Tuesday, August 19, 2008

E:60 Offers A Taste Of Untold NASCAR Stories

The ESPN news magazine E:60 has once again ventured into NASCAR. This time, the outcome was much better than the previous visit. Reporter Lisa Salters is an ESPN veteran and she delivered a compelling feature on GM Program Manager Alba Colon.

Handling Chevy's NASCAR teams in the Sprint Cup Series, Colon is front-and-center as GM's senior representative at the racetracks. This native of Puerto Rico told her heart-warming story of hard work and dedication. It contained soundbites from Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon who spoke about her years of service to the company.

What really got the attention of viewers was an interview with Tony Stewart. Now, almost done with his one year of driving a Toyota, Stewart said his personal relationship with Colon was one of the factors bringing him back to Chevrolet. Stewart related that he felt he had let Colon down by leaving Chevy and he was most happy to be returning in 2009.

While Salters did address the recent harassment suit against NASCAR, Colon was defiant in the fact that she has made her way in the world on her own terms and would never stand for such behavior. In her own way, she quietly suggested that things are getting much better in this male-dominated sport.

Salter's piece was just a story in a program with several others. That is the letdown for NASCAR fans. Over the last two years, long-form TV programming based on the hundreds of colorful personalities in the sport has come to a grinding halt.

NASCAR Confidential on SPEED has six one-hour episodes spread over twelve months. Dale Earnhardt Jr. bought his way onto ESPN for five episodes of Shifting Gears. In one of them, he apologized for having so many commercials. He said that is what it took to get on ESPN.

A while back, SPEED aired a pilot called The Humpy Show. More episodes of that program were never produced. TNT does not air any NASCAR programming outside of their six races. The Fox Broadcast Network has no time in prime-time for any NASCAR unless cars are on the track.

In the summer of 2007, ABC aired NASCAR in Primetime. It was five episodes of a look behind-the-scenes at several teams and drivers. Since the show was post-produced, the footage was old and the interest was low. It did not return for 2008.

This is a truly amazing situation. It is almost a Mexican stand-off. In Charlotte sits the NASCAR Media Group ready to format and produce any type of long-form program or provide technical support for a production company to do the same. The phone does not ring and there is a good reason why.

NASCAR's TV partners have no obligation to carry any sort of long-form post-produced programming. They simply don't have to do it.

We know that both ESPN and ESPN2 are chocked-full of other programming. TNT is an entertainment channel with limited sports and no interest. SPEED has made a decision to invest in "lifestyle" program series that have nothing to do with motorsports. That list is seemingly endless.

The true irony of Salter's story is that it was never told before. Colon has been in the garage and on pit road for years. Her story, and the stories of the many other interesting and unique people associated with this sport will continue to be ignored until one of NASCAR's TV partners gets pro-active and takes a risk.

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Sophia said...

JD, being a fan of puns, did you mean to use the Mexican Standoff phrase on purpose regarding the Colon story...Puerto Rico, Spanish...Mexico, Spanish. :)

Anyway, I thought this was an EXCELLENT piece (but needed to be longer!!) To be honest, my tv was on MUTE in my small protest against ESPN but DID want to see the story on this woman. So was multi=tasking until the segment came on. I must say, I never heard of her before a couple days ago but loved the soundbites of today's drivers and the interview with this short woman with a huge spirit.

HOWEVER, the skeptical wench in me wondered about the TIMING of this story in lieu of the lawsuit. Nevertheless, it was a great story...but like I said, I wish the segment could've been longer..would've loved to have heard more about her childhood.

Indeed, why don't we hear more stories like this? Darn shame.

I would've enjoyed a longer interview with the subject.

It would be nice to see this kind of thing featured on a Real deal segment with Wendy sometime.

The taste left me wanting more about this woman's story..and all the other's that go untold.

I am tired of the bad stories making the news these days. :(

Daly Planet Editor said...

No connection on the terms. Just wish this could have been a thirty minute show. Don't you wonder how many other fascinating people there are that TV viewers have never seen?


Sophia said...

JD Said

Don't you wonder how many other fascinating people there are that TV viewers have never seen?


Yes! As one relatively new to NASCAR, and who puts up with all my friends rolling their eyes that I have even gotten possessed with this "Redneck sport", ...yes, I wish more of these behind the scenes stories would get shared and NOTICED.

She is the most powerful woman in NASCAR, a great engineer, and as much as I read in books and online, never heard of this woman?

Yet anybody with something negative to say or somebody does something bad, and it's yapped about for days or weeks.

This is the kind of story that could help endear folks to the sport of NASCAR..that it's not just an "old boys sport."

Well, even though it kind of is..and the rules, well, can't explain those either, lol.

But yea, this should've been a 30 minute segment for sure.
I enjoyed Alba's demeanor. Hope somebody else picks up on her story this season.
And others like her.

Karen said...

Only watched the Grant story on E:60 last time and not the rest of the show. This time, I really enjoyed the Barack Obama/Reggie Love segment, the small tidbit at the end with Tiger Woods and, of course, Alba Colon's NASCAR story. Was it Jimmie Johnson who said she cracks the whip when she has to? She's certainly very well-respected by everyone in the garage and especially Tony Stewart. I didn't agree with her, however, in why HMS is not winning that much this year. They were behind in their COT program? I don't think so. Everybody else has just caught up. Enjoyed the show.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the segment :). I agree it's a shame that these fascinating stories are not told. It really should have been longer.

I loved the segments BP use to do with some of the folks "back at the shop" and some of the OTW members.

Lisa Hogan said...

Thanks JD for the review of this program. I was really looking forward to seeing it; however, Fay decided that I didn’t need my cable for a portion of last evening.

As a female without much tall to her credit, I noticed Ms. Colon at a race and found out who she was. I had the pleasure of meeting her at another race and that was a very nice experience.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Wouldn't she have been fantastic as a person featured in a "NASCAR Confidential" episode?

Lisa Hogan said...

Absolutely! My impression was a very professional woman with a great sense of humor. Really sorry that I had to miss the program.

DizWiz said...

The show "7 Days" on Speed a couple of years ago was very well done, and did showcase a week in the life of people associated with NASCAR. It's a shame that this show isn't still on the air.

I also was a fan of "NASCAR Drivers: 360" that was on FX. Although it only followed drivers, it still gave the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at their personal lives.

There are so many interesting stories in the garages. It would be great if these stories were told.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a well done piece, though I was already familiar with her. I realize it's a TV blog, which is good because we need more of this (and Lisa is a pro). But I read an article about Colon a while back. So I do think the print press sometimes does a better job at finding these stories than TV does. Maybe they have more time and 'space' for it. And they don't have as much pressure for 'ratings' although readership is obviously measured. That is my question about these features--if there is such a big audience that would give SPEED or ESPN or whoever kickbutt ratings, why aren't they showing it? Or is it just the reality that we're a small audience? It can't be just because 'they don't have to.' If there was money to be made, they'd want it. I do believe you could *grow* such numbers though, with a little patience.

As far as E60 goes, I also saw the one with Randy Moss (not sure if JD had mentioned it or not). I thought it was a fluff piece that didn't focus in any way at his controversial behavior, which should have at least been mentioned, because it's relevant to how he's going to behave as an owner. Also, it didn't go into much about how he's going to balance his careers. Anyways, that same episode had a *way* more fascinating piece about 'eventing' (equestrian competitions.) Off topic, I realize, but it was very informative, if not just a bit slanted. But since we're talking about the program, you can see it has a lot of potential, and at least if some of the stories are racing, that's good.

E-Ticket said...

I liked the segment but it never really told how she helped them out. It was about how she got there and who she knew. Would of liked to see her more hands on as to what she does...

Newracefan said...

Really enjoyed the show, she definately would be a great Nascar Confidental subject. Nice to see a powerful women in Nascar who is there because of her brain and personality.