Thursday, December 18, 2008

Despain Inked For Two Years By SPEED

The Wind Tunnel franchise is apparently safe on SPEED for two more years. Thursday, it was announced that the network has signed host Dave Despain to a new TV contract through 2010.

The shrinking amount of content on SPEED that relates in any way to actual sanctioned racing has been a concern as the network plows ahead with multi-million dollar "lifestyle" shows at full speed.

Wind Tunnel is part of a three hour block of highly visible and successful SPEED programming on Sunday nights that includes The SPEED Report and Victory Lane.

Despain originally hosted Wind Tunnel five nights a week or more and it became the home to great discussions of various racing topics with fantastic guests from all over the world of motorsports.

Now, Despain presides over a very quick hour of programming that tries to tie-in live guests, co-hosts, email and viewer phone calls. The program essentially has taken-on the persona of adding additional content to the stories featured on The SPEED Report.

TDP has many times compared Wind Tunnel with Despain to CNN's Larry King Live. The combination of the show and the host has become one of the strongest brands on SPEED. No other show carries the journalistic weight of Wind Tunnel on the network.

With the global economy affecting racing like never before, SPEED would perhaps be wise to consider cranking-up Wind Tunnel in January and providing the only connection on-the-air to race fans other than the website.

Waiting until Speedweek in February to start the program may cause SPEED to completely miss-out on the biggest stories that will be shaping the face of racing in North America and around the world for 2009.

Please give us your thoughts on Wind Tunnel and what you like and perhaps dislike about this program series on SPEED.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Comments will appear shortly after they are submitted. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


David said...

I would love to see it go back to nightly not once a week. NASCAR needs to take a queue from the NFL where they made the season 12 months long with draft and news coverage. Glad Dave will be back but in order to grow NASCAR needs to take a hard look and how it has shyed away from WEB and TV by letting someone else deal with it. Cancelling Daytona testing was economically good but they should have had at least that to get some buzz going. As it sits there is nothing. Just follow the NFL's lead and learn to market your league year round. Want proof there is not buzz list the the morning drive on sirius. They where talking Kareoke this morning...

Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed Wind Tunnel and wished it was on nightly like it used to be. Speed needs to get it's head out of it's rear end and show racing. Any form of racing. Livin' the Low Life has to have what, 10 viewers an episode?

They could do so much with this channel (again like they used to) but choose not to. Only thing I might watch during the 'weak' from Speed is Pass Time because my 3 year old son likes it. Other than that Speed in our house is a wasted channel except when racing is on.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of Despain, but really want to hear form people inside NASCAR so would be very happy to see wind tunnel back on in January. As an aside, now the Mansfield not hosting the trucks this year story has disappeared from the Jayski site, did they retract it, or am I in the 'zone' again, although, the countdown clock worked again without my doing anything on my end after I mentioned it over here... How much if any control does ESPN have over there?

photojosh said...

While I wasn't a fan of Despain's on INC, I do like Wind Tunnel. It's a shame that they can't even expand the show to 2-3 nights a week. Keep the Sunday show. Add a wednesday show for news items, in-depth conversations, or non top-tier racing reports. Then add a friday show for upcoming races (across all motorsports) over the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Well, he is not shy about saying what he thinks. There was a time when Despain was mad that Speed had left its roots and was going too, too much NASCAR. I'm not sure if it was because of Speed not doing World Rally Championship anymore.

majorshouse said...

I personally would love to see Wind Tunnel back five nights a week. It is by far one of my most favorite racing shows going. Dave Despain has been around motorsports forever it seems like and he does a great job where many other outlets could really learn from him.

Arthur said...

I would like to see Speed add a mid-week Wind Tunnel to compliment the Sunday broadcast. Despain does a great job with covering breaking motorsports news, and we often miss things happening during the week.

And if this post-season doesn't convince Speed to keep some sort of news program on, nothing will. They've missed important stories, and could return to their roots. But no, they'll keep showing "lifestyle programming" and fall further into insignificance...

Lou said...

I happen to enjoy the show when Robin Miller in on the show. He gives me a no holds bar and is not afraid to express his opinions on what ever the flavor of the day is. It is always a pleasure to see Robin on the show.

As for the NASCAR stuff I get enough from other places and take it for what it is worth.

I remember Dave Despain from years ago and I am glad he is still around to share his experience of all motorsports not just NASCAR.

Look forward to WT for 2009.

Wish I could get a bobble head of DD. Keep up the good work Dave, thanks.

toomuchcountry said...

Not sure why WT takes time off from mid Nov thru Feb. Not sure if its Speed's call or in DD's contract. But off-season in all of motorsports is hardly lacking in news - this year or even the past 3-4. DD already does a great job covering a multitude of storylines with all forms of motorsports, but having no significant races to debrief would allow even more time to explore those subjects.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Robin Miller is SPEED's most undervalued "brand."

He should be a co-host for Wind Tunnel, appear on SPEED Report and sometimes drop by TWIN to shake things up in Waltrip-land.

Having his content on without even one on-air TV outlet during the racing off-season is a big strategic mistake for SPEED.


Vicky D said...

I too enjoy DD but sometimes I think he prefers open wheel to nascar. I am a Robin Miller fan he needs to be a regular on WT and agree with some posters about starting the show in January. Once the new year starts we have Grand Am racing at Daytona coming up it would be good to get a head start. I find WT perhaps being 90 minutes on Sunday nights would be better.

Richard in N.C. said...

I have a real difficult time trying to figure out the logic behind most of the decisions made by the real special folks in programming at SPEED. It is almost like twins do the programming - and the evil one handles Monday thru early Friday.

While I do like Windy Tunnel, I have to question Dave's "passion" for racing since he is on only about 40 weeks per year, with no repeats or guest hosts. Eli Gold's MRN radio show is on at least 50 weeks per year and Jay Leno is on live about 46 weeks per year with, I understand, repeats the other weeks. Wind Tunnel's schedule, timewise, is about like that of a congressman.

In a sense it would appear that SPEED takes race fans more for granted than EESPN does since it appears that SPEED is going to have about 10 to 12 weeks with no racing coverage except A1 GP.

Sophia said...

You can read 5 message boards and I have found one thing in common mentioned.

ONE HOUR of Wind Tunnel is NOT ENOUGH. I love Dave but too much is jammed into his little 1 hour show.

LOVE Robin Miller..they should do a second night of WT and let Robin have a segment each week. TWO of my fave guys. :)

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy WT, even when I don't like what DD has to say. It is the only show on TV that covers all forms of racing. Since it's only on once a week, it doesn't allow much in depth coverage of anything. Too bad. and Robin Miller is just too much fun to have on so seldom.

Nan S said...

Wind Tunnel is great and I'm glad that Dave is back for 2 years. Count me among those who miss it being on many more nights a week. At least they could make it a 2 hour show if its only once.

Its about the only place that you can hear some in depth discussion about open wheel and motorcycles.

Anonymous said...

Love Despain and Wind Tunnel. The season's last show -- with DW and Dick Berggren -- I could have watch that go on for hours. Think of all those times over the season that Despain asked if the automakers really got value out of their NASCAR relationships. That seems so prescient now.

Wind Tunnel and Speed Report are my favorite shows on Speed. It's funny that Speed is so heavily invested in their lifestyle programming. If I remember correctly, ESPN went down a strange path a few years ago, producing original movies and even a fictionalized series about football players and such. Seems they got out of that fairly quickly and went back to live sports and sports news/commentary. Speed's reality programming is probably cheap to produce and I imagine it's supposed to garner a younger audience but, holy cow, is it unwatchable. If they could just work in 30 minutes of motor sports news per week somewhere in between all those Unique Whip reruns. As it is, there's no reason to turn over until February.

Newracefan said...

WT has grown on me over the past few years from laughing at the outrageous comments of others to the inside scoop from those on the inside or in Robin's case pressed up against the window listening. It's a fun hour, and Dave's vacation is way too long.

Anonymous said...

Despain seems to be treating NASCAR with a bit more respect on WT than he did previously--and I loved last year's documentary where he looked back at the history of Daytona--so I think this is good news.

It definitely ought to run all year long, as there's racing news to be discussed all year.

Nick Doyle said...


In a nutshell, a week without Despain and Miller is agony for this long-time fan. Wind Tunnel needs to be longer or more frequent during the week, and it should be on all year. Dave and Robin will never run out of interesting things to talk about.

Instead, Speed gives us Eunich Whips. Sample episode -- lets find some basketball player, get his Escalade, add 24" chrome wheels, an annoying "sound system," make the interior fit for a pimp, and put it all on TV. Repeat weekly. Oh, and let's add lots of hugging and fist-bumps.

And the network is called "Speed?"

I thought that name had to do with racing, not recreational medications.

Not a fan of "life-style" programming on what could be a terrific racing network.

More Dave and more Robin. The sooner the better.



Lesley said...

Dave comes from the two wheeled side of things! This is important in that the best racing in the world comes from Mile Flat Tracking,World superbike and Motogp!! He knows real racing..Why is Jimmy Johnson fast? Bikes!! He does a great job tolerating the four wheeled crowd,and I enjoy It to.. But make no mistake!! Rossi,Edwards,Roberts,Hayden,Carr..are the Bravest of the brave when It comes to, I can go faster than you..Good job Dave!!

Anonymous said...

Mr Despain is the only motorsports journalist on SPEED, with the rare exception of Robin Miller showing up from time to time.

Like NASCAR of late, SPEED has taken the simple route to perceived "hipness" with reality rubbish programming.

This "island" called Wind Tunnel will be buried where no one can see it through the smokey haze of Pinks........and as we all know, Pinks Stinks!

Congrats to Mr Despain

Happy Christmas all!

Bray Kroter

Anonymous said...

I've always had a hot/cold reaction to Despain. He's what I call a "big picture" guy-he can talk knowlegeably about many forms of racing. While he seems to especially like bike and dirt racng, I don't don't think he's especially knowledgable about Nascar or the mechanics of race cars. At times, there's a certain arrogance to his delivery that puts me off. As far as INC goes, that was a terrible fit.

earl06 said...

It's interesting that SPEED kept DD under contract and Wind Tunnel on the air. It would be easy to justify getting rid of an expensive holdover from the old SPEED. My question is why?

There doesn't seem to be any crossover from Wind Tunnel fans to the other shows on the channel. It's almost like producing a football show on Lifetime. SPEED's 3 hours of programming on Sunday nights are a concession to the old guard that are ignored for the remainder of the week. Let's face it, nobody surfs over to SPEED to see if something good is on anymore.

diane said...


I don't think Wind Tunnel is expensive to produce. In fact its probably very cheap. Just a simple set, one host, free guests and some phone line technology and screeners.

That's probably what has saved it, its a low cost show. You're right about it appealing to the old guard. Its one of the few remnants of SpeedVision, a great network.

Anonymous said...

I'm tellin' you guys, Unique Whips has GOT to have a PLC (program-length commercial) deal with SPEED, i.e., they pay-to-play. If you've ever actually watched the show, it is literally a commercial for the Unique Whips company, complete with contact phone number.

SPEED's undoubtedly allowing this show to air because the company pays them to run it.

Kevin in SoCal said...

I agree with most of the above comments. We would love to have Wind Tunnel on more often, at least 90 minutes on Sundays. And Robin Miller is awesome and should be on more often, too. His style and opinions are always great and he never gives you B.S.

JD said...

NASCAR definitely needs a recurring TV news program during the off-season for those of us who need a 'fix' from time to time. Three months off is entirely toooooooooooo long. Wind Tunnel would be an excellent tool to satisfy the 'need for news' of the NASCAR variety.

I'm sure they could find willing sponsors for one hour/week. They could even take off two weeks around Christmas/New Year like the rest of the world does.

I don't know how Despain would handle the demand, but I know many NASCAR fans that aren't really stick and ball fans and would love some added coverage during the off-season.

Another JD

Anonymous said...

I like Despain, even though I disagree with him a lot. I like anyone with strong, well-thought-out opinions.

But I really don't get the whole headphones thing. Really, I don't get it. I mean, I understand that it's an homage to radio, but in my opinion it just looks goofy. He can have the big old fashioned microphone and get the same thing across. But it is 2008, almost 2009 and even in most modern radio stations they use smaller, more modern headsets than those old giant black earmuffs WITH A CORD. (It was weird when Jimmie Johnson is being interviewed by a guy wearing headphone yet he is just sitting there without them.

It makes me start to wonder if he is reliant on the headphones to maintain the steady deep broadcaster voice he does.

Rockin Rich said...

And, we have yet another winner in the TDP's new acronym contest!

I think Nick Doyle's comment, (12/18 @11:44PM), was a hoot.

Unique Whips is now Eunuch Whips. Great new acronym, right up there with Sophia's BSPN.

Nick Doyle said...


I had no idea that there was a contest involved. Should I happen to win the grand prize, please forward it to the "Old Time NASCAR Drivers' Home." They deserve it far more than I.

and . . .

Rockin Rich,

Glad you liked it, and thanks for the compliment and for correcting my spelling to the proper "Eunuch" if such a thing can be called proper -- certainly not the show.

Cheers to all,


The J said...

i remember when WT was 2 hours long a few years ago. it was great. as for speed, their weekend nascar coverage is the best in all of nascar. but once WT goes off the air on sunday, speed becomes horrible. and right now theyre doing 7 hour marathons of pinks and unique whips. whoevers watching that right now probably cant change the channel or turn off the tv. at least theres only about 50 days to daytona.

kyle said...

David has a good point. NASCAR is dead after Homestead and until the Shootout now, because of the elimination of testing. Not much going on at all this year.

I am not sad or happy about this. I really have never liked the wind tunnel. But, I can't deny that it is good for the NASCAR world.

Now, I just wish SPEED would work on Getting their HD channel on my cable co. (Mediacom), but I have a feeling that its more on the side of the cable co.

Zieke said...

Good for Despain. His show is usually fun, but not being a 2 wheel fan, I do turn it off from time to time. I do like Miller and his passion for open wheel racing- he adds alot to WT including humor, with no BS intended.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE (cue John Robert's impressionistic voice) Dave Despain! Nightly would be sweet, but I always love unwinding after a race by watching his show. SPEED knows what they are doing. If only they could be in ESPN's spot when it came to covering races.

Anonymous said...

We want more Wind Tunnel!! More time, more nights, whatever we can get. I, too, hate the U Whips and that other junk they show.

I am primarily a NASCAR fan, but also watch IRL, and I like that Dave reports on those series as well as others like drag racing or motorcycles that I don't watch regularly. The variety is nice.