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 ESPN.com'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.
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