Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ESPN's "NASCAR Now:" Wednesday Left-Overs

Early on in its life, the classic ESPN show RPM2Nite began to designate days of the week for features within the program. Perhaps, the most popular of these was "Open Wheel Wednesday." The show established a rhythm that viewers could come to count on, and relayed information that viewers learned to trust. ESPN2's NASCAR Now is struggling with its Wednesday identity.

Doug Banks hosting the show means thirty minutes of tightly scripted teleprompter reading, but Doug seems to be a nice guy and looks great on TV. Unfortunately, NASCAR Now decided that bringing on Brad Daugherty for a general discussion of general points generally about NASCAR with lots of general opinions would be great. Especially, if Daugherty can give NASCAR Now over five minutes of their twenty-two minute show time. Watching Brad and Doug talk NASCAR on national television continues to be a strange experience. Why this led the show, and did not fall in the final segment, can only be explained one way. And I am not going there.

Reporter Marty Smith then came on with what should have been the lead story in the show, the ties between the NASCAR family and the Virginia Tech shootings. Marty should have led the show with his heart-felt and personal report, and then brought in the NASCAR crew member who is a Va. Tech graduate for a phone interview. There is no possible way that five or six minutes of Brad Daugherty's general rambling should have been placed ahead of this issue.

Smith and reporter Terry Blount returned, and answered scripted questions from Banks, which is always the most frustrating part of the show. Banks is unable to follow-up on any point, or even let the two reporters speak to each other because of his poor level of NASCAR understanding. When these two guys are talking, Banks has that deer-in-the-headlights look. Imagine, something in the show not on a teleprompter. Something that the host has to actually "know."

This show re-hashed some old topics from earlier in the week, used driver interviews and video features from earlier in the week, and generally was a throw-a-way for the ESPN2 boys. Imagine Brad Daugherty pretending that Banks was actually asking him questions for the first time in the ridiculous feature "fact or fiction." Toward the end of the feature, Daugherty was so flustered he forgot to pick 'em. He just talked and talked and talked.

My column of April 16th spoke about the culture clash between the "real" NASCAR guys like Marty Smith and Terry Blount, and the "fake" NASCAR guys like Doug Banks and Brad Daugherty. Sooner or later, ESPN will have to step-up and make some drastic changes in this program to attract viewers, and gain credibility. Right now, the "fake" NASCAR guys are still on NASCAR Now everytime you turn-a-round.


Anonymous said...

I agree that espn is doing a bad job with their NASCAR coverage, but don't say Brad Daugherty is a Fake NASCAR guy. Hes been involved in this sport for 12 years and has been following it for even more than that. Now I'm a real NASCAR guy and I do think that they deffinitely are doing Doug Banks a huge favor by letting him host the show. Get someone on there that actually knows what NASCAR is. I'd like to know if he even knows what it stands for.

Anonymous said...

The biggest "fake" NASCAR guy is Eric Kuselias.I don't know if anyone remembers this but me,but a few years ago he guest hosted the "Mike and Mike" show one day and the subject of NASCAR and its popularity came up.He seemed perplexed by this and made some anti-NASCAR comments about it.If someone could find the transcript of the show it would be very entertaing reading.

Anonymous said...

Why did they not go after John Kernan, he seems to know, and love the sport. I think he would have wanted the job, and it would have gained a lot of fans.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to watch this so called show. I watched a few times in the beginning and could NOT handle it. I enjoy reading your evaluations and hope that one day they will make the adjustments to get it right. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

I stopped watching Nascar Now after the Daytona500 wrap up. I used to watch John Kiernan everyday either live or on tape.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what your beef is with ESPN and its NASCAR coverage, but some of your comments seem harsh to me. I agree the shows could be better at times and the hosts have some work to do to improve. Doug Banks is hard to watch, but seems like a good guy who tries hard. I must say I like how the show looks with slick graphics and and a nice set that rivals anything else the network has. Ryan Burr is very good in my opinion. I also thought they did a good job with the Virginia Tech tragedy and how it struck close to home for many in the NASCAR family. Like the Car of Tomorrow, let's give ESPN some time to work out the bugs before saying it's junk.

Anonymous said...

"Like the Car of Tomorrow, let's give ESPN some time to work out the bugs before saying it's junk." ------- TIMES UP! It's JUNK!!!!!!!!!!