Thursday, January 24, 2008

Richard Petty Speaks His Mind On SPEED

As the "new and improved" Pre-Season Thunder programs continue on SPEED, the network found itself right in the middle of the Media Tour without a whole lot going-on.

Then, someone came along to to change all that. His name is Richard Petty.

The Thursday version of this thirty minute series was again hosted by Steve Byrnes, but even Byrnes had to do a whole lot of talking to keep this show interesting.

There were bunches of drivers, a lot of owners, and a whole lot of everyone saying what they were supposed to say. That would be the Media Tour.

Folks like me wondered how the Media Tour would translate into a same-day TV show, when it was basically set-up to supply print, radio and local TV crews with taped material that they could use to prepare stories about the upcoming season for their own companies.

As several readers have mentioned, the Wednesday show was disjointed because everyone was in different locations. The host, the two reporters and the two analysts all seemed to be out-of-sync.

On Thursday, reporter Randy Pemberton was not even seen on-camera, and Wendy Venturini filed several reports that essentially featured more drivers saying what they were supposed to say.

SPEED put the big stories of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his teammates on hold until Friday, although in real life the Media Tour ended Thursday. On this day there was no Jeff Gordon and no Jimmie Johnson to be found. This shifted the focus back to the best story of the program, and that was Petty Racing.

After Kyle Petty put the recent move of Petty Racing into historical context, SPEED then aired some very frank and candid comments from Richard Petty that seemed both interesting and in many ways...sad.

Even Kyle in his opening remarks said that Richard Petty's move from Level Cross to Mooresville, NC was basically to "go down swinging" as a NASCAR team owner. It was to project that Petty Racing was "doing something" to get better.

The King himself began by saying he was trying to "get into the mainstream instead of being on the outskirts" of NASCAR. He admitted he had been "eat-up by the competition."

Squarely in Petty's sites were the "super teams" in the sport. Petty quietly admitted he once led in the sport, then he just wanted to stay with the crowd. Now, in his most candid admission, he flatly stated he was "just holding onto the back" of the sport. With the recent changes at Yates Racing and the departure of Morgan McClure, his words really carried a lot of meaning for veteran fans.

I had hoped that SPEED would venture beyond the basics of the Media Tour, and use some of the familiar journalists for comments on exactly the type of story that Kyle and Richard Petty presented on this program. There were plenty of NASCAR media folks right there on-scene who have a long and storied history with the Pettys. It seemed a shame not to use them.

You have to give credit to SPEED, this is a first-time project that will hopefully continue to grow in future years. Deciding whether or not to include the journalists on the tour as on-camera subjects is absolutely their call. It is just so rare to have them all together without a race in-progress and deadlines to meet.

Steve Byrnes does a nice job directing traffic, an assignment he has done for SPEED now for many years both in the studio and on the road. His testing wrap-up shows with Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond in the studio were more interesting. Thursday, Byrnes basically had only pre-recorded "packages" to introduce, and not a whole lot else to work with.

One guest on the set to react to the Petty situation, and add other tidbits into the drivers and owners comments might be a touch to consider for the future. Making a commitment to get all the teams who participated in the Media Tour on these three days of programming might also be something to re-consider.

SPEED viewers want the inside scoop, not the Public Relations and sponsor messages. That lack of behind-the-scenes reporting left this show a little bit on the light side, even with The King and his very honest interview. Perhaps, Wendy Venturini will bookmark Petty for a follow-up on her Real Deal segment for RaceDay.

Hopefully, SPEED will close out their Media Tour shows on Friday in style. The network takes a break for the Rolex 24 from Daytona, and then the key pre-season tests at Las Vegas and Fontana close out the testing action. As several drivers have said on this series, the Las Vegas test may be the most important of the season for many teams to see how their COT program stacks-up against the competition.

Veteran fans will want to watch or record these testing programs next week that air at 7Pm Eastern Time. This will truly be brand-new first-time TV in the making.

Update: There will be follow-up columns about the pilot episode of The Humpy Show and also the information about the "new and revised" program that will be filling the timeslot formerly occupied by Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing. Stay tuned.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thank you again for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...

SPEED's mistake is that the Media Tour should be covered LIVE. Not all of it, but the team news conferences of power-houses like Hendrick, DEI, Roush, and RCR as well as the NASCAR news conferences. Then, a prime-time show to wrap up each day with info from the other teams. That would be worth watching.

Daly Planet Editor said...


That is an interesting idea. If it was covered live on an online site like, would you watch it?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd watch it live online.

Sophia said...

I missed the first few minutes of this show but was reminded when I logged on here in the other room and went to watch it.

Ok, I was running into the kitchen to take my brownie cupcake thingies out of the oven when I heard Richard Petty talking about the new drivers and something about names nobody can pronounce? They don't bring sponsors.... I can't remember the rest of what he said, but I found THAT sad. It almost came out like a bigoted statement...but I am trying to remember if they could've hacked up the segment...and I missed something or something ended up on the cutting room floor. But where the hello is a LIVE PANEL for a response when you need one??

I mean I know some folks are old school and that's fine...but *sigh*

I would've caught the repeat, if there was one. It was like I could not believe my eyes and we had back slid 30 years.

VERY ODD they throw the show to somebody who did not have a reaction, as you mentioned JD.

I hope somebody can give the specificity of what I missed but my timer was going off and the brownies were smelling done and what's a girl to do? It's CHOCOLATE but I do enjoy the rare interviews with the vet drivers but my timer picked a bad time ding.

I am both happy AND sad about the OW guys coming to NASCAR. It's less to root for in the IRL. I LOVED watching Dario and now, I just wondered what he and the others think when they hear such comments. though I think Petty commented about the problems with CHAMP and IRL but was it because there were not many Americans in the series? He thinks that's the sole problem?

P.S. First wise guy that says "Sophia needs a DVR is not getting any brownies." :-)

Still, I wonder if this comment raised any eyebrows besides mine.

What say you, JD? Anybody else?

Anonymous said...

@JD--I'd watch it too! When I worked in the B&M world I was lucky and had an office so when they'd air something on NA$ I'd put it on. Depending on my appointments it often worked out that I was finished so I could watch/listen as I finished working. On rain delayed races, I'd have Trackpass up and listen to the PRN/MRN broadcast. I'm working from home now so I'll have that flexibility for the most part still depending on the timing.

Anonymous said...

Per your update of upcoming programs, the schedule for the five-episode show "Dale Jr. Shifting Gears" on ESPN2 was announced today and Jr has a promo trailer for the show on his official site. If the high production quality of the trailer is any indication, this should be an excellent show.

Anonymous said...

Sophia, not to get way off-topic here, but Richard did say that what he was saying may not be politically correct, but his feeling was that the foreign drivers, while they may be talented, don't bring anything to the sport like fans or sponsorship. He said he didn't mind a few mixed in, but he didn't want to see it overrun with foreign drivers because NASCAR fans won't cheer who drivers who aren't "hometown heroes". He did say the lack of foreign drivers is contributing to the slide of open wheel racing. And, if I may say, while that may not be the only reason, it doesn't help.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The network takes a break for the Rolex 24 from Daytona, and then the key pre-season tests at Las Vegas and Fontana close out the testing action.

Sorry to hear you consider showing live racing a "break". I enjoy SPEEDTV for the racing, not listening to "talking heads".

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:35AM,

This is a NASCAR blog, and it is understood that what I was saying is SPEED is taking a break from their NASCAR programming.

I am a long time supporter and fan of sports car racing, and will be front and center at Daytona for the race.


Anonymous said...

Even Kyle in his opening remarks said that Richard Petty's move from Level Cross to Mooresville, NC was basically to "go down swinging" as a NASCAR team owner.

That shocked the you-know-what out of me!

"Go down swinging" does not suggest a lot of confidence in one's own racing program.

I thought he'd be talking about a return to greatness or a comeback, not sounding like they're defeated.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'd watch live press conferences online or not.'s streaming video is not always that reliable even though I have fast, cable internet. And putting on the headphones while the toddler plays with the wires isn't always convenient -- especially if I'm working on a project for our business.

If the press conferences were on Speed though, instead of the endless repeats of the "reality" shows that have kept my tuner on other channels all winter, I'd either watch them live or tape them for watching later.

Anonymous said...

If it was covered live on an online site like, would you watch it?

Probably, but given the fact that SPEED fills much of its daytime schedule with repeats, why not put it there?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a great deal of effort to remember when "Inside Winston / Nextel Cup" was a great "must-see" program, locked into the viewing habit of virtually all Cup fans. And then, for reason known only to a very few, Allen Bestwick disappeared and the ever-boring (monotone) Dave Despain appeared to direct a now depleted panel of talking heads. Every time Allen Bestwick moves into another high profile position, does a great job and "makes it look easy," the "powers that be" move someone else into the slot in the name of change. SPEEDTV, look back at just how great the old "Inside Winston/NEXTEL Cup" show really was. Change may be inevitable but is NOT always good.

GinaV24 said...

This was a hard thing to hear from Petty Enterprises. It makes me sad. They have been behind the curve probably because of money and maybe even the location of the shop. I'm sorry but I think that it is time to talk straight and not worry so much about being PC all the time. If no one ever tells the truth, then how can things ever change? People can tell the truth without being ugly to one another. I didn't think it was a bigoted comment, even though I understand why some people may take it like that, he said what he thought. NASCAR doesn't get that diversity isn't about just importing drivers who aren't American, it's about getting young up and coming drivers of all varieties -- homegrown if you will and I'll cheer for them if they are good drivers, no matter their race, creed or color.

If they covered the media tour so we could download it (I can't watch stuff like this when I'm at work), then I would definitely watch it.

I can't wait for the Rolex 24 hr race -- that's really fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I missed Richard Petty on tv last night. JD, hubby is down at Daytona for the Rolex race I told him to be on the lookout for you! Tracy Krohn and the other drivers of Krohn Racing are our favorites so we're hoping for a big finishes for them. This will certainly be an interesting nascar season and can I just hold out one hope that a full-time Nationwide driver wins that championship?????

Anonymous said...

Sophia, take a deep breath and have some chocolate. :)

Just my opinion:
I feel that Richard Petty was actually ahead of the times. When he hired Fittipaldi, Richard talked of bringing in new fans and new international sponsors. He seemed very excited about the future. It didn’t work. Fittipaldi didn’t adjust that well and Richard couldn’t get sponsorship for him.

Petty Enterprises has tried many things over the years to stay up-to-date. None of them brought the results that were needed. Slowly, over the past few seasons, they are making gains with personnel and now a new location.

For Richard to say, “go down swinging”, is a positive statement to me. He is not going to go away without fighting. I am feeling very good about the future of the Petty organization.

JD-hope I didn’t go below the yellow line with this one. :)

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to answer the question!

No, I wouldn't watch on-line. Can't at work and have dial-up at home.

Sophia said...

Ok, I JUST typed a response while ago and it is not here... I keep hitting preview but not submit, I guess or my computer is eating it(My laptop is on it's way to the computer doctor...but I digress. computer withdrawal already)

Matt, THANKS for explaining a bit more on Richard's comments.

I would not watch online if it was because I HATE THAT site.


JHD said...

I too was surprised by Richard Petty's comments about open wheel and foreign drivers. It sounded fairly closeminded to me.

I think though, those comments coming hard on top of an article on SceneDaily where Rusty Wallace spouted similar comments about NASCAR wandering too far away from the "old core fans", is all too much to take in one day. (I can give a link to the article, if that's okay.)

The point of the Media Tour, I thought, was to gather interest and excitement for the upcoming season, and not to give more fodder for those who mock and look down on NASCAR.

I do appreciate the fact that SPEED was willing to broadcast those comments, that they chose not to censor Petty. I just hope there will be some sort of response/followup from NASCAR or other drivers.

As for following it Live, I can't really do that while at work. I can peek over at articles and blogs on breaks and such, but not watch an entire press conference.

I would prefer that SPEED have expanded these shows to an hour. Everything felt rushed to get to all the shops and drivers. It's not like there's anything else on TV right now with the Writer's Strike and the racing series in preseason that would mandate that things get squeezed into 30 minutes a day.

Anonymous said...

The Petty's lost any current relevance when Adam died. Appears a graceful exit isn't in the cards for them. Advice to the King; keep your racist views under that big hat. Everyone else can pronounce the new driver's names just fine.

Anonymous said...

Nothing that Richard Petty said was earth shattering. All you had to do was compare their results the last 20 yrs to see how far they have been from being competitive.

By the way, a FULL-TIME Busch/Nationwide driver wins the championship EVERY year! NO champion in recent memory has NOT raced every race.

And an emphatic no to watching anything on - this website is awful.

Anonymous said...

Good post Lisa Hogan,I second what you said.

Anonymous said...

Ever since I saw Richard Petty cut straight through the dirt at the esses at The now vanished Riverside Raceway,I have been a fan. Since Petty started rebuilding his program a couple of years ago, I've seen a lot of improvement. I thik they will be even better this year. Richard admitted a while back that they were diong the things they wrwe doing years ago with their cars and got behind the curve. I thinkk we'll see Petty closing the gapp betweem PE and the top teir teams. PE will be around for a long time to come.

Anonymous said...

I thought what the King said was that NASCAR should not go down the road that US open-wheel racing has gone and have TOO many foreign drivers. I thought he said that the ones coming in now are fine, but that having too many foreign drivers might drive many fans away- as many say has happened with IRL and Champ Car.

Since all the Pettys have is one family business ( racing ), I took it Richard was saying they are all in - and if they go out it will be with all guns blazing. As a long, long time Petty fan I was encouraged - and glad to be able to see what Richard said with my own eyes.

JD, I'm not sure I would (or could) actually watch media events "live," but I sure would tape them if SPEED carried some portion live.

Anonymous said...

Richard in NC is correct in what 'the King' said. He was saying that foreign fans don't fill the seats at tracks and don't sell souvenirs from the trailers.
To draw foreign fans will hurt the sport in the long run like it did with the IRL and Champ Car Series.

Fans want hometown heros they can follow through their racing careers up to the big time. Not all NASCAR fans are other racing series fans.

Early in my days I watched the Indy 500 just because it was the 'Big specticle' it was. I didn't see another Indy race until the next year. So now I'm supposed to root for someone I've never seen and can't understand what they're saying when they talk? Then you have drivers without rides to make room for these guys that have no experience in a stock car?

I'm with Petty on this one!
Old time NASCAR Fan

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hookaville said...

I Tivo'd the interview with the King and I watched it a couple of times. I honestly don't think that he has any ill feelings for the foreign born drivers. He did an excellent job of answering the question at hand. "What do you think the influx of drivers from other series will bring to NASCAR?" I think his answer was honest, he said that foreign drivers won't bring in extra money or sponsors. Basically, Europe will not be tuned in and spending money, just because we have a Scottish driver in the premier series. That was his opinion, and I liked it. I think he's right. In 5 years from now we most likely will not be hearing about Dario and Jacques. Would you rather hear from the King or be spoon fed B.S. from the media that we all love the foreign drivers and can't wait to see how they do. To be honest with you, I'm much more interested to see how Cale Gale does with KHR, than how Montoya does in his sophomore season. I guess I'm a bigot.

Anonymous said...

I was a little surprised not that he said it but that when he said that was why the "other series" is not working out.

There may be a small 5-10% chance on the names but the problem with Cart/IRL is so much DEEPER than who is driving the cars.
Not even sure if there will be 2 series after next season, I think the WORST part of CART is they run a race take a couple of months off then decide to do another one

As for JPM I think he DID bring a couple of associate sponsors with him.

Newracefan said...

I DVR'd this show as I was not home at the time but I would like to answer JD's question about watching Media day. My employer would definitely frown on me do it from my PC at work. If I was home I would watch, if televised I would DVR for later.

Anonymous said...

It is very sad that the future for the Petty's ,Yates, Wood Bros.and we already know about Morgan-McClure are probably very limited. Every day you read about a team that has closed down or will only be able to fund a certain amount of races. Sponsorship and decline in the interest of NASCAR as it is today is making it very difficult to compete not only on the track but off the track for sponsorship dollars and the next driver that everybody wants to have. NASCAR must take a look at this or we are only going to have mega teams in the future and the teams that have brought the sport to the forefront will be left behind. It is going to be a sad day when the Petty's ,Yates, and Wood Bros.,dont have a car in the cup series. Someone needs to step up and address these issues before we end up with only,GM,Dodge,Toyota and Ford if they can hold on teams with no distinct difference in any of them. I know this was probably not the best article to post this comment on but I am so aggravated with the direction this sport has taken.

Anonymous said...

Good thing that Richard Petty isn't racing anymore or else he might find himself in the Nascar trailer writing a check to the Foundation. RP's comments were by far the best of the Thunder on Speed. Most of what was shown was pretty boring. One thing they missed was Jimmie Johnson's comments about testing at Daytona and how bad the COT cars performed. Those comments should have been front and center on Speed. Jimmie predicted that this will be a boring race with four to five cars drafting together, since passing and any more than four cars in a draft causes the car in back to run sideways. How Speed missed most of those comments bewilders me.

But, I have to congratulate Speed on showing RP's comments. Seeing how I've been saying the influx of foreign drivers will do nothing for the sport, I'm happy to see such a well respected veteran feel the same way. Open wheel racing was huge in the US until the split of the series and the influx of foreign drivers. Believe it or not, American's cheer for Americans plain and simple and since open wheel has gone primarily foreign, that sport is barely on life support. Just look at the Olympics---do we cheer for the Russians or Brits to win gold? Nascar continues to abandon their roots all in the name of money. They take away historic tracks and races to put them in areas of the country that have absolutely no interest in Nascar (yes, I mean California) and now these owners are abandoning drivers who've done it the right way and come up through the ranks to the big show. But now, the foreigners are being handed cars without any indication they will be able to handle it. Like RP said, foreign drivers won't bring in fans who buy race tickets, they won't put butts in the seats and they won't have an economic impact on the sport. At least Nascar has one voice who's not afraid of the big wigs, and speaks his mind.

Anonymous said...

i stopped watching real racing after dale left us,,the frances have made a fool out of the real fans ,,the people who work reg, jobs to be able to buy tickets,, its all about hendricks or roush who can kiss the most ass.. nuff said

elena said...

I guess my question to Richard Petty is, can anyone be politically incorrect, or just you? If you speak your mind, can others? I bet that those who don’t agree with you, won’t. Some see you as a has-been and wish you would just fade into the sunset. You add nothing to the sport now.

For me, I wish NASCAR had an elder statesman like Arnold Palmer. When he is on the golf course, he is followed by Arnie’s Army. He is not only loved by fans, but by the pros. Even though golf is not an original American sport, America has taken it over. Did the Scott’s complain? Has Arnie ever wished that Gary Player, Nick Price, Nick Faldo, and Greg Norman would just go home and not play and win here? How about Tiger? (American, but not WASP). Arnold grew the popularity of golf and still continues to be its beloved ambassador. He wanted golf for the masses, not for just rich guys.

Petty ought to be challenged about his comments. When he makes stupid comments, no one asks any follow up questions. NASCAR has individually owned teams. PETTY IS NOT IN CHARGE. Who would follow his template? He has done nothing but trade on past (long past) accomplishments. For goodness sakes, he drove for 8 years WITHOUT a single win! Thank goodness he quit competing. How many fans want that? He just kept driving for the money. His son. He’s been driving for more that 28 years and has 8 WINS!! Yea, that will fill the stands. Kyle has lead 72 laps in the last 10 years. Juan Pablo lead 26 in his rookie year. Kyle has not lead that many in any one year for the last 10 years.

If anyone says anything critical about Kyle, some bloggers bring up the fact of his son. That is a tragedy. I’m sorry for that. Unless you have lost a child, you cannot even imagine the pain he lives with. He is still a terrible driver/owner. Rick Hendrick does not trade on his losses. He has had many, including a young son. His pain is private and he does not use it as currency in NASCAR.

Not everyone has vision. Richard Petty had/has none. You cannot condemn someone for that. The problem is when people like RP become bitter because they got left behind. I think he is one of many that were happy just making a living racing. The money kept getting better and they just had fun running to the bank. He was not an innovator or visionary. He had no eye for the future. Look at France. Look at Bruton, look at Hendrick. At one time Petty had more money and fame than all of them, but he was just happy to rest on his laurels. He made no investment in the future of NASCAR. He could have owned many race tracks.

I cannot imagine any of those men taking business advice from Petty.