Sunday, December 9, 2007

Truck Series Banquet Almost Gets It Right


There are plenty of reasons why a lot of fans like the Craftsman Truck Series races on SPEED. The network stays with a stripped-down version of live racing that puts the focus back on the track, the teams, and the drivers.

SPEED provides a focused thirty minute pre-race show with a solid host and then runs the race. There is no Infield Studio, no sports updates, and no clutter. It's just racing.

After a good season that saw the TV ratings increase, SPEED hosted the Truck Series banquet in Florida and aired it on a tape-delayed basis. The venue was great, and the room was very TV-friendly.

SPEED's Truck Series play-by-play announcer Rick Allen and pre-race host Krista Voda co-hosted the evening, which presented a bit of a problem. While Allen is a great guy, and has done a solid job on this series, he is not the same type of "talk show" style host as the experienced Voda.

While he might have played a role in announcing the teams and winning drivers, Voda should have been given the opportunity to do what she does best...and that is talk to people. Instead, she sat in the "Ed McMahon" chair and hosted her interviews from the couch. Next season, she needs to be front-and-center without a partner.

After a great comedy set from comedian Craig Shoemaker, the mood in the room was perfect for some candid conversation mixed in with thanks to sponsors and owners. If there is any series where drivers still have the type of character that attracts new race fans, the Truck Series is it.

Beginning with David Starr, Krista Voda took turns candidly interviewing the top finishers of the season in her laid-back style. Unfortunately, most of the conversations were brief and then the driver walked off the stage right in front of the camera while the network went to commercial.

In a very strange format twist, SPEED only allowed one minute of time for Voda and Allen to speak with each of the top nine drivers. During this same time, the network ran over eighteen minutes of commercials and had time for a song from their musical guest.

As viewers clearly saw, most of the content was SPEED selling its own apparel products for Christmas mixed with network promos and occasional commercials. By the time that the championship presentations came around, viewers had already seen twelve commercial breaks.

They also got a clue that Voda's interviewing skills on this night would be limited to one quick question before being interrupted by Allen who promptly ended the conversation.

Certainly, the ability to feature the champion, his crew chief, and his owner was what kept this program from being as mediocre as the Cup Banquet. Ron Hornaday is a character, and NASCAR needs more drivers like him making speeches from wrinkled notebook pages they composed in the hotel room the night before.

A retrospective on this function might prove that two hours would have been a better timeslot, and allowed Voda to have several minutes with the drivers in the top ten. The informal setting of the TV talk show set worked well, as it had in the past.

If Allen could have directed traffic from the podium, and Voda could have interviewed on the set, things would have flowed much more smoothly.

As it went, SPEED once again presented itself as a very professional TV network and kept their reputation intact with a safe and clean telecast. The audience looked marvelous, as did Voda in her evening wear. It is too bad that the time was tight, as it would have been fun to see some TV bloopers from the SPEED crew, including Michael Waltrip and Ray Dunlap. As it was, the SPEED cast who worked hard on the races all season long...was never mentioned.

The Truck Series is poised once again for a great season in 2008, as many Sprint Cup teams are going to use this series as support for their COT efforts. With some additional cross-over from both the open-wheel and ARCA ranks, it will be interesting to see if this series will once again feature the most competitive racing in NASCAR.

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 and leave your opinion.

26 comments:

elena said...

Since I do not get SPEED, I did not get a chance to see the banquet. I does seem that one complaint is the lack of time to talk to the drivers. I'm sure that Krista would have loved to have had more that one minute.

I saw the Heisman Award presentation. Why not something like that for the tv part of the NASCAR presentation? There were no comedians and no special music. It was a wonderful hour of just the 4 players.

They had all the previous Heisman winners up on stage (just standing there briefly), and introduced each one. Beautifully nostalgic.

I realize that there were only 4 for the Heisman program, and in NASCAR we have 10, but maybe they should consider cutting out the non-essential for the televised portion of the program.

SophiaZ123 said...

JD

IMO, You are much too generous but I realize, SPEED 'USUALLY" does a better job. Me, I was all set for last years Truck awards-style presentation.

This year we got a painfully butchered, overly edited, commercial- bloated MESS. OUCH.

Yes, Hornadays' speech was worth it...I would rather see a guy read thru notes and ramble all over (though he kept apologizing for rambling) and be sincere, than a bunch of STEPFORD drivers reading off the teleprompters with no emotion. Also I have YET to read ANYWHERE about Hornaday's bout with hyperthyroidism unless that was from years ago and I missed it.

I wondered how much of this show ended up on the cutting room floor?

last year I thought the conversation with Krista was MUCH MORE RELAXED, laid back, and FUN.

The commercials after every drivers short soundbite was over the TOP even for SPEED. And if I see one more commercial with Melanie HYPING crap for Christmas I will scream. So unless somebody can give me a reason to watch SPEED, I shall not be tuning in again until February...well except maybe for some Speed Reports.

Same goes for ESPN but I am wondering..who is going to show the Busch banquet?

Also i wish SOMEBODY would post about the last Chasing Glory and if it will be repeated.

Searching for GOOD post season NASCAR shows is impossible without a warrant, map and breadcrumbs.

:-)

Anonymous said...

I would give the overall show an A grade. It started off fun and the comedian got everyone relaxed. I learned a few things and enjoyed hearing from the drivers. The one minute interview then 2 minutes of commercials was a bit much. At least 2 maybe 3 drivers between commercials, we would have still got the message.
Now in comparing to the Cup banquet, I enjoyed the truck banquet, I felt pained to watch the Cup banquet. Thanks JD
Glenn

Newracefan said...

JD I'm not sure we saw all the questions Krista asked of each driver. Perhaps it was a case of creative editing, can you find out how long the banquet actually was, the Cup banquet was 3 hours and they also had 10 drivers to award. If so there might have been more of Krista than we saw on TV. Perhaps we can get Speed to alot more than an hour next year. ESPN has slotted 1 hour for the Busch banquet and according to Nascar.com it was 4 hours, this should be interesting.
Even though it was commercial heavy I still enjoyed watching the banquet and Hornadays speech (He referances going over to the couch for more but we never saw it which is another reason I think we did not see everything). Kevin Harvick definately used the teleprompter but the content of the speech was heartfelt. The comedian was hysterical (Note to David Spade). The audience was more receptive to Fuel than we saw with Kelly Clarkson again Rock VS Pop goes better with Nascar. One more Banquet to go and then nothing til Daytona , how sad.

elena said...

to saphia123, There are no details, but NASCAR: Chasing Glory will be shown on Tuesday. My tv guide is central zone and the times are 4:30-5:00 and 5:00-5:30pm then College Football Live for 30 minutes and at 6;00 is the Busch Banquet.

elena said...

Oops, misspelled
I meant sophiaz123

SophiaZ123 said...

Elena

Thank you so MUCH.
I tried NASCAR.com but that site is a mess.
I used to use TVracer.com but now they only show a DAY at a time unless you "Pay".

Typos ok here, as we ain't got no edit button to change things like typo's, bad grammar, hot tempers! ;-0

Appreciate the information.

SophiaZ123 said...

If they had waited for commercials after every 3 drivers, I could've handled it..still the heavy editing was bad.

The HALL OF FAME deal a couple years ago was the same way....the dinner was a few hours and SPEED chopped THAT down to almost nothing. Still it was a disappointment compared to last year and I agree, leave Rick out of it and let Krista run the show.

Anonymous said...

JD, you keep mentioning a lack a NASCAR coverage in the winter. what about the SPEED Report? will you discuss the SPEED Report's NASCAR coverage in the winter? I know they are not a NASCAR dedicated program but they devote a good chunk of the program to NSACAR on a regular basis. Larry Mac and Jeff Hammond have been regular guests on this show.

Anonymous said...

Corrected typos:

JD, you keep mentioning a lack of NASCAR coverage in the winter. what about the SPEED Report? will you discuss the SPEED Report's NASCAR coverage in the winter? I know they are not a NASCAR dedicated program but they devote a good chunk of the program to NASCAR on a regular basis. Larry Mac and Jeff Hammond have been regular guests on this show.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The SPEED Report is not a NASCAR show and does not provide any regularly scheduled NASCAR programming.

What we are talking about is re-airing some of the season's best or creating new programs looking back at the season.

This issue will get more attention from The Daly Planet coming up after Christmas. Let's direct the comments back to the Truck Series Banquet...thanks.

JD

PammH said...

I was thankful that I taped the Truck banquet, as I could ff thru all the commercials. I give it a B grade, as I could tell it was waaaay edited. I'm sure Krista was much more prominent in the actual banquet. At least they showed the actual ring Ron received.

Tripp said...

This ain't no silk purse. But in a way, that's what made it interesting. If the Cup banquet was a 4, this would be a 6.

Craig Shoemaker was really funny. Imagine, a 21st century comedian that's clean and orders of magnitude better than David Spade.

The personalities of the honored drivers came to light, but not enough. John's right. These drivers generally had double helpings at the personality trough, and not enough time was given to let that show. Whoever encouraged the drivers to speak from a teleprompter obviously didn't know that these guys can shoot from the lip and often do. Oh wait. Nevermind.

Hornaday's speech, while a bit long was priceless. He clearly wanted to thank almost everyone and share a few stories along the way. Ron's clearly "just folks" and it's always a treat when he's in front of a microphone.

I have to agree with John about Rick and Krista's roles as well. Krista's on-air persona shares a lightness and good humor with those of Steve Byrnes and to a slightly lesser degree, John Roberts. Rick Allen, while very good at holding together the race broadcasts, doesn't have the same quality. Unfortunately the broadcast's mis-casting allowed neither Voda nor Allen to really play to their strengths.

Award banquets generally have a "sow's ear" quality about them which can easily oink up the airwaves. At least this Speed broadcast found a few quality threads.

SophiaZ123 said...

Tripp

So true about your comments about Rick and Krista.

If one didn't know better one would think Krista was simply "eye candy" for the show while we all know she is much more than that.

She knows her stuff, can hold her own and just happens to be a very attractive woman.

Which is more than we can say for 'some announcers' of either sex and I will not mention the stations they are on. I still miss Krista on Totally NASCAR which is the night time show I watched as I first got into NASCAR.

Then again, I miss a REAL DAILY show about NASCAR and not the "National Enquirer" version of NASCAR.

I do enjoy Rick Allen as well in the booth.

pTp said...

what would you do? so here's your task!

I would like you to take the 3 and half hour truck banquet and make it into a 1 and half hour show. that is actually 1 hour and 7 minutes of content on SPEED. Here's what you have to do. you have to show all 9 drivers (each driver was on stage for 3 to 6 questions), most popular driver award, the rookie of the year, plus hilight videos of each driver, show the comedian who will perform twice (both bits were very funny) and play at least one song of the band's two (and if your only going to show one song, please make it the new song from their album). some drivers and manufactures also won other awards...find a way to slip those into the show and now don't forget to leave room for the champion sponsor, crew chief, champion owner, the champion ring giveaway and the champions speech. just a little hint ... this last group of speeches are usually LONG.
good luck with your assignment

pTp

Thornton said...

The comedian that started it off was HILARIOUS! When you get EVERYONE in the room howling with laughter, including the drivers and ESPECIALLY the truck owners, that is an accomplished feat. And as in the races themselves, the show was stripped down and showed, (wait for it.....wait for it.....)
The Drivers! Imagine that, Brian. A show about racing and the drivers! Hornaday's speech was classy and from the heart. What a novel concept.
I firmly believe that the Cup banquet was NEVER about honoring the drivers, it was created for the sponsors, so they could get thanked endlessly (again). Because if you took away the time that it takes for drivers to thank their crews, and commercials, 85% is thaking the sponsors.Back to the Truck banquet: A little too short, and edited pretty badly; it still showed what it's all about: Drivers, fans, THEN the sponsors.

Daly Planet Editor said...

It's always fun when Anon TV folks stop by to give us the real scoop....thanks.

Daly Planet Editor said...

pTp,

If the format was two hours long, would that have been enough?

JD

Penny said...

I agree, the people at the truck banquet seemed more relaxed and seemed to be having fun, compared to the cup banquet.
Did any notice that Brian France wasn't even at the truck banquet, at least I didn't see him. What a shame, not to support all series. Maybe that's why everyone was having fun because he wasn't there.
I think the trucks have better racing then the cup. Maybe that's because NASCAR hasn't taken all the personality away from the drivers, like the did in cup.

Newracefan said...

JD, Thanks for clarifying after reading pTp's post I thought he/she must have attended. Glad to see the insiders are still listening.

Profound Protuberance said...

Hey, Planet, tell me something.

I'm in sales for a tech giant. I'm on a plane 4 times a week criss-crossing the country 50 weeks a year. I've stayed in more Hampton Inns, Westins, Sheratons, Hiltons, Ramadas, and (yes) Super 8's than I care to admit to. I have the beer belly to prove I've spent a career pouring through some of the finest sports bars in the nation.

Here's the point. SPEED is a bullsh*t TV network, with pitiful coverage that continues to shrink from the mainstream.

As a race fan, I am increasingly frustrated by SPEED's growing obsolescence. It's like the US dollar on the world stage, a has-been that gets no respect.

Bell the cat, Planet, SPEED sucks and it should release its stranglehold on the Trucks Series.

Admit it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

So PP,

Are you mad that SPEED is not on SpectraVision or what? Digital pay is the issue? I am not following your point.

They cover the Trucks like ESPN2 covers the Busch Series. Its a cable network that shows the entire series. What is it that makes you mad about their coverage?

JD

Profound Protuberance said...

DP, I'm not complaining about how SPEED covers the Truck Series, I'm complaining that the network is disappearing from the map, the incredibly shrinking network.

Daly Planet Editor said...

PP,

Back in October, SPEED hit the 73 million home mark which continued its stat as the fastest growing cable network in North America.

One of the big problems has been hotels and other "public" places that are not ready for digital cable, which is how SPEED is distributed.

This year, SPEED will begin a transition to HD that should be totally completed by the fall. That will set SPEED up to be in about 80 million homes and broadcasting in HD by Jan of 2008.

Not bad stats for a once struggling network that had a hard time breaking the 20 million home mark a while back. SPEED has now been on the air for over ten years.

JD

Anonymous said...

I made it a point to watch the awards show and agree with you on several things. It would've been awesome if they show was two hours long and if Krista Voda was doing the interviewing. She does such a great job with the drivers and seems like a real down-to-earth gal.

I noticed that Allen cut the interviews off, too, and this was disappointing. It would've been nice to hear more from the drivers.

Hornaday's speech was pretty darned good, as well. Off the cuff and definitely from the heart. I wonder if his first contract with KHI is framed and hanging on a wall somewhere. If it ain't, it ought to be.

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