Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brian France On TV Sunday Afternoon

It seems only fitting that NASCAR CEO Brian France appear on SPEED's RaceDay this Sunday afternoon from Homestead, FL.

Over the course of the last two seasons, TDP has referred to RaceDay as the "SPEED-a-palooza festival" and "The Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR." Both of these terms refer to the fact that although the program is sometimes difficult to even explain to those outside NASCAR, most fans know that if they watch there will eventually be something for them.

Since Daytona, this TV series has tackled the obvious, the hilarious and the serious. There have been moments of total anger, mind-numbing lunacy and good conversation. Along the way the duo of Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer has pandered, badgered and preached.

Sometimes the awkward ridiculousness of Rutledge Wood has only been topped by the sudden lack of long-term memory on the part of Spencer. Both Rutledge and Spencer often play "the fool" on this program. The difference is that Wood's role is by design and Spencer's is often self-induced.

The RaceDay production team knows how to use the parts and pieces they were handed to create this huge series. Two hours live each raceday on national TV for thirty-eight weeks is a task that would make most producers cringe.

The saving grace of RaceDay is that all the pieces come together in a cohesive manner. The professionalism and poise of Wendy Venturini works well with Spencer and Wallace because they respect her work. The newest addition, Hermie Sadler, had to gain his fulltime slot through a season of track descriptions and part-time assignments. Now, Sadler has established himself as a viable TV presence and has been rewarded with roles on other SPEED programs.

There are a lot of jokes about RaceDay host John Roberts being so tightly-wound he could spontaneously explode on-camera at any minute. SPEED viewers, however, have come to trust the hard-working Roberts as the best "TV traffic director" on the network. He might be a tad high-strung, but Roberts has emerged as one of the most recognized and trusted figures on the NASCAR TV scene.

This Sunday, RaceDay offers three different sets around the Homestead Miami track for an expanded crew of on-air personalities. The trio of Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds will be joining the five RaceDay regulars for a Noon Eastern Time live show.

While Venturini has Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson together in her Real Deal segment, this year has pushed the championship a bit off the front burner. Even Tony Stewart appearing on the program before his final JGR ride and Johnny Benson stopping by to celebrate his Craftsman Truck Series Championship are not the top stories. That one is easy to guess.

NASCAR's Brian France as a guest on RaceDay tops the chart. Normally, France operates in the cozy confines of the Infield Media Center or in controlled environments. This time, he will be neck-deep in the reality of the NASCAR fans and live TV.

Rarely over the last decade has there been this type of generalized depression about both the sport of NASCAR and society in general. France appears after backing the losing candidate for the Presidency, cancelling all testing for 2009 and with the car count for the top three series the source of endless speculation.

As this column (click here) recently asked, how can the reality of what NASCAR fans see be so very different from what they hear from NASCAR itself?

This is going to be a key interview for the sport of NASCAR in terms of the fans returning for 2009. RaceDay will need to step-up and ask the most important questions about the sport and what direction France has decided to take the three top series for next year.

In a recent interview, France admitted that the Truck Series may not make it through the off-season. Yet on Friday, SPEED unveiled the new Camping World Truck Series logo with great fanfare about a new multi-year deal. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the Nationwide Series was not financially viable for any team and NASCAR's response was to delay the Nationwide COT until 2010. These conflicts make no sense.

Bill Davis, the Wood Brothers, Petty Enterprises, Hall of Fame Racing and others seem to be within days of facing dire consequences. DEI and Ganassi trying to frantically merge two different brands, two different shops and two completely different cultures has finally shown NASCAR fans the reality of this downturn. The company that Dale Sr. built is in trouble.

France has avoided ESPN's NASCAR Countdown, avoided the daily NASCAR Now show and not appeared on Trackside or Wind Tunnel. This will be perhaps the first and only live public appearance on national TV of the CEO for the season. The scripted nonsense of the Sprint Cup Series banquet certainly does not count.

What comes of the France interview will be discussed long after Jimmie Johnson lifts his trophy and the race highlights are run endlessly around the nation. Once the final lap at Homestead is done, NASCAR becomes just another big business suddenly struggling to remain viable. France is the face of that business.

This post will remain up to get your comments about the RaceDay show and the appearance of Brian France. To add your opinion about any part of this program, just 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, we look forward to your reactions to RaceDay on SPEED.


Anonymous said...

JD - If any of TPTB read here please,please, get someone to help Brian with his wardrobe & answers. The rumpled Professor Irwin Corey look is out. Please let him look & sound like a CEO.
And could some one ask the questions we all want answers to.

Anonymous said...

Agreed jajaye! I'm tired of him looking like he's being "bothered" and would rather be elsewhere. And he needs to sound more intelligent in speaking. I'd love to see him in a room full of race fans asking the true tough questions!

Dot said...

Oh boy JD, you opened the can.

I'm with Jo & Gymmie. I hope he dresses for the occasion. No rumpled shirt as in the past.

I am almost dreading watching him. However, it's like a train wreck, you just have to look. I hope he makes sense this time. His last press conference left alot to be desired.

I wish Wendy could interview him. She'd put him in the hot seat while being polite about it. I hope the panel doesn't hold back. Go get him Jimmy Spencer.

Daly Planet Editor said...

No comment yet on which personalities will handle the interview.

Richard in N.C. said...

I do really think Jimmie S is smarter than he acts, sometimes.

JD, is it definite that Brian F will be on RaceDay from the H-Depot set itself?

Daly Planet Editor said...


That is not what I said. Mr. France will be on RaceDay live, the details have not been released.

SPEED has several sets around the Speedway for this show. It should be interesting to see how they decide to do it.


Tom said...

Both Rutledge and Spencer often play "the fool" on this program. The difference is that Wood's role is by design and Spencer's is often self-induced.

Thank you JD!!

It will be interesting to hear what this France character has to say. Lets just hope that, as you said, the folks on SPEED step up and not let him off the hook on these (and other) issues!

Inverness, FL

Rockin Rich said...

I usually don't catch much of the pre-race show, but today I will be sure to watch it.

It is incredible to watch this inept buffoon continue to steer the once proud ship, (car, truck?), that was NASCAR onto the rocks, (into the ditch?). The only way this head Daytona Beach Bozo remains the CEO is that his family controls the Board Of Directors.

His grandfather/NASCAR founder, and father have been described as benevolent dictators, although Bill Sr. did some things that weren't very benevolent. The thing is that both these men had vision! And, they had the fortitude to pursue that vision in the face of what must have appeared at times to be insurmountable obstacles.

Contrast that to what we have now. I will never forget time (the 2000 banquet, or was it the 2001 Speedweeks media conference?), where Bill Jr. took the microphone away from Baby Brian to explain the just announced NASCAR 2001 And Beyond concept because Baby Brian was making such a mess of it. I thought to myself right then that tells you all you need to know about Brian France.

In my opinion, the actions of the greedy executives of Wall Street pale in comparison to the antics of our "beloved Dear Leader".

There is an interesting article over on the AutoExtremist website. I am not linking it as that is one of the rules for posting here. In the Fumes section Peter De Lorenzo takes Baby Brian to task. I can't vouch for the veracity of all his statements, but he is interesting. He clearly doesn't think that Baby Brian is a capable CEO.

I hope we get to actually see a good race today. Whatever the quality, (race, and telecast), it's last we will have for a long, dark winter.

lookingdownfromabove said...

Where is Ricky Bobby when you need him, this years championship is as manufactured as a hollywood movie. As to Brian France looking sharp, this would just make him look like a sub prime carpetbagger---no thanks

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

The in-progress race post for the final Sprint Cup Series race of 2008 will open at 2PM.


Ocker92 said...

SPEED is by far the best network. Maybe by 2014 when the ESPN deal is up, they will have more homes and can broadcast the races themselves.

RaceDay is the best. And I hope they don't change a single thing over the offseason.

midasmicah said...

I don't much will come out the interview with Brian France except more lip service. There doesn't seem to be any real leadership in na$car right now and there hasn't been in quite awhile. Just a lot of knee-jerk reactions (I give you the chase). I hope I'm wrong, but his history doesn't give me much hope.

Anonymous said...

@rockin rich - I just finished reading the Fume about Baby Brian. Wow, he is right on the $ with that fume. Thanks for the info.

alex said...

I just tuned into Raceday, and they're playing the montage of the highlights of the 2008 season. Most of these clips are from the FOX races, and I remember how then I was excited to be watching the races each weekend. I guess it's just the ESPN script and the manufactured drama, but I'm just ready for the season to end. I hope we have an exciting race today, and it's not JJ overkill.

Dot said...

Go read the article Rich commented on. It's what we've been saying all season.

Anonymous said...

Go read the article Rich commented on. It's what we've been saying all season.

Yes, and this is not an everday race fan's perspective; the writer is talking from a business point of view.

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

The Emperor's up next.

alex said...

Interesting article, he raises a lot of good points. I agree with Ed Hinton: Darrell Waltrip for Comissioner of Nascar.

David said...

softball questions so far

alex said...

He doesn't want to drastically change the chase.... But haven't they already messed with the number of cars, seeding, and bonus points?

David said...

We are no better for having heard from him.

ri88girl said...

I loved the opening for raceday. It was like saying 'arrdvark' to the whole nascar community. I saw BP and Alan Kalwicki flash by, and the double entendre with the number 3 was very touching.

As for Brian France, he has just demonstrated that he has no hands on relationship with the sport IN ANY DEMONSTERABLE, he leaves all decisions to Mike Helton and John Darby, and that he has no ability to understand that he is nothing more than a titular head; which must now be lopped off by the board of directors before the beginning of next season if they intend the sport to survive in the comming climate in this country, economically and politically.

Anonymous said...

A very disappointing interview w/Brian. Talk about shining butz,and softball questions.
Interesting answer to the who do you go to for advice question. Uncle Jimmy came in first, Mike Helton after a pause. Nice to know the no test policy was totally Mike Heltons idea. Great leadership -don't blame Brian.It was Mikes fault. I doubt the several calls a day with Helton have to do with NA$CAR.

Someone must have told Brian not to lean, twice he caught himself leaning on the desk, and pulled himself back. No tie, would have been better to wear a casual shirt than a suit coat w/shirt & no tie.

Brian is either clueless or whistling in the dark.

I think its a combo pack of the 2.

ri88girl said...

Great artical Rich, thanks for the hint. All should go read it, it shows that we arn't the only ones that know the emporer is nekid and in denial

Daly Planet Editor said...

You have to give it to RaceDay for making fun of themselves. Those Spencer and Wallace segments have been flat-out hilarious.

Did anyone else feel that the video Tony saw before his interview kind of got to him a bit?


lookingdownfrom onhigh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ri88girl said...

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who works at SPEED from the top to the bottom and everyone in between. You have single handedly saved the season for me. I have enjoyed every minute I have spent with the whole SPEED Crew. Have a great off season.

(Unless you all decide to televise the mass testing that's about to take place, in which case, see ya next week!)

Congrats to JB, I wanted him to win, he is the nicest guy and it's great to see one finish first for once.

David said...

JD I think Tony is going to be emotional either way. This is a very tough day, he is getting ready to go off and start a new life in racing and is leaving the only place he has ever known in NASCAR. That umbrella of protection he got from JGR despite everything for 10 years is now gone. The only guy to ever talk to him on the radio, gone after today. That familiar car, those familiar faces, gone.

Id love to see them get a win and go out with style, but the way they've run in the Chase so far...idk.

ri88girl said...

There are so many great stories this weekend, lots of drivers leaving for new horizons like Tony, lots of good drivers without a ride I would love to hear from before they no longer have a large forum, lots of worries about who is in or out of the top 35, and how the loss of some teams over the off seasons might effect that for next year. Lots of stories.

David said...

If NASCAR does what it did last year to DEI/ will be a battle for the top 37 in owners points instead of the top 35

3bud said...

Missed Brian F on race day, but the artical rockin rich mentioned I just finished and it seems to echo pretty much what we all seem to see, Brian France is completely out of touch with any form of reality.Good call rockin rich.

ri88girl said...

I guess it's just me but it seems so melancholy today.

Chad said on NP that he expects the pit crews to be able to bust off an 11 seconds stop for 4 and gas next year. That is insane if true. Plus, with all the hype over JJ, the fact that Chad will have been the ONLY crew chief to win 3 in a row is being overlooked a bit.

AMS fan said...

I wish I could find a job that would be that much fun.

3bud said...

SPEED definitely knows how to have fun , can't imagine the pre race crew or any of the ESPN crew being allowed to laugh at themselves the way these guys do, great job again SPEED

ri88girl said...

does Hammond want JB to drive for him? Great interview

Daly Planet Editor said...

Nice RaceDay show to close the season. This deal continues to be the real NASCAR franchise.

I sure hope the ESPN NASCAR Now guys watch this show and loosen things up for next season.


AMS fan said...

There's rumors ri88.

JD do you really think ESPN will lighten up.
Someone there really must think that "formal" wear is required no matter what you do.

I do enjoy Raceday.
The man that does that talking segment seems out of place.
I'm to new to know the history of Ken Squier, but it sure is enlighting to hear him speak.

rich said...

I really enjoyed Ken Squires seqment, a nice roundup of the racing year.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Fantastic roll-out. Great way to end the RaceDay season.

Newracefan said...

Loved the Squire piece, and excellent ending to Raceday's season.

3bud said...

WOW! all I can say is THANK YOU SPEED!

AMS fan said...

ESPN is starting off with a bang.
Repeats of previous stuff.
A lot to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

@rockin' rick--YUP! That's my biggest complaint about Brian! His Dad and Grandfather had vision and while some thought they were nuts, for the most part it worked. And they were the Hero once again! Everything that's been done under his watch has been met with negativity from the fans and he is still the Zero. And him acting as if he's being "bothered" when one asks him to do his job, doesn't score points with the fans! Yes Mr. Helton & Mr. Darby have done well, but many times when Mr. Helton especially has been the "face" it really should have been Baby Brian. Even if he lets Mr. Helton & Mr. Darby make decisions, as CEO he should be the final word. Sometimes what seems like a good idea can send a company spiraling into bankruptcy. I trust Mr. Helton he's always sounded intelligent and feel he wouldn't do anything without thinking it through thoroughly. He seems to be very nice and fan friendly. I've seen many pictures of him stopping and chatting with fans.

I wish he'd let his sister take over or give the reigns to Mr. Helton. It's beyond apparent he's absolutely clueless and has better things to do than his job.