Sunday, February 3, 2008

Manske's Wild Ride About To Begin

While many fans have responded positively to the changes that ESPN and SPEED recently announced, there is no one who is more clearly in the spotlight than Nicole Manske. On Monday afternoon, her wild ride will officially begin.

At 1:30PM Eastern Time, she will begin her new ESPN life with a live chat at that will include questions from fans. Here is the link to submit questions.

At 6PM that same day, her first appearance as one of the three co-hosts of NASCAR Now will start a year of high-profile national TV exposure that she will certainly never forget.

Trying desperately to recover from the damage done by former host Erik Kuselias, the ESPN executives are banking on Manske's ability to present a professional image in the studio.

The other key component in this new mix is her ability to travel to the Sprint Cup races and fill the "ESPN news reporter" role that caused so much friction at the tracks in 2007. Does the name David Amber ring a bell?

Manske is a key piece to this new puzzle, along with Ryan Burr and Allen Bestwick. Once the Monday editions of NASCAR Now expand to one hour beginning February 11th, Bestwick will be the Monday host.

Burr and Manske will rotate between hosting the other daily shows during the week from Connecticut, and reporting for ESPN from the Cup tracks. That is a ten month assignment with no real break and a whole lot of travel. In TV, they call this a "life changer."

While Burr and Bestwick are familiar to ESPN viewers, Manske had been hosting a one hour per week general motorsports program that featured a lot of Teleprompter reading and a whole lot of posing for the cameras. Now, that is not going to fly.

This assignment is going to demand knowing the "ins and outs" of NASCAR from day one. The reason is very clear. That would be the fans. For some reason, many fans are much more critical of the females involved in sports TV than their male counterparts.

Over at, one of the longest running threads in the forum is about Ms. Manske. Beginning on August 7th, the thread contains 696 entries and has been viewed over 10,000 times. Even with her departure from the network, it is still active.

You would think that most of the comments are about the content of her reports, or the issues with the program. In fact, they are not. Most of the comments are from men and they are directly related to her clothing, her body and her social life. Many of them are absolutely brutal.

There is no other thread on the website that features grown men posting full-size "screen captures" of women and then discussing at length what they are wearing, and what they might not be wearing.

If this is the result of only one hour per week on the air for Manske, imagine where the "Internet boys" will take her daily appearances on ESPN2.

Just like the cult of Erin Andrews, ESPN is going to have to make sure Manske's appearance is literally "buttoned-up" all season long. She is not a veteran NASCAR reporter, and has to focus this first season on building her credibility up with a fan base that can be tough to please.

ESPN employees have terms like being "put in the blender" or "thrown in the washing machine" to describe the incredible changes that happen in someone's life when they are thrust on the national stage for the first time.

It is very easy for someone new to stagger out of "the ESPN blender" in late November completely burnt-out and with one's personal life in pieces.

During my time at ESPN, there was only one network. We used to call it the "trash compactor" because it always needed to be fed, and when it was done, it immediately needed to be fed again. Running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even one cable sports network never took a rest and required a lot of work.

Now, Manske finds herself tossed into a giant media company that will use her "content" in all kinds of forms and across all kinds of "platforms." The PR guys love to use those cool words.

What that means is that Manske will soon be on as a video clip, on the pages with her NASCAR reporting, visiting on ESPN Radio shows to push NASCAR Now, appearing on ESPN News and eventually on SportsCenter if her reporting goes well.

Beginning Monday, 27 year-old Nicole Manske from Roscoe, Illinois will be totally immersed "in the ESPN blender." Her life will never be the same.

The up-side of this true national TV experience is that strong-willed people can make it work for them with planning and discipline. Many current sports TV personalities took the "big break" just handed to Manske and turned it into a career-maker.

Here at The Daly Planet, we have a strong contingent of female readers. That is because we evaluate and discuss only the content of the reporting and information offered to us by the NASCAR TV networks.

That policy will remain in place for 2008. We did not care what color tie Jerry Punch wore in the announce booth, and we will not care what color dress Manske wears on the NASCAR Now set.

Beginning Monday, ESPN will roll-out the 2008 version of the re-vamped NASCAR Now with three hosts, multiple journalists, reporters at every race, roundtable discussions and highlights of all three national series. It will be critical that Manske step-up and assume the role that she has been assigned to make this new format work.

So, we begin NASCAR Now for 2008 with a clean slate for both Manske and ESPN2. We appreciate the changes that were made, and understand how rare it is for a TV network to be this directly responsive to the fans. Good luck to all involved, and as usual...we'll be watching.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for stopping-by and leaving your opinion.


bevo said...

As far as I'm concerned they're starting with a blank slate. I'll set my Tivo to record each evening. Hopefully the suits at ESPN learned from the mistakes last year.

By the way - she can pose some now and then :)

SophiaZ123 said...


You post a picture of that dress, and do not want us to comment on attire?? :-)


Thanks for the column.

P.S. Bevo, perhaps I missed something on your 'pose' comment but I shall leave well enough alone. ;-) She is an attractive woman.

Daly Planet Editor said...


People on TV are doing what they are told. My point in posting that pic from the SPEED days is that ESPN is going to put her in a very new role. That was the original "Drew and Nicole" role on SPEED Report.

It should be interesting to see her working seven days a week traveling and then returning to host in the studio. This year is going to be very different for that young lady.


Anonymous said...

Actually, according to the schedule, Ryan Burr is hosting NASCAR Now on Monday. Nicole isn't scheduled to host until NEXT Monday, February 11.

This could have something to do with a contract issue with Speed or maybe they're putting her through some rehearsals before she does live TV.

Anonymous said...

Say what you want about ESPN, but at least they don't throw her out there as "eye candy." If you go to the website, you'll notice in every picture it's a cleavage-fest. In the ESPN picture she's wearing pants and a button down.

I know you guys get your panties up in a bunch when ESPN asks people to wear a polo shirt on Sportscenter, but it really does benefit the production. Speed threw her out there as Danica Patrick's former cheerleading squadmate with lots of cleavage. ESPN is presenting her as the professional host of NASCAR Now. It gives her a lot more credibility.

Daly Planet Editor said...

It certainly should be interesting to see if she shows-up on camera, and if Allen Bestwick is also introduced as one of the hosts.

This season is going to be very different, and I am looking forward to the ways they present the new program format.

I also heard Marty Smith has some interesting things up his sleeves for the first week in terms of feature reports.


Anonymous said...

'Burr and Manske will rotate between hosting the other daily shows during the week from Connecticut, and reporting for ESPN from the Cup tracks.'

I doubt Ryan Burr will be traveling to NASCAR events except Daytona. He is often the game/halftime host for the evening of college basketball on ESPN/ESPN2. He might have some role with college football. I don't think he'll be leaving Bristol on a regular basis.

Manske might travel more but I suspect she will be in the studio rather than at the track more often than not. NN has their Insiders at the track. Other than Daytona, Indy, and Homestead and other than Bestwick, it's unlikely that the studio hosts will be on location.

Anonymous said...

Speed threw her out there as Danica Patrick's former cheerleading squadmate with lots of cleavage. ESPN is presenting her as the professional host of NASCAR Now. It gives her a lot more credibility.

While that is true, it's only the first hurdle. Now, she'll have to prove she knows something about stock car racing, or racing at all, which was sorely lacking in the SPEED Report performances.

darbar said...

John, I think the reason fans, mainly women fans, have been more unforgiving to women reporters in sports is because so many of these women are cookie cutters, and we perceive them as being nothing more than window dressing, chosen to attract the testosterone-filled male audience. No one would say word one if the women chosen actually had a working knowlege of the sport they're assigned. No one disparaged Robin Roberts when she worked in the sports field. Same for Krista Voda, Wendy Venturini or any woman who knew her stuff. But all too often, these pretty T&A figurines are put in front of a camera for one reason---their looks. As long as men run the sports networks, you'll never see a regular-looking, but sports brilliant woman in front of the camera.

Where's my eye candy? As women, we have the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Brent Musburger, Joe Buck and guys like that. If the guys can have their sexy eye candy, why can't we women have reporters in tight jeans and hot bodies, even if they're dumber than a rock?

I'll give Ms. Manske a shot, but if it appears that she's only around to show her chest, and makes it clear that her knowlege of Nascar can fit in a thimble, I'll remove my Season Pass for Nascar Now.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:04PM,

I am glad you brought that up. I am told that either Nicole or Ryan will be on the road each Cup weekend for the entire season.

Maybe I was a little soft in making that point in my column. NASCAR Now is going to put their own "talent" at the track this season for the races, and eliminate the "pool reporters" David Amber, Bob Holtzman and Wendy Nix.

Thanks for bringing that one up.


Newracefan said...

I'll give her the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Please Nicole, don't disappoint me.

snowfaller said...

I just hope people give Nicole a chance. Obviously, it's hard to gauge her racing knowledge from SPEED Report, but she does appear to have a decent amount of racing knowledge. She certainly has interest in racing.

I get kind of annoyed at people who instantly discredit her because of her appearance, etc. She can't help the fact she is attractive...

Personally, I hope she knocks 'em dead on NASCAR Now!

haus20 said...

Well it makes sense for ESPN to put NASCAR Now on location...the more I hear about '08 season, the more optimistic I am about ESPN's coverage.

I do agree that the more professional Manski dresses, the more credibility she will have with the fans.

This is a perception vs. reality issue. I think that she is knowlegeable and that she has the ability to do well; however, she doesn't need her attire to give the perception that she is only there as eye candy.

Anonymous said...

---Obviously, it's hard to gauge her racing knowledge from SPEED Report, but she does appear to have a decent amount of racing knowledge. She certainly has interest in racing.
I have interest in racing, but it doesn't make me qualified to be the host of NASCAR Now.

Not saying that Nicole isn't qualified. But I think she's getting more of the benefit of the doubt than some others who might be considered for the job would get.

Anonymous said...

Watching ESPN's Super Bowl post game coverage. Now, I know it's the Super Bowl, but ESPN SHOULD be able to give us fans a worthwhile post race show for each race. I don't know what kind of clearance they have to do it after races they don't carry, but they could at least do it after their races. And not this 12:30am "post race" show. Right after the race, a few quick interviews(we all know the drivers want to get out of there), some analysis, a race highlight. That's not too much to ask right?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, it's hard to gauge her racing knowledge from SPEED Report, but she does appear to have a decent amount of racing knowledge. She certainly has interest in racing.

Not good enough. Male or female, these people have to have a better background and understanding than the average fan, or they're useless.

And the average NASCAR fan knows a heck of a lot about thisd sport, so the challenge is even greater.

Ritchie said...

I don't understand why people keep saying that she doesn't have racing knowledge. Is it because The Speed Report didn't do in depth analysis of every race? That show was intended to be a recap of the past week's racing action. That means that they had to pack ten different events into one hour. It was intended to be a highlight show, not NASCAR's version of "Real Sports".

Next, for everyone who says she is not Wendy Venturini, she doesn't claim to be. Obviously Wendy is far more qualified being that she was born into a racing family and went to the University of North Carolina and recieved degrees in communications, psychology, and journalism. However, people are forgetting one thing. Has anybody asked if she was even interested in the job? Judging by what Mr. Daly has told us about life at ESPN, maybe Wendy thinks she has it pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Wendy is far more qualified being that she was born into a racing family and went to the University of North Carolina and recieved degrees in communications, psychology, and journalism.

And THAT is why, attractive as she is, no one questions Wendy's chops.

But Manske's primary reason for getting the job appears to be...well, her appearance. Which is pretty insulting to the fans, if you think about it.

Bobby said...

Nicole Manske's credentials include Midwestern smaller-markets before going to Indy.

That included Rockford IL (Chad Knaus' hometown) and Fort Wayne IN (obviously we know the end of year midget race) before Indy, and she had the 500 as an assignment for journalism.

In 2005 and 2006 she was doing the Indianapolis 500 for the radio network while being a reporter for WISH.

It seems ironic everything is thinking one thing about Miss Manske, but her racing credentials include working pit road for radio for the 2005 IRL season and parts of 2006 before Speed called her. She is not a "pretty face" but already a grizzled journalist with experience in three racing markets before being assigned to Charlotte. John Roberts and Steve Byrnes are also former newsmen who are NASCAR-related today. Byrnes was hooked to racing after being assigned to the Southern 500 by WCIV.

So I can defend her by saying she earned her way as a journalist in racing, working a major series radio network for a full season and part of a second before being called up, and working her way up many small-market Midwest stations.

Anonymous said...

"In 2005 and 2006 she was doing the Indianapolis 500 for the radio network while being a reporter for WISH."

Let"s not forget this "grizzled" reporter was also reportedly dating IRL driver Marco Andretti at that time (while reporting on the IRL for WISH) and is now reportedly dating IRL driver Ryan Briscoe.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and according to the Indy Star's Raygan Swan (former columnist/blogger for Indy Star, now based in Indy with, Nicole dated Dan Wheldon in 2005. Raygan wrote an blog entry called "Love at the Track" in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Ah, anonymous 12:04pm, that's what it means by sleeping your way to the top? This information, IMHO, further decreases her credibility. I thought that women no longer had to get ahead via the "casting couch", but that doesn't seem to be the case. Pretty sad, methinks.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Dan Wheldon supposed to be moving to NASCAR next year with Ganassi? And Briscoe and Castroneves - honestly Castroneves will be the main one - are Penske's IRL guys: the backups if Hornish doesn't work out or if Penske goes to four cars. That could be a conflict of interest for Ms. Manske, but since it's a least a season away, I'll forget about it for now. Plus NASCAR is full of conflicts of interests.

Ritchie said...

What has dating a driver got to do with getting a job in the media? It seems to me that if you wanted to "sleep your way to the top", as an anonymous poster suggested, that you would date a media executive. This isn't like an Erin Crocker/Ray Evernham situation. It seems to me she has worked harder for her job than many of the other announcers/hosts/analysts have.

If having a personal relationship with a race car driver disqualifies you from covering a race for the media, then let's fire Wendy V., Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, and Kenny Wallace. And what about Dale Jarrett, his dad probably still has connections at ESPN, but I'm sure that didn't help him get his job as a race analyst.

The fact of the matter is that there are more clear cut examples of people getting media jobs in racing through connections than this situation. This poor girl has worked hard for this and if she networked in order to get this far, then more power to her.

With that said, ya'll can now go back to gossiping about Brittney.

Anonymous said...

This poor girl has worked hard for this and if she networked in order to get this far, then more power to her.

Networking? Is that what it's called now?

Really, though, wouldn't it be odd if Wheldon and/or Briscoe were Cup drivers (which is not out of the realm of possibility) and they were sitting down and being interviewed by Nicole? Say what you want but a dating relationship is completely different than a blood relationship (but I can't stand Rusty commenting on Steven's races, either.)

Wendy is married to a crew guy, but what are the chances he will be a face regularly appearing on camera representing his team and also the face of a group of sponsors like a driver is? Face of sponsor plus face of NASCAR on ESPN, not a good mix.

Interesting that you bring up Britney. Based on your Manske comments in her threads, you seem to have accepted the 'Britneyization' of females in the media and of society in general - the way they look, the way they dress, what is considered acceptable - hook line and sinker. Especially if you consider dating a driver while working in the media that reports on him (as she did in the IRL and technically even the SPEED report) as "networking". There are only 43-50 Cup drivers and half that number of IRL drivers. Dating one or more of them in her position will get noticed.

The Last To Know said...

Folks lets think about why Nicole found her way to ESPN. Speed is not dumb, they locked their super girl reporters (Krista and Wendy) into long term contracts. Nicole was the unprotected one, and I believe, ESPN's only option as far as raiding the Speed staff. They got runt of the litter this time unlike Allen Bestwick.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure where that picture was from, but I have to believe that it is not an official picture ESPN would use. "
Excerpted from a post in the other Nicole column by JD, referring to the Nicole picture above that column.

Note that it's the same picture that is using to advertise its chat with Nicole, which is about to begin. It's an ESPN picture.

AndyPandy said...

I think it's a little silly that an attractive woman has that fact held against her. She has worked in the sport for at least three years, and on The SPEED Report was only allowed to do what was dictated by the format. This seems to be just a bit more experience than the average fan. How about letting her do at least one show before criticizing her.

BTW, to anonymous at 12:09 - would the author of that blog entry, Raygan Swan, be the same Raygan Swan who was engaged to IRL driver A.J. Foyt IV? And I still don't see what dating a driver has to do with getting a job on a national TV racing program. It may help as far as getting inside info from the teams and drivers, but I don't understand how it would help anyone land a job hosting a show.

Anonymous said...

Well gee wizz if Nicole didn't have her cleavage exposed 95% of the time on the SPEED Report and act like a college freshman people may have taken her more seriously. You don't see Wendy or Krista or even Connie back in the day dressed like this. Nascar fans want someone who will tell them the news like a Bob Varsha. If they wanted a T&A show then they should've remember the ill fated "Nascar Nation". We all know how well that turned out once the 3donkeys took over that show.

Hopefully Shannon Spake can tell that to Nicole because ESPN did a great job with Shannon from where she begin at SPEED. I've got a lot of respect for Shannon for her reports and on track reports.

Lets just hope this new role for Nicole includes some business suits and professional look. Less of the little squeels and crap she did at Speed and I may take her seriously. If not then the Nicole Manske thread will continue, we'll make sure of that pictures included.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Hey Folks,

Let's get these comments back on track.

The Nicole pic on the other post was sent to me right after she took it by the ESPN PR guys. The pic on this post was from her own website photo file.

As we go through the year, we will see exactly how she is "packaged" by the network. Make no mistake about it, when you are playing in "ESPN Land" you are not the local reporter picking her own clothes and dating the local race car guys.

All the talk about her past in these comments is moot. Her life is about to "begin again," and what she makes of it will be on her own merits.

What we can do is just step back, and watch someone who has just gotten the biggest professional break of their life try to make it work.

Remember, the former host of this show is a college grad, a law school grad, a MENSA member, and about to get his Masters Degree in Broadcasting...did any of that help him in "NASCAR TV Land?"

I am going to give NASCAR Now a clean slate, and then watch as ESPN rolls-out the program they changed after you made them aware of the problems.

It should be very interesting.


Anonymous said...

Nicole answered a NN question in her chat. Most questions were about the season and the drivers chances and the COT, mostly none about NN.

Hi Nicole. What are the big changes we will see on NASCAR Now this season? Any changes in format? Will you be going to races? What are you looking forward to?

Nicole Manske: (1:48 PM ET ) I'll be in Daytona the entire time, and I'm very much looking forward to traveling to the races. I missed traveling in my previous job. NASCAR Now will just be giving you more and better information, with new hosts and not very many format changes. It's gonna be good.

Anonymous said...

"BTW, to anonymous at 12:09 - would the author of that blog entry, Raygan Swan, be the same Raygan Swan who was engaged to IRL driver A.J. Foyt IV? "

Yes, she wrote a blog compiling all the "IRL Wives and girlfriends" for the Indianpolis 500. It was a takeoff based on the website with the "NASCAR Wives and Girlfriends" - which she was mentioned on and gave her the idea. She sometimes mentioned AJ in her Indianpolis Star blog when talking about Indianapolis subjects (her blog was a very funny local entertainment blog, not a sports blog, and AJ was gone from Indy to NASCAR by then). She broke her engagement quite a while before joining

GinaV24 said...

I'm willing to give NASCAR Now a break and a do over for the beginning of the season. I hope that Nicole has the knowledge to be credible with the fans and to present a professional, polished image for ESPN. Let's put the past behind us and take a new look at this show! Hey, we got Allen Bestwick and lost Klueless, so as JD said, Manke's wild ride is about to begin. As others have said, Wendy Venturini and Krista Voda are very credible people, I want her to succeed in this, so buckle up and I hope she does great on this show.

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

After watching the first installment of ESPN's new NASCAR show, I must say that I was not impressed.

They spent the first five minuts showing clips from last season and then another 5-8 recapping the 'new' driver news. Unless people were living in an ice cave in Antarctica last season, I tend to think that pretty much everyone (including non-fans) knows that Dale Jr. left DEI for Hendrick and that the sport got invaded yet again by more open-wheel racers.

The only part I liked was when they asked drivers what they did in the off-season. The rest of it was the SOS. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and on and on. (yawn)

It looks like ESPN is intent on showing how obsessed they are with their favorite eight or ten drivers again this year. My term for the year is 'ad nauseum' and it applies to ESPN and their NASCAR coverage.

Anonymous said...

How big are her tits ( o ) ( o ), and are they real or store bought. Oh and Fuck you to the editor in advance for removing this post, you pencil dick.

Anonymous said...

This whole post I thought was abouth the new Nascar Now and the new host, one being Nicole Manske. I have watched 2-18 through 2-20 and have not seen this new host yet.

HardlyEver said...

I just watched for the first time ever, 5 minutes of Nascar news. Happened to be ESPN2. I see this girl, brown hair--not typically a "hollywood hot" type, but something about her will not allow me to turn the channel.

Point is, I don't like Nascar,yet because of her I watched the last 5 minutes, then did a Google search to find out who she was, and now know a little history about her, the Speed Channel and the recent move made by ESPN. she seems to be a good hire!!!