Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Curious Case Of Michael Waltrip In Kentucky


Saturday night, the Craftsman Truck Series put on a great show at the Kentucky Speedway in front of a good crowd. As usual, the top-notch SPEED Channel production team was on hand to telecast the event. SPEED is the exclusive provider of Craftsman Truck racing, and has been a tremendous help for the series as a whole

Krista Voda anchors the pre-race show, and this week she was on the small set on pit road forced to hold a hand-held microphone. She did her best to keep things flowing until she was joined on the set by NEXTEL Cup owner Michael Waltrip. Then, things got a bit off-balance and remained that way. This often seems to happen when Waltrip is given free reign to take-over a telecast.

SPEED has a love and hate relationship with Waltrip, who has been a staple on the network for more than ten years. In many ways, the exposure that Waltrip gained from his participation in the original Inside Winston Cup Racing show helped to raise his profile and make his career. For a long while, Waltrip was an after-thought who was strong in the Busch Series, but struggled in the longer Cup events.

Since that time, Waltrip has been on a ton of SPEED programs that are no longer on the air. He is a favorite son of the network, despite shake-ups in senior management that resulted in other drivers losing their television jobs. For some reason, Waltrip is allowed to be a free spirit even when his antics are out of place.

This season, The Daly Planet wrote a column entitled "Michael Waltrip's Free Ride" that spoke about the way in which TV networks ignored a lot of Waltrip's issues while he continued to do work for them and also generated millions of dollars in TV advertising with his NAPA and Aaron's sponsors. His "free pass" has been true for both ESPN and SPEED.

Saturday in Kentucky, SPEED had a broadcast crew together that is fully capable of putting on a solid TV telecast. The former driver in the booth is Phil Parsons, who is the voice of the Truck Series and has been for many years. His extensive personal knowledge of the behind-the-scenes activity in this series shows on the air.

After appearing in the pre-race show to "hype" the event in his own over-the-top way, Waltrip assumed the role of the "second driver" in the booth, and proceeded to talk a whole lot about what was going on during the race. The problem was, when Michael talked, no one else could.

Sometimes, Waltrip would call the action and describe what was going on in great and excited detail. That is called play-by-play, and is done by Rick Allen, who was also in the booth. Other times, Waltrip would offer his analysis of events and describe what was being replayed on the telecast. That is called being the color announcer, and that has been done for years by Parsons. When Waltrip talks, they are forced to listen.

Both Parsons and Allen treat Waltrip with kid gloves, and for good reason. Like it or not, Michael Waltrip has a great deal of clout at SPEED. He is deeply involved with the network's Programming and Production teams, and continues to be the "king" of Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing, which still airs on Monday nights.

The big issue for fans is that Waltrip made a conscious decision to take a new path in his life that most would consider to be full time. That path was as an owner of a multi-car team racing in both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. Waltrip was, for many months this season, the public face of Toyota in NASCAR.

How is it then that an owner, fully invested in one brand, several sponsors, and several drivers, is allowed to comment as both a journalist and a reporter on a national network? Waltrip suddenly removes the hat that most owners work full time just to keep on their head, and immediately fans should understand that he is offering commentary and insight now as a TV announcer?

Earlier this season, SPEED quietly replaced Waltrip on their Tradin' Paint program with Kyle Petty. Waltrip had been the "designated driver" on that show for a long time, and it had been a good platform for his views. But, like the other shows that he continues to participate in, it was hard to understand that viewers should be able to just "flip a switch" and grasp that now....he was a journalist.

Waltrip is a smart man who is enamoured with TV. But, he made a decision to become an owner, and should have separated himself from the media when he took that role. The story of his up-and-down season is a nightmare, but regardless of his personal success in the owner's role, this TV issue is real. He routinely forces conversations back to his sponsors, and then plugs things in a joking manner when it serves him. Joyce Julius must have a crew that is assigned only to him.

The sponsor mentions that Waltrip does on the air are worth thousands of dollars every time. In the Saturday truck race, they were plentiful and obvious. He often assumed the play-by-play role to make these plugs, taking "the air" away from Allen until he was done, and then giving it back so the regular telecast could continue.

If SPEED can deal with the Toyota, NAPA, Aaron's, Goodyear, and other baggage that Waltrip brings with him to these telecasts, then we will continue to see him on the Truck Series shows. The network will let the fans decide if they are hearing information from the owner, the pitchman, the driver, or the TV announcer. Then the fans themselves will decide what to believe...is true.

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 taking the time to stop by.

38 comments:

vroom said...

Mikey has a big mouth, no doubt.

Many other announcers are owners too...Rusty, DW, Hammond, Mac-Reynolds, etc.

Jason said...

Wallace also has a kid in the event. He's not very interesting to listen to. While he is on camera, his gestures with his hands is irritating.

Anonymous said...

Kyle Petty is also an owner. The difference between him and Waltrip however is quite obvious. In the four or five races Kyle has called this year, or in his Tradin Paint show, I don't think I've heard Petty name any of his sponsors, even a single time. Kyle Petty is a pure professional, whether on the track or in the booth. Michael Waltrip on the other hand, is little more than a snake oil salesman who uses every opportunity to sell his wares. It gets old and irritating. Remember during interviews we'd laugh when Waltrip would name twenty sponsors in four seconds? people have stopped laughing, haven't they? Soembody just needs to pull the plug on this guy... soon.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious michael waltrip has a love hate relationship with NASCAR fans. it's always I love him or I hate him. no in between. Kind of like his brother! I would say this has been a rough year to the say the least for michael waltrip. I get the feeling doing these truck races is breath of fresh air for him. I do think he goes overboard with his sponsors, but he has done that for years no matter what role he was in...driving or TV guy.
Call me crazy about this but I love rick, phil and michael in the booth. YES, michael does go overboard with his stuff, but rick and phil play along really well. Here's the biggest thing about those three...they sound like they are having fun doing their job and it comes across the TV and into our homes. I enjoy listening to them. Unlike TNT's broadcast booth. they sound like three individuals calling a race and oh by the way....bill weber thinks he is host, pre-race guest, jokester, play by play, driving expert and anything else that I may have forgotten. this series on SPEED Channel is not just great racing ...it's good TV and I enjoy watching it.
what about this question...what was michael doing in kentucky? Krista on the pre-race show even mentioned it was michael first ever stand alone? do you think SPEED Channel executives are making him show a commitment to this series? maybe the free pass is going bye bye!!!
I'm a truck series fan and I like the way it is.

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SonicAD said...

One thing I found interesting was how, during the pre-race show, it sounded like they'd accidentally left a mic from the production truck live, and you could hear the guy talking to Krista. From someone who likes to see the behind-the-scenes stuff, that was really interesting to hear, despite that they were probably mortified when they realized they had an open mic for so long.

Anonymous said...

I'll take Waltrip over what ESPN is failing to produce.

Toyota will overcome. Ask to Big 3...or 2....or whtever they are. Oh, suppliers of jobs to union members.

Anonymous said...

Mikie is a big jerk, the biggies motormouth i have ever seen. i will not watch any program that he is on

Anonymous said...

Michael Waltrip is a prima-donna. I'd rather have a sharp stick in the eye than listen to his stupid self-serving nonsense! Kyle Petty brings so much more to the programs he is on.

Anonymous said...

This guy has received a free pass his entire professional career. First as DW's little brother got his foot in the door for a ride, then as Earnhardt's pal who was thrown a rope to drive the NAPA car. Results of both have been a decent Busch driver and a very dismal Cup career. He somehow used his 3 or 4 wins with DEI to become a team principle with the largest car manufacturer in the world. How did he treat that honor, by being caught cheating his first race out and barely making the show in 4 races. If I never heard his voice again even as a team owner it would be too soon, this guy and others like him is the reason young driver development has gone down the drain by taking up seats. This guy is like plastic shoes he's such a self absorbed phony.

outtaget1 said...

Nobody can get more sick and tired of mouthy waltrip than I am.. Either one as a matter of fact...

And Kyle Petty isn't much better.. I am sick and tired of any and all of the nascar 'pumps' as a matter of fact...

Where did REAL RACING go?

Surely not to the phoney show the france mob is promoing.

ronclaussentees said...

I understand what they all are trying to do, but after a while is gets old..the media needs to look at replacing their presents with new faces and voices...folks out here in the high desert will just go find something else to watch or do..and NASCAR et al will be the big losers.

Anonymous said...

Right on...Waltrip is a snake oil salesman.... He was funny at first on "Inside Nextel Cup" but now he's just overbearing and obnoxious.. I wonder too who's keeping him on the shows...he must own part of Inside Nextel Cup... he adds absolutely nothing to the show and you can tell everyone is afraid of him and afraid to say what they think...

As for the truck race, I'm sure his sponsors have said you need to get on the other telecasts and give us some air time.... so there he is... obnoxious!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

TiVo is the only thing that saves me when watching Inside Nextel Cup. Once Michael Waltrip begins one of his regular "love NASCAR and all associates" spiels, I fast forward until he goes away. He's engaging until you've seen him enough to recognize his hidden agendas. Basically, he's washed up as a driver yet will likely survive as an owner due to his BS abilities and will then situate his pompous ass behind a microphone until long after I'm dead.

Anonymous said...

OK, here's the real skinny on (Jaws II) Mickie..He is a terrible race car driver...He was ok in Busch before the so-called Busch-whackers started racing every weekend. In cup he was/is terrible...his only wins were in a VERY DOMINATE DEI plate car when DEI ruled Daytona and Talladega. Even when he raced for DEI he was NEVER a treat at any other race or track. If it wasn't for big bro (Jaws I)Darrell he'd be selling you over priced TV's or a radiator hose at one of his sponsors places. NASCAR has continued to ignore his so called falling asleep at the wheel story and for some reason the media reported it, and then, it kinda disappeared like nothing happened. Yes he's an owner but I'd say not for long. NAPA, UPS, Domino's, etc. will find a better qualified owner and/or team to invest their money into. I wish him the best but get him off the air so we don't have to listen to his self serving, con-artist style of broadcast reporting...Whew got that off my chest... Keep up the great work Mr. Daly

Anonymous said...

Mikey is a mike hog ,never shuts up and thinks the shows are made for him, I don't buy anything that sponsers him, I go to car quest now, if they have a Waltrip in the show, I avoid it, exept put up with D.W. cause I have no choice. pukity,pukity,pukity.

David said...

Yes, Mikey talks...ALOT! However, I feel like everyone has really piled onto Mikey all season. He probably needs to spend a little less time in front of the camera, and he has made steps in that direction but part of why his sponsors are involved with MWR and Mikey personally is because he does do his best to take care of them, even when the car is not up to snuff. To say he only had success with DEI means you haven't watched racing very long because back when he was with Bahari Racing he had very respectable runs in that #30 week in and week out. Winning on plate tracks? He has ALWAYS been good on plate tracks. I remember in the #7 he had 3 or 4 chances to win but parts failed or he came up just short.

You have to have people like Mikey for the simple sake of having a somewhat diverse lineup in opinions and personalities. I agree about his demeanor on INC and with Despain in charge no one is reigning Mikey in. He'll be successful as an owner so long as he puts the right people in place to help him.

I won't pile on like most here, he's Mikey. We have seen him for years and he is either love or hate as John said.

Anonymous said...

Mikey is ten times better than anything on ESPN, give him a break it's just entertainment, not brain surgery. If you don't like change the channel, at least you can understand what he says, unlike Phil Parsons who has marbels in his mouth!

Anonymous said...

to one of the anonymous writers who says kyle doesn't plug anything on the air? did you catch the conversation with john andretti before green?

they all do the same thing...they are drivers and owners!!!

it's their jobs...they get paid a lot to say it!!!

Deborah said...

If you have a problem with Michael being in the booth because he's an owner, than you should have a problem with the countless others who do TV work who have ownership interests in teams or other business relationships in the garage area. Maybe Michael plugs his sponsors more than others do, but how do you know that some of the others aren't pushing agendas that are beneficial to them in other ways? Rusty is constantly talking about his son Steve, driving his car which has given his son and that team a huge amount of exposure that I don't think they'd get without Rusty in the booth.

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Daly Planet Editor said...

Please continue to direct your comments to the topic of the column. If you would like to communicate with me, simply email me at the link provided. Thank you to all who left comments on this post.

Anonymous said...

Mikey is a good man - who has been around the sport is has owned a fully sponsored, 3 car NExtel Cup team for a whole 18 races - GIVE THE GUY A BREAK. Like someone mentioned above, either you love him or you hate. I like him - I HATE Tony Stewart. Smoke is the biggest baby this sport has EVER seen.

What a jerk.

annonymous said...
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annonymous said...
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annonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

There isn't a more boring bunch of booth people than when Rusty Wallace and Weber are doing the yapping.
Without Mikey INC would be nothing and it stays interesting even without Allen Bestwick. (tho I hate to say that)
I don't understand the dislike of a driver simply because he is also a showman.

Carol said...

If you don't want to listen or watch Mikey then switch the channel...duh..
He is the best spokesperson in nascar!!!! If you don't like him then thats your problem. For those who say he was drinking when he had his accident, I ask you," WERE YOU THERE????", probably "NOT"..........
CAROL

Anonymous said...

Mikey is definately outspoken and i've found alot are annoyed by that, but I for one (in a few thousand) who are not. If he gets his teams going in the right direction with the help of those he's hired (Ty Norris, Bobby Kennedy, etc) then he will have done something no one has ever attempted before by bring three teams to Cup in the same year in addition to the Busch ride that has been in business for ten years. For those of you who don't like him, Mute the TV or change the Channel!!!!!!!!!!!!. As for his street accident, I would imagine that he had been up and running since six am on that Friday morning and the accident occured at almost two am on Saturday morning. I for one would have been ready to doze myself.

Anonymous said...

Hearing information from the owner, the pitchman, the driver, or the TV announcer, as long as it is Michael Waltrip, it is better than anyone else that they can have on any of the shows or races. I would rather have him than any one else. And he is much better to look at, too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Blogger you seem to have posted your views but have removed comments from others,seems to me you have a problem I think you have the green monster in you and you are very sore about Mikey's success in Racing and Business and working for Speed,Mikey has worked hard to get where he is and that is his success,You need to pray and ask for forgiveness for your words of bitterness.Michael is a GOOD person just as other Racing drivers and I will support him everyday with prayers and praise,no one is perfect but we all do put our pants on one leg at a time and we must have tolerance of each other.

Anonymous said...

Those who can, do, those who can't, write about it in obscure unread papers.

Anonymous said...

What shows are you watching?, Mikey is awesome. He's been the same guy from day one. I guess you don't watch any Nascar related shows, HELLO...THEY ALL PLUG THEIR SPONSORS. If you don't like the broardcast, do what I do with ESPN. Mute it. I pay to get hot pass so I don't have to listen to Bill Webber. If you had an ounce of respect for anyone including yourself, you would jump on Mikey's bandwagon and pat the man on the back. He didn't go out and buy and established team, he built one himself. In my book, to even have 3 cars show up every week is a huge accomplishment. Yes he's had some problems and issues this year, ones that i'm sure all new and existing teams have, you are just blowing his out of porportion.
He should be congratulated, honored even. Get a grip and realize how accomplished this guy is. Not only his driving career, but his off the track career aswell. Get off his case.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Comments on this post that were deleted contained references to other teams, drivers, or networks not in the topic. Anyone is welcome to post their opinion on this site, that is the only purpose of this project.

Please refer to the rules on the right hand side of the main page to understand the only reasons comments are deleted. This site deals in opinion, not fact. If you would like to state your opinion, please do so. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Michael Waltrip has every right to be where he wants on a Friday night and he happened to be fulfilling an obligation to the Speed Channel to help with the Truck race.
It's amazing to me that someone would write about Michael in any kind of negative tone after the kind of year he has had. Whatever happened to rooting for the underdog? Some of you people must be living miserable lives to comment this way. This owner/driver may struggle for a couple of years but I will never have an unkind word for him.
Go Michael Waltrip Racing! Hope you can find a way to continue despite all of the haters who apparently would love to see you fail.

pTp said...

Looking over all of these reviews I have to somewhat agree with the anonymous person who said that michael, phil and rick sound like they are having fun. Just listen to them...I hear it too. Not all broadcasts have that. It can also come across in a studio show or studio show on the road...much like NASCAR raceday.

thank god for trucks and raceday on SPEED.

pTp

Anonymous said...

Lets face it, the people who bash Mikey and don't like him pluging his sponsers are jealous because their driver can't plug as well as Mikey. As an insider I know that his primary sponser isn't going anywhere. For those who decided to buy from carquest, go ahead and buy your parts there,see how long the junk lasts.