Sunday, April 15, 2007
RaceDay On SPEED: Jimmy Spencer Goes Off!
During this season, RaceDay has been the best NASCAR-themed television show on any cable or broadcast network, hands down. This two hour extravaganza plays host to very serious discussions of NASCAR issues one minute, then features Kenny Wallace completely goofing on something ridiculous. Earlier this season, The Daly Planet referred to it as "Speed-a-palooza." Host John Roberts and reporter Wendy Venturini have established themselves as top TV professionals in the sport through their performance on this series.
Normally, Jimmy Spencer knows his place. As a retired driver with a questionable reputation, Spencer is a great foil for both Kenny Wallace and the numerous guests that appear on the program. He has kept himself well-informed, and grown into a much better television personality with each passing season.
On Sunday, Wendy Venturini presented an excellent two-part feature on Max Siegel, the new President of Global Operations for DEI. During the report, Mr. Siegel and Venturini mentioned Dale Junior's sister Kelley, who is his agent and business manager. It is no secret that getting the two Earnhardt "camps" together is Siegel's key goal. The end of the report led back to the set, where Jimmy Spencer waited. Then, all hell broke loose. And Jimmy Spencer may wind-up regretting it.
"Theresa Earnhardt gave Dale Junior his opportunity to race." It was with those ominous words that Spencer began his comments. After making sure that Junior knew his place, Spencer moved on to Dale's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge. "I am shocked that she kept her middle name. Why keep Earnhardt? I think her ego is so big and she is backing Theresa and Max (Siegel) into corners. She's not a good negotiator. If she was working for someone else they would probably fire her."
Spencer continued his comments with "I think she is using ego to control this direction, and Dale needs to be careful about it." Now done with Kelley, Spencer switched his aim back to Dale Junior, and was very eager to invoke the name of Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the basis of his argument.
"There are a lot of true Dale Earnhard Sr. fans who will lose respect for Dale Junior (if he leaves DEI)." Spencer stated "I don't think Dale Junior needs to leave the organization. I don't like what Kelley (Elledge) is doing...how she is putting them (Theresa and Siegel) in corners."
Spencer closed with "Dale and Theresa and Max need to sit down and get this worked out. If the old man was still living, he would kick Earnhardt (Junior's) butt. I would hate to see that organization fall apart."
Whatever Spencer's motivation, his attack on Kelley Elledge was poorly timed. It has been well-documented that she had just undergone serious surgery, and is in the process of recovering. While she was on-hand at the opening of JR Motorsports new shop this week, she is far from full strength. In addition, RaceDay has always gone out of the way to be fair to all parties involved in NASCAR issues. This time, there was no Earnhardt Junior or Kelley Elledge standing by with Wendy Venturini to address this discussion. Had they been there, Spencer may have been singing a completely different tune.
I believe we have not heard the end of the reaction to these comments on national television. If the print media takes the ball and runs with it, there may be bigger issues on the horizon for Jimmy Spencer than his apparent hatred for Junior's sister.
UPDATE 9PM EASTERN TIME SUNDAY 4/15/07: On the Victory Lane program airing Sunday night at 8PM on SPEED, Jimmy Spencer issued an apology to Dale Earnhardt Junior's sister, Kelley Elledge. In reference to the comments detailed above, Spencer said he "kind of took it personal and he is sorry for what he said to Kelley." From this quote, I believe we can assume that Spencer felt he was somehow representing the interests of Dale Earnhard Sr. in his commentary during the RaceDay program. We can only see what repercussions these strong comments, and this brief apology, have on both the Earnhardt family and the fans.