Tuesday, January 29, 2008
SPEED's Vegas Testing Shows: Where's The Beef?
Like lots of fans I turned on the TV Tuesday night very excited to see a whole slew of COT cars on the big fast Las Vegas Motor Speedway. SPEED was on-hand to document the continuing testing and now had good weather and a fast track.
Unfortunately, the coverage of the actual on-track activity was more than a little light. It was non-existent.
While testing may be old hat to Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and the TV gang, the fans tuning-in wanted to see only one thing. That would be cars on the track. What they got was everything else under the sun.
Certainly, this is a first time effort, but one fundamental truth remains. It is as true for the fans that braved the cool weather at Daytona several weeks ago to sit in the stands as it is for the viewers who rushed home to turn on their TV sets Tuesday night.
They did not come to see the announcers on-camera, even more driver interviews, or fancy graphics. What they came for was to see lots of COT cars going around Las Vegas very fast.
SPEED did a good job at Daytona, and then jumped-in and gamely covered the Media Tour. But, those two things were different.
NASCAR fans knew this Las Vegas test would be very important to their favorite drivers and teams. They knew the Las Vegas oval would prove to be tricky for some drivers in these brand new cars. They were ready for action.
After the Tuesday evening show, the only question to the SPEED guys was "where's the beef?"
The video highlights of the Tuesday morning session lasted less than two minutes, and the afternoon session less than one. While there were "cut-a-way" shots and footage used for "B-roll" during driver interviews, there were no full speed laps shown and no groups of cars shown running together.
Fans got the impression that there was limited acivity on the track. Meanwhile, the NASCAR.com website reported that during the morning session there were 76 cars running. In the afternoon, there were 74. That does not match what fans saw on TV. It is not even close.
As if to add insult to injury, the SPEED crew then pointed out that Dale Junior had run perhaps the most laps of all. If so, where was he?
One lap at Las Vegas is about thirty seconds. Even a big field of cars or a line of team cars would still be lapping at thirty seconds. So, even one minute would buy almost two full laps of COT cars at SPEED for the fans at home. One minute.
Don't get me wrong, the info from the announcers has been outstanding. The tire story, the wind on Monday, and the high number of teams made for good content.
But, the Vegas test is a huge story and perhaps focusing on full laps with McReynolds providing information on what teams are doing during the run would work better than "SportsCenter style" highlight packages of the sessions.
There was no "at the track" feel to the Tuesday program. It was a NASCAR Live style show with video highlights, some driver interviews, and a feature thrown-in from both McReynolds and Dillner. It had the SPEED Stage vibe without the crowd.
There were lots of comments on earlier posts about this subject, and almost everyone said the same thing. We are happy to have this coverage, we applaud SPEED for "upgrading" the pre-season testing commitment, but...where are the cars?
Some viewers suggested that if time is an element for the coverage, the network should consider one hour testing shows that could mix the action and the features.
SPEED has committed to running a historic Daytona highlight, they have a daily Tech Tip feature, and they also produce a specific driver interview. Along with the promos for the track's ticket sales and the multiple SPEED program promos, thirty minutes goes by pretty fast.
Maybe "fast" was the wrong word to use. It seems a tad ironic that "speed" is the one thing sorely lacking in this otherwise solid testing coverage.
Wednesday will bring another 7PM Eastern Time program from Las Vegas, with the testing coverage moving to Fontana for Thursday and Friday.
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