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.
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