Monday, January 21, 2008

Economaki And Jarrett Featured On ESPN Classic

The ESPN Classic presentation of historic Daytona 500 races continued on Monday with Derrike Cope's moment in the sun.

The 1990 race was noted for its dramatic finish, with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. coming up just a bit short of the win after a flat tire on the final lap. The race itself featured wonderful teams and drivers from the past that fans had not seen for many years.

On this day, Ken Squier was joined in the announce booth by Chris Economaki and Ned Jarrett. This wonderful mix of personalities made for a slightly less dramatic, but much more informative TV program.

Squier proved once again to be the best play-by-play announcer in racing, by calling the action while allowing plenty of time for both Economaki and Jarrett to add to the commentary.

Fans who have not experienced Economaki's unique voice and unwavering curiosity about racing may have been in for a surprise. He peppered Jarrett with questions, provided lots of topics for Squier, and made many observations from his perspective as a veteran racing reporter.

Even back in 1990, Ned Jarrett was already the ultimate gentleman. He spoke when the time was right, and answered all the questions and provided all the expert commentary without any fanfare or hype. Often, his calm voice provided the perfect counterpoint to the excitement of Squier and Economaki.

CBS Sports unveiled its "bumper cam," which gave fans a view from the front of the car seemingly only inches above the ground. Added to the other in-car cameras and the great view from the Goodyear Blimp, the pictures were once again outstanding for their wide angles and views of cars throughout the field.

In this race, there were two pit reporters who still have a strong presence in motor sports today. Mike Joy and Dave Despain both displayed their very different personal styles, which worked well with the diverse personalities of racing back then.

It was interesting to see Despain as a crusading reporter, literally jumping into the middle of on-going situations in the pits and sticking that mic right in the faces of the rather surprised crew members and drivers. His interview of a disappointed Ken Schrader after falling out of this race is a classic.

Joy was his normal smooth self, with the ability to work in-and-out of the pit boxes seemingly without effort, and to gather information with a low-key and friendly approach. Even then, it was clear that Joy was welcomed by the teams.

The final five lap green flag shoot-out of this race was classic, with Squier hammering hard on the excitement button, and Jarrett providing the counterpoints. When Earnhardt finally had his moment, Squire took viewers through it professionally and kept the excitement high.

This program was once again an opportunity for new fans to sample the "old school" NASCAR TV telecasts and the men who provided the commentary. It showed the class and style that pioneers like Squier brought to the national coverage of the sport.

This program series continues next week at 2PM on Monday with the 1998 race that finally fulfills the dreams of Earnhardt Sr. in front of a screaming crowd. If you are going to tape any program in this series, this is the one.

Fans can vote on's NASCAR page for their favorite race in this series, and then watch a marathon of all six on the night before this year's race.

Update: ESPN Classic has just another NASCAR related program:

The 1989 Holly Farms 400 from North Wilkesboro, NC was a race featuring lots of rough short track driving and a wild last lap. Needless to say, once again Dale Earnhardt Sr. was involved. This time with Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine. The "DVR/TiVo theater" presentation will be aired at 3AM on Friday, January 25th.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed viewing this race and watching it unfold before my eyes. Everything from the announcing, to camera shots, to pit interviews, this was a great broadcast. When something happened on the track, they immediately cut to it, even if Dave Despain or Mike Joy were interviewing someone on pit road. The announcers didn't interrupt each other or use the same catch phrase over, and over, and over again. Finally, there were no fancy graphics demonstrating drafting, or a duck quacking along the bottom of the screen with a trivia question.

This could have turned into a very boring broadcast because it looked like the leader was running away from the field but the announcing team kept my interest from start to finish.

I really think anyone who is involved in broadcasting a race should be mandated to watch these shows so they can learn from the masters.

John, thanks for the heads up on the North Wilksboro race. I can't wait to see what happened.

Anonymous said...

JD, this seems like a good thing that ESPN classic is doing but, you make it seem like every NASCAR fan has a DVR and will be able to watch this. I don't have a DVR and I know for a fact the majority of fans do not have a DVR either. These these special re-broadcasts will just go unseen by most fans. What are these fans supposed to do? Why can't ESPN classic air these programs at a better time?

Anonymous said...

VCR's work, too, and just about everyone has at least one of those.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

I appreciate your situation. I got my DVR with my cable subscription for 8 dollars a month and it was worth every penny.

I would really suggest than any NASCAR fan get some technology that can simply record the output of the TV.

The DVR is best because of the digital issues that are on the horizon, and also for the fact that it is the property of the cable system, and if it breaks you can just get a new one free.

While I understand that in some places ESPN Classic is still not available, by now it should be standard for NASCAR fans to get recording technology of some kind in the home. Even a very cheap VCR (make sure it can get digital signals) will do the trick.

There is no doubt that we will see more and more programming placed on 24 hour networks specifically to be recorded. This allows the network to quiet down folks like us and still not touch their primetime line-up.

If SPEED had done this during the off-season with some of their outstanding original NASCAR programming, it would have been a smash hit.


Anonymous said...

My favorite part of this old broadcast was Mike Joy's explanation of what happens when it raims amd washes the rubber off the racetrack. To show how tires grips the track differently on a hot, greasy track vs. a green track, Mike and CBS did not go into a "tech center" or to a "cut-a-way" car or use fancy computer graphics. He used sandpaper (the track), an eraser (the tire) and a bottle of water (poured onto half the sandpaper, to signify a "greasy" track.) It was a simple demonstration, done on pit road, in less than 30 secs in a small box next to the race.

Anonymous said...

This was a really great cup race to watch today. I still felt that the broadcasters were so sure that Ken Schrader was going to win even starting last or then after Kenny's car blew up, then they were certain Earnhardt would then win and he didn't. To everyone's surprise Derricke Cope won. They showed too much of Kenny & Dale to suit me when neither won but it was still 100% better than 2007 cup broadcasts.

Bobby said...

Note too that the network's normal Daytona 500 director, Bob Fishman, was later diagnosed with cancer that year and started treatment shortly afterwards, missing his NCAA Basketball Tournament assignment. A get-well wish was given by the production truck at Denver of that match to Fishman, who would not do another NASCAR event until the 1993 500. Artie Kempner, current Fox director, was on the CBS staff at the time as an associate. Kempner is Fishman's protege.

Ritchie said...

I REALLY miss Ned Jarret. I long for the days of his expertise and professionalism. Ned's willingness to learn a new craft (broadcast announcing) was important to his ability to come across as someone that you can trust. This was extremely important to NASCAR's future and I don't believe that was lost on the senior Jarret.

I know people think it is slightly humorous to hear DW say "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity...), but like it or not, it reinforces terrible stereotypes about stock car racing. I know people in this and other forums comment on how poor grammar and unprofessional behavior doesn't matter, but if you want the sport to expand in popularity, professional broadcasting etiquette matters. Ned understood this; I wish others would figure it out as well.

Tripp said...

A very interesting broadcast of what could have been a boring race.

What's remarkable about this telecast in contrast with what's offered today is that they covered the racing all over the track. The big story was Schrader in the early part of the race and they followed that, but his car broke they turned to all the other drivers who were making moves on the track. Contrast that and CBS's wide shots with the myopically tight shots of Jimmie and Jeff in Homestead last year. It's clear how the state of Cup race coverage has devolved.

This broadcast however suffered from some of the same issues we endure today. Full screen graphics invaded the screen during green flag racing and then Theresa Earnhardt replaced the racing in the final laps. Finally, we did not see more than a small handful of cars crossing the finish line (although that could have been an edit made in post).

The on-air team was terrific. Ken Squire, on top of his game, showed that no one can top his talent for directing the viewers attention to the key action on the track. He was smooth and seamless. Hearing Chris Economaki took me back over 40 years to when he first taught me about the draft and the old sling-shot pass. He was integral in making me a race fan. Finally, "Gentleman Ned" was a delight with his unhurried and thoughtful comments.

There was fun stuff on pit road as well. Joy was great, as always. Despain brought his energy and unique approach to make pit road a more interesting place. Hobbs was relegated to a more background role than he had played in other CBS broadcasts, which was a good move as he was out of place in NASCAR's world.

Finally, Mike Joy's effective use of water, sandpaper and an eraser show that a relatable demonstration can drive home a point more effectively than any fancy graphics or cutaway car. It's also more fun.

This telecast showed that a quality team can take a potentially boring race and turn it into a riveting event for the viewers at home. This talent is apparently missing from some of the networks currently bringing us Cup races and that's a shame for the fans.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I guess if you post criticism about FOX or it's broadcasters it's going to be removed by Daly. If you criticize ESPN you will be OK,sure to remain.

Anonymous said...

Ritchie is right on. Ned Jarret has a strong southern accent but because he honed his craft and was true to himself, he was WELL RESPECTED, beloved, and looked upon as very smart.Whereas DW also has a strong southern accent, but is looked upon as a BUFOON and his intelligence is questioned, as he tries to be funny and witty, which he is not.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:01PM,

Where did that come from? If you think something is wrong, just email me. The comments section is for conversation about the column that day.

No problem, just drop me a line at anytime.



Anonymous said...

For another effective example of a simple, yet effective visual aid without fancy graphics, watch the 1982 Indy 500 on ESPN Classic if you get a chance. You'll see 3-time former F1 champ Jackie Stewart demonstrating how a car understeers using a die-cast car.

Anonymous said...

If you were to read Ritchie's comment above VERY, VERY, CAREFULLY,this is a major CRUX of the problem with today's broadcasts and hope today's broadcast personnel and those responsible take note. DJ, welcome to the booth, but you are nowhere near where your father was as a broadcaster ,so do your homework and make him proud.