David Land is a motorsports fan who just got lucky.
Land, 29, is a full-time motorsports journalist who has covered the IndyCar series by making videos on Youtube. With over 88,000 subscribers and millions of channel views, Land has garnered an audience that is thirsty for IndyCar content.
Land gained a love for IndyCar and auto racing through his family. Starting with his grandfather attending the Indianapolis 500 in the 1930’s, Land and his family have always had a love for racing and the 500. Land’s father was part of an effort to get sponsorship for IRL driver, John Paul Jr, in the late ‘90s. Land even taught himself the intricacies of strategy and race progression by playing with the 1996 Indianapolis 500 Starting grid set by Micro Machines, a line of tiny toycars that were popular in the ‘90s.
“It’s always been a part of me,” Land said. “I can’t think of a time really when I wasn’t thinking of racing. It was pretty much from the moment I gained consciousness.”
Land wanted to be a race car driver growing up but due to outside circumstances, did not get to fulfill that dream of being a professional race car driver. As a teenager, Land had experiences in broadcasting and journalism but did not see a path there either. There was not a clear and fast direction for Land to go in terms of a career.
Land, who hails from Franklin, decided to go to Franklin College and major in journalism with a goal to do broadcasting. Land would only be there for one year and was left wondering what exactly to do with himself.
“I went to college for one year and that year of college; I didn’t feel very productive,” Land said. “My parents split up, I lost my house, and then all of a sudden, I’m taking on all of these loans and I said to myself ‘What am I doing? I have no direction. I have no idea what I’m doing, I need to stop for a little while.’ It was a detriment to me and I had to reset to figure out what I’m doing.”
After leaving Franklin, Land found himself living in his uncle’s attic in Fremont, Ind., a town just south of the Michigan/Indiana border. Land worked at McDonald’s and Aeropostale to keep up income. Down on his luck and in a bad place, Land saw the goal of working in racing an unattainable goal.
Creating his Youtube channel on Sept 12, 2008, Land used the then-new platform as social media. Land would upload school projects, stop motion videos, videos from the Speedway, and miscellaneous videos. Land started to gain an audience from 2012-2015 as he made videos on the NASCAR Authentics line of diecast cars produced by SpinMaster. Land found the line of diecasts in Walmart and could not find any information on them on Youtube or elsewhere.
“I keep seeing these and no one is talking about them,” Land said. “ I would happen upon new cars and there was zero information. You would search on Youtube and it would come up with zero results.”
Land decided to make videos on the cars as a hobby, just to create a community to discuss the diecasts. As personal life struggles continued, Land noticed that people were starting to earn money via Youtube.
The NASCAR Authentics videos were big on the David Land channel and view counts were going up. SpinMaster even sent Land a package of diecasts to make videos on.
While the NASCAR diecasts videos performed well, Land started to integrate video game content in the channel. Land would play NASCAR ‘15 or IndyCar 2005 and while recording the races, Land would start to talk about modern-day racing topics to fill the void.
“As I did those NASCAR video game videos, they would take like 30-40 minutes to do for a 25% race,” Land said. “There were times in that race where things would lull down and the field would be spread out. What I would start to do is talk about a random topic, talk about current events that were happening in racing. I started to see comments like ‘That was really cool when you talked about racing. I thought that was really interesting."
“A lightbulb went off in my head. I said to myself ‘Why don’t I cut the video game out of the equation and just sit in front of a camera and talk about racing."
By taking the risk to talk about racing topics, the trajectory for Land started to take off. In 2015 and beyond, Land would buy a Bronze Badge every year, a pass that allows fans to get access to garages and free admission on select days in the Month of May and film the cars on track, just to make videos for the channel. Land would not be on camera from 2015-2016 as he would make videos without commentary and starting grid videos for various races. In 2017, Land made the jump to be on the camera and wanted to make IndyCar content while in front of the camera for fun.
Land, now living in New Jersey, would travel to Indianapolis, Pocono, and Watkins Glen to cover those races, without press credentials. He made videos talking about modern-day IndyCar racing and spewing out some controversial takes that were seen by the small-knit, IndyCar community. Land looked to fill a void for IndyCar news and recaps that he saw from auto racing forums online.
Using a camcorder from Walmart and a knowledge of editing, Land put very little money into getting his videos out in the public. Land’s videos were getting good views as well and realized that people on the internet were interested in IndyCar.
“Those videos got very good interaction,” Land said. “It was surprising, it was like ‘Oh wait a second, I might have tapped into something here.’ With the IndyCar stuff, it was like ‘People are actually watching IndyCar videos?’That was the wake-up call for me, that was interesting. I was sitting in a room in New Jersey, I wasn’t thinking that this community, that garage area, were watching. Very quickly, I suppose, I made a name for myself at the time and I didn’t realize that at the time.”
Getting press credentials became a battle. Through Twitter connections, Land attended the 2019 Open Test as a member of the media. Land first presented the idea that F1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso, would be bumped ( he did in fact, get bumped, and fail to qualify). Land caused a stir in the IndyCar paddock and media with his prediction that ended up being right. Going to the test showed Land the importance of actually being at a race and gave him hope. Going into 2020, Land decided to follow the IndyCar series to various races around the country, just not Indianapolis, as a full-time gig. Land was credentialed for the St.Petersburg race when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. Land tried again when races resumed in person. In 2021, Land aimed to go to all of the races as a credentialed media member. Issues with getting credentials were prominent in the first half of 2021. Land did not get to cover his first race of that season until August at the Music City GP in Nashville, Tenn.
Land covered two more races in 2021. The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at the IMS Road Course and the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 in Gateway concluded his race coverage. In 2022, Land covered 15 of the 17 IndyCar races in 2022 and covered the U.S. Nationals in Clermont, Ind. Land also covered the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona and had a IMSA hard card in 2020, as well.
Throughout his time covering the sport, Land made friends and connections in the IndyCar and racing world.
One connection Land made was with Darrian Gilliam. Gilliam is also a motorsports journalist who covers NASCAR, through making Youtube videos on the BlackFlagsMatter channel. Gilliam became a fan of IndyCar by watching Land’s videos and knows the importance of what he does to a sport like IndyCar.
“I wasn’t into IndyCar at all, but I was a fan of David Land’s,” Gilliam said. “Whenever I didn’t understand or didn’t care to watch, I would just watch his videos, just to get the scoop. He really got me into it. His work is extremely impactful because he can connect with the hardcore fans and fans who are trying to get into IndyCar.”
Kyle Cuthbertson helps Land as a videographer and shoots B-roll for videos, as well as hosts the David Land Podcast. Cuthbertson also works for KartChaser as a videographer and brings his talents to the David Land channel. While working behind the scenes, Cuthbertson also realizes the importance of people like Land bring to IndyCar.
“I think the younger generation would rather watch than read something,” Cuthbertson said. “I think it’s a great way to show personality and get people invested.”
Dreyer and Reinbold driver Stefan Wilson watched Land’s videos and even invited Land out to the unveiling for Wilson’s 2023 Indy 500 car at the Thermal Club in California. Wilson sees Land’s passion and keeps regular contact with Land and is alwaysasking for the latest news in IndyCar.
“David, he has so much passion for this sport, for IndyCar racing, for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the Indy 500,” Wilson said. “He has so much passion and that’s hard to find. For him to put the hours in, to get the videos out there, he’s always got his finger on the pulse. Anytime I’m looking to know what’s going on, gossip of what teams are doing, what’s
happening in the paddock, I reach out to David because he knows what’s going on.”
happening in the paddock, I reach out to David because he knows what’s going on.”
Now an established media member, Land has formed working relationships with drivers like Colton Herta and Wilson and drivers all across the paddock. Land was also on IMS Radio last year during a 500 practice session in May.
“Mark Jaynes is nuts. I can’t believe he let me on there,” Land said. “The fact that Mark offered for me to not only make an appearance on the radio but make my first appearance during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 was unbelievable. If I told that to myself in 2013 I would have said ‘Yeah right, you’re dreaming.’ I’m pretty freaking blessed, it’s gotta be said.”