Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Will "NASCAR Confidential" Answer The Lingering Questions?

There are almost no NASCAR-related TV series on-the-air aside from the programs produced from the Sprint Cup Series tracks. Fans searching the 500 cable TV channels on weekdays find a daily news show on ESPN2 and one Monday talk show on SPEED.

Chomping at the bit to provide more long-form NASCAR TV programming is the official TV and media arm of the sport, called The NASCAR Media Group. This season, they have been walking a very thin line with SPEED by providing that network only one limited long-form programming series. It is called NASCAR Confidential.

This behind-the-scenes look at the sport deserves to be on SPEED after every Cup race. But, instead of 38 episodes SPEED ordered only 6. Now, after the unprecedented problems at Indy, it will fall to a special newly-added episode of NASCAR Confidential to show fans the reality of that difficult Sunday. Somehow, there is a large dose of irony in that fact.

NASCAR Confidential continues to deliver a viewpoint never before offered to race fans on a regular basis,” said SPEED SVP of Programming Steve Craddock. “The scale of what happened last weekend is unique and required quick-thinking and pressure-filled decision making from everyone involved. This program will show race fans just how complicated the process was and how everyone rose to the occasion to pull off a complete race under incredibly adverse conditions.”

In other words, this type of programming series has value, but only once and a while. NASCAR Confidential is one of those point-of-view programs that uses a background announcer and features the real people in the real circumstances as NASCAR events unfold. This season, the characters featured on the series have been just as diverse as the sport itself.

The first airing of this special program, titled NASCAR Confidential: What We Learned At Indy, will be on Friday at 6PM ET. It will be re-aired on Saturday at 11PM. The key to this show is that The NASCAR Media Group has all the original footage from all the angles during the entire weekend. In addition, they have exclusive footage that has never been seen before documenting the growing problems as the Indy weekend went forward.

This is a great response by NASCAR and SPEED to the growing unrest among the fans and shows the power that NASCAR TV has when it is used effectively. Nothing can substitute for showing the fans first-hand what went on at the track, be it a positive or a negative experience. Fans are willing to forgive, but only when they believe the truth is being presented.

This announcement comes on the heels of SPEED adding live coverage of the Sprint Cup Series practice sessions for the rest of the season. The network already has the TV franchise when it comes to the weekend SPEED Stage programming that fans have been watching for years. In addition, the Monday night This Week in NASCAR series is finally back-on-track and creating a buzz.

Nothing would be better than watching SPEED continue to open the doors to some quality NASCAR programming and help get this sport back-on-track in this difficult time. Our review of this program will be available on Friday, shortly after the program concludes.

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


Karen said...

“The scale of what happened last weekend is unique and required quick-thinking and pressure-filled decision making from everyone involved. This program will show race fans just how complicated the process was and how everyone rose to the occasion to pull off a complete race under incredibly adverse conditions.”

Boy, somebody's on the ball. This is such fast turnaround time for NASCAR. Kind of like a Beyond the Wheel type show, I bet. Gotta do something to improve the image after Indy's mess and in a big hurry.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Are you saying the upcoming Indy "NASCAR Confidential" is not one of the 6 ordered shows? It was decided upon, written, etc. sometime after the unique events began taking place this past weekend?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Yes, it is a special show added to the schedule by SPEED.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Just FYI...NMG still produces the award winning Beyond The Wheel in a new form with a new title for another network. All the footage is always shot at these races for the archive, regardless of the current program orders.

Next season one network might want to review 2008 and order 38 hour shows. Can't ever go back and re-create the past.


Newracefan said...

Amen to 38 Beyond the Wheel type shows and way to go Speed and whoever pushed for this extra NC. I'll have to set the DVD, I wonder if I set it to record Unique Whips for that time slot I'll get NC?

Anonymous said...

I predict this episode of NASCAR Confidential will be a big PR piece.

It seems pretty clear that the chosen talking point is not "How did NASCAR let this happen?!" but instead "Boy, NASCAR sure did a fantastic job managing this crisis!"

I predict that while the show will still be very good because of the access it gives us as viewers, it will be slanted into "Gee, see how hard NASCAR worked for you, the fans? Why aren't you thanking these tireless workers for this event?"

As a fan, a paying fan, I want results - not a good effort. I hope I am wrong, but I bet this special edition is to show everyone how they shouldn't be mad at NASCAR because they tried so gosh darn hard. It will be interesting to see just how "confidential" this show is.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing what they do. I'm glad they're doing this.

I wish I could get the BTW shows :(, I miss that show :(

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:01PM,

That should be interesting because all this show uses is the real footage as things happened. Should be fun to watch.


Dot said...

I've got the DVR set up. I can't wait to see this.

I hope the TV ratings are through the roof.

Keep up the NASCAR programming SPEED. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The story line of this show will be determined by the voiceover script writer more than by the pictures. Unless they include a number of unedited interviews I can't see how this can be avoided.

SophiaZ123 said...

I hate to be cynical but i also worry this will be a PR piece.

To suddenly throw a show like this took nascar two days to apologize?

I also think the voice over will tell the tale...but I will probably watch it and then decide for myself.

But honestly, in lieu of how it was handled and the outcry afterwards, this just smells like PR and covering their COT.

What good is safety if you totally eliminate the racing??? Not just Indy but the COT issues in general. Think the COT's name will be mentioned?


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:14PM,

Normally the voice-over is for transition purposes in this one. I agree that it is going to be a reality test for all concerned.


Anonymous said...

given that the show is produced by NASCAR, you can't believe it will be anything other than a "commercial" for NASCAR. Even the description you quoted--"This program will show race fans just how complicated the process was and how everyone rose to the occasion to pull off a complete race under incredibly adverse conditions”--suggests this will be a show about the valiant people at NASCAR and how they rallied to "save" the race.

If you're loking for a critical analysis of what happened and why, this will most assuredly not be it.

Deborah said...

I agree with all those who suspect it may be very much a PR piece. I think it's too soon for Nascar or Goodyear to know all of what can be learned from what happened at Indy as imo, they need to take time to really analyze what went wrong both with the tire issue itself but also how they responded to it, and figure out how to prevent it from happening again.

Bill H said...

I'll have to watch this show but it seems like I watched a different race last weekend then everyone else.

I watched the Hotpass (jeff gordon) and the whole tire "fiasco" actually increased my interest in the race.

Listening to Randy Pemberton, Hermie Sadler talk about it and hearing Jeff and Steve LeTart talk made the race a chess match.

"How many positions can you get before the tires wear out or blow?"

"Is someone going to stretch it and cause a big wreck?"

Things along those lines. My wife and I thought it was a better "race" than the normal follow the leader that has been happening most of this year.

I don't know how it was portrayed on ESPN, it is possible the commentators on there colored it in a different light and hence made the race bad.

I think Nascar should consider using the competition cautions more often (though maybe not so frequently). It would contribute to more racing, knowing that you are going to pit in 30 laps you can race hard till the caution instead of throwing the dice and pitting only to go down laps due to "mystery debris" cautions.


Anonymous said...

Bill, if you want that, go to your local short track and see a shorter race.

The objective of a 400 mile race is to race for 400 miles, not to hold a series of short heats.

Geez said...


I'll be the first to say this was a debacle, and ten lap sprints at 3/4 throttle isn't what the fan's paid for.

But you know what? Those ten lap sprints were some of the best racing I've seen all year.

Lisa Hogan said...

I enjoy these shows and am looking forward to this new one.

Vicky D said...

I'm pretty sure that Nascar will say - No one was hurt - and we sure had a great battle at the finish line! Gag me!

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think the issue is really how The NASCAR Media Group is going to present the situation.

The message of this site and this post is that TV can either play a valuable role in the sport or be relegated to a public relations tool.

Friday should be fun.


Richard in N.C. said...

With all the NASCAR constant critics out there in the media (especially the print media, like Lee Spencer), the people at NASCAR would have to be complete idiots to put out a show that tried to rewrite history. I'm not saying the show will not try to portray NASCAR in the best light, but an obviously untrue show could do much more harm than good.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from Mr. Helton directly :)

Anonymous said...

OK it had the PR bits. It was nice to see all the parties involved come forward, thanks Mr. Helton & Grant, and whoever it was for Indy. Blinked and missed his name.
It was an interesting post mortem, oddly enough it would have been a good time for Helton Grant & mystery IMS person to express sorrow over what occurred. The focus seemed to be explaining it will never happen again. Oh well.

red said...

well, that was . . . interesting. i hadn't expected there to be a live component to this edition of nascar confidential but i give larry mac props for how he handled his hosting duty. i didn't expect any tough questions and i don't believe he asked any. perhaps that wasn't his role tonight? maybe he was just there to set up the predetermined answers? either way, he handled the transitions and guests fairly well.

interesting blend of live guests and i did learn some stuff i hadn't known before tonight so that's a plus. i enjoyed the footage from practice and it was interesting to watch various crew members' reactions to what was happening. as always, the actual race stuff was strong: good camera shots, solid mix of team communication and narration.

as jo noted, it would have been nice to see any one of the three men in charge actually look directly into the camera tonight and say "i'm sorry. the race was clearly not our best effort and i personally apologize to you." but at least they showed up and answered questions: i guess that counts for something.

by the way, third guy was Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood III. wonder how he's feeling about being tossed under the bus by nascar and goodyear? his track hadn't changed since the last time nascar raced on it: nascar's car changed. and that is the root of the whole hot mess at indy. it was also the 300 pound gorilla in the room. not the 600 pounds it was earlier in the week b/c hammond did place some blame on the car design itself. but no one went far enough in my opinion and so the somewhat smaller gorilla lurked in the shadows, behind the sofa, as 'twere.

bottom line for me: a good effort, nice mix of live and film, still lingering questions but a decent show. i may even make time to watch it again.

Anonymous said...

that was Joie Chitwood

yes I was hoping for more out of it too :(. I just hope they figure it out and make it a real race next year

Rockin Rich said...

I was extremely disappointed by this PR puff piece. I am waiting for JD's review to comment in more detail there.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up about NASCAR Confidential for your comments. Thanks.