEO sent the sport into a frenzy of reaction, but elder statesman Mario Andretti helped tamp down some of the hysteria with his common-sense assertions that the elements driving the sport's appeal would carry on.
9. DeltaWing backed by Nissan
The ongoing saga of Ben Bowlby's innovative new racecar, which was profiled in depth in the May 2012 issue of RACER that relaunched the magazine under its new ownership team, has been a significant driver of RACER.com traffic since news of it first broke, and the announcement in March of its affiliation with Nissan for Le Mans brought the anticipation to fever pitch.
8. Fatality from lightning strike at NASCAR Pocono race
Tragedy struck at Pocono Raceway in August, where a spectator was killed by a lightning strike from a summer storm. A 41-year-old man who was struck following the stoppage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the track, while several others were injured.
7. Ana Beatriz's Indy livery revealed
New cars and paint schemes are always among our most popular pages, but for some reason this reveal in April of Andretti Autosport's extra entry for Ana Beatriz for Sao Paulo's IndyCar race went absolutely crazy, eclipsing all similar stories for the year. Must be the re-tweeting by all those IndyCar-mad Brazilians!
6. Penske hot, Andretti cool to Bernard departure
Arguably the most mystifying story of the year was Randy Bernard's drawn-out departure as IndyCar CEO. After being rumored for some time, the actual announcement was made by a terse press release on a Sunday evening in October, so this follow-up story with the (few) public reactions by team owners got a lot more reads.
After leaving IndyCar, Bernard signed on as CEO of cable channel RFD-TV, whose programming covers agriculture, country music and entertainment.
5. Drivers divided over Brazil incidents
Those Brazilians again...but this time there was an understandable excuse. The variety of controversies striking the Sao Paulo IndyCar race had both the racers and the fans eager to weigh on the question of whether drivers were out of control or the design of the street circuit lent itself to such shenanigans...or both.
4. Ecclestone expects 19 races in 2013
The Web is always forward-looking, so maybe it's not really surprising that one of the biggest stories of 2012 should relate to 2013! In this case, it was F1's commercial boss explaining how he planned to cope with the postponement of GP America at New Jersey's Port Imperial by adding another race, probably in Turkey. We're still waiting for confirmation of that, though, so maybe this article's position in the rankings is a bit premature...
3. VIDEO: DeltaWing crashes at Road Atlanta
The DeltaWing again...this time for its spectacular wreck during practice at Petit Le Mans. Video of the crash, the circumstances of it and the Highcroft Racing/Nissan DeltaWing team's heroic efforts to repair the car in time for the race became one of the big talking points of the year in our article comments.
2. Newman/Haas drive for Alesi at Indy?
This one had all the elements that made for a great story: the mooted return of a great race team that was on hiatus due to a lack of sponsorship, the quixotic comeback of a Formula 1 fan favorite in not only a series, but a style of racing he'd never done, and the element of surprise since it came just a month before the start of practice at Indianapolis.
Unfortunately it also turned out to be a little short on substance, despite Alesi's "confirmation" of a deal in the story. The Frenchman's Indy 500 rookie run ended up being an association with Tyce Carlson's Fan Force United team instead, but given the woeful inadequacy of the Lotus engine motivating his car, the team behind it turned out to not make much difference.
1. NBC lands F1 TV deal
There had been whispers about this ahead of the October announcement, but RACER.com readers were nevertheless drawn to this news like moths to the flame. And "flame" was a good description of the general reaction, judging by the resulting article comments.
The follow-up announcement that 3/4ths of the announcing team from SPEED would be migrating over to NBC Sports Network's coverage of F1 next year (less play-by-play man Bob Varsha, who is remaining with SPEED) mollified that attitude to some extent. The crew announcement was made on the Thursday prior to Formula 1's return to the United States at Circuit of The Americas, largely pushing the actual news reports from Friday practice aside!