Friday, July 4, 2008

Just How "Wrecked" Is NASCAR On SPEED?


SPEED is about to unveil yet another "lifestyle TV" series. Wrecked is the story of the O'Hare Towing and Recovery Company that operates in the Chicago, IL area. The series will document the company towing cars and trucks.

SPEED is a truly bi-polar TV network. Once NASCAR takes to the track, Formula-1 starts practice and the sports cars roll-off pit road the network is all about racing.

From MotoGP to the entire Craftsman Truck Series, SPEED on the weekends is a race fan's dream. Then, the reality of the week hits hard. It is "lifestyle programming" time again.

NASCAR fans cling to the one hour of This Week In NASCAR as their only regular weekday link to the sport. Originally, SPEED had developed a multi-hour block of NASCAR programming on Monday nights that fans loved.

This week, TWIN is surrounded by a re-run of PINKS, the drag-racing game show Pass Time and 101 Cars You Must Drive hosted by the winner of the Last Comic Standing, Alonzo Bodden.

It is quite possible that the O'Hare Towing bunch in Chicago are some of the nicest people on the planet. This ten episode series is the brainchild of SPEED VP Robert Ecker. Here is an excerpt from SPEED's description of the series:

"This is a world similar in many respects to that of a major urban firehouse," Ecker said. "Until the phone rings and that emergency call comes in, there's simply no way of knowing what any given day will bring and when it does come, lives can literally hang in the balance."

"Whether they are called upon to fix a flat tire, tow an illegally parked vehicle or clean up the remnants of a major wreck, the people who work in this inherently dangerous industry touch the lives of all of us in some way large or small, yet they remain otherwise virtually unnoticed."

This new TV series required a tremendous amount of production and editing. It involved significant financial investment and hundreds of man hours to create.

Meanwhile, SPEED viewers saw one episode of The Humpy Show. It featured Humpy Wheeler sitting down with a current NASCAR driver and a retired NASCAR legend. The show was fantastic. There has never been another episode on SPEED. There are none scheduled.

After winning a national Emmy award, SPEED cancelled Beyond The Wheel that was produced by the NASCAR Media Group. That TV series is now called Quest for the Cup and is produced by NMG for Voom TV where it won another Emmy.

Also cancelled in the NASCAR category were 7 Days, NBS 24/7 and Survival of the Fastest. Fans only need to look a bit farther back to remember NASCAR Nation which began life as Totally NASCAR.

SPEED has no weekly TV series in support of the Craftsman Truck Series. This is the only NASCAR racing series that SPEED shows exclusively. It is the only one they produce. Last Monday on TWIN, the Truck Series highlights were not even shown.

On Sunday nights, Dave Despain hosts a one hour edition of Wind Tunnel. Sometimes, the topic is NASCAR and Despain will take some calls from fans. However, SPEED has no TV series that interacts with NASCAR fans on a regular basis.

Sirius Satellite Radio has a 24 hour NASCAR Channel. The live shows include programs that look at the news, foster debate and give fans an opportunity to speak their mind in a public forum. Hosts range from David Poole to Dave Moody. Thursday, the guests ranged from Richard Childress to Martin Truex Jr. to TV reporter Shannon Spake.

Perhaps, Wrecked will be a big hit for SPEED. Here is what the network says about their new primetime line-up:

Wrecked joins new 2008 SPEED originals Livin' The Low Life with Vida Guerra, Super Cars Exposed, Drag Race High and the daily game show Pass Time, as SPEED continues its most ambitious prime time program development effort in network history.

Apparently, even one weekday NASCAR TV series is not in the cards. Literally, right up the street from SPEED sits the NASCAR Media Group with thousands of hours of NASCAR footage, their own production facilities and a shelf full of Emmy Awards.

Maybe, they need to buy a tow truck.

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36 comments:

SophiaZ123 said...

Proof that insanity lives and runs tv and caters to the lowest common denominator.

I miss all those great shows you mention, JD, that appear to have gone over the rainbow to see Dorothy and Toto.

The weekdays shows on SPEED are pure dreck.

Shame they cater to the Jerry Springer "lifestyle" instead of great racing in it's many forms.

It's cringeworthy to see the shows promoted on SPEED.

Dot said...

JD,
When you listed all the cancelled shows from SPEED, I didn't realize how many there were. Is it costs that cancelled these shows? I know reality shows are cheap, that's why they're on all over TV.
Are the NASCAR shows different?

I do like 101 Cars. Good show.

Gymmie said...

I loved those shows. Mainly due to TN being moved from FSN to Speed, you could tune in *everyday* and see at least ONE thing NA$CAR.

I think my favorite TN show was when Steve went to Petty Racing and he and Kyle decaled one of the cars for the Sears Point race. It was for the VJGC and the King inspected the job. Let's just say neither one will become decalers when they retire from their current gigs :). I also loved the segments where they'd have Sterling give his TN picks, always fun, especially when Steve did his Sterling impression :).

Mondays they did the Pick 'em Ups "highlight" after IWC. Tuesday they had IWC replays (and I *think* they had a Thursday replay as well). And even on Two Wheel Tuesday, you might catch a NA$CAR driver on Greg's show :).

Wednesday was Winston Cup Wednesday with the enhanced race coverage (basically what became Behind the Wheel).

I believe it was Thursdays that had the "Old School" racing with Mike Joy and Matt Yocum. They'd have someone who was a "story" help review the race. That's how I learned about Ernie Irvan.

And Fridays you could pretty much leave the TV on Speed the entire weekend and only flip over for the race. And come back for Speed News even with a late Saturday Night race they often had a fresh, live show, with the hot interviews.

And for a while we had Dave every night for an hour. That was real fun! I loved it on Fridays when quals would run long and Dave had to be up until 11ish before he could start the show. And he'd tease the crew or give DW a hard time because he couldn't figure out how to dial on his phone. They gave DW the special number so he could call in :).

dannyboy said...

JD,

You forgot Unique Whips! And Barrett-Jackson (come on, do we really need 347 hours of auction programming?)

The most annoying show of all, Pinks, is at least about racing.

Sort of.

Pinks takes all the worst elements of outlaw street racing - aside from endangering the public - and puts them back into drag racing after all the work done by the NHRA in the last 60 years to eliminate them. When I used to watch drag races at Englishtown (where I also raced) I got as far away from the "Betting section" as I could. Now SPEED brings it into my living room.

I find myself watching Speed less and less aside from racing, with few exceptions. No surprise. When FOX took over (and I'm not a Fox hater) we saw an immediate move to less and less racing and more of the lifestyle junk.

There was even a dialog on the SPEED boards between disgruntled viewers upset with the network for cancelling the "Inside CUP" show and when it came back ,the changes to the cast. During that dialogue, we were spoken to by a network flack, Eric Arnesen, who was a mouthpiece for Chris Long, the v.p. who made the programming decisions. Long's take on viewership was that race fans represent a small portion of viewers and the network's target was more eyeballs on the screen when there was no race on. They don't care how they get the eyeballs, if showing some social-skills-challenged grease monkey or pneumatically endowed spokesmodel will get someone watching who normally wouldn't, then that's what they would show.

I understand the bottom line, as I own a business, but fercryin' out loud change the name of the network! It ain't about SPEED no more!

P.S. Chris Long appears to have outlived his usefulness at SPEED pretty quickly. He's listed as co-exec producer for the FX cheeseball potboiler, "Dirt", now-cancelled. after less than 2 seasons

Ritchie said...

I had seen the advertisements for the tow truck show and kept thinking how stupid of an idea that was. I understand that people are fascinated about guys going out to the Bering Sea to risk there lives for a lot of money, but tow truck drivers? Why don't they do a show about street sweepers instead? It would be just as interesting.

The point is, if you are going to document the lives of a working man (or woman), you could easily do that in the racing world. Do you realize how many regular folks work on the cars every day of their lives? Why not make a show about them? One without all of the over-dramatizations and super slow-mos. Make a program with the SPEED fraternity in it. No Waltrips (The Franchise or his champion big brother).

The common guy in racing is just as interesting as a tow truck driver. Actually, I have seen features on the drivers of the transporters that I thought were interesting.

I also think it would be interesting to see feature programming on some of the sports car guys. We never get to see that world, but a lot of the SCCA drivers are extremely passionate about what they do.

There are all sorts of racing stories if someone is willing to go get them. Also, don't tell me that they aren't interesting. If you want drama, the rumor is that the guys at Ganassi Racing that just got layed off were throwing things at the building. How much more drama do you need than that?

Anonymous said...

No more mentions of anyone named ERIC - please

Anonymous said...

I stop watching SPEED when NASCAR goes away and start back up in January when it returns.

There's no reason for me to watch when they run the crap in between.

Vicky D said...

I really dislike reality tv and all those shows you mentioned on Speed, especially Pinks & Barrett Jackson are so tiresome to me. And I scroll through the channels of our DirectTV shows and a lot of the time there is nothing to watch for even non-race shows. I guess those reality shows are so cheap to make they don't need any research or imagination to produce them.

batchief said...

Have to say, I really liked Totally Nascar. Covered so many areas of Nascar from Cup to Busch(NW) to Truck, from current drivers (some even co-hosting) to old timers, from media roundtables to the "How Do They Do That" segments. And a half hour a night, Mon. thru Fri. was just right. Yep, I really liked that show.

red said...

man, gymmie, that was one hell of a walk down memory lane! i even remember more of those shows than i thought. thanks!

one of my (many) complaints about nascar is the disregard of promoting its own history. certainly, nascar partners have even historical footage to fill a show or two . . . or more. it's hard for a new fan to ferret out the information and i find it so very interesting. knowing the roots of the sport, watching classic races, hearing from the men and women who made the sport could really hook more casual viewers and convert them to loyal fans.

as we've noted before, why not more of the humpy wheeler show? and how about picking up richie's idea of doing a show on the backbone of the various racing series: the men and women we never see on race weekend but who put all their energy into getting those cars on the track for us to enjoy?

i feel as if there is a wealth of material that could easily give speed a nascar presence every day of the week without much effort. if networks want viewership, they need to think about how very fanatical the average nascar fan truly is about the sport and how it really isn't so very hard to win -- and lose! -- our viewer loyalty.

for myself, i find i am rarely, if ever, on speed unless there is actual racing being broadcast. that is definitely a significant change from previous years for me. speed, you had me and you lost me.

they're repoting that bozo died yesterday but i'm not so sure about that . . .

red said...

ok, last sentence should have read "reporting", not "repoting." sorry: the golden retriever pup has decided it's playtime and he will accept no excuses for my not particpating, including proofreading.

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

Gymmie said...
I believe it was Thursdays that had the "Old School" racing with Mike Joy and Matt Yocum. They'd have someone who was a "story" help review the race. That's how I learned about Ernie Irvan.

Back when Speedvision started Thursday was known as Take Flight Thursday's which had shows based on Flying. The shows covered many Air shows and shows on Military aicraft from around the world.

The first "live" news show for Speedvision also started on Thursday's with a weekly update type of show on Aviation news and was hosted by Reg Wells. The show was put together by a great group of people including Terry Brookins who also headed up "Speedvision Raceweek" News on Sunday's which then turned into some of the shows you see today.

JD..I were you still up here for that?

I too miss T/N and the people who made the show one of the best shows covering NASCAR. In fact T/N took over the lead in ratings from RPM Tonight in less than one year and was nomiated for at least one Emmy. When they say the show was put together in a trailer they are not kidding.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:36AM,

If you would like to return and post those issues as your personal opinion, please do so.

We try to refrain from posting things as fact that are not. I am aware of the dynamics of SPEED, in regular contact with them and raise issues for comment that I feel will start a good discussion.

Thanks,

JD

Anonymous said...

Bi Polar!
Good analogy JD.
They folks at SPEEDFOX have lost this fan.

Even when I flip over to see whats on SPeed, in the hope that it wont be some illiterate, inarticulate moron, I'm inevitably met by a commercial.

Anonymous said...

John, as you have noted, just look at the listings for Speed each week. Living Low Life, Pinks, Unique Whips; I could go on.
They need a daily NASCAR news show and another that covers other venues, such as the NHRA, SCCA, and less motorcross.
Of course, I don't purchase products advertised on speed, and folks, I can afford them

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that some of these shows pay SPEED ot carry them, instead of the usual situation, which is for the network to buy the show--because some of them appear to be formatted as thinly-veiled informercials for the people who can 'trick out' your car.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon,

None that I know of pay SPEED a dime. The lifestyle guys at SPEED want to own this "content" so it can be distributed over the Internet, by phone and all kinds of VOD and even retail methods.

It is more about ownership than money in today's Internet dominated world.

JD

Gymmie said...

@ritchie--yes I agree. I loved the segments BP used to do on the various crew members.

@red--you're welcome :). I miss the old days too! I didn't mention the Rally boyz since they're not directly NA$CAR related. But I recall coming home flipping on Speed and watch them while I waited for TN to start :).

@cncspd--that sounds kewl! I love the flyovers and the various "toys" the military has and has had over the years. That definitely would be fun to watch!

Gwyn said...

TWIN compared to INC = I miss INC. It was informative and hilarious. I miss Dave Despain and Schrader.

Anonymous said...

I really don't have a problem with some of the shows SPEED airs. I like watching Pinks, Pass Time, Barret Jackson, 101 Cars, and Monster Jam. It's just a nice change of pace.

I'm a huge motorsports fan but I think the channel would be rather boring if it were dedicated 24/7 to NASCAR, Forumla 1, etc.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:27PM,

I want to make sure that you understand this column did not contain a word of criticism about the other shows on SPEED. That is not how things work.

What I tried to do is point out that shows from the SPEED Stage and on the tracks during the weekend are only one type of NASCAR programming.

Perhaps, amid the new weekday shows created by SPEED there might be one weekly NASCAR show. Striking a blance among the re-runs and the lifestyle shows might yield good results.

JD

Jo said...

I really miss all the NASCAR shows you mentioned now all gone.

Speed only gets turned on when its one of the NASCAR shows,racing (real kind not pinks) Wind Tunnel or Speed report. Thats it. I see no point in all these "lifestyle" or "reality" shows. NHRA worked hard to get the street element gone, guessing the speed of a car is dumb,and other such nonsense.

Is it me or is it Speed has gone stupid since the name change from Speedvision? Now its all about lifestyles and "youth" junk. How many really watch all of the auctions? Days and days of auctions. Nope racing has been cut down to a minimum on Speed. I get more on local FSN channel, which carries racing from all the Florida short tracks.

Speed has really sunk to the lowest levels of gutter "programming"

GinaV24 said...

Boy, that list of cancelled shows on Speed really hits home. Speed used to be one of my favorite channels to watch whenever I had the chance, now, that's all gone, along with all those shows you listed. I miss them a lot and I won't be wasting any time watching the new show -- yeah, in my opinion, Speed is "wrecked" all right. I guess someone is watching this stuff, but not me.

SophiaZ123 said...

JD

you may think this column should not criticize SPEED but their shows are rubbish to most of us.

Also NHRA has worked hard to make their shows professional but in the last 6 months there have been late night deaths from stupid citizens driving on public roads late at night and killing spectators. To have such shows that think it's cool to street race is ignorant..and I am guessing that's what some of those shows are?

But also the fake scripted reality shows are so lame EVERYWHERE.

There is a show called Hurl soon to hit tv...folks over eat, go on amusement park rides..and well, the last one to get sick wins.

I look for this type of show to come on SPEED as well. *sigh*

With so many types of motorsports to cover, and ESPN SQUEEZING in races and messing up practice/quals and never promoting other NASCAR shows, SPEED is really going for McCheap tv. It's a sorry state of television. :(

I would love to have Despain on 5 nights a week.

Dmo said...

Anyone up for a behind-the-scenes show that followed the Nationwide Series officials? That might prove interesting...

The lifestyle shows on SPEED always strike me as "lowest common denominator" and more importantly: inexpensive to produce. A show like NASCAR 360 required writers, producers, shooters, etc, to create entertainment-style content - conversely, Pinks has an on-camera person, producer, and tech crew that work from a model not unlike local news-gathering. The ROI on Pinks compared to 360 is probably a factor of ten.

At my former employer, we used to create content based on a 3:1 ratio of profit to investment. That permitted us quite a bit of flexibility in producing interesting shows and features; and we certainly produced a lot of neat content. When the place was sold, the new owners wouldn't commit crew to anything that wouldn't return 10:1. As you would expect, the content creation dried-up; and within two years, the lay-offs started.

It appears to me that, within the last 2-3 years, someone or something at SPEED shifted their goals to maximize income rather than provide coverage of racing-based content. From a die-hard, capitalist perspective, I applaud them - but speaking as a fan of racing content (NASCAR primarily), I'm disappointed in SPEED; and I certainly watch a lot less of it as a result.
-D

Anonymous said...

JD,

I know the article wasn't criticizing the other SPEED shows. I was just expressing how I felt about the other shows, since everyone else was expressing how they felt.

If they want to include a weekly or daily NASCAR show, that's fine. For the most part, I'm happy with the coverage NASCAR gets. No other form of racing gets as much coverage as NASCAR does.

SophiaZ123 said...

The best thing to do would be to rename the network since it no longer reflects racing a majority of the time.

Perhaps leaving off the S would help. :-) Just kidding.

Sonja said...

I still miss a daily dose of Wind Tunnel at 10 pm.

Richard in N.C. said...

OK, I'll be the odd ball - I'm interested in watching WRECKED. I watch virtually nothing on SPEED Monday - Thursday except TWIN. WRECKED sounds much more interesting than PINKS or Unique Quips.

It seems to me the real gap that SPEED could fill is a nightly show on all types of racing since RPM2Night has gone away - but nightly Wind Tunnel would be even better.

Bipolar is absolutely the best description of SPEED I have heard.

wickedj said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

richard,

You don't have "Texas Hardtails" on DVD do you? That was quality TV.

JD

Kenn Fong said...

J. D.,

I guess your readers are more interested in the lives of millionaires driving fast cars they didn't work to pay for rather than blue-collar Americans who don't festoon their uniforms with paid advertising and who don't marry supermodels. I know I am.

I'm a little curious about "Wrecked" but not enough to put it on my DVR, as I did with "Carrier." If Speed did a program based in a firehouse or following an EMT crew, I'm in.

I too wish there was a nightly NASCAR program on SPEED. I wish for a lot of things, like bringing back Ken Schrader and fixing the the inside-out format of "Inside Nextel Cup."

The series I'd most like to see on Speed would be a reality show about the day-to-day operations at Speed. Maybe then we'd find out why some of the bone-headed decisions were made.

Kenny
Alameda, California

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Afraid not.

I took it from some of Humpy W's reported comments after Smith terminated him that he was going to be working on some TV show with SPEED, which I presumed were more editions of The Humpy Show, but I've seen nothing more about his plans.

Anonymous said...

The truck series on SPEED is NOT produced by SPEED... NASCAR Media Group puts all the work behind the Set-Up and the live broadcast of the race itself.

SPEED produces the ARCA Remax series... put that against the coverage of a truck race and then you'll see the difference between good television and just okay television...

bullo1854 said...

idk what u guys are talking bout but i saw wrecked earlier tonight and that show was pretty bad ass