The whole COVID lockdown this year has been a crazy burden in many ways, but it has also birthed a few things that have made the time a little better. One of those is the Diecast Racing Report, a new magazine covering the "sport" of diecast racing.
The Diecast Racing Report is a bi-monthly digital magazine that highlights what's happening in the world of diecast racing. From events, to interviews, to tips & tricks...it's quickly become a great resource for all racers and builders.
Kit Kayem is the creator and publisher of the Diecast Racing Report, and he recently shared with me a bit of the backstory to the magazine and his a bit about his own story with diecast collecting and racing.
You can get the latest issue of the Diecast Racing Report by visiting the web site or their publisher page on Issuu.
Interview with Kit Kayem of the Diecast Racing Report
Redline Derby Racing: Let's start with the basics...who you are, where you are, what you do, and what's your favorite breakfast cereal?
Kit Kayem: My racing name is Kit Kayem. Kit is short for Christopher. And Kayem is the phonetic spelling of my last names’ initials (K-M). I live in Seattle, Washington. Moved here just under two years ago. I was in Chicago for a decade prior to that. Professionally, I’m a theatre artist, but since the lockdown, that’s not a viable career right now. Normally, I’d answer that I’m a playwright, director, actor, literary translator, theatre educator, and drama critic. But, as of right now, I’m a video editor and magazine publisher. At least until theatres can reopen, which looks like it won’t be until at least partway through 2021. In the meantime, there’s something inherently dramatic about racing and its presentation online. So it’s a blast to cover what’s going on in this community. I don’t normally eat cereal for breakfast, but when I do I go with either Cheerios or Grape Nuts.
RLD: Outside of racing Hot Wheels when you were a kid, how did you find your way into the modern world of diecast racing?
KK: One of my friends is a pop culture reporter in Chicago, and he posted a link on his Facebook page back in January. My wife and I started watching all of 3DBotMaker’s videos, and decided to try out building our own cars. We’ve each had one appear on KotM so far. My initial thought before the pandemic hit was that I’d like to launch a local face-to-face league in this area. Being newly relocated here, we’ve not made a lot of local friends yet. So, I figured it might be a fun way to get a group together. As you know, Covid-19 happened, and so I looked for a way to be a more active part of the community. I bought the url of diecastracingreport.com with the intention of doing a weekly wrap-up show akin to what Warwick is doing now. In fact, about a week or two before he put his first report out, we were talking about how he was about to launch his weekly report. Since I already had the url, and I have publishing experience with my plays and as an entertainment journalist, I decided that rather than duplicating efforts, I could offer a print (sort of) option in covering the community in a magazine.
RLD: There have been 7 issues published already but all in all, the Diecast Racing Report magazine is still pretty new. Why a diecast racing magazine and why now?
KK: There are a number of reasons for the magazine, but the primary one is to act as a booster for the sport/hobby. The idea is partly to be a record of what is happening, and also to be a promotional vehicle to those who are looking to learn more about the sport and how to participate in it. As to why now, the answer has to be that the population of fans and participants has hit a critical mass that can support a magazine. There are people outside the hobby who want information on it. And there are people inside who are looking for more in-depth coverage in one place. There’s a point wherein most sports/hobbies get big enough that media sources give them legitimacy in the eyes of those who aren’t diehard adherents. It seems that now is when diecast racing has grown to that threshold.
RLD: For those new to the mag, give us a quick taste of what the Diecast Racing Report offers.
KK: Well, so far we’ve established that each article will have a major feature story, a Quick Tips section, a calendar of upcoming mail-in races, a regular column, and updates on the prominent racing tournaments and video productions. We’ve recently added an Ask-the-Expert sort of thing, that should become a regular column, so that’ll make two regular columns with Josh Paufler’s “Live from the Rust Belt” being a mainstay already. We have periodically done a 10 Questions mini-feature highlighting an individual in the community. We’ll be having that in every issue going forward. And we’re set to have a bunch of special events that we cover. The #8Modders event was successful in August, so we’re doing that again in November. We’re hosting a quarterly charity race with the first one in October (Pinks for the Cure). The next one will be in January and will benefit a national network of food shelves. We’re going to have a coloring contest (just for fun), and a few other odd things to flesh out the magazine over the next few months.
RLD: What's your publishing schedule for DRR? How often can people look forward to reading future issues?
KK: Our publication date is set for the 1st and 15th of each month, with the exception of February, which will be a double issue on the first only. The shorter month makes for too tight a turnaround for the March 1st issue, otherwise.
RLD: I heard about your efforts because of the guys over at Chaos Canyon. What is your relationship to them (if any) and how did that come about?
KK: Well, I was a driver in their first race. Technically I was two drivers, since Warwick [Rule of Chaos Canyon] didn’t know prior to assigning drivers that I my youtube account and my facebook account were related. So, I was both Kit Kayem and cokidder in both the Canyon Overlord race and the Redemption series. I have the dubious honor of having the first turn of his course named after me, thanks to my inability to stay on his track there. Oddly enough both of those drivers took multi-storey dives off of that corner.
Warwick and I got to talking about a bunch of things early on. Largely sound production things, because much of my acting work is voiceover stuff. Anyway, since I was talking to him about what I’d wanted to do with diecastracingreport.com and realized we’d be competing directly if I’d followed my original intentions, his product directly affected my overall path with the magazine.
I like promoting his stuff. He’s been very kind in his coverage of ours. It’s a great relationship. I’m very much looking forward to his next couple of projects, and I’m tickled that he’s accepted a spot as one of the next group of #8Modders.
RLD: I'm sure putting together the magazine is a lot of work. Is DRR a one-man operation, or how big is your staff?
KK: As of right now, we’re a permanent staff of four, with a few others coming in from time to time. I do the layout work, my wife does the copy editing, and we both do a chunk of the writing. Josh Paufler does his column and some other reporting, and Steven King does art and some writing. We’ve been lucky to have Emile Abed and Glenn Harding pitching in on writing and art respectively. I guess, technically Emile did hand-drawn graphics for his recent article, so he’s done some of the art, too! We’ve got contributions from Vern Davis and David Currin coming up in the next couple of issues. I’d like to get at least one more regular writer onboard, and in a dream world, I’d love to see someone put together a comic strip or something that we can run each issue. We also desperately need a webmaster for our site. In publishing the magazine itself, the website has suffered from lack of attention.
RLD: With all the time needed for DRR, do you get time to do any racing yourself? Or do you participate in any of the online racing channels?
KK: I do. It’s the modifying that really got Ali (my wife) and me into the sport. My “Tartan Titan” was in the first of this year’s King of the Mountain tournaments. Ali’s “Edgar”, driven by “The Bug” was in a recent qualifier for the 2nd tournament, but sadly didn’t make it. Her racing team is called “Just Another Pop Culture Reference”, and all of her cars are themed around movies, comics, tv shows, and the like. Her mods are always prettier than mine. Anyway… we’re taking part in Charger Summer. We’ve got a bunch of cars waiting for action at Poppa Speed Invitational. I’m a 3-time Big Cheese over at the ILC. And we’re sponsoring the truck series over at Sub4ra, so naturally, I had to send a couple of cars over there. I do throw my name in as a driver at various places, and sometimes I get added to the driver rosters without signing up (this has happened a couple of times now, thanks to me doing the magazine).
RLD: Even after only a few issues of DRR, I'm sure you've reviewed a ton of racing from various channels and organizations. Which style of racing do you see the most, and what style is somewhat under-represented? What do you think is missing from the scene?
KK: I’m not sure there’s anything missing from the scene, although each time I see something new, I am glad about it, and figure there’s a place for it. Sort of a case of not knowing what we’re missing until it’s suddenly made available. Sub4ra’s recent demolition derby was a lot of fun. I generally like road courses best. Although there are some drag races I really have enjoyed. I find live racing fun. And I like odd events like the stuff Beaverworx and Big Poppy racing are doing. Their stuff is closest to what my brother and I used to do with our own cars when we were kids. I hadn’t thought about monster trucks or micro machines at all, but those videos are out there now, so I suppose just about anything is possible. The creativity of the community abounds, and I really enjoy seeing new things, and then sharing them with others.
RLD: It's safe to say that 3DBotMaker has established himself as a top channel for diecast racing. Their production is certainly one to be beat - and not that it's a competition - but what steps do you think channels need to be mindful of to attract an audience?
KK: Adriel has certainly done well. He puts out a great product, and it’s gotten the attention of the press. The thing is, I don’t think any of the rest of us can be that successful with the public, as we’re essentially copycats to some degree. Sort of like, the USFL or the XFL. No matter what, those leagues were never going to replace NFL football, or even come close to competing with it. So it is with this. While, Adriel wasn’t the first, he was the one putting out a caliber of product that warranted attention at the right time. So, rather than copying what he does, I think the best thing that any of us can do is to find our own unique thing to bring to the table.
As the general viewership of diecast racing grows, the wider audience will start to look for new things to watch, and being something other than what 3DBotMaker is, will lead to folks watching due to being intrigued by something new; and will avoid being directly (and unfavorably) compared to what is being done on the biggest of the channels.
RLD: What other channels would you point new fans toward that want to watch and enjoy more diecast racing? (besides 3DBM)
KK: I would tell people to look at any of the channels that we feature in our “On The Track” and “Tournaments” sections of the magazine. “On The Track” covers the more narrative-driven delivery styles, like 3DBotMaker and other channels that have developed characters that announce their races: Chaos Canyon, Jackson Pass, RTR, Flat Rabbit, etc. The “Tournaments” section is more about the races that could be seen as non-fiction. Largely they are mail-in hosted leagues and events, and they are high quality events, with good production values, just not the developed stylization that goes into the other channels: Redline Derby’s monthly races and other tournaments that League of Speed hosts go here, as does Sub4ra, and Diecast 64—a lot of the well-established racing that is really exciting to watch. All of the leagues we cover in those two sections I would recommend to anyone who wants to explore the world of diecast racing.
RLD: Let's say I'm running a diecast racing channel and want to get the attention of the DRR, how should I go about that?
KK: Drop us a line! Emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or finding us on Facebook and sending a message there works just as well. Anyone who sends me info, I’ll check it out within 24 hours of getting the note. And, I try to give everyone an idea of how soon I can cover them. That being said, if you’re going to send us a note, say something in it. Don’t just send a random link and no info. We get those and don’t really know what to do with them. Clicking on random links from unidentified people can lead to so many bad things, as I’m sure folks already know.
RLD: I know you're only a few months into this venture but what do you see in the future for DRR? Where do you see DRR in a year?
KK: In a year? I’d like to see the magazine become a consistently useful resource, and a good chronicler of what this sport/hobby has to offer—something that people think of automatically as a place to get good information. I’d like to see us doing good for the community and for the world in general.
RLD: So all in all, what do you hope readers get out of DRR?
KK: I hope that when someone opens up the magazine, they get a feel for the people behind the cars they are watching in the videos online. I hope they get a peek into how to get involved. I hope that more established racers find enjoyment in seeing stories about themselves and their friends. And I hope that overall, every reader gets a sense of the community as it continues to grow.
I want to thank Kit for taking the time to share some insight into the Diecast Racing Report and his interest in racing. If you haven't read through an issue of DRR, run over to the Issuu site and read the latest issue...and then go read the back issues. It's great seeing a new resource for diecast racing and Kit and his staff are putting out great content that you can look forward to.