Sunday, May 25, 2008
Petty Drops A Bombshell On "Tradin' Paint"
It only took a couple of minutes for SPEED's Tradin' Paint program to finally get away from the vanilla-flavored conversations of the past couple of shows and find some content to spark some good NASCAR discussion.
"I think Humpy Wheeler was one of the greatest promoters that this sport has ever seen," said panelist Kyle Petty. "On the reverse side of that, I think the sport has passed him by. Even PT Barnum doesn't work in this market today."
All this was in response to show host John Roberts bringing-up the topic of Wheeler's sudden retirement and the subsequent comments of track owner Bruton Smith. The stories these gentlemen were telling absolutely did not match-up on the same topic.
This week on Tradin' Paint it was the lightning rod NASCAR reporter for the AP Jenna Fryer as the media guest. Fryer was more circumspect in her response on the Wheeler issue and raised several good points.
She contends that Wheeler had been distancing himself from both LMS and Bruton Smith for a while now. Wheeler was not involved in the new LMS drag strip and Fryer was convinced that racing just was not "fun anymore" for Wheeler.
At this point in the show, Roberts suddenly decided he would leave the host role and become a panelist. "One thing that I think everyone agrees about around here is the fact that Humpy Wheeler is a big part of what this speedway is...he will be missed around here but he will still be felt...in presence...because of what he has done at this racetrack over the years," commented Roberts. He added that he would be the first person in line to buy Humpy's book.
This is the problem that is currently on-going with Tradin' Paint. Suddenly, Roberts has begun interjecting his own opinion and often decides that he will have the last word on a certain subject. If he would like to appear as a media panelist, that might make for a fun show. Someone like Randy Pemberton or Bob Dillner could host.
In reality, this season it is Roberts who is the host of the show. His role is to allow the two panelists to shine. It is to allow them to speak, get across their views and then send the show off to the next commercial break. For some strange reason, this has suddenly become an issue.
A discussion of the recent purchase of Kentucky Speedway by Bruton Smith was next. Both Petty and Fryer raised great points about the on-going dynamics of this rather confusing situation. Fryer guessed another shoe was about to drop, and perhaps it was the purchase and subsequent closure of Pocono Raceway. Petty agreed that was a possibility, but thought that perhaps New Hampshire might be losing a race to Kentucky.
Once again, Roberts had the last word. "No one is powerful enough to make the year longer. There are already thirty-eight events on the schedule right now. There just isn't enough room to have another date," added Roberts. He went on even further with his own answer to a question intended for the panelists. Then, he led to commercial by joking that the next topic up for discussion was "rear ends." This was not the normal John Roberts that TV viewers have come to enjoy.
Petty then led an excellent discussion of the new "crab walking" Cup cars. His technical explanation of why and how this was done was simply outstanding. Fryer's point was that NASCAR continues to make the level of creativity smaller and the crew chiefs are essentially handcuffed with the COT cars. This conversation was exactly the type of interesting and informative TV content that Tradin' Paint was created to give to the fans.
Yet again, Roberts added his own paragraph to the answers of the panel before commercial. "Another thing there is no question about is that some of the smartest engineering minds in world work in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series right now so they will find a way around any new rules that come down the pike." said Roberts. This comment was strange given the fact Petty and Fryer had just finished talking about this subject. What the program needed was the host to "throw" to commercial.
The final big segment of this show allowed Fryer to finally talk about something in depth, and that was the situation with Juan Montoya's team. She had the details on the Ganassi troubles in the sport and Petty deferred to her on those issues. Petty then talked about the same subject from a car owner perspective. His main point was that Montoya should have been involved from the beginning on crew chief changes. If he was not, a new team chemistry is going to be very hard to find.
Over the years, Tradin' Paint has been hanging-in there as a quick thirty minute show that is seen twice a weekend and is then gone. The program is so topical that it does not repeat during the week. SPEED does not produce a season-in-review on this show at the end of the year.
If the host turns the focus to the panelists and makes them work hard where the topics are concerned, the program flows. If the host takes the last word on a topic as the show heads to break, it does not. This edition of Tradin' Paint had great information and interesting content. What it did not have was a rhythm and the reason why was clear for all to see.
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