Wednesday, April 16, 2008

David Pearson Speaks His Mind On "NASCAR Now"

Nothing shows the disparity between the colorful NASCAR characters of the past and the polished spokesman of today then having those two groups together in the same place. Darlington Raceway served that purpose on Wednesday.

Nicole Manske has worked hard to maintain her polished and controlled style during her hosting duties for ESPN2's NASCAR Now. The program does a good job of setting things up in advance, so even the question and answer sessions are nothing more than a review of what has already been discussed earlier in pre-production meetings.

Leave it to NASCAR veteran David Pearson to throw a wrench in the best made plans of both NASCAR Now and the Darlington Raceway. The idea was to have Pearson drive his old #21 car around the newly-paved facility with Carl Edwards tailing behind in his COT.

This would give still photographers an opportunity to capture a unique shot and also give the upcoming Darlington race some publicity. Pearson's old ride was brought out of the museum and put in good enough shape to run a couple of laps at less than pace car speed. Edwards dutifully followed along.

By the end of the day, the publicity tour was almost done. Edwards and Pearson had one more duty, and that was appearing on NASCAR Now side-by-side. Some polite questions were asked by Manske, and the videotape of the two cars rolling around the racetrack was played. Everything was going well until David Pearson decided to start answering questions "old school" style.

Manske simply asked Pearson if he liked where NASCAR had gone in the past four decades? Pearson pointed at Edwards and said, "I don't...but he might." In the world of the polite and polished NASCAR drivers, things were about to get interesting.

"NASCAR ain't doing nothing I like right now," continued Pearson. "I don't like the rules they are can bump somebody and they want to fine you for it." Pearson saw the look on Carl Edwards face and made sure to say he knew that Edwards could not speak-up or he would get fined.

Manske asked Pearson what he thought of Edwards. "He's a lot nicer than I thought he was, if you want to know the truth," said Pearson. In the land of the politically correct, Pearson was wonderfully out of place.

Manske closed by asking Pearson about the current drivers. Pearson made a great point in saying, "they make a lot more money than we did, but they don't have time to spend it." Pearson's point was that in the old days, NASCAR drivers had a lot of "fun" in addition to the racing.

Pearson closed by saying NASCAR today was far too serious and had far too much politics in it. His open collared shirt and chewing gum was in sharp contrast to the perfect driver suit and physically fit appearance of Edwards. Nothing more needed to be said about "then" and "now."

Give Manske credit for hanging in there with Pearson, and continuing her questions. She once again proved that ESPN made a good choice in bringing her over from SPEED and giving her this additional responsibility.

As NASCAR Now continues to grow, perhaps getting a periodic perspective from a "old timer" would help to put some of the NASCAR stories of today in the type of "broader light" that is currently missing from the TV scene.

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SophiaZ123 said...


He is correct and if ONLY NASCAR still had characters from days gone by.

Even I, only watching the sport since 2004 am nauseated with the homogenizing and diluting of personalities. It has killed the sport in many aspects and I think DW said similar things in the past year.

I only wish David could've been on for an entire segment to give specifics, LOL.


And speaking for myself, the fact drivers indeed, have to be so PC has hurt the sport.

Too corporate and that has worsened since 2001 from what many tell me but it started before then.

Ken said...

As one who remembers exactly where I was and what I was doing as I listened to the radio when Fireball Roberts was killed, I know things can't go back to the way it used to be. The drivers of the David Pearson era were much like the mechanic at the local garage. The present day driver is a national celebrity that can't live a normal life. Many of the great drivers of old would never make it in the current NA$CAR world because they were independent and spoke their mind. I doubt a young Dale Earnhardt would ever get a chance to compete today with his background and lack of polish.

David said...

You could hear the collective gasp on air from everyone involved when David was talking. It was not the uncomfortable gasp when you feel bad for the person because they sound like a fool. It was the collective gasp that you get when FINALLY someone who is somewhat losely associated with NASCAR tells the truth and has no regrets. That was what everyone who is in the sport now has been trying to say for years. They now owe even more of a debt of gratitude to the Silver Fox.

Anonymous said...

anyone know if it's been thrown up on youtube yet?

Ritchie said...

Its an interesting question, whether a driver from the past would be allowed to compete today. There is a lot of well deserved cynicism regarding drivers today, but it isn't so much NASCAR keeping drivers in line as it is the sponsors. Think about it, Tony Stewart certainly isn't a clean cut and polished TV guy. Also, NASCAR really hasn't done much to control him. He says some things that make them cringe, but he hasn't been banished from the sport.

I can be as cynical as the next fan, but I think Tony and a few other drivers are as brash, bold, and talented as David Pearson, but I do understand the sentimentality of cherishing the old ways.

kang said...

Espn may not know it yet but they are on the way to covering Nascar in a way we have seldom seen.Fox covers Nascar like they are part of the "team". The pr department of Nascar. Maybe just maybe Espn has gone down a better road.

Anonymous said...

JD, the fact that you cover this story as an important event shows you too may have an opinion on this issue. No problems, but I want you to put things in better perspective with this question. What do you think of direction NASCAR has gone in the past few decades? You have given your opinion on other important issues, If you don't mind, I would like you opinion on this issue. Thanks for the Blog.

Anonymous said...

JD, I agree with an above poster. This is not a NASCAR issue, it is a sponsor issue. Also don't think every driver is just a boring PR rep as many have said, some are VERY outspoken and bold. I don't think Pearson has met every driver in the NASCAR garage these days.

Vince said...

Great interview with David Pearson. It showed all the newer Nascar fans what is wrong with the current version of Nascar and the way it is run. David said it all.

Thanks David for saying what all of us old school fans have been feeling about the way Brian France, Helton and the rest have run Nascar into the ground.

Anonymous said...

Carl looked like he wanted to sink into the ground when David Pearson was talking. I felt a little bad for him - he was probably expecting to do his normal PR thing and then get ready to go to Mexico.

Too bad it wasn't Jeff Gordon at Darlington with Pearson. He seemed to genuinely get a kick out of Pearson when they were interviewed together and ended up asking more questions of Pearson than the interviewer (was it Squier?). I think some here have suggested that Gordon and Pearson be paired on The Humpy Show if that ever came back on SPEED (which I doubt it will).

Boring show otherwise. I don't understand the need to conduct an interview and then have an "analyst"- whether it's a reporter or TV personality - basically repeat everything the interviewee just said. But NASCAR Now does that in almost every show.

Anonymous said...

Someone posted in the other thread that NASCAR Now should have a story about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s uptown Charlotte nightclub opening last night where the media were invited.

I agree they should have had a story about it on today's episode and they didn't. Why are there stories about the nightclub's opening on several NASCAR websites (including ESPN) and NN completely missed it? I suspect it's because they're in Bristol and not North Carolina and nobody from NN went to the opening. A shame since they're the only daily show covering NASCAR and its drivers.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to David Pearson to tell it like it is. They need to have a few more of the drivers from his era on the show. Talk about livening things up.

Anonymous said...

The Silver Fox hisself :). It was nice to see him! Telling it like it is :)

I love the old school guys! I wish I had purchased that interview they did with the Silver Fox, Mr. Yarborough, Mr. Childress, The King, the Allison Brothers and so many others. they did a few years ago. I kept putting it off and now can't find it :(.

@anon 10:55--yes I hope The Humpy Show comes back as well :(

Ritchie said...

I agree that it would be great to see more of the older drivers on the show. They bring history to the show and in turn, that brings gravitas to the sport.

As a poster mentioned, one of the all time great interviews was when Jeff Gordon was paired with David Pearson. I had forgotton that interview, but it was definitely a blast to see two of the greatest drivers of all time together on TV.

LuckyForward said...

Way to go David Pearson! He called it exactly as it is about NASCAR today! For those of us old enough to remember when he drove and what NASCAR was "back then," the modern day "homogenized" version of NASCAR leaves much to be desired. Thus, I am sure that there were those who were "cringing" at all of Mr. Pearson's comments. For all of you too young to have ever known him and his colleagues, David Pearson gave you a glimpse of "NASCAR Past."

Comments on a few other postings:
1. I do not particularly care about JD's perspective on where NASCAR has gone the last few decades; as Mr. Daly often states, this is a blog about addressing NASCAR broadcast issues.

2. As I have stated in the past, I wonder where some of our "Anons' get their paychecks . . .


Anonymous said...

There ARE a couple of "old school" guys left but NASCAR spanks their butts every time they open their mouths. Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart would have fit in nicely in the old days. If you love "old school", you have to love those guys.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree that todays drivers do not get a chance to have fun and build the relationships like drivers did back when Pearson drove. Gymmie that video is available still - just google Stock Car Legends Reunion. It is one of the best videos. I just purchased the DVD version of it and watched during the race Friday night :)

alex said...

I tried to watch the late replay after seeing this posting, but ESPN needs to figure out their TV schedule. It's a mess.

I thought that it would be at 12 or 12:30am, and after checking ESPN's website, they showed it coming on at 1. They had hours upon hours of boxing to show instead, and kept saying Nascar Now was "Next".

I finally gave up, but I recorded it and it seems they finally started the program around 2:30 am. I understand the boxing shows are pre-recorded, but it would have been nice for them to scroll something across the bottom of the screen giving more information.

Ironically, I was able tape it, but the recording stopped after 6 minutes. At least I got a bit of the first segment :-/

Anonymous said...

Here's the replay on ESPN.

James said...

Is this interview available online yet? I'd love to see it.

Dustin said...

You guys, along with DP, are friggen nuts. I don't know where you get all these "NASCAR fines everyone" hallucinations. When was the last time you saw NASCAR fine anybody for saying something bad about the sport or its officials? Tony Stewart wasn't even fined for saying NASCAR fixes races! Sure NASCAR wasn't happy about what he said.. but they didn't fine him. Please tell me of a time when NASCAR fined somebody for talking bad about another competitor or NASCAR itself. Heck, if you talk bad about the officials in the NBA, NFL, or NHL you can expect a hefty fine. Also, please tell me of a situation where NASCAR fined somebody for bumping or rubbing. And please don't mention plate tracks. There are RULES against bump drafting in the turns. I have no clue how people generate these kind of thoughts.

hockeyman said...

Now wouldn't you just love to know exactly what Carl wanted to say. The fine may have been worth it for and honest answer from today's drivers also.

Rock and Silver Fox you the man.

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

The DP/Edwards segment was pretty funny. Carl, who is never at a loss for words, was really struggling...LOL. I continue to like Nicole Manske. Wouldn't object if she was the main host.

Yes, lets go back in the day, then we wouldn't be able to complain about the broadcasts because we would be seeing them tape delayed, if we were lucky. And, of course we would all take the time to write "letters" to complain. Most likely we wouldn't even see NASCAR in this environment because many sponsors are nation wide and good ol' southern boys wouldn't sell. I for one loved those guys back then, but today is a totally different environment. I also think that there are a few characters and outspoken drivers who don't get "punished", like Tony, Jeff G and B and even Junior. Kyle hasn't been punished for some of his comments and antics. So it's not all squeaky clean.

Ritchie said...

Although this conversation is interesting, I think that it is important to take a moment and thank ESPN for running such a great segment that it allowed us to focus on the show's content and not the program. It just proves how important good content is. More importantly, when was the last time that SPEED put on a program that allowed us forget the TV program because the content was so great?

MelissaAnne said...

Anon 11:53-
I'm a Jr. fan, and I would give my left arm twice to see more of David Pearson and fellows like him instead of a boring old story about a nightclub.
I hope they bring more of the real drivers back for interviews! I loved it. We're missing so much character. You don't even have to have been around for it (I wasn't) but if you read any NASCAR history, you can see what we're missing these days.

SophiaZ123 said...


I don't think DP meant they literally FINED everybody but there are tight leashes on most all drivers for saying anything not politically correct as we all know..that's probably what he meant. Numerous meetings in the 'hauler' and all that stuff...

I love R. Gordon and Tony stewart, too.

I have also heard that's why a lot of guys are happy in the truck series as they are not under the microscope as much and they are more interesting personalities!!

Anonymous said...


What do you think would have happened if Eric K. had been doing that interview?

Tom said...

Great interview-Pearson was able to hit it on the head!
Keep in mind that although Tony was "officially" fined for skipping the press conference, it is well accepted among insiders that the fine was in response to the "fixing" statement (as was the A$$-chewing from NASCAR at 6am!)
It is funny-DP didn't really say anything that outrageous, but I think we are so conditioned by all of the NASCAR shills on ALL forms of media, that it really sticks out. I mean he didn't curse or insult anybody, but today we are really happy to hear what he said-even if it just what we were thinking!

Inverness, FL

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- GREAT post and great show. A true endorsement, in my view, for more "Humpy" shows on SPEED, but TWIN makes it appear that SPEED is only interested in track-based racing programming. I found it fascinating the respect ( awe? ) which Carl and Nicole showed for the Silver Fox, who is still racing some. I believe he was only 13 for 13 last year. I sure do wish thay had let DP take a few laps in Carl's car.

Maybe a legend from the past would be a good semi-regular feature for N-NOW on Wednesdays?

darbar said...

Hooray for David Pearson. Tell me that wasn't great TV. In this day and age of buttoned down, politically correct, milk-toast drivers, this man is a breath of fresh air. Nascar might not literally fine a driver for speaking their mind, but the driver's themselves know where their bread is buttered and walk a very gentle line because of sponsors. Nascar wasn't a moneyed sport back in Pearson's day so they didnt' have to give a darn what they did or what they said. And at least back then the men drove "Stock Cars" and not basically identical IROC cars. At least back in the day you could see who was in a Charger, or Chevy or Pontiac and you could walk into a dealership and say you wanted the kind of car Richard Petty drove, and you got it. Now, when they're all lined up, without looking at the "badge" or grill, can you tell a Toyota from a Monte Carlo from a Fusion? No way. This isn't Stock Car racing anymore. It's corporate advertising with men who drive fast in templates.

Actually, I was waiting to see if Edwards would get angry and try is patented sucker punch, like the one he attempted on his own teammate, Kenseth. Now that would have been news.

Anonymous said...

It was great to hear David say the things that most race fans would say if they could . Nascar has taken the sport to a all time low. I have been watching Nascar since I saw Buddy Baker win the daytona 500. Its sad to see things like the lucky dog, pit road speed and the top 35 . Nascar has taken a high risk sport and turned it into a boring display of fast cars and a bunch of dribers with out any back bone. Its good to see however all of the saftey standards in place so why not bring back so old style racing.

Anonymous said...

MelissaAnne said...
"I'm a Jr. fan, and I would give my left arm twice to see more of David Pearson and fellows like him instead of a boring old story about a nightclub."
While I truly liked the Pearson interview, I commented yesterday in another blog entry that I wanted to see a story about Jr's bar or this was the end of the road for me and NASCAR Now. There was room for both stories - the new bar and Pearson - on the show. And that's my continuing problem with NASCAR Now: they don't show the drivers we see every week doing things off the track.

That may be fine for some people who want to hear "talking head" comments of what's going to happen at the Mexico City race three days in a row. Or something that lets them reminisce about the good old days. (That's fine also, but I'd also like a closer focus on the drivers we have now; I don't think they're so bad.) But if they want to keep any of the twentysomething viewers they might have, they need to cover stories that might appeal to us as far as knowing the drivers as people.

I might be rare because NOBODY I know who is in their mid to late 20s watches or DVR's NASCAR Now. And I'm about to give up on it - my boyfriend gave up on it about a month ago and he only watched it because I did. And I live in a pretty NASCAR heavy area. No one but me watches this show regularly.

If ESPN is fine with attracting an older audience, so be it. They're not going to attract a younger audience with the show they've got now. While the Pearson/Edwards comments were great, there's room for much more variety in this show.

Are two or three fun or interesting off-track stories a week, like Dale Jr's bar, out of the question for NASCAR Now? I'm not asking for a wholesale return to NASCAR Nation with cleavage and silly flashiness, but this show is monotony at its finest, six days a week. I'll continue to read the blog reviews here, but to me there's really no reason to watch this show every day. Or most days, actually.

JHD said...

To Dustin:

No, Tony Stewart didn't get fined for his "NASCAR fixes races" comments. He was just summarily hauled to the Oval Office at 6am the following weekend. And when he came out of the hauler, he retracted most of his statements and said that he now saw things the "NASCAR way".

In some ways, that's much worse than being fined. Censoring drivers isn't ever going to end well for NASCAR.

I liked Mr. Pearson's interview, I just wish he'd been asked to spit his gum out. And really it is more to make sure his words came out clearly than a wish for a polished presentation.

And yes, now I'd like to know what Carl would have said had he been allowed to.

Anonymous said...

Mr DALY David Pearson it what racing old and new school is about! Your comment seems to be "cycical" when you said "leave it to David Pearson to throw a wrench in it"!David Pearson was Mr Darlington,Dale Earnhart had the same attitude!Us fans dont need a "Dale Carnigie" graduate when what we want is real racing and and a great spokesmen! Seems Allen Bestwick is the only announcer you you like, I rather hear David Pearson any day!

Anonymous said...

Dang. I missed this episode as it sounds like one I would've certainly enjoyed with DP being honest with his answers. I stopped recording all NASCAR related shows on ESPN because I just don't care for their format and I don't really like Manske, either.

How refreshing to read that DP was as far away from PC as one could get. I don't know about other fans, but this one is tired of stuffed-shirt, ultra PC shows about the sport of racing.

Kenn Fong said...

Anonymous 5:44 P.M.

Ask and ye shall receive:

This is a 6 minute plus clip of DAvid Pearson and Carl Edwards. I think it's the same report they used on NN.

Alameda, California

Anonymous said...

Tonight's NASCAR Now talked about Junior's nightclub opening. But they talked about it at the very end of the program - for less than one minute. Funnily enough, they spent as much time promoting (twice) that a segment about Whisky River was "coming up" as they spent on the rushed and incomplete actual segment. Not good, NASCAR Now.

Rockin Rich said...

Ken Fong: Can you please repost the address for the Pearson/Edwards video? The text formatting on this blog limits the number of characters on a line. The address you posted ends after the word videopage.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Kenny,

Yes, it was a different interview. Carl did try to play along. I really did enjoy it JD

Newracefan said...

I thought the interview was fun and Carl asking DP what he thought when Nicole got into a little bind not to mention it deflected the questions away from him.

Bring back the Humpy show and we can see stuff like this on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

@anon 8:25--thank you so much! YAY!

Anonymous said...

That interview was a classic!

You could sense the moments of silence from Nicole and Carl both as neither really knew what direction it was headed in or what David Pearson would say next.

Good for David - OLD SCHOOL at it's best.

MelissaAnne said...

Anon- Don't give up on it! I'm a 31 year old gal from California who watched NASCAR _alone_ for ages before I found other people interested.
I see your point, for sure. Its too bad that they can't sort it out. Give us Humpy, and Back in the Day, and a real look at the fellas off the track, instead of the piecemeal broadcasts for ratings (I think that they did one last year to promote NASCAR during basketball)
The broadcasts like NN give us a little bit of a different take sometimes- but not much. Though, I bet you a dollar that at Talladega we'll hear all about WR!

Anonymous said...