Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Fasten Your Seatbelts, Randy LaJoie Is Back On TV
With the big weekend at Texas coming quickly, word that Randy LaJoie would be returning to TV this season came just in the nick of time.
Cutting through the politically correct and well-coiffed network TV announcers, LaJoie last season was a fan favorite for his great sense of humor and ability to "tell it like it is" on the Busch Series races. He was enthusiastic and irreverent all at the same time.
NASCAR fans might want to make a date for Monday at 5:30PM on ESPN2. The executives at ESPN have gathered Allen Bestwick, Marty Smith, and Mike Massaro for the "Big Monday" edition of NASCAR Now that ESPN calls the roundtable.
Added to the mix on this particular Monday will be the one-and-only Mr. LaJoie. That's right, LaJoie will be loose in the studio for the full hour with three journalists and no other former drivers. No Rusty Wallace, no Dale Jarrett and no Boris Said anywhere in sight. The results should be interesting.
There was no doubt that LaJoie and Bestwick had a great chemistry last season when calling stand-alone Busch Series races. This duo was a bright spot in a tough season for the NASCAR on ESPN efforts.
Viewers will not soon forget these two hosting the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show, calling the Busch Series race, and then hosting the post-race coverage. It was just Bestwick, LaJoie and some pit reporters.
On those broadcasts there was no fancy Infield Pit Center. There was no one standing-by to point out equipment issues in the Tech Center. The music was not blaring and the conversation was about the racing. SportsCenter updates and celebrity guests simply did not happen.
Now, LaJoie and Bestwick are reunited at a time when Bestwick's stock is at an all-time high. So far this season, Bestwick has been the ironman for the NASCAR on ESPN team and he shows no signs of slowing down. Putting LaJoie with him for a full hour program after the Texas weekend is simply a great choice.
One thing that ESPN has a tough time with on-the-air is fun. The suits-and-ties and strictly scripted productions have changed a casual and relaxed network into one that often puts distance between itself and the fan.
Perhaps, adding LaJoie to NASCAR Now and bringing him along for commentary on some Nationwide races this season is going to bring the laughter and fun back into the NASCAR coverage that viewers remember so well from ESPN's past.
With Major League Baseball's Opening Day all done, there should be no issues with Monday's NASCAR Now hitting the air at 5:30PM Eastern Time. Of all the combinations of personalities that have been featured on the Monday shows, this upcoming program promises to be one to remember.
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