Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Darrell Waltrip Takes-Over ESPN's "NASCAR Now"

You really have to tip your hat to the newly re-vamped NASCAR Now program on ESPN2. The wholesale changes this season in on-air personalities and content have paid-off in an interesting TV series that covers all parts of the sport.

On Wednesday, it was Ryan Burr hosting the show. Little did he know what he was in for on this day. Two of the biggest talkers in NASCAR were the guests and they both did their best to keep their reputations intact.

Darrell Waltrip from Fox Sports and Ed Hinton from were along for a "mini-roundtable" discussion about a wide variety of NASCAR topics. All Burr had to do was mention a topic and then stand back. It might have helped if he had ducked.

Waltrip wants to start the NASCAR season in California on New Year's Eve with a night race followed by fireworks. His point was the season should run from January through September to avoid the tough conflict with the NFL and college football.

Hinton was all about throwing darts at Brian France and started by saying Waltrip should be Commissioner of NASCAR. Hinton followed that by suggesting the best way not to compete with the NFL was to cut The Chase to five or six races with drivers being eliminated every week. Waltrip said The Chase was "too long and there was not enough drama."

"If I can interject here let's move to the next topic," said Burr trying his best to direct traffic. Burr tossed-out the economy as the next issue and then ran for his life.

Waltrip called for owners to be more efficient and for NASCAR to open the tracks on Friday for testing. He has long proposed that testing be limited to the tracks where the Sprint Cup Series was racing that same weekend. His point is that it would create a real off-season for the racing families and keep testing expenses down.

Hinton's contention is that reality is reality. NASCAR will not fade away if everyone does not have a private jet or multiple team engineers. He believes that NASCAR has weathered earlier storms and this financial problem might wind-up re-inventing the sport simply from necessity.

Burr's final question was who should be "driver of the year?" Waltrip picked Jimmie Johnson should he win a third championship. Hinton picked Carl Edwards because he created the most excitement this season for the fans and the sport.

The final challenge for Burr was to wrestle these two on the topic of what would be better for the sport. Edwards coming from behind to win or Johnson getting the third championship?

Waltrip went for the dominance of Johnson. Hinton said the core fans wanted Johnson to win but the casual fans liked Edwards and wanted him to snatch the title away in the final race. Edwards would get "the swing voters."

"When we were putting this show together, I thought we might need an hour," said Burr. "But after listening to you guys talk we needed more like five hours." Burr barely had time to say a quick goodbye before another edition of NASCAR Now was done.

Credit goes to the production team for pairing-up these two and getting the little-used Hinton back on TV. This type of discussion in NASCAR-land now only takes place on Sirius Satellite radio's 24-hour NASCAR channel.

Hopefully, either ESPN or SPEED will see the value of having regular discussions on NASCAR topics with racing veterans and journalists and create a TV series for 2009. Even in this fifteen minutes of conversation, more ideas and topics flowed than NASCAR Now had seen in a very long time. This program re-airs at Midnight Eastern time for those who missed the original airing.

For those of you who have been asking, you can click directly on the picture to see it full-size. I think you can guess the track if you look closely. I will be kind to DW and not relate the year. Great shoes.

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Karen said...

Hilarious column. Missed the show. Will watch the reair.

Sophia said...

Ditto to Karen!! I am boycotting ESPN NN UNLESS I hear Hinton is on! :)

Or your column makes it sound like must see JD.

Thanks for the heads to set the digital reminder and hope NN is on time and not some late running scrabble tournament.

meow mix

cvt said...

Ryan Burr was on tonight? Where?

glenc1 said...

Oddly enough, I happen to come home early today and saw most of the show for the first time in a while.

They could have gone on for 2 hours, Ryan was right. The only bad thing was, they *need* to be in the same room. The feed delay was a little distracting to both of them (and to us.) I don't know if I agree or disagree with the suggestions they made, but it sure could start a lot of interesting conversations...

Anonymous said...

@sophia--it is! it is! It was GREAT! When I saw that Mr. Hinton was on I was hoping that JD would do a column so you'd know to watch the replay.

@cvt--*giggle* I know I think I saw a glimpse but it could have been my imagination. They were going with each other it was like Ryan wasn't there.

@glenc1--Oh I know...I was like shoot! 30 minutes isn't enough! It felt like they had just started and it was already over :(

@JD--I'd *love* to see this as a regular feature! It would be so awesome!

Newracefan said...

Hysterical should be a monthly thing for NN (weekly might be too much) and they need to be in the same room. I may not agree with all their ideas/opinions but it was sure fun to hear them.

Nan S said...

Thanks for the heads up , I will record the repeat of the show. I find Hinton very intesting when he is on WindTunnel, same goes for Darrell W.

Vicky D said...

I only saw the last few minutes but what great two guests and Ryan could hardly get a word in edgewise. What a great idea to change the season from January to September - Nascar has changed so much what's a few months at the start or at the end!

AMS fan said...

That was the best show ESPN has broadcast since they took over the NASCAR contract.

majorshouse said...

That was by far the best NN this season. It is a shame that it could not have gone on longer and that they could not have been in the same room together. I really liked Darrell's suggestion for the season and he has a really good point.
This show was definitely a breath of fresh air and not the politically correct crap that we have come to expect. I definitely would love to see more of this.

CDH said...

Best episode of Nascar Now to date for me. If you missed it then that's a shame. Usually the show is pretty weak if there is no big story going on. So this was a great surprise. And I agree that the chase needs a change, like less races and knocking out drivers. You have to believe it'd be more exciting. Although I'll admit that changing it will just piss off the die-hard longtime fans even more than they already are.

Tracy said...

What is the track? I thought I read "Nashville Market" on the fence.

I just happened to catch the last 15 minutes live, and wow, couldn't shut it off. Great idea for a show!

Anonymous said...

Let me first say during his time way back when I did not like DW. I respected his accomplishments but not him, and his big mouth(JAWS).
He would be a lot better in the type settings tonight, and on a Speed show like this next year, and not in the booth. The first couple of years in the booth was O.K., but last year it was not. It was all about Toyoto,,Digger,Mikey,K.B., what they did years ago,which has nothing to do with whats happening now.He gets wound up in the booth, like his brother, and distracts from the race.
At the end of the season heard a rumor he would not be back next year, but the last race Fox did, he said see you Daytona next year.
J.D., Do you know the Fox crew for next year?

Lou said...

Enjoyed the show. DW and ED were a pleasure to listen to even with their high level of excitement. I understand that there may have been a Ryan Burr sighting.

Karen said...

The best NN I've seen. Ryan was hanging onto his show by his fingernails. What a great idea for these two to be on together.

Culo said...

The track in the DW pic is most definitely Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville TN... note you can see the concrete back straight wall of the quartermile track back behind DW.. then look even further back where the big high fence is... that's the back straight of the 1/2 mile track...
around 73-74 I'd guess... I spent a LOT of time there as a kid in the late 60's

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sophia said...

great show!!! Thanks for the heads up and glad it was repeated!!

LOVE it...needed to be an hour for sure.

Speedcouch said...

What is DW running for political office or something? He was on at the beginning of Claire B. Lang's show yesterday as well. Can't we get a respite from this guy even in the months Fox is not showing the races? Is he afraid someone might forget about him or something?

Anonymous said...

GREAT SHOW - good spirited debate.
NASCAR NOW needs to utilize Ed Hinton more. He is not afraid to tackle the tough subjects and tell it like it is.
DW ? same old DW, Seems like he is politicing for a job with NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

It's gotta be Nashville Fairgrounds. Enlarge the pic, and check out the sign for WNGE channel 2. That's a Nashville TV station.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:58PM,

DW will be back with the NASCAR on FOX gang in 2009.


majorshouse said...

DW makes a whole lot more sense than most of those clowns in Daytona Beach including Bryan France and think that he could do a much better job running NASCAR than the current administration.

Sophia said...

I agree about DW..."Jaws" or not, he has better ideas than "I don't care about racing, I just love the money B. France".

I agree start season sooner, get over sooner.

ED HINTON is terribly under utilized here!!

Love both guys..would love to see them IN STUDIO SOON.

Tom said...

I must admit, anytime Ed Hinton is ANYWHERE, I watch. JD, your point about actual issues being discussed is right on target. This has been one of my biggest beefs all year, as it seems the only "free" opinions are now on David Poole's morning show (although even that is in danger with the MRN connection). Get Hinton on more often! Too bad he went to ESPN, because the Hinton/Miller show on WT was one of the best!
I am not sure I agree with everything those guys said, but thats the idea- get some REAL opinions out there and let us decide without the NASCAR Koolaid! I do think DW is on to something about the seasonal alignment, which was nice to hear, because he has been decidedly Koolaid-ish as of late.

Inverness, FL

Garry said...

Does anyone see the similarities between this episode and "Tradin' Paint" on SPEED?
Obviously the powers that be seen the electricity in the air on the SPEED show, and thought it would work on ESPN. Perfect combination.
Race drivers and journalists.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome show! Just goes to show what ESPN can do when they put real personalities on real issues involving NASCAR. DW should be on every show, maybe even get his own little segment for a few minutes, like the opening of Rome is Burning. That'd be cool.

Richard in N.C. said...

I'm sorry I missed the show as I do enjoy Ed Hinton , even though he is convinced that the media has never made an error on anything.

I am sure that no mention was made that the perceived problem of NASCAR's competing with the NFL might have something to do with the mediocre quality of TNT's & ESPN's broadcasts of the races.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

Also, the comment about the competition with the NFL could be that Nascar leaves the "free" networks after the Fox portion and those that do not have cable that may be die hard Nascar fans that cannot afford cable or sattelite lose interest until it comes back on ABC. I have a friend like that and they just lose interest in Nascar after the FOX portion because in these economic times they can't afford cable/satellite. They just use rabbit ears.

I wish that I could have watched that show. It would have probably lifted my spirits after the election results. (my guy did not win. :() I love the Waltrips and try to watch every show that I know that they are going to be on.

Thanks, JD, for the columns about the coverage this weekend. I was at the track and therefore didn't get to watch the coverage. I did listen to the SPEED tv coverage on my scanner.

Anonymous said...

Three media guys with "no holds barred" attitudes"
1. David Poole
2. Ed Hinton
3. Robin Miller

ESPN surprises me when they go against the flow of the NASCAR hierarchy and tackle tough subjects.

That was a great show - ESPN use Ed Hinton MORE!

Prospector said...

This was a prime example of why I avoid any show with either Waltrip.

It automatically becomes ALL-Waltrip-ALL-THE-TIME.

Billy the Kid said...

Ions ago I worked for DiGard when they made the switch and hired Waltrip (I really liked Donnie Allison, and didn't appreciate waltrip' arrival). He was always a talker (it was no accident his nickname was "Jaws") and was not an easy guy to like--and I think he'd be the first one to say that. Now anyway.

DW is still a talker and people still love him or hate him (it's that sizable ego), but one thing you can't take from DW is his love of racing or his knowledge about the sport.

NASCAR needs people like DW on TV, he cares what happens to and in the sport. And it shows.

Richard in N.C. said...

The most amazing thing I've found since DW has been on FOX is how much he does let others talk.

Marlo said...

This was a great show. I agree they should have been in the studio. The show should have been an hour in length. It's nice to listen to people who know racing and not read from a script

PammH said...

harpamy/amy...your friend is gonna have a tough go of it after Feb 09 if they only have rabbit ears! Please let them know..

Vicky D said...

Pammh and others. After Hurricane Ike and loss of power in most of the Houston area, the television guys realized that we'll be up a creek because those boxes don't have backup power i.e. batteries.