Sunday, February 11, 2007


SPEED Channel's 2007 weekly news program is called The SPEED Report. Somehow, the network's weekly look at the world of motorsports has morphed into a cross between Entertainment Tonight and MTV's Headbangers Ball.

Supported by hard-rock music blasted under highlight video, the show staggers off-pace through an hour of strange and diverse contrasts. Studio hosts Drew Johnson and Nicole Manske are no match for the intense level of news and racing information that needs to be relayed to the viewers. Both are clearly not racing fans, with little knowledge of the diverse racing series here in the US and around the world. These two former local station reporters displaced motorsports veterans like Bob Jenkins, Ralph Sheheen, and Bob Varsha much to the dismay of many SPEED viewers.

The saving grace for the program is the various reports packaged by the on-scene talent at SPEED events. They bring viewers the latest from F-1, SCCA, ARCA, and other series that telecast races on SPEED. Unfortunately, the longer The SPEED Report goes on, the deeper the contrast between the experience of the field reporters, and the lack of knowledge of the studio hosts. Its seems, at times, like the adults are out working on the racing events while the teenagers are home minding the store.

The contrast in knowledge is even more apparent when the studio hosts attempt to voice-over race video highlights. They can read the script, but clearly do not have the background or experience to be operating at a national network level. Often, they return to their local station roots by joking around and actually eliminating the details from the highlights they show, as if they were speaking to casual fans of the 11 PM News. According to SPEED's own message board, many viewers are tired of the antics, and are demanding change.

With the season just beginning, it will be interesting to see what The SPEED Report looks like in a couple of months. With ESPN now running a daily NASCAR show, and supporting it with ESPN News and SportsCenter coverage of other motorsports, SPEED is going to have to step-up to the plate and defend its claim as the home of NASCAR.

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