Wednesday, June 6, 2007

TV Viewers Get An Eyeful Of Dirt And Love It

There were lots of folks around the racing community who chuckled when HBO said the words pay-per-view. There were lots of people who rolled their eyes when they heard the name Tony Stewart. There were lots of NASCAR fans who got a puzzled look on their faces when the race location was announced as Eldora Speedway.

Nothing got the world ready for the complete success of Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream charity race that ran on Wednesday night live on pay-per-view. It may have been the most interesting and successful pay-per-view racing event in TV history.

Sometimes, things on TV just come together and the end product is wonderful. Good weather and a great crowd set the table for an evening of Late Model Stock Car racing on the half mile dirt of Eldora. Producer Pam Miller organized a professional television evening that was second to none. From the start of the pay-per-view program, it was clear that between show host Matt Yocum and play-by-play announcer Mike Joy, the evening would be classy and fun.

All of the TV personalities and production staff donated their time in the exact same way that the NASCAR and NHRA drivers had done for the evening. Darrell Waltrip and Kyle Petty formed an interesting union as the booth announcers. DW had just ended his Fox Sports racing season, and Kyle was about to debut in "DW's spot" with the TNT crew at Pocono. They got along great, and had a blast. It was nice to hear the racing knowledge flow from both of these veterans.

Give credit to the organizers who kept the event on schedule, even though Bill Elliott flipped at the finish line in his heat race. After a quiet moment, Elliott emerged and was still smiling. He had flipped at Eldora. The rest of the evening went off as planned, with good heat races, a B Main, and the Feature.

Lots of credit for the smooth flow of the evening goes to Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum. With Berggren patrolling pit road and the garage, he was able to introduce the viewers to many of the family members and associates of the NASCAR drivers. This brought back the family feeling that has been so missing this season on the other racing broadcasts.

Matt Yocum filled the role of host, interviewer, and reporter. He and his buddy Tony Stewart were keys to the overall organization of the event. Matt showed the TV industry just how versatile he is. He has hosted this event, a weekly NASCAR TV studio show, is a pit road reporter, and also is Tony's producer for his Sirius Satellite Radio show. Can it be long until Yocum gets an offer to step-up to a key TV role in the racing world? Can you say Hollywood Hotel?

While HBO will wait until Thursday to release the number of households who subscribed to this telecast, that information really does not matter. This concept was an unbridled success and will lead to huge numbers for this weekend in 2008. I certainly hope that lots of money was raised for the Victory Junction Gang Camp this year, but everyone at the camp in Randleman, NC can sit back and smile. The future for this event is assured.

Who imagined that a great looking TV broadcast from Eldora Speedway could be sold on pay-per-view? Who imagined that it could fund a good portion of the operating costs of Kyle and Pattie's camp? Who imagined that top NASCAR drivers and TV professionals would show up for free and be happy to do it? Who imagined that NASCAR and racing fans nationwide would step-up to watch an evening of Late Model Racing? Who got NEXTEL and Old Spice to fund the entire evening without running one TV ad?

Love him or hate him...that would be one man. This was a great idea, and thank you Tony Stewart. See you again in Eldora next year.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


Shoop said...

Whoever's idea it was to put Darrell Waltrip in the booth tonight should be fired immediately. From this "burnin the right FRONT tire off" comments to him being "suprised" by the simplest dirt track principles, he was by far the worst part of the evening.

My mute button was worn down by the end of the evening.

Anonymous said...

awesome, awesome, awesome. what a great race night. i would love to see this done more often, but i'm afraid it would lose its appeal if it were. needless to say, i'm eagerly awaiting next year.

the racing was intense, the background information solid, and the broadcast well done. i thoroughly enjoyed seeing huge smiles on all the drivers faces watching them have fun while racing. isn't that what racing is all i haven't seen jeff gordon this excited in quite some time, and that was a treat. it actually made me a jeff gordon fan, if only for an evening.

vroom said...

I'm on vaca in Destin so I missed the event. Your great commentary gives me a clear picture of what a special evening it was, thanks!

Anonymous said...

IT was the best of the best evening I had with my family,watching the drivers smile, laugh and just having a great time.Their physical abilities are awesome, I just wish I could have felt the dirt in my face, the sound of the motors brought back memories of 40 years ago.

GinaV24 said...

I agree, wholeheartedly. This was a great broadcast with great racing for a wonderful cause and people, both the production team, the "booth" personalities and the racers were all into it big time. They were having fun supporting it and it was a great race on top of all that. Casual, but not sloppy! I'm glad that I did the PPV.

John P. said...

Having attended the first two "Preludes" in person and watching last night's third on HBO PPV, it has become one of my annual "must see" events. It is truly a great show.

Anonymous said...

I have not really been a Tony Stewart fan in the past, however, I have gained a great deal of respect for him. He does so much for racing and charity work. I feel, he is the only race car driver that tries to give the fans their money's worth. He is the closest to Dale Sr than anyone on the racing circuit. I am now a Tony fan along with Dale jr. GO TONY!!! LOVE YOU!!!

William said...

What a special evening, I was on the fence about ordering it but once I got in I was certain I did the right thing. I don't think it can be emphasized enough that EVERYONE donated their time and that nobody made any money on this but the kids. It was really special to see the drivers and families have such a great time. I'll do my best to be there next year, but if not I'll buy it every year. What a nice evening!

JHD said...

I was at Eldora last night, so I missed the PPV. But they did put some of their commentary on over the loudspeakers, so I did get to hear a bit.

Even without listening, but having heard them before, it is an interesting contrast between the two drivers. DW is what's wrong with NASCAR commentating, and Kyle Petty is what's right. There is a way to have the driver's "inside knowledge" perspective without big egos and bigger mouths getting in the way. Kyle Petty demonstrates how to do that every time he gets in the booth. If DW would shut up for a minute, he could learn something from Kyle.

I hope that when Kyle is finished with his 6 week run, he has plenty of offers to do it full-time when he gets out of the 45, and that he takes one of them.

Joe from Philly said...

that was awesome!

well organized. great racing action, fun interviews, professional broadcast, a cold beer or three.......who could ask for more??

Kathy B said...

The "Dream" show was a blast. It was so much fun to see these guys having fun and not worrying about points. The competition was incredible! Jeff Gordon was awesome! Kyle Busch was spectacular! Edwards was on a rail. It was great and the best $25.00 I ever spent and it went to charity, too! I am so glad Tony arranged for it to be televised and I won't hesitate to buy it again next year. Anyone that missed it, missed a great evening of entertainment. It was just too bad Junior wasn't there.

Anonymous said...

Last night's show was better then all of the cup races this year. If NA$CAR could put on a show like Tony did last night, they wouldn't have to worry about the TV ratings going down! I throughly enjoyed last night event.

I'm wishing I could see an event like this every Sunday instead of the races we've been watching the past few years!

Bill in Illinois said...

The wife and I enjoyed it on PPV and it was really great except... Dish Network in it's infinite wisdom moved the broadcast to a different channel between the B Main and the Feature. We had recorded it on DVR since we work late. By the time we got to the point where the scrolled message told us what channel to switch to the event was over since we were watching it an hour and a half behind. I called and demanded a refund and will make a donation directly to VJGCamp. The NASCAR elite was missing Little E... what's up with that? But what we saw was really good stuff.

Julia said...

What an amazing night!!! It was just AWESOME! One of the best nights of racing I have seen in years!! You could tell how much fun the drivers were having by the looks of their faces!! Just seeing how excited they were, made it even more fun for me!! It was worth every cent of the $25 I paid! I am looking forward to next year already!

Prospector said...

@ bill in Illinois: We got burnt on the channel change also. Bet there were many in the same boat. To bad such a great nite and cause had to end with such a sour taste. One other thought - I am far from a Gordon fan but those that booed him last nite showed a tremendous lack of class. All GENUINE RACE FANS should have applauded ALL who did so much for VJGC regardless of their NASCAR prejudices.

Desmond said...

Thank you for a great night and a great telecast. Tony Stewart has long been one of my favorite drivers due to his blunt nature and his great heart. The heart clearly showed the other night. I want to thank HBO, Motorsports Media Entertainment and True Speed Communications for putting the telecast together.

DW could have been better, but he was actually not as bad as he is on FOX.

I also hope Dale Jr. comes next year.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thank you to everyone who shared their opinion of this event. We are working on getting the final numbers on the pay-per-view and will be reporting them immediately when they arrive. Look for them the latest.