Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Petty Special Off-Balance For ESPN

Expectations were high for the Richard Petty one hour special on Tuesday from the good folks at NASCAR Now. This TV series on ESPN2 had earlier presented a very warm and personal special from DEI on the anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s passing. This show would be much different.

Back then, Nicole Manske was the single host and she showed her skills in conversation and interviewing with a wide variety of personalities. This time, Shannon Spake was going to be on-site at the Petty Museum in Randleman, NC. It houses a wonderful collection of trophies, cars and memorabilia. At the opening of the show, it was made clear that no ESPN personality was on-hand at the new Petty shop in Mooresville, NC. The focus of this show was going to be fifty years of history.

Surprisingly, it was Nicole Manske appearing on-camera at the beginning of the show. After a brief introduction, she introduced Spake who was in the interview location. The interaction between the two was awkward and it was clear from the start that Spake was uncomfortable in this role. As Manske would introduce Spake and her new set of guests, Spake in return would then re-introduce them again every single time as if she could not hear the "toss." Nervous and tentative, Spake would then ask basically the same question over-and-over again with a different subject. It was tough to watch.

Fans tuning-in were looking for a walk down memory lane and what they got instead was a lot of sitting. A whole lot of sitting. The problem was this was not the ESPN studio, it was the Petty museum and NASCAR Now was avoiding the very reason they were on-site. They were surrounded by fifty years of racing history and never even gave the TV viewers a tour. What a shame.

Manske is a TV pro and she zoomed through the news stories of the day, allowing David Newton to pay-off the Truex team penalties and offering a video denial by Max Siegel that DEI is for sale. During the show, Tim Brewer and DJ Copp combined for a fun look at the pit stops of old and that is exactly what the show needed a lot more of...a lot.

Spake talked with Dale Inman, Kyle Petty and the King. Her questions were basic and often seemed uninformed. ESPN2 played back video features that had been used before and one voiced by Allen Bestwick for this program. Unfortunately, neither Spake or Manske got up and walked. Petty is incredibly proud of the cars, trophies and memorabilia in the museum. He never got a chance to show it.

How incredibly strange that the program revolved around folding chairs and two reporters in the same building at different locations. If Manske and Spake had gotten-up, they would have experienced the Petty museum just like the NASCAR fans in these pictures. They might have actually had a good time.

Not a lot more can be said about this show except that it missed the mark. NASCAR Now has been an outstanding studio program this season and Manske's programs on-location from Daytona and DEI worked well. Unfortunately, this special show just did not click. Back to Bristol and the studio on Wednesday for Manske and company.

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red said...

my initial comments are on the original post so this comes after several hours of pondering. i have figured out why i was so very disappointed in this show. given how much footage of the king is out there, how many of his competitors are still alive, how exciting that museum has been reputed to be, i thought we'd see a tight production, filled with memories and great film. add in the presence of the king himself and it's a sure hit.

unfortunately, none of that happened. it was a ramblin' mess that just seemed to wander about in circles -- but not in a good way. no energy, no laughs (except when inman said petty was lazy! you didn't need to be able to see behind those big old shades to see the momentary flash of irritation in petty's eyes at that comment!) instead of showing that fun piece on dj copp trying to use the tools of petty's time -- and it was funny, make no mistake! -- i would have enjoyed more with petty himself.

which is my next frustration. there sat the king and dale inman, nascar legends both and i truly felt bad for them as they tried manfully to handle the questions shannon spake tossed their way. she had THE perfect interviews sitting right there, waiting to talk and have a great time and her weak skills made the whole segment just drag. and i still can't understand why we needed two hosts at opposite ends of the same location?

espn generally puts together some fairly slick packages and it is SO frustrating that this was not one of those. they can't go back and try it again and i doubt any other nascar partner will try. so sad. such a great and historic story, waiting to be told, and it was so badly mishandled.

Kenn Fong said...

J. D.,

Have you ever seen The King's eyes? I don't mind that he uses this trademark look but once in a while, I'd like to see him take 'em off.

Alameda, California

SophiaZ123 said...


GREaT question. I know they are his trademark but good golly! The reason I like the old film's of him are SO I can see his eyes.

But this was a poor show. Spake should have NEVER been put in this position and I am flummoxed as to why she was chosen.

Nicole has shown she is at ease in such situations. No offense to Shannon but she comes off like a school girl trying to do a big class project.

This was the show that could....but did not.

Anonymous said...
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bevo said...

That's a shame, glad I didn't see it. Sounds like the Producer really dropped the ball on this. Sirius did a show from there and it was great, of course the hosts have been involved in NASCAR for a long time.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I had the same thoughts as I watched it, so JD, you are just echoing what I thought.

I certainly don't have tv/interviewing skills and probably wouldn't have done much better, but if Shannon is going to do this kind of work, she needs much improvement.

red said...

i'm not sure what's happening here: i watched the show and i wrote my impressions as i watched as did other folks. did you guys miss that? no one said the dj copp piece wasn't excellent. what i thought was that it was misplaced, that it didn't belong on a show that was advertised as being a tribute to the king's 50 years of racing.

i have little problem with manske or spake. i have little problem with foks sitting down during interviews. but i did have a problem with that show. i'm not going to re-list all my concerns as i have already posted my impressions. i will say, however, that i think spake was not strong in her role as interviewer, that manske was not sharp in her role as co-host, second host, left side of the studio host -- whatever her role was supposed to be. the non-definition of her role was an immediate point of comment.

for me, it isn't about the personalities of the women involved. the entire broadcast was disappointing and frustrating. i made time to watch the show b/c of my respect for richard petty and my love of the sport. i had hoped for some great interviews and would have really enjoyed a video tour of that museum.

some have taken to questioning jd's "ax to grind" but i ask that you read comments from others as well. jd: could you please consider moving that NN column back up in the line so that the comments the folks wrote at the time can be read?

and anon at 1:20: i found your comment about "T&A" to be completely offensive and rude.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:40 and 7:20AM,

You are both welcome to return and re-post without the offensive comments to Ms. Manske and myself.

I left ESPN in 1989 with a nice party and no hard feelings. Since Feb of 2007 we have seen a total change in the network's NASCAR coverage that has been tremendously positive. One bad show is not going to spoil the season.

Whenever we post on female announcers, we always get some men who need to make sexist comments, its just the way of the Internet. Sorry if someone was offended before the comment was removed.

OK, back to the comments.


red said...

thanks, jd! that bad taste in my mouth has been cleansed.

Thornton, Colorado said...

For veiwers that want the King to take off his glasses: IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. And I don't have a problem with that. That is his style and has been since the early 70's. If you want to see them off, go in the pit and see him on top of the truck; they are off then. As far as the show: Yes. Disjointed to say the least. If veiwers don' want "t & a", then at least the camera crew could follow the Petty's (Richard and Kyle) around and have them stop at certain locales and talk about what particular trophy, picture, cars, etc. strike their fancy.
It must be an ESPN thing, what with the two separate locations in the same building. Perhaps Nicole and Spake can't stand each other.
The interview with Kyle was mainly about his tenure in the booth, not about his Dad's 50 year history, which was a shame as I know personally he has some great stories to tell along the way.
But in the end, folks, isn't it great that the mainstream media hasn't forgotten about The King, or his legacy? Alot of people (including modern day drivers,and this is a fact, don't even know who he is), so it's nice to see "someone other than Earnhardt" on T.V
God Bless the boys from Randleman.

TexasRaceLady said...

I posted on the original article, so this comes the "morning after."

If the intent of the program was to celebrate 50 years of racing, ESPN missed the mark --- badly. In fact, they shot themselves in the foot, and looked like fools doing it.

I couldn't believe Spake didn't know that Richard and Dale Inman were cousins and asked when they first met. They had to be wondering about her understanding of the sport at that moment.

JD, I'm with you about the museum. It is crammed to the rafters with memories --- why on Earth didn't we see any of those memories? I'm sure Richard could tell a story with each trophy.

They missed a golden opportunity with Kyle to get the "behind the sunglasses" look at Richard.

And why two hosts? In the same building? No sense at all.

This show BOMBED --- in more ways than one.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

red said...
thanks, jd! that bad taste in my mouth has been cleansed.

July 9, 2008 9:01 AM

red, I work nights and get to read that trash.

I feel the same way.
Do not wish to carry over my short comment from other post. Many others have stated how I feel about the show better than I can and I agree. What a letdown. I really expected more. Will move on from here. One bad show, but it was an important one, that we can not go back and do over. NN still alot better than last season.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

when I said I feel the same way . I was in agreement w/red. thanks

Anonymous said...

Who produced this miess? ESPN or Images?

It was embarrassing in its ignorance of the sport and Petty.
With all of the knowlegable and camera saavy race hitorians out there - many of whom lived thru the heyday of Petty- this show selects two female hosts who, btween them, probably cannot cite a significant fact about the King.
Smacks of ESPN sexism

Bray Kroter

Daly Planet Editor said...

ESPN produces NASCAR Now. The NASCAR Media Group contibutes one feature that is run in the Monday show and both groups cooperate on issues like footage.


Geez said...

This was a very confusing show. With all they had available to them, It was disappointing.

Look for Marty Smith to be all over today's show with his "breaking" Tony Stewart news. :-)

Lisa Hogan said...

JD, when you posted that Shannon Spake was going to be the lead on this show, I thought, “Oh, dear”. Unfortunately, I was correct.

When ESPN started the NASCAR contract, they made some questionable hiring decisions on their NASCAR staff. With Nichole and Shannon, they hired two cute females who had been on TV shows that had something to do with NASCAR. Nichole took this job and ran with it. She did her homework and is a total turn-a-round from her SPEED days. Shannon, on the other hand, has not made any progress. Having her do the interview with Richard Petty was an embarrassing mistake.

I don’t understand why Brad D. didn’t get this assignment. Too logical, perhaps? :)

I agree with others that the show was disjointed and seemed to have been thrown together. Nascar Now had an opportunity for a great show about one of our legends and it was totally wasted.

Anonymous said...

I went ahead and watched it during my lunch break since I didn't have a chance last night and definitely disappointing :(.

The "fun" factor definitely was missing with the exception like someone said I believe in the other column with DJs and Tim's piece.

It seemed so "formal" the King is usually always joking and having a good laugh and that just wasn't there. They were just sitting there looking uncomfortable :(

The King was in NY today...he was on Fox and Friends First. It was a nice short interview. I don't see the link yet but of course I always have trouble finding things on their site.

Anywho, at the end he gave them a Cowboy hat to share during the week. He even took his glasses off for Doocey to try on so he'd have the King get up right :)

Daly Planet Editor said...


I have been biting my tongue on that one, but don't you think Brad would have been wonderful at walking around and talking about the history with his hero?


cncspd said...

I did not see the show but it sounds like they should have had Ryan McGee talk with The King.
If anyone knows The King and all of the history of his racing it would be Ryan. I am sure it would have been fun too.

Mike P.

ML said...

I also watched the Petty interview on ESPN2, last night and was very disappointed. They could have had the inerview with out showing either Richard or Kyle all the time and showed a little bit of the Museum. THis would have enticed peope to visit. I was there years ago and would have like to see what the new museum was like. Richard or Kyle could have also talk about the different cars, as they answered the questions, rather than just a 'sit and tell' interview.

AMS fan said...

Well it wasn't the best show. It felt like I was at a funeral and you should sit down, shut up, and show respect for the departed. (maybe not that bad but close)
It did seem somber though. Not much excitement to be celebrating 50 years. Brad would have been a kid in a candy store there. I think he would have asked questions I could relate to, and had fun.
That is my #1 problem with ESPN. I'm human, I make mistakes, ESPN and the announcers are no different. I haven't enjoyed my profession for years, so I tune to NASCAR for knowledge, fun and racin. ESPN most days is just dull, and this celebration was DULL. I'm sure Shannon is trying, but pairing her with Nicole just didn't work.
And for the only funny part of the show, Nicole said about 6 minutes in "...it was some 50 years ago this week that a young man named Richard Petty first climbed behind the reel of a wace car"...
I'm not being hateful by bringing that up, it's just funny in all of the seriousness (if that's a word) of ESPN.
I'm not a Ryan Burr fan but he would have been the better choice for the "news" correspondent.
It appeared like there may have been a terrible time delay between Nicole and Shannon.

Richard in N.C. said...

Nicole M. was on SportsCenter last night interviewing Roy Williams from some out-of-the-way hamlet - Chapel Hill, NC - 80 to 90 miles from Level Cross. It was not clear to me when the interview was done, but I would have to think this week.

This morning The King was on CNBC live from NYC talking with Darren Revel about NASCAR and the economy and his deal with Boston Ventures.

Lisa Hogan said...

Sorry that you abused your tongue on this one! :)

I just went ahead and stepped in the middle of it! Brad would have made that show joyful and worth recording and keeping. Poor Shannon just made me cringe.

And since it has been mentioned:
I stand firm on my opinion that I don’t have any problem with sunglasses being worn on TV. :)

Daly Planet Editor said...


The TV rule is that to wear them outside on a sunny day...no problem. Only the reporters have to remove them before being on-air.

The issue has been the SPEED Stage, Media Center, liveshots with NASCAR Now and other locations.

One problem that the drivers have become aware of is that sometimes their message is lost behind big distracting sunglasses.

When they want to make eye contact with the fans to deliver a sponsor message or talk about a charity of make a point they feel very stongly about, the shades should come off.

BTW - This debate has been going since 1980's on TV. Good to know we are keeping the tradition alive!


Lisa Hogan said...

I'm having problems posting comments this afternoon. It takes several tries.

Is it possible that Nichole and Shannon were taped at different times and then all the pieces pasted together for this show?

Lisa Hogan said...

90% of what I type is typed with a smile. The sunglasses comment was typed with a laugh. :)

Actually, I think it would be fun for the Monday night Nascar Now panel to be sitting on their high bar stool chairs, in front of a race car, in suits and ties, and be wearing sunglasses. :)

Anonymous said...

I ended up hitting the FF button several times. I didn't watch until this morning. It was a dreary day in Richmond, and the show was putting me back to sleep.


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

Anon 6:54PM,

Would you drop me an email at editor@thedalyplanet.tv when you have a chance please?

The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page, as you can see from the thousands of comments any viewpoint is welcome and discussion is the purpose of this Internet project.

This post is about the NASCAR Now show from Petty Enterprises. Please email me about your issues. Thanks.


Newracefan said...

I never thought of Brad but he would have been perfect for this and I would have loved a walking tour. Overall I was under whelmed

Richard in N.C. said...

I've only had a chance to watch the first half of the show and, after reading the comments here, I found it better than I expected.

I've heard The King tell the story of the 1959 race he almost won more than once before - but on N-Now is the first time I've heard him mention arguing with his father about who won.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that "the King" is on Trackside Friday night so it will be interesting to see how that show differs from this disappointment.

Don said...

I don't get to watch much racin' TV, but caught the first half of this...mess. Wow, was it bad. I kept checking to see if this was actually ESPN or my local podunk TV station. Hate to be critical of ANY racing coverage, but c'mon.... for a national sports production, this was just bad in every way.

Anonymous said...

Id love to see some comparisons between the ESPN Petty debacle and the Trackside version. Im certain with the backgrounds that the Trackside boys bring to the table the show will bring some more things that fans want to hear from the King