Saturday, March 31, 2007

Readers: A Response To Your Anger Over Eric Medlen's Passing

First of all, thank you for taking the time to express to me your frustration and anger with the media coverage of the untimely passing of Eric Medlen. I am an avid fan of the NHRA, and have been for over thirty years. It has also been my pleasure to have been involved with the NHRA in many capacities during my television career. They are truly a wonderful group of people.

The sentiments expressed to me about television's inability to cover, explain, and then follow-up on Eric's death are also shared by me. As we know, there is currently a significant credibility gap between the TV groups producing the events in the field, and the studio production staffs at the cable network news shows.

Even though ESPN hosts the NHRA coverage, and does an outstanding job, that does not translate to a base of racing knowledge back in Bristol, CT. Even though SPEED dedicates an hour to The SPEED Report, it does not increase the understanding or racing knowledge of the current hosts. Even though CNN covers the world, that does not allow them to understand how personal an incident like this becomes to those of us who live through racing...and how we yearn to know...why?

In my early days, we lost racers through a wide variety of problems that have been addressed, and fixed, over the years. Today, we are much more deeply upset when someone we value loses their life in racing. We all believe that these things are now, somehow, prevented from happening by our modern technology.

In time, the NHRA will release the information about how and why a normal testing run at an approved and safe facility can turn so fast. In the meantime, we can only continue to provide our support through the internet racing sites and There are several moving video tributes created by fans available on by typing Eric Medlen in the search function.

At this time, I am going to continue to limit the content of this site to NASCAR racing for the season. I greatly appreciate the fact that so many concerned people turned to The Daly Planet after this situation occurred. Perhaps, in the future, we will expand this media project to include TV coverage of other forms of racing. In the meantime, thank you again for taking the time to email us, and I join all of you in mourning this loss of a fine young man.

Fox Sports: Rick Allen Steps-Up To The Plate

NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series was racing this Saturday at Martinsville, and the NCTS announcing team from SPEED Channel got an opportunity to move up to the major leagues. The race was telecast live on Fox Sports, who allowed SPEED's Rick Allen to call the action and Phil Parsons to provide the color. Added to the mix was Darrell Waltrip in the booth as an analyst, and Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond downstairs in the Hollywood Hotel.

This interesting mix provided some unexpected synergy that energized both the SPEED and Fox Sports teams. As mentioned previously by The Daly Planet, Phil Parsons is one of the most underrated color announcers in NASCAR. He blended easily with the Fox pros and felt confident in swapping opinions with Waltrip and Hammond.

Rick Allen and Chris Myers are very similar in their style and delivery. Not perhaps the two most exciting announcers in sports, they are low-key and possess a dry sense of humor. When Allen is working alone, he sometimes seems like a fish out-of-water. With Myers along for the ride, it helped Allen to loosen up and put in a solid performance on national broadcast television.

It certainly seemed that Hammond and Waltrip loved this race. There was lots of fun while the trucks slugged it out, and put on the usual good short-track show. The SPEED Channel production crew showed the Fox Sports audience that SPEED puts on a solid telecast, and handles things a in a slightly more relaxed manner than the Fox NEXTEL Cup shows. Lots of low angles, in-truck cameras, and track trivia made first-time NCTS viewers comfortable with both the series and the track.

As the race wound down, Parsons stepped-up to the plate and assumed control of the facts in the race, including the race strategy and issues. Waltrip and Hammond enjoyed Parsons, and one had the feeling that there was real respect in the air where Parsons was concerned. Normally, Parsons is joined on SPEED by Michael Waltrip, who speaks over top of Phil and is always on his own individual agenda. This change was a positive one for SPEED, Fox Sports, and NASCAR.

There is always one "odd man out" in this type of relationship, and this time it was Krista Voda. This season, Voda has hosted an outstanding pre-race show that has energized the NCTS and been a fan favorite. For this race, Fox Sports and SPEED chose to continue to use Chris Myers as the "infield" host. In retrospect, it certainly might have been an interesting moment for all concerned to put Voda in charge of the Hollywood Hotel for this event. She has already proven her worth as a studio host, a pit reporter, and now a top-notch event host. Many of us thought she would have been a natural for ESPN's NASCAR Now, but for the time being we can still enjoy her talents when the NCTS pre-race show returns on SPEED.

For a race fan, Martinsville Speedway is a treat with its excellent facilities, good food, and southern hospitality. Today, the speedway was also a treat for those fans watching on television.