Todd Westover was the Art Director. We created a web site kind of a bare bones, but kind of showing where to go, there was this demonstration in New York for General Media for electronic presence for all the magazines they owned. Steve Cohn showed up with a CD ROM. They put it in a CD drive and it showed on some big, massive big screen and Power Point presentation and Steve tells me, "You got a standing ovation from people who know nothing about drag racing."

Guccione owned many magazines and many milieus and the automotive group was like a fringe, but that was the one that got the standing O, so I thought, "Okay great, now what do we do?" And he says we have to wait for approval from various channels I was twiddling my thumbs for three or four months after that. I wanted to start archiving this stuff, I wanted to go live, and we were shuttled to the back of the pack. I get very frustrated. I said to myself, "OK, I've learned HTML, I learned code, I'm going to do it myself." That's when I started Nitronic Research out of frustration from a corporate presence that big things move slow -- that is just a basic law of physics. Well, I was dealing with a big thing, he moves slow, I'm a small thing, I can move fast, and I had the enthusiasm. That was the motivation for

DRO: What year was that?

CC: As a historian, I'm not real great with years but I'd say '94 into '95.

DRO: Did it evolve into a way for racers to exchange their stories?

CC: Yeah, originally there was a Letters to the Editor section, so people would send me an email commenting about one of the stories on the web site. I'd get one about every three days or something like that, so I would just post it, like the typical Letters to the Editor. Then I just came to the conclusion about taking me out of the loop; how about people don't have to write me, how about people can just write the web site and it just shows up and it doesn't need a filter and it doesn't need approval and it doesn't need some sardonic reply from me. And so that's when I came up with the concept of Header Flames, which was kind of a play on words - flaming was something that happened on the internet and various news groups - or email lists or whatever and you flame somebody out of the room. You just hold up a blowtorch. A header is like a subject header, so header flames; so fire off on these people.

Again, I didn't really anticipate how literal people would take that. It was really like John Wayne and a blowtorch and the Green Berets or something, just out of control. It was its greatest attribute and greatest detriment, and people were just left hanging out for anybody to see. Nobody pulled any punches so, again, just depending on what mood you're in, it was just great or a nightmare.

DRO: There came an effort to control it a little more through passwords.

CC: The problem is it was a really great exercise in sort of social libertarianism, which is basically my politics, you know. I don't feel people need approval for what they're doing;
just do what you do. As Big Daddy Roth said, "Hell, if a guy wants to go let him go." That's a direct quote from Roth.

So, that ethos was applied to the Internet, but there were certain issues that had to be dealt with in the real world, which are things such as libel and slander, and I had to think about who's going to show up in court. Not this anonymous nut case from New Jersey who's talking about the sexual peccadilloes of a certain pin-up queen, you know drag racing pin-up queen, and I'll leave it to your readers to pick up the subtext on that, who that might be. But that was just one reality that I really had to acknowledge. It wasn't that there were attempts to tone it down. I felt that anyone could say whatever they wanted to say as long as it was acknowledged who it was. If it was anonymous or pseudo-anonymous it gets weird. Who's accountable? I am and I didn't even say it. So, that was really why we wanted accountability and that was the password system which was a bigger nightmare than not having a password system because nobody could remember their passwords, so all of a sudden I'm back in the loop again, people emailing me, "What's my password?"

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