Friday, November 28, 2008
Best NASCAR TV Pre-Race Show Host Of 2008?
Now that we have discussed the play-by-play, booth analyst and pit road positions it is time to move onto what should be a very interesting category. There are lots of strong feelings, both pro and con, about the NASCAR TV hosts that come into our home for the ten months of the season.
Originally, we were going to combine all the show hosts together but we got lots of email about this topic and decided to only put the pre-race show TV hosts in this column. That is the exterior and the interior of the ESPN Infield Pit Studio above. You can click on the pictures to see them full-size. Thanks to Andy Hall from ESPN's PR staff for the photos.
Chris Myers starts the season off in the Hollywood Hotel and then hangs-around during the race to provide inserts with Jeff Hammond during the event. Myers has been on the NASCAR on Fox package for a long time and is a TV veteran. He can be seen on other Fox Sports events and fans may remember him from both The Tennis Channel and his long-running "Up Close" interview show on ESPN.
On Fox, Myers represents the "outsider" or the casual fan. Even after all these years, his role in the telecasts has not changed. He is the straight man, the goofy guy and the clown. This is such a complete opposite role from his other TV appearances that it is amazing.
When TNT comes along, Marc Fein and Bill Weber combine to host ninety minutes of pre-race TV. Fein is a Turner Broadcasting "in-house announcer" and works on many other sports for that company. He is well-known in other professional circles, but new to NASCAR.
Fein's role was to direct traffic during the pre-race show down on the TNT infield stage. His six race run was solid, although he battled some tough weather conditions on the outdoor stage at times. Fein was perhaps helped the most by having Larry McReynolds alongside to provide the NASCAR expertise while Fein continued to direct on-air traffic.
Weber stepped-in for the final thirty minute pre-race show done from the TNT "cocktail table" up in the announce booth. Joined by Wally Dallenbach, Weber showed off his journalist skills and covered a wide variety of topics. Weber is primarily a writer and this came through in several outstanding commentaries.
ESPN's ironman is Allen Bestwick. In 2008, he handled the pre-race shows for the entire Nationwide Series schedule and the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series events. After each race, Bestwick flew back to Connecticut and hosted the one hour "NASCAR Now" Monday roundtable show.
After a tough first year with Suzy Kolber, Brent Musburger and a cast of thousands, Bestwick was just what the doctor ordered for ESPN and ABC. He took the laughable pre-race show and used Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty to turn the Infield Pit Studio into something many viewers wanted to watch.
One of the most memorable TV moments from 2008 was Krista Voda hosting the Phoenix Truck Series pre-race show from Rattlesnake Hill with the beautiful sunset in the background. The stripped-down and basic approach of SPEED paid-off this season and Voda was a big part of the reason why.
All season long, Voda has provided just the right touch for the Truck Series telecasts. Nothing is overdone, things are kept in perspective and the SPEED announcers and the truck teams make viewers feel they are part of an extended family. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Voda has seen it all this season.
So, there you have it. The five faces that helped you through the pre-race programming for the past year and left some kind of impression that we would like you to share. Telling us what memories you might have of your favorite TV host and letting us know what rubbed you the wrong way this season would be appreciated.
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