Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Mike Mulhern Surfaces On "Tradin' Paint"
The Daly Planet once called Tradin' Paint on SPEED "the little series that could." This show was once considered a throw-a-way and has now attracted the attention of a big number of NASCAR fans for one reason. That would be Kyle Petty.
His addition to Tradin' Paint has made this little thirty minute show a must-see for serious fans and media members as well. The format is simple. John Roberts is the host, he throws out the topics and then directs traffic. Alongside of Roberts is Petty, who is the "designated driver" of the series. He appears in each show. Then comes the interesting part.
The third panelist is a random member of the NASCAR "media." This season, the definition of "media member" has been expanded a bit, and with good results. Formerly limited to print and "deadline" media folks, this season there has been a mix of TV announcers and reporters in the Tradin' Paint soup.
On this weekend, a face appeared that was familiar to fans of an earlier show on SPEED called Pit Bulls. This series was an attempt to get multiple media members together and let them discuss a variety of NASCAR topics. First, it was entertaining, and then it was a disaster. Eventually, it was cancelled.
Mike Mulhern, a NASCAR reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal, was an original Pit Bull member. After being introduced by Roberts on this episode of Tradin' Paint, he said to the panel "the last TV show I was on got cancelled because Brian (France) didn't like what I had to say." That is certainly one way to set the tone.
Robert pitched the "top 35" rule as the first topic. Petty, who is right on the "top 35" bubble, talked about his experience this season and then Mulhern stepped right in. Calling the rule completely obsolete, Mulhern got the Petty blood boiling in less than one minute.
"That's bull crap," said Petty. "Its to protect the teams that have run all the races!" Mulhern was not going to be swayed. Petty made the point that NASCAR teams are basically worthless when sold without any type of franchising, and this was NASCAR's only way. The points from the previous year helped the team's value.
Roberts led the now brawling duo into the "Car of Tomorrow Land" which Mulhern promptly called a complete "boondoggle" by NASCAR. Petty responded that it was the media to blame, and told Mulhern where the COT was concerned to "get off it." His point was to protect the sport and give the COT a chance to run its first full season.
The problems at Yates Racing allowed Mulhern to address a bigger issue when he called for Ford to "get their act together on things." Calling attention to Robby Gordon, Mulhern said "the whole Ford Motor Company (NASCAR) operation needs to be re-vamped." Petty himself was on the hot seat for his recent merger rumors, and he put them to rest by saying "we do not marry the first pretty girl that comes along."
Petty expounded that the nature of the current racing business forces the "four team" rule to be pushed in creative ways. Petty draws the line at housing more than four NEXTEL Cup teams under the same roof with one owner, no matter how "creative" the finances or ownership.
The strong words from Petty about Joe Gibbs Racing were interesting. In the on-going GM final year vs. Toyota future debate, Petty's point was that any in-house problems at Gibbs should have been discussed behind closed doors. "GM has the perfect right to be upset with Joe Gibbs," said Petty.
When the subject of impound races arose, Petty and Mulhern quickly agreed that NASCAR had to change the rules for next season. Both suggested either all races or no races being impound races was the only way to go. This one was easy.
John Roberts has been a workhorse for SPEED, and his preparation for Tradin' Paint is not exactly what it should be these days. How can you blame him with the way SPEED has squeezed every possible on-air moment out of him for the last ten months?
It may be time to consider a new host, like a Randy Pemberton or Wendy Venturini. This would allow some separation of Roberts from this one SPEED show, give another SPEED on-air talent a chance, and perhaps result in some more structured questions for the panelists. Roberts is great, just stretched way to thin by the network.
Tradin' Paint has gotten itself back on-track after a little excursion to "owner land" several shows ago, and that is great to see. Now, the only thing left is for the series Producer to pick top-notch personalities as guests for these last handful of shows. November should see this excellent series go out on a high note.
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