Saturday, July 28, 2007

Busch Race Finish Lost For ESPN Viewers


There was a good mood going when ESPN took to their airwaves with the Busch Series race from ORP as a part of the big Indy weekend. Fan favorite Mary Reid was back, and alongside of him in a "fill-in" role was former Busch Series driver Randy LaJoie. Down on pit road, ESPN broke out veteran Jack Arute along with newcomer Shannon Spake and IndyCar's Vince Welsh.

As a new group of announcers, things went quite well after the initial on-camera "opening" segment. LaJoie was not very happy to be dressed in a coat and tie with the nation staring at him, and looked as if he was trying to decide between fleeing or throwing-up. Thankfully, he chose to stay.

The Busch race at this track is normally a beating-and-banging affair, even if the second groove at the bottom comes in. This was no exception, with the normal spins and hot tempers. However, it was a good mix of veterans and newcomers racing, so it had a lot of fun elements.

Marty Reid eventually got Randy Lajoie to relax, and his funny and entertaining personality finally got a chance to come through. In person, LaJoie is hilarious. Reid worked hard to get Randy in the flow, and he responded by keeping the good information and the good humor constant throughout the telecast.

Jack Arute is a little rusty, and his reporting was spotty at best. Both Spake and Welch worked hard on pit road to keep on top of the breaking stories, and ESPN deserves credit for quickly reporting on two crew member injuries that looked a lot worse on video than they were in real life.

As the race wound down, ESPN seemed poised for a classic finish with the entire field streaming nose-to-tail for the line banging off of each other. Veteran Greg Biffle was first, and trying to hold off the open wheel veteran Jason Leffler. Toyota's David Reutimann took some hard knocks in the closing laps, but Leffler got around both drivers and was in front as the checkered flag fell.

Unfortunately for TV viewers, the only people who saw any car other than the winner finish the race were in the stands. ESPN fell squarely in the same trap that got Fox Sports earlier this year. For some strange reason, the Director and Producer chose to show TV viewers nationwide the winning pit crew jumping around instead of the entire field of cars crossing the finish line.

If this had been a superspeedway, it might have been OK. But, as it happened, there were several incidents before, during, and after the finish that ESPN totally missed because of this one mistake. NASCAR fans had to watch the winner slowing down and waving even as other cars spun, bumped, or continued to settle some issues that may have arose on the final lap.

Marty Reid struggled to keep his demeanor while describing the "other things" going on after the finish that were different from the sanitized version that ESPN chose to show the TV audience. What a shame that a good race, with a good announcing team, could be ruined by one bad decision from the TV truck.

I never saw my driver finish. I think he was in the top five. Many fans never saw their driver finish, even if he was fighting tooth-and-nail for a spot on the final lap. Just like Fox, the TV crew decided that they have the right to limit the finish of the race to just the car, or cars, that they choose. That is fundamentally wrong.

Does anyone believe that there was even one fan at the track that watched the winner of the race cross the stripe and then put their hands over their eyes? That makes absolutely no sense when you have over thirty cars screaming toward the finish line at high speed on a short track. How then can the TV Producer and Director decide that anyone watching at home should see the winner, and then see nothing?

If ESPN decides that fans only need to see the winner of Sunday's Brickyard 400 cross the finish line and no other cars, there is going to be a problem. ESPN might have gotten away with this Busch mistake because only The Daly Planet has the guts to address this issue, but if they try to pull-it off on the NEXTEL Cup race, even the "gravy train" national NASCAR media types might perk-up and notice.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for stopping by, and leaving your opinion.

14 comments:

bevo said...

Amen John!
Cars are banging all over the place and we see a bunch of pit guys jumping around. This is the end result of directors and producers who are trained to "tell a story" instead of showing a sporting event. They're too brainwashed to realize that sports,especially motorsports,have plenty of drama in the action itself.

Just cover the action!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that this was not the same production crew that is doing Sunday's race and since ESPN has usually shown the all the finishers at the end of the race this year, I will let this one mistake slide. If this becomes a trend however....

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when people who think playing the audio of 43 radios at the same time is "exciting" produce race coverage.

It's not what race fans want to see, but that doesn't seem to matter anymore.

projectpappy09 said...

I'm betting tonight's race was produced by the IndyCar team, who usually only show the winner. Now, if they do the same thing tomorrow, I won't be frustrated, because the zoom-to-flagman shot there always looks pretty cool to me.

Tripp said...

I would disagree that Arute's work was off the mark. Aside from one report that was a little balled up or a lame attempt a humor, Jack provided good and timely information.

Reid and LaJoie were a treat to the ears. Marty was much looser than he normally is on the Indy Car broadcasts.

vroom said...

It's almost funny because it would take less than one minute to show the entire field cross the checkered finish line!

Anonymous said...

John I couldn't agree with you more! What a joke! Although I may disagree a bit with the announcing crew. I also thought they were a joke. If this wasn't a night race, I would have went outside and watched the grass grow.

Anonymous said...

I "saw" the end-and I liked the way you characterized it:

"Does anyone believe that there was even one fan at the track that watched the winner of the race cross the stripe and then put their hands over their eyes?"

I see a bunch of guys jumping up and down but no finish or post race altercation.

Evidently something happened, since Stephen Wallace (again) ran into something and we saw a clip of him driving and looking as if he was going to pull a Cole Trickle on Rowdy Gaines. But that was it. A few short seconds and then cut away.

Man, I just hope today is better.

I missed the start and middle so I did not know it was Rany LaJoie in the booth. I could tell, however, he knew what the heck he was talking about. I don't know if he'll be as good as Kyle, but a good choice.

Ari said...

I agree with your assessment too. I was frustrated not to see what caused Steven Wallace to get banged up at the finish. He was clearly upset about something since he took his window net down and was shaking his fist.

I also agree with the previous comment that playing all 43 scanners at the drop of the green flag is dumb. What might be interesting though is to play the scanners of just the 2 or three cars fighing to lead the first lap. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

I have always been p--- off at the way the end of a race is televised no matter who is doing the tv work on the last lap they always show the leader driving around by himsel no matter what is going on behind him, then they show the pit crew or talk to the crew chief instead of showing whats going on out on the track. They act like we were watching an F1 or indy car race, where there is never any good raceing going on. Talk about watching your grass grow.

bevo said...

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that this was not the same production crew that is doing Sunday's race and since ESPN has usually shown the all the finishers at the end of the race this year, I will let this one mistake slide. If this becomes a trend however....

July 28, 2007 10:08 PM


You were saying?

Steve L said...

I too was not happy with any of the coverage. The announcers were horrible. I thought Rusty and Petre were bad but this was just plain awful!
I'm so ready for this season to be over, the aggravation is just too much.
I think every week they should have a fan to join in with the race announcers. Go into the stands, pluck someone out of their seat, and take them up into the booth. At least then they would have a reason for it to stink....

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately for TV viewers, the only people who saw any car other than the winner finish the race were in the stands."

SAME THING TODAY FOR THE CUP RACE!!

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THESE IDIOTS AT ESPN JUST SHOWING THE FIRST CAR FINISH?
I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT SEEING THE CREW MEMBERS JUMP UP & DOWN ON PIT ROAD!

SHOW THE TOP 10-15 CARS FINISHING THE RACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jimicement said...

Randy has moved to the top of my list of favorite commentators. I like him on Sirius NASCAR radio in the afternoons every once and awhile. However, live racing is where he need to be. He sounds like a race car driver and different than anyone else ESPN has ever put on the air. He got my attention. The bad part is that ESPN probably has a small closet reserved for him right next to Bestwick's.