Late last May, The Athletic announced a motorsports vertical, bringing in Jeff Gluck, Jordan Bianchi, and David Smith. Less than a year later, Smith (an analytics-focused writer who previously ran his own Motorsports Analytics site) has now been laid off, as he tweeted Friday:
Rough news – I've been laid off by @TheAthletic.
It's gutted me, no doubt. But I have my health, family and friends. All will be well.
I am available now for freelance analysis (DMs are open) AND have a cool project to unveil Monday at 8 am ET – you're all going to dig it.
— David Smith (@DavidSmithMA) May 8, 2020
It’s certainly interesting to see The Athletic cut a motorsports writer just before NASCAR starts racing again (they’re set to resume from Darlington on May 17), And Smith’s work had a lot of fans, and it wasn’t just numbers; recent pieces like Leap Year (on Furniture Row Racing’s 2016 season) and an interview with IMSA president John Doonan illustrated his ability to combine insightful interviews with analysis and analytics. There are already plenty of people, including other prominent racing reporters, who have expressed how much he’ll be missed at The Athletic:
Sorry to hear that man, always the best content in motorsports. Keep plugging away, you’re doing something no one has done before in the sport. Attempting to make sense of it all with numbers.
— Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) May 8, 2020
Sorry to hear this. Your analysis is valued. Keep digging.
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) May 8, 2020
It's been really great to work alongside David Smith over the past year. I've never had the opportunity to collaborate with someone so dedicated and talented in the analytical way he approached numbers.
I'm definitely going to remain a fan of his work, and you should, too. https://t.co/5rTWY74vkm
— Jordan Bianchi (@Jordan_Bianchi) May 8, 2020
I hate that this happened, David. Your analysis is top notch and I looked forward to reading it every week. Will continue to support you through the pod.
— Brendan Wilhide (@BrendanWilhide) May 8, 2020
You were the reason I signed up for @TheAthletic. Looking forward to see where you end up!
— Billy Amshoff (@B_amshoff) May 8, 2020
This is devastating. Your motorsports content is some of the best on The Athletic offers. Somebody hire this man.
— Rob Rich (@robertrich) May 8, 2020
We’ll see what’s next for Smith (beyond continuing to co-host the Positive Regresssion podcast with Alan Cavanna), and we’ll see what the project he has coming Monday is.
[David Smith on Twitter]