Sunday, March 9, 2008

"RaceDay" Continues To Offer Something For Everyone

The two hour length of the live RaceDay program allows it to cover a lot of territory. The topics swing wildly from hard news to friendly conversations to editorial comments from questionable sources. What a simple key to success.

This week in Atlanta, it was clear that host John Roberts was a bit under the weather, and he deserves a nod for hanging-in for the entire show. Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace continue to provide both comic entertainment and the occasional thought-provoking comment.

The fact that Spencer and Wallace continue to have good relationships with the active drivers and NASCAR personalities in the garage area is important. The technique that provides direct live interviews with drivers by simply giving them headsets and a microphone would not work without this relationship.

Case in point was both Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle. These diverse personalities were both interviewed directly by Spencer, Wallace and Roberts. The interviews were outstanding. Stewart offered good perspective on the race, the track and his new Home Depot commercials. Biffle talked car, performance and his on-going charitable activities. This is why fans watch.

Wendy Venturini keeps her distance from the chaos, and once again provided some hard news and a good Jack Roush interview. Being from a racing family, Venturini has seen this type of "lid-gate" controversy come and go for years. Her factual and calm approach to this topic helped to put the interesting comments of both Wallace and Spencer in perspective. She offers facts, they offer emotion.

It is hard to top the visuals of this program, with the active crowd participation and the beautiful view of the outside of the track. If only SPEED allowed some fans the opportunity to be seen, their signs to be read, and their stories to be told in small in-bumps coming back from commercial. Who came the furthest? Who has been at ever race for 25 years? Who has the best story? The fans are a dynamic part of the sport, and swooping past them now for another year leaves something on the table.

Hermie Sadler has been working hard to increase his visibility on SPEED, and recently transitioned up to the broadcast booth. He had an opportunity to work with Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds on Saturday, and did a good job. Once again, he worked with the RaceDay team to provide the points about the track and the race in this new season of the COT. His role has been pivotal to understanding what has changed at these tracks since last season.

Once and a while, both Wallace and Spencer have a good conversation that raises important points. Their follow-up conversation about the bump-stops and the issues associated with the variety of choices for springs and shocks was outstanding. Both Spencer and Wallace feel free to disagree, as they did with Bootie Barker and his opinions. In their own way, these two expose topics that fans need to know, and that always keeps things interesting.

SPEED has tried to provide comic relief with Rutledge Wood, and the results have been mixed. This week his feature with Reed Sorenson was unfocused. There was no map shown of where Wood and Sorenson were located, or why both of them seemed to be simply driving around a gated community. If it had a point, I did not get it.

The integration between Fox and SPEED continues to be seamless, as the NASCAR on Fox pit announcers Steve Byrnes and Dick Berggren appeared to promote the live race. It was a nice touch to hear what will be offered in the Fox portion of the coverage first-hand.

RaceDay continues to use pre-produced features about past races to provide a break from the conversations. The NASCAR Media Group provides the production for RaceDay, and continues to work to dial-in the role of that company. Fans loved the glossy full-length programs that NMG used to produce, and the short features remind us of what NASCAR TV could truly be in the future.

Over the past several years, it has become popular to demand that announcers pick a winner. RaceDay has been working to dial-in this concept, and has limited the participants in this pool to the full-time announcers. This results in some fun, but more often than not racing luck has a big say in who winds-up right and who winds-up wrong. I guess fantasy racing is here to stay on SPEED.

The RaceDay gang likes it when we call their show "SPEED-a-palooza" or refer to them as the Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR TV with something for everyone. This episode once again offered fun information in a casual environment with some solid news reporting thrown-in along the way.

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


PammH said...

I do NOT care for Rut, but I actually thought this was one of the best pieces by him so far. It was just a couple of hometown boys goofing around. Showed abit of Reed's personality, which is not flamboyant like some other 22 yr olds in the series.
This show & VL is not miss TV for me every wk.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Raceday and Victory Lane are always a must watch.

Kingston, NY

Joel said...

Interview fans...that's just's not an open mic night at the local bar, John. If you're in California, do you give a crap that someone came from Moosejaw clear to Atlanta? I think not. Let people show their signs and talk about them? C'mon...most of the signs are advertisements and they don't need to waste airtime to hear someone scream "JUNIOR! He drinks AMP!" NASCAR doesn't need to look more hokey. Don't feel like you have to try to pitch ideas for "improvement" of Raceday...if you want to get back into television and produce, then just do it. Joel

Daly Planet Editor said...


Interacting with the fans is the challenge that SPEED has been working on for years. If you go to the SPEED Stage, it is built around interacting directly with the fans.

Once the cameras come on, suddenly the interaction is only waving at a swooping camera. Joel, those people have just as interesting lives as the drivers and team owners. Maybe even more so.

In two hours, there should be able to be some kind of pre-produced interaction with the very people that SPEED interacts with directly right up until the program starts.

The real NASCAR knowledge is out there with the fans, as this blog proves each and every day.

I hope you open your mind a bit to new ideas and do not get so bent out of shape when new ideas surface.


Anonymous said...

Well if you're interested in fans, you're going to need to clue into the fact that most fans love Rutledge, and they feel he represents NASCAR well, and if you notice, the drivers love him too.

You never have anything nice to say about him, and anyone that reads this column knows you couldn't possibly love John Roberts and Wendy V. more, which I do too. But if you can't give credit to someone who got Reed Sorenson to show a little personality, I'm not sure you should be credible to criticize anyone. That was an amazing feat, and a neat thing to watch.

Fat Sandy said...

I'll give SPEED a little credit for having Rutledge do some bits. It changes the pace up a bit and gives us viewers a chance to laugh with Race Day instead of laughing at Kenny Wallace.

And, I've got to get on that go kart track of Harvicks.

Great site JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:15PM,

This is the same type of issue we went through with Brad Daugherty last season on ESPN.

I have never met Rutledge Wood, and have absolutely nothing against him. This is a TV blog.

What SPEED has been doing to him for the last two years is making him look like an idiot on a regular basis. In TV, you do what you are told. A Producer or AP is always with you.

Many fans were surprised when Rutledge was allowed to ask guestions in the garage area as a SPEED reporter. The reason was that they thought he was a goofball. SPEED, especially last season, made him into that.

Lots of folks like Bob Dillner, Wendy V, Steve Byrnes and others have worked very hard for years to get to their position on this national TV stage.

What has Rutledge Wood done? You know how many folks working hard in local TV would love to work for SPEED on the NASCAR package?

If you want him to be the goof, then let him. If you want to have him step-in for comic relief, that is fine. Last season RR and Rutledge were the designated comedians, and now RR is gone.

Rutledge in real life could be the nicest and most pleasant person in the world. What we are talking about here is how NASCAR fans see him on TV. Those are two very different things.

Just like ESPN is still trying to do with Brad Daugherty, SPEED has to figure out what Rutledge is there to do, and then give him the freedom to do it.

Maybe, we would see a whole new side of him emerge if he got pointed in the right direction.


Getting to know NASCAR Bob and Hoss said...

This might be a bit off the topic, but Jimmy Spencer's insistence on being a suck-up to NASCAR is intolerable. On the other hand, Kenny Wallace's honest commentary,during Victory Lane, about the dreadful race that took place at Atlanta, was worthy of a standing ovation. Jimmy's constant commentary of "We saw a great race today." Just rings hollow. I will no longer be watching any of the pre or post race shows. And quite frankly, if the racing, especially on the mile and a half tracks, does not improve soon, I am done with NASCAR and will head back to the NHRA for some real excitement. Right now I am having a hard time staying awake during these Cup races.

Anonymous said...

Jd, I understand what you're saying there, but maybe you're forgetting this sport, just like all the others is a form of entertainment.

When you say "the fans" on this site, you really mean you. It's ok to say you were really surprised when they let him ask driver's questions, but a lot of us would rather have a laugh in our day or hear about a driver's week then the same questions over and over every week about someone's car.

Speed knows why he does so well with the fans. Because he's entertaining, in an entertainment arena. Not everyone takes this sport as serious as some of the people on this site.

When he was waiting outside of the port o poddies in the garage at California I laughed my butt off when he was talking to Carl Edwards. Rutledge is great for this sport because young people and old, who enjoy this sport as entertainment can watch him and have fun. I think he's the type of personality, who different from so many others on tv these days, if used in the right way can probably bring more people and more younger people to watch this sport.

And to agree with the person above me, Jimmy was insane on Victory lane. I wish I had counted how many times they said bump rubbers.

GinaV24 said...

Well, obviously some of you like Rutledge, but I tend to think he's a waste of my time so after seeing all of his shtick last year, this year, I just walk away when they start his segments. Jimmy Spencer has LONG been a NASCAR shill, so I take his comments with a grain of salt and mentally tune him out. I like Race Day and I, too, would like to have them do a little more interaction with the fans. I also hate the fact that the panel has their backs to the fans. Honestly, that just creeps me out. This program is still one of the best pre-race shows on TV. I've quit watching the one that Fox does unless I can't figure out what time the green flag is going to fall and catch it by accident.

Anonymous said...

One word for this race...BORING!! KW had it right "boring", and Spencer is getting to be very predictable. He seems to be the main man supporting anything NASCAR and never say anything negative toward NASCAR or God forbid you'll be on Spencers hit list. This whole Victory Lane has gotten old, the same players need to be changed. Kenny Wallace ya got to love him but his antics on stage are annoying. The constant clapping, fisting in the air, yelling screaming etc. are getting so old. Maybe if he would slow down a little bit he would be much more tolerable.

The talent all around at Speed is head and shoulders above last year. But I believe they need to look seriously look at making some changes on Trackside and Victory Lane.

Anonymous said...

I thought the RaceDay show was one of the best yet. And I love the bits with Rutledge as it provides some much needed comic relief in a sport which tseems to be 'beating the dead horse' more then normal this season.

My favorite comic bit from all of the weekend race shows came from Mike Joy during the Saturday morning snow delay. He suggested using the cars with their front splitters to clear the snow instead of snow plows.

GinaV24 said...

I have to say that I agree with Anon 11:16 am in saying that from the point of view of TV, the race was boring. DW is so unprofessional it is painful and Larry Mac is entitled to his opinon about Goodyear, but the broadcast booth may not be the place to offer it. Also, Fox was back to their old trick at the end of the race -- we had the camera focused so much on the race leader - running ALL alone -- then at the end of the race we got a quick look at 3 or 4 finishers and the camera cut off to the 18 doing his burnout. I want to see the field cross the finish line -- if they have to do that how about a split view? I have enjoyed VL and Trackside over the years, but I'd like to see some things shaken up too. Enthusiasm is one thing, but Kenny is a 40+ year old guy and I find his routine annoying week after week.

Reedsgran said...

I can't watch Raceday and VL because of Jimmy Spencer.

Who ever selected him as an on-air personality missed it big time.

His non-command of the English language is laughable. He can't remember from the end of a sentence what he said at the beginning.

He is also very two-faced. He spouts Christian principles and has the foulest mouth in the garage. I have heard it or I wouldn't say it.