INSIGHT: How LaJoie found his voice in podcasting

Image by Kinrade/LAT

INSIGHT: How LaJoie found his voice in podcasting

Insights & Analysis

INSIGHT: How LaJoie found his voice in podcasting

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Contrary to what people might think, Corey LaJoie admits he’s never been much of a talker.

While he doesn’t consider himself an introvert, LaJoie is more of a listener than someone who leads a conversation. Talking for an hour every Tuesday, as he has this season, is fairly new, but LaJoie’s been doing so on a platform that has allowed him to share his opinion and details from the inside the NASCAR garage.

Sunday Money is a podcast hosted on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) feed in which LaJoie, Lauren Fox, and Daryl Motte discuss racing and social topics. LaJoie and Fox, who works for MRN, went to high school together, while Mott works in the sport doing live interviews and occasional TV hosting jobs.

“It’s turned into something that I honestly didn’t expect it to,” LaJoie tells RACER. “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has their own podcast nowadays, so for people to consciously choose Sunday Money feels good. The podcast market now is kind of diluted. We have Dirty Mo Media with Door Bumper Clear and this guy, and that guy, and the Dale Jr. Download, and we have to have something that differentiates us from everybody else.

“People listen to Door Bumper Clear because it’s the spotter point of view and they’re interesting to hear [it]. Somebody listens to Dale Jr.’s podcast because they want to hear almost from a broadcaster’s point of view, or that particular guest he has on. Then they listen to Sunday Money because I guess they want to hear what a guy that rides around 28th, his perspective.”

It sounds self-deprecating, but that perspective is what makes the podcast work. LaJoie puts a lot effort into telling the story from the back side of the garage, providing insight on his team and drivers who work just as hard regardless of their position. And he isn’t afraid to throw down an opinion about a driver or an event, or reveal what he’s heard from inside the garage. With the dynamic LaJoie, Fox, and Motte have, listeners are placed in a room where good friends are sitting around talking about the sport they work in and love.

“Daryl usually doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about [and] thinking he does,” says LaJoie. “And I know he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so we argue. But a lot of the people who view the sport from 5,000 feet like Daryl does have that same opinion, and look at it through the same scope.

“I will say the majority of the race fans who don’t really know the ins and outs of the competitive side of the sport view it like Daryl does. Which is good to have, because he asks questions that I get asked a lot from race fans: Why is that? Why is that? Who does that? So, I have to explain the realities of the disparity of cars, or how certain driver etiquette is, that you wouldn’t normally know.”

LaJoie’s ‘Sunday Money’ podcast offers an unvarnished look at life back in the pack. Image by Thacker/LAT

LaJoie clarifies that he isn’t calling Motte a race fan, but that Motte’s perspective helps bring out information LaJoie likes to share. Considering there are so many more stories than what the television broadcast can cover, especially for drivers deeper in the field where results won’t necessarily tell the tale of talent, or who might be handicapped by their equipment, Lajoie has taken it upon himself to explain the story and stick up for drivers who might be on the receiving end of criticism.

A recent example was Garrett Smithley after Las Vegas. Kyle Busch, a former champion, was very critical of Smithley and his background after the two had a run-in late in the race which then turned into a lot of reaction on social media. LaJoie took to Twitter and the podcast to express how he didn’t think Smithley did anything particularly wrong, while also digging into the other side of the equation of cars being off the pace to the leaders. In explaining that situation, and others, LaJoie has had fans express how he’s helped changed their way of thinking.

“I honestly feel if you took the top 32 cars and you switched the drivers up, they’d probably all finish within five spots of each other, give or take,” LaJoie says. “Kyle Busch isn’t jumping in my car and running considerably better. I’ll give him a couple spots because he’s been doing it for his entire life it feels like, and if I got surrounded by the people that he’s worked with and could perfect driving his car like he had the opportunity to, I feel like I could do the same job.

“I certainly don’t claim to have the natural talent that Kyle does, because I don’t think anyone probably has the natural talent that guy does. But on the flipside, I’ve had to learn to take a 31st place car and run 30th or 29th with it. He’s never been in those positions where you have to remain composed when the day’s not going well, because the majority of my days don’t go well. Kyle Busch can pop off and smash in the back of somebody and knock the splitter a foot off the ground, and still run eighth, that’s how fast his car is. I can’t even get a scratch on the right side of my car and we’re running 32nd. That’s just the difference in the cars.”

Yes, his results for Go Fas Racing are mid-to back of the pack, but LaJoie speaks from experience. Many experiences. He’s a race car driver who has also been involved in management when he competed in K&N and ARCA, has even been a crew chief and changed tires, worked with budges, understands a short track racer’s mindset and now a Cup Series driver’s mindset.

LaJoie is also the son of two-time Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie (who has been on the podcast to give Corey the chance to have his father’s stories on the record). He knows the sport, he’s grown up in it and seen it from all angles. Admittedly, LaJoie has never been behind the wheel of a car that is capable of finishing in the top 10, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or his opinion doesn’t matter – even if trolls try to tell him so.

“I hear it all the time,” LaJoie says. “All the time.

“There’s lots of people that have those stats that their opinions should not even carry any water, because their blinders are so folded up they don’t care about anything besides something that benefits them.” Image by Thacker/LAT

“Over and over, from uneducated people who think they know the sport, or think that this guy’s opinion matters more because he’s won some races and he’s been in a situation for his whole career of never been in anything that’s not capable of winning a race. There’s so much of that.

“There’s lots of people that have those stats that their opinions should not even carry any water, because their blinders are so folded up they don’t care about anything besides something that benefits them. Whether it benefits the sport is another thing, and they usually don’t see that side.”

LaJoie doesn’t lack in opinions or revelations. He’s touched on the illegal spoilers Stewart-Haas Racing had last year, took a jab at Chase Elliott not lasting as most popular driver because he’s not very visible at the track, as well as telling everyone how he heard the Chevrolet drivers would be blackballed if they didn’t all work together at Talladega. The list goes on, although LaJoie has learned over time to back himself down from giving away too much, or entering territory that MRN doesn’t want broached.

“I’m not a person who likes secrets of any sorts, so I hear secrets every week about somebody or something,” he says. “As much as I want to blast all of that, I have to choose not to.”

On the flipside, if LaJoie can clear the air or clarify details that might be floating around, he uses the podcast for that, too – like saying it won’t be so much a Go Fas and Stewart-Haas Racing alliance next season as Go Fas buying some cars. Or applying a twist and some facts to silly season rumors and news.

“Now, I think I do a pretty good job of seeing [things] from both sides,” says LaJoie. “I probably saw it from more of a biased side the beginning of the year, so over the last, I don’t know, six months, eight months, I’ve learned a lot about the sport and how it’s kind of run internally, that I probably didn’t know. It’s just been good for me to gain some perspective about the sport, as well as build my own traits on how I talk.”

No matter the topic, LaJoie has become a talker, and instead of being taken the wrong way or limited on Twitter, he has a platform to be heard loud and clear.

“Still baffles me that people want to listen to what I have to say,” he says. “But there’s not been many people that haven’t listened to one episode and hadn’t listened to all of them. It’s been fun and it’s – I wouldn’t have ever expected to have that sort of outlet. And I’m glad that MRN allows me to do it.”

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