Sunday, January 13, 2008

NASCAR TV Doubleheader On Monday

After the first week of NASCAR TV in 2008, things continue on Monday with a doubleheader.

ESPN Classic is first-up with its continuing series of Daytona 500 highlight programs. This Monday's offering is truly a classic, and NASCAR fans should make sure to try and record this 2PM Eastern Time offering that runs for two hours.

The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first time this race had been televised live from start-to-finish. As our old friend Ken Squier would say, flag-to-flag coverage. On this day, much of the East Coast was kept inside because of a big snowstorm.

With most households still without cable TV, viewers found that they had a live sporting event from Florida on network TV that looked like a lot of fun. Little did they know this one race would change NASCAR forever.

CBS Sports had just unveiled a new TV gizmo they called an "in-car camera." This "driver's perspective" completely changed the experience of watching high-speed stock car racing for the viewer. The network also used low-level cameras for "speed shots." That is where the camera stays still, and the cars zoom past in a big bunch. After all these years, it is still a fan favorite.

After early problems in the race, Cale Yarborough made his way back through the field to find himself battling for the win on the final lap. His attempt to pass Donnie Allison resulted in Allison forcing him into the infield, which caused his car to spin.

Ultimately, Yarborough collected Allison and they spun into the infield near Turn 3. This handed the race to Richard Petty. Normally, this would have been the end of the show, but before the snowbound New Englanders could turn the channel, Ken Squier said those now famous words.

"There is a fight on the backstretch!" screamed Squier. Donnie's brother Bobby, also in the race, had stopped his car at the accident scene. Cale thought Bobby had blocked him in the final laps, Donnie thought Cale had wrecked him and Bobby to this day still says he only stopped "to give his brother a ride back to the pits."

Needless to say, the resulting discussion between those three parties did not result in an agreement. As the picture above documents, what fans nationwide saw was a good old post-race stock car brawl.

For veteran stock car fans of that era, a fight after a race was just part of the regular entertainment. But, for the New Englanders glued to their TV's, it was absolutely amazing. Remember, this was the first Daytona 500 televised nationwide from start-to-finish.

On Monday morning, NASCAR found itself as the headline of the New York Times Sports Section. The combination of snow, great TV production and amateur fisticuffs had put NASCAR front-and-center in the national media. "The fight" was talked about for weeks at water coolers across the country.

Monday is a rare opportunity for new fans to look back and enjoy truly classic racing TV production. This outstanding series continues for the next four Mondays on ESPN Classic at 2PM Eastern leading up to the Daytona 500 weekend.

Over at SPEED, the pre-season testing shows continue on Monday at 6:30PM with John Roberts hosting coverage of the second group of Sprint Cup teams at Daytona. Roberts is joined by Jeff Hammond, Larry McReynolds and Bob Dillner for these programs.

The network has stepped-up coverage, and had a very good first week of shows. Roberts anchors from the Daytona Infield TV studio, and Dillner has been able to get very open and honest comments from many drivers and crew chiefs about this new season.

So, Monday should be a good day for one historic race on ESPN Classic, and one up-to-the-minute Sprint Cup testing show from SPEED. Remember, the SPEED testing shows this week are at 6:30PM because of "the auction." I have no further comment on that topic.

Feel free to give us your comments about both shows, but please do not add more "I do not have ESPN Classic" comments to the page. Just like many other networks, ESPN is struggling to grow this network on a national basis. Direct your frustration to your cable company about this problem with email that includes what you wanted to watch on ESPN Classic.

For over a year now, I have been advocating that one big way to get cable companies to provide ESPN Classic is to include regular NASCAR programming. Let's hope ESPN responds.

On this post, please tell us what you thought of the programs, and if you are interested in more historic NASCAR programming being shown on the ESPN Networks.

To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the simple instructions. There is nothing to join, and we do not require your email address. We just want to know what you think of these NASCAR TV programs.


Anonymous said...

As much as I love NASCAR and hate to see the shows get shuffled around, the actual annual Barrett-Jackson auction (not the numerous repeats and other related shows) is a big deal. I'm not surprised it is pushing Dautona testing coverage up a bit.

Anonymous said...

Why should we ask for ESPN Classic? All of the NASCAR programming should be on ESPN or ESPN2. NASCAR should have made that clear in its contract.

That's like the NFL demanding that customers ask cable for the NFL Network. Their plan isn't working and they had to move their biggest game to network television instead.

Not to mention that anything on ESPN2 is doomed to lower ratings. A sports media analyst noted ESPN is trying to brand ESPN and ESPN2 as the same network (basically meaning they hope when we say ESPN we mean ESPN2 and vice versa). As he said, the problem is, they're not the same, based on the programming types. Adding ESPN Classic to the mix would be even worse. They need to get rid of the endless poker and reality show reruns on ESPN2 to make room for live NASCAR programming, not send viewers to yet a third channel to see NASCAR.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:43PM,

Perhaps, my choice of words was not very good in the close of my column. All of the current NASCAR programming is already assigned networks in the TV contract.

ESPN/ABC for the Sprint Cup, and ESPN2 for both the Nationwide Series and NASCAR Now. What I would like to see is historic NASCAR programming on ESPN Classic.

There are tons of outstanding NASCAR shows and races from decades ago gathering dust because of contractual problems and other issues.

As the former VP of the company that is now NASCAR Images, I can tell you most of those are sitting on the shelf in Charlotte, NC at the NASCAR Images HQ.

Mobilizing that product to air on ESPN would give both the network and the company a boost.

Thanks for your comment, I am sorry if my earlier words got things off-track.


SophiaZ123 said...

Thanks for the reminder, JD! Got a note on my bathroom mirror to tape this tomorrow. :-)

LOVE THE PHOTO at the top of this column.

Shame about all the stuff collecting dust. NASCAR has much to prove this year.

But I agree with anonymous..we STILL don't have NFL network but saw many of the big games on network apparently or TW was going to lose a LOT of customers but then again, many were not thrilled beinig held hostage to go 'satellite.'

NASCAR and others need to think about this before DEMANDING ONE CHANNEL.

We don't have Big 10 I don't know the answer. CHANNEL ROULETTE on ESPU stinks, I know that.

Thanks again for the reminder. I can't wait to see the one where they all line on on pit road for Dale Sr. That was before my NASCAR viewing days...and say whatEVER you want about Dale, Sr...there was SOMETHING special about the guy to make all the crews line up to high 5...something on video I had never seen before and doubt if we will see the likes of that again.

Anonymous said...

Yes, JD, I too would like to see regular programs on ESPN Classic of the races you mention. I have enjoyed those that the network does show. There are so many more as you stated at NASCAR Images. Oh my, just think of the memories that we could all enjoy. But politics and contracts for the sake of money seem to get in the way

Kingston, NY

Shorebilly said...

Can someone explain what was the reasoning behind airing the 2007 Nextel Cup Banquet on ESPN was friggin live, not some event taped decades ago!!!
I happen to be one of the few who actually gets all of the ESPN offerings, and I think that the ESPN talent pool is a bit thin for all of their venues. ESPN needs to recognize that the average NASCAR fan is not an idiot. ESPN should require their "on air" talent to actually learn which drivers are in the respective cars, or simply hire some "on air" staff that is willing to do so....I'm sure that there are many young TV persons who would willingly learn "who's who of NASCAR' in order for a chance.
Bottom line ESPN's coverage of NASCAR sucks, and I hope that the NASCAR "powers that be" will penalize them for "actions deemed harmful to stock car racing"....NASCAR seems to have tied up everything else in endless legalese, surely they have a means to chastise and/or revoke ESPN's contract!!!

Bill H said...


My Directv guide has been showing for the past week Preseason Thunder on at 6pm & 6:30pm. Do you know, is this a repeat or is it on for an hour?


Anonymous said...

SPEEDTV shows them on at 6 & 6:30 this week, Why is this a bad thing when at 7pm they are airing a live event??? mon is pinks but rest of week is the live auction. They are keeping a taped Nascar in same timeframe all week(6-7), so you have no problem finding it.

GinaV24 said...

I would just like to see a little consistency on the time of when things are going to be on ESPN or ESPN2. I don't have enough time in my life to "chase" the programming around. I'd love to watch the archives of the races, it's why I upgraded to digital cable only to find out that my cable company doesn't offer it in my area. (I know, John, contact them don't complain to you). The trouble is there is no leverage for most consumers with the cable companies, they, like NASCAR, are a monopoly. I remember watching the 1979 race on TV and the headlines afterward and I'd love to see the Classic races again. I agree with the one poster -- rather than poker and whatnot on ESPN2 show some NASCAR programming.

Bill said...

No need to record this one. The entire race is available on dvd. All you have to do is buy it. Last time I checked you could still get it at Amazon (as well as the 1997 and 1998 500's).

Daly Planet Editor said...

Sohia: ESPN bought this network from another company and was not able to make it work financially with advertisers using only classic programs. The network had its new program production budget cancelled, and now only shows programs directly from the ESPN library. After a year of this, it is time for ESPN to invest in this concept again and focus the classic programming on the sports viewers want, not the programs the network already owns.

shorebilly: All three of the banquets are outdated and going downhill fast. ESPN only has seventeen NEXTEL/Sprint Cup events, so they really do not care about a banquet dealing with all 38 races. We are lucky it was televised at all. And, as usual, even with Jerry Punch working hard as the MC, it was horrible. Needless to say, I do not think we will be seeing Kelly Clarkson around the sport anymore!

We have suggested, along with lots of folks, that the banquets move to Las Vegas for a couple of seasons until the NASCAR Hall of Fame is built in Charlotte, and then NASCAR is almost certainly going to move the Trucks and Nationwide Series to that location. If they choose to keep the Sprint Cup banquet in NYC, it will only be because they wrongly believe that the NYC media has the same power as they did twenty years ago. Boy, is that every wrong.

Bill: I believe the first thirty minutes is the recap show from Friday. It is listed as a re-air.

Anon 7:10AM: It is not the air time I am making a comment about. It is the fact that hours and hours of old Barrett Jackson programs can appear on SPEED as a lead-up to this year's auction, but NONE of the NASCAR programming from this season was re-aired.

Gina: If your cable company believed they could sell ads on ESPN Classic and make money, you would have it tomorrow. With a regular block of NASCAR programming that could be sold locally, ESPN could get that network to expand very quickly.

Anonymous said...

You know, ESPN really ought to be afraid to show "Classic" NASCAR telecasts, because they're going to highlight how poor the current ESPN product truly is.

nj_dan said...

interesting column. after reading the prior comments, i'm afraid i'm going to be in the minority here, but i have absolutely no interest in seeing old archived races, no matter what channel they are on. Difficult to express why, exactly, but there it is.

red said...

my cable provider charges for espn classic and, to date, there hasn't been enough of interest to merit paying for it. so, some thoughts:
1. i just finished watching the '79 daytona for the third time since i bought the dvd last week. there's so much that we could discuss: the outstanding coverage, even at that early stage in the nascar broadcasting game, the race itself (some amazing racing went on), the differences between "back in the day" and today. i highly recommend buying the dvd and enjoying it on your own!
2. one of the moments that nascar has missed is bringing the history of the sport forward to the fans of today. i always suspected there must be more footage out there than we get on 'back in the day' with dale but no one seemed willing to put it out there, perhaps as off-season programming. so now, espn is doling it out, one race at a time, on a secondary channel? i am underwhelmed.
3. seems to me that i can always find stick 'n ball coverage, every day of the year on a wide variety of channels. but once we finish homestead, nascar disappears from view. i have difficulty reconciling that reality with the statements of how many millions of fans there are for our sport. i would have thought broadcasters would want to jump on the bandwagon in a big way, especially in the off-season, when we're jonesing for the sounds of those engines.
4. so, i guess it's a start but i would suggest that espn2 would be a better location for such vintage programming and would go a very long way to erasing some of the doubts fans have about espn's commitment to the sport.
5. and nascar really needs to get writers and film editors to work and put out more on the incredible history of our sport, especially the pre-modern era!

Anonymous said...

JD Thanks for a good remember when moment - yup we got the DVR set. I would love to see more Classic NASCAR on the classic channel!Wow I thought all the "old stuff" was gone since we never get to see it!We have been burning them to DVDs so we have them to watch whenever.

This 79 Daytona was the one where we had friends who had never watched an entire race in person cuz they "didn't want to drive all that way" to "just watch cars go in circles" become addicted.

I am greatful that Speed has chosen to have the same starting time every day this week - makes it easy to set the DVR!

I agree with those who think espn2 should lose the poker games etc., and add the racin' at race times & have NASCAR as the primary "show" during race season. And with people who know what they are talking about!

GinaV24 said...

John, you're probably right about the ads and why my cable provider is obstinate about it. LOL

GinaV24 said...

Oh, I have to say that I thought it was pretty funny that someone sabotaged DW's poll. I know it's off topic, but how many people think the voting is fair in a lot of the other "polls" and contests out there. How about the Most Popular Driver one? Can you say rigged?

SophiaZ123 said...

WOW! I love the old text on the screen.

Large easy to read fonts. NO FUSSY FANCY FONTS on a cluttered back ground making it IMPOSSIBLE TO READ !!!!

Course, ESPN has to still SHOVE The ticker on the bottom at us (Our right to know (about other sports) supersedes our right to exist and JUST ENJOY THE RACE!)

without all the clutter you can just WATCH the race without getting dizzy.

Also these old engines really bellowed and sounded cool. The guy announcing sounds like the that does the F1 on Speed to me.

Anyway, yes, ESPN SHOULD be embarrassed (AND FOX TOO since FOX started the over cluttered mess with ALL SPORTS)

If only this A.D.D. society could go back to LESS CLUTTER on the tv.

This is great stuff.

stewnior17 said...

espn is horrible. it disgusts me how it is so obvious that they care so little about nascar. in there broadcast of what is supposed to be the 1979 daytona 500, the graphic in the corner of the screen says 1976. its like they put this all together in five minutes. i imagine someone at espn had to notice this glaring mistake. but all of us nascar fans, and the great historic importance of this race, obviously weren't worth the time to fix it.

slithybill said...

I love watching this old race. As a kid I used to go to the Firecracker 400 every year when we visited my grandparents during summer vacations. DIS holds a special place in my memories. I was living in Oklahoma when this race took place and I got to see it live on TV!

I'd love to see more "vintage" races. Love Earnhardt Jr's "Back in the Day". I wish ESPN and SPEED would show more. During college football season ESPN Classic is always showing old football games leading up to the classic rivalries of the weekend: OSU/UM, UT/OU, UF/FSU, etc... They could do the same throughout the Sprint season with old races on the same tracks like they're doing with Daytona.

By the way, I hate to criticize ESPN since I'm enjoying the program, but it sure would be nice if they could change their slug in the upper right corner from "1976" to "1979". 45 minutes in and I guess no one at the network is paying attention...

As much as I like the clutter-free look, I have to admit I do miss the ticker at the top of the screen showing the running order!

slithybill said...

Gotta give ESPN their due...they've gotten rid of the "1979". Looks like they pulled it right after Stewnior17's post pointed out the problem. They pulled the slug off and left it empty until the commercial break, then came back from the break with a generic ESPN Classic slug, and now at 3:00 they've got the "Best of Daytona 500" back up with the right year of 1979.

Way to go, ESPN! Way to immediately fix a telecast in progress!

Anonymous said...

Way to go, ESPN! Way to immediately fix a telecast in progress!

Now, if they'd just do the same with their current race coverage, we'd all be happy!

Daly Planet Editor said...

You have to admit, that was pretty wild. At least we know what some ESPN folks are reading on their desktops at work.

Thanks again for the correction.


SophiaZ123 said...

I was across the room and tried to tune out the corner see thru graphic. THANKS for pointing out the error...I ended up putting in a tape as they butchered this with commercials something fierce. And cut Ken Squire (sp) off abruptly at the end....geez. but I am glad they corrected the date that others noticed! Thanks ESPN.

Still love the CLEAN SCREEN and we watch the F! race w/o constant clutter on the screen and always know what's going on and the commentators are not in the same country. Here we have stooges in the booth AT THE TRACK and they give out less info.

I can't get over the NATURAL SOUND as well..when the cars wrecked and brakes squealed, we heard it. How did they do that back then but we here LITTLE 'natural noise' today JD?

We sure an hear the loud bumper music but I miss hearing MORE FROM THE TRACK.

Course we don't want the noise to be above the commentators...but I do hope FOX EXTENDS their crank it up segment more often. Best part of their racing.

Also, I wish they would've shown more of the hyped up fight ...they said they would get back to that but that got edited as well.

Still, a great blast from the past and BETTER CAMERA WORK..noticed the part I watched so far when stuff happened, PRODUCERS/DIRECTORS/CAMERAMEN 'caught it.

Kudos to the old guys.

Young ones today could learn SO MUCH from these old shows.

Thanks JD again for the reminder of this viewing.