Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pit Crew Challenge Now Works For TV


Update: For those of you who just finished watching the Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday night, please tell us how you enjoyed the program in the comments section below.

Back in the mid-1990's the Pit Crew Championship was a mess. Held at Rockingham Motor Speedway, the competition took place before the Busch Series race on Saturday afternoon.

Believe it or not, the actual Cup Series primary cars were used and all of the drivers lined-up single file. It was then that the reality of just how long it was going to take to get all those cars through the pit stop sequence sunk-in. It quickly turned-into the 24 Hours of Rockingham.

Sunbelt Video from Charlotte, NC taped the whole thing in a big TV truck, and then post-produced the event into a finished television program a while later. Once all the cars and crews had gone through the line, the Busch Series teams filled the two pits used for the contest and the Busch race began. My, how things have changed.

The 2008 Pit Crew Challenge will be held on Thursday at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte at 7PM Eastern Time. There will be five rounds of side-by-side eliminations on a specially constructed set built by JHE Productions. SPEED will air the program at 9PM that same night as a two hour special.

There are competitions in individual skills as well as with the full pit crews. JHE, NASCAR and SPEED have combined to turn this into a great night for the normally under-the-radar crew members. With a big crowd expected, it should make for a very raucous atmosphere. It is absolutely true that family members make the most noise.

It will be Steve Byrnes hosting SPEED's coverage. He will be joined by two former crew chiefs, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond. The "pit" reporter will be Bob Dillner. There should be an interesting dynamic at work as many of the drivers and crew chiefs will be on-hand to root for their respective pit crews.

In today's tightly-controlled NASCAR environment, TV viewers do not get to see most of the stars out of their element. After a season of some high-profile whining about pit stops, the interaction between the drivers and the crews should be interesting to see play-out. Thursday night's intense atmosphere should be fun for all.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy directions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

34 comments:

missouriracefan said...

We are unable to watch any programs on Speed because our Candlewood Suites in the heart of NASCAR country does not provide that station although we are a stone's throw away from the Speed studio. There is something unbelievably wrong with this picture.

Kyle said...

The Crew Challenge was great last year. One of the things in addition to the crew chief race I look forward to every year.
Thunder roadsters just look so dang cool.

Speedcouch said...

Ever since the abandonment of Rockingham by NASCAR, this competition just seems contrived to me. Pushing the car? How absurd! I was fortunate enough to see the original Pit Crew Championship live at Rockingham in 1994 and every year from 1997-2001 and nothing TV "produces" can ever beat that!

Daly Planet Editor said...

missouri,

Next time try the Hampton Inn right down the street. Got SPEED and everything else.

JD

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Good Morning JD,
Altough I do not remember the year. I did enjoy the "Challenge" when it was done at the track. It just seems to me that now it is all about show. A (dog and pony show). Yes, I do know the crew is important to the TEAM effort, and they do deserve to be recognized, the glitter I can do without. I still think it should be a show done on pit lane in a natural environment for the pit crew members. Of course if this is what the pit crew members enjoy over the previous shows, that is ok w/me

Anonymous said...

I actually disagree about the Pit Crew Challenge better for TV. I think they should do it how IndyCar at Indianapolius does there. Hold it on pit road and bring in two make-shift pit stalls side by side.

I just think holding it an an arena and not at a race track is a little silly.

SallyB said...

The newest incarnation of the Pit Crew Challenge is, to me, all about SHOW. It has nothing to do with what goes on at the track, but is a great way for Nascar to bleed more money from the fans. The crews definitely deserve the recognition, but the whole thing is so contrived and phoney...just like much of Nascar these days. Watching the "real" drivers come barreling down pit road for the competition stops on a REAL pit road...not that was relevant.

JHD said...

Based on these comments, I think I may be the only one who understands why it's held in an arena. Or at the very least has no problem with it being held in an arena. It has to do with being able to SEE the challenge.

Say it's held on pit row at Lowe's. That means the only place they can sell tickets so people can watch is on the frontstretch in the two or three sections near those pit boxes. Sit anywhere else, and you might as well have stayed home and watched on TV.

In an arena, you can see everything from any seat. The arena may hold less seats but no one has a bad view.

Which really means that if you want to hold this challenge at a track, and not Bobcat Arena, then it has to be held in Bristol. =)

Daly Planet Editor said...

It should be interesting to see what everyone thinks after the show airs Thursday night.

JD

Rockin Rich said...

Just stumbled on David Poole's "live" blog from the Challenge arena. The following, posted at 6:30 PM, is a verbatim quote:

"That guy from Speed who might very well be the world's largest waste of protoplasm is acting as the master of ceremonies for this portion of the evening's activities. I won't mention his name here because, well, basically he annoys me as much as any person on the planet does these days."

I wonder if he was talking about R. Wood. I was really surprised to see such a negative comment about a peer, (of sorts anyway).

Anyone know who this "master of ceremonies" is?

Newracefan said...

For the TV it's Steve Byrnes and I hope that is not who Poole is talking about.

Kyle said...

Anyone watching Speed right now??? Oh my talk about technical problems!!!

Newracefan said...

Talk about a train wreck I'm not even sure what happened. I could hear Adam and he was doing fine so I'm not sure why he stopped. JD can you find out what happened on the countdown show??

Daly Planet Editor said...

nrf,

I will ask, but I think they are having tech trouble. No big NASCAR TV compound for this weekend. Can certainly tell the difference. This has been a thorn in SPEED's side for some time now. After the TWIN technical mess on Monday, things continue to be snake bit.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

rich,

David certainly speaks more freely on his blog that in his fulltime job.

He is not very happy today, and apparently he is not very happy with Mr. Wood.

JD

Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle said...

I don't understand why the camera guys and director of the event haven't planned out their shots.

Just in that third run, we got to see the side of a car, with no one at it. then we got to see 2 camera men at the same spot, so all we got to see was the backend of another camera.

Oh now Wood is on TV..... They got digger there too?

Ken-Michigan said...

Due to the obvious AUDIO issues inside that arena...

I'll refrain from going any further and limit my comment to one word....

UNWATCHABLE !!!

Vince said...

I'm enjoying the show much more after I started using the mute button. I wonder how Hammond gets his head through the door. ;-)

David said...

OMG what and audio mess!! How do they even think this is acceptable?? Have they ever done this before??

Matt said...

What kind of audio problems are you guys talking bout? I can't say I've noticed anything at all.

Kyle said...

The arena announcer noise in the background is what I think everyone is complaining about.

Fun event to watch, the coverage was lacking. Could have used some picture in picture shots to make this even MUCH better.

Would be cool to leave a small box on screen with a wide shot on the 2 cars. Then take up the rest of the screen with whatever individual job is going on. Then when everyone gets to the car then flip to a single shot of the 2 cars being pushed. That way we could actually see some 300# 6'5" jack man running his rump off, not just hear Larry and Jeff talking about it.
Would have made for much better coverage of the event.

Larry Mac and Jeff Hamster did a good job in the "booth". Could have left Wood at home and brought in Krista Voda or someone who would actually had intelligent questions or statements.

Matt said...

I liked the arena announcer and noise, I think it added to whole event. It was actually a better broadcast than I thought it would be.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the comments,

Could those of you who talked about the audio problems and the bad camera shots please be more specific?

Was it the background announcer and the handheld cameras that upset you?

Your comments will be read by the folks that produced the event, so please layout what you would like to see changed for future broadcasts.

Thanks as always!

JD

SallyB said...

I don't know about anyone else's audio, but the ambient noise in the arena...band, air guns, etc., almost drowned out the announcers entirely. This is the same problem I've seen at many of the races. If you're going to have announcers, you should be able to hear them...sometimes a mixed blessing at best. It was like trying to hear a pit announcer at Bristol. An occasional word came through, but most of the commentary was so garbled with the backgroud noise it was useless.

haus20 said...

the only audio problem i noticed was with the pre-produced piece that was used to explaine the rules for the competition...it sounded as if Steve Byrnes did the voice over with his head in a bucket.

The other thing that I thought was a little over the top was the whole idea of the "level of intensity" you could feel in the arena. Several different times that comment was made before the competition began and the stands in the arena were 75% empty at the time the statement was being made...

David said...

JD.
I could not hear the TV announcers (I know why do I want to hear them now?) for the Arena announcer talking over them. It was such a mess not matter how much I turned up the TV they could not be heard. Any interviews could not be heard for the noise in the arena. Not the tire guns and such but the announcer. Why couldn't they setup the audio like a basketball game? The camera angles I did not mention originally but I did not like them. I saw the same stupid gas can cam everytime. They would talk about getting the car going by pulling but we never quite got to see that. They box pits stops and stuff all the time during the race and they don't do it on this. Not a very good production for this show.

Anonymous said...

Time for the SPEED folks to berak out the "convention" headsets with microphones...that would have made them audible over the incredibly loud PA announcers.

Anonymous said...

I was only able to tolerate a few minutes of the Challenge,it doesn't appeal to me,so I watched the heroes show that I taped instead.
I did see the technical mess with Adam Alexander,wow,that looked very uncomfortable for him.

Terry

Anonymous said...

I'm very critical about sound problems.We had none from comcast cable in Spfld.Il. Tks.JD Ron Cent.Il.

Anonymous said...

JD. I think you have created a Army of TV critics,which isn't bad.I would like to thank Speed TV very much for a great show.We looked foward to this show this time,because we didn't know in advance the outcome.Even after our teams #99 #24 was eliminated we stayed tuned,hoping #18 would be beat because of Kyle. If the public only knew of all the logistics that goes on to stage a production like that,i doubt they would complain about a few minor gliches. Tks. JD. Ron Il.

Bobby said...

One thing I don't think I have heard is why an indoor event works better than a racetrack event for the pit stop event is that there is no worry about rain or thunderstorms. They had to delay the start of practice for trucks because of rain from last night.

No postponements, no cancellations (the 1971 pit championship at Rockingham was cancelled because of weather), everyone's dry, the fans are close to the action, and the full athletic aspect of the contest create a different type of drama. Pushing a car 120 feet simulates the type of pit stall "emergency" situations that can often happen in case of a stalled car.

red said...

i watched only the last 30 minutes or so due to family commitments so i can't comment on the totality of the coverage but . . .
i had no problem with the audio. i dunno why, given what others have said, but i was fine with that part. i only rarely even heard the arena announcer and i admit to changing channels when the "music and dancing girls" nonsense came on.
i understand the complaints about indoor vs outdoor but there's a whole lot more going on than just trying to recreate a pit stop on pit road. weather is a factor to be certain as is the ability to actually see the event. and i really like the idea that the crowd, regardless of size, is close to the teams so that the teams can see the fans' reactions to their work! that, for me, is a big plus! these guys are rarely focused upon during a race and it was great to see them, sans helmets, and see their determination and drive!
(hell, i live in philly and there's even a mummers show after the new years day parade so folks can see the costumes and routines up close, indoors. works for them for pretty much the same reasons: no weather, great visibility, profit.)
i wasn't overwhelmed by the camera angles EXCEPT the ones with the gas can guys! that was sweet. but it did seem a tad disjointed otherwise.
overall, i liked what i saw EXCEPT for the booing of the #18 team! you may not like the driver -- and i don't -- but that was a shame to hear. those guys do not serve that!

Newracefan said...

I enjoyed the coverage but finished up watching on the small bedroom TV when it started to get late. The audio from the arena did make it difficult for me to hear the interviews at times although I cracked up when I realized that JJ had requested a Metallica song from the band either that or three cords is he recognized the song. I had no trouble with Steve, Larry and Jeff just Rut and Bob. It was a fun show and nice to see those Pit guys get rooted on by their driver.