Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Key Story Of 2008 Breaks With No TV Coverage


Lee Spencer from Fox Sports was up at 1AM to author this (click here) story on the end of a legendary NASCAR family franchise.

Several hours later, ESPN.com followed with a blurb (click here) about the same issue. No reporter's name was mentioned, but the details were the same. Even with the Petty name possibly tied to the new merged company, Petty Enterprises was officially closing.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Petty VP Robbie Loomis (click here) was busy denying merger rumors and painting the future as bright. Now, the reality was finally playing-out on a national stage. Unfortunately, that stage did not include TV coverage.

On SPEED, the lifestyle programs continued to race by on Wednesday as the off-season frenzy of truck towing and auto auctions was in full swing.

This (click here) single story by Tom Jensen on SPEEDtv.com talked about the Petty legacy and the reasons this situation was about to have a profound effect on the sport in general. Jensen was not seen on Wind Tunnel, the SPEED Report or any other SPEED TV program. NASCAR on SPEED is closed for the winter.

The nerves were raw at ESPN because the breaking sports news was overwhelming the capabilities of the on-air crews. "Welcome to the machine," said the ESPNEWS anchor on Wednesday morning as the 24-hour network continued to grind out the "content."

Denver's Mike Shanahan was fired, Brett Farve might need surgery and the coaching wheel in the NFL was in full swing. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were going head-to-head in the highlights. Alcoholic golfer John Daly was suspended by the PGA and Charles Barkley was busted for DUI. NASCAR's Petty story had no chance.

Over on the "mothership" of ESPN, the SportsCenter franchise had already made its final statement of the year where NASCAR was concerned. The season's best video clips in all sports had rolled-by and most of them were predictable. But, when it came to NASCAR, ESPN had selected the best moments of the season. Well, as far as they were concerned.

"Michael Waltrip is the worst driver in NASCAR," growled Clint Bowyer again during the red flag in Bristol. Then, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards showed the best face of the sport with post-race slamming and spinning on the high banks. Topping it off were the threat and response soundbites from both those drivers.

ESPN inserted the Petty information as a blurb on the lower third ticker and credited Spencer and Foxsports.com for the confirmation. So, there it was. Petty Enterprises had effectively gone out of business as a lower third graphic on ESPN on a Wednesday morning.

The background of TDP is blue to celebrate Richard Petty's 50 years in NASCAR. Regardless of the bad business decisions, the end of Petty Enterprises is a major story in the history of NASCAR. With the passing of Dale Earnhardt Sr., there was perhaps no more recognizable and iconic figure in the sport than Richard Petty.

We are weeks away from the start of the NASCAR TV season. Perhaps, both SPEED and ESPN will take some time to follow-up on the Petty story and put this transition into historical perspective when they return to the air. Today, there will be no opportunity to see a reporter or hear an expert to help fans understand this news.

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26 comments:

Dmo said...

I say "ouch" and "ouch". When will NASCAR put some pressure on their partners?? Or does the big contract stipulate that "NASCAR's sanctioning body has no say-so whatsoever in what we choose to do, place on air, or totally ignore"? Perhaps professional Soccer is in the same boat?
-D

Anonymous said...

The Pettys haven't owned "Petty Enterprises" since the sale to Boston Ventures earlier this year, which was covered quite thoroughly by all.
This is just the sale of Boston Ventures to GEM, with the Petty name still appearing on the stationary. Seems like that's being reported.
So the "End" of Petty ownership in NASCAR was really months ago, and was reported as such.

Anonymous said...

Fellow race fans, don't we know it's FOOTBALL season and therefore NASCAR doesn't matter anymore until the Super Bowl and college bowl games are over?!?!?! Remember how our race start times get manipulated to better work with footall in the Fall?

Another prime example of a major event being ignored since it doesn't involve a crash, a sound bite, or something televised live that cannot be ignored.

It's sad to see the Petty organization go away but I thin we've all seen the writing on the wall. When major enterprises have to merge to keep their doors open and sponsors can barely afford to pay theri employees let alone sponsor a team, we knew we could loose some teams in the process. We all hoped it wouldn't be Petty, but it is.

Once again our athletes earn too much, tracks charge too much for tickets, and the cost to run a team is too high. Maybe Clint should have loaned Petty some money rather than buying a new plane.....

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:37PM,

Perhaps, there is a bit of a difference between taking on a financial partner like many teams have done and literally closing your shop and dismissing the employees.

TDP pointed out when the original Boston Ventures merger happened that David Zucker was ill-equipped to handle anything NASCAR-related and this was a poor decision.

The current scenario is Zucker walks away with the Petty Driving Experience and GEM walks away with the Petty name. Kind of like a rock band playing gigs with no original members. Only the name remains.

There is such a thing in sports as "a moment in time." This is one of them.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

There are many aspects of the Petty Enterprises - Boston Ventures saga that have gotten no coverage by the media -- and admittedly many of them are really not the public's business. David Caraviello at NASCAR.com had a good article in early December about the situation, and that The King may have come out well financially.

Venture capitalists like Boston Ventures seem to be adept at taking things apart and making the pieces worth more than the whole was. However, the swiftness of this does surprise me since Boston Ventures was supposed to be the deep pocket with a long-term view that was going to rebuild PE. Maybe their pocket wasn't as deep as they thought OR maybe BV really wasn't as smart as portrayed and discovered they were in over their head after they bought into PE.

The rise and fall of BV in NASCAR has broken Bobby Ginn's speed record for in and out - and there's another NASCAR related story the all-knowing media is overlooking. From what I read several of Ginn's developments are in serious financial difficulty - including a big development in NW N.C. coincidentally not very far from the old N. Wilkesboro speedway.

Richard in N.C. said...

I probably should not say so, but most of the time the NASCAR media resembles a vast waist-land, but since the end of the season it has seemed to be more of a vast wastelamd. Many stories slightly or slowly covered.

Anonymous said...

So what happens with the brand?? Petty !
Is sportcenter geared towards any racing? Everybody else is hiding for the winter play stupid shows that the content has already been seen. But isn't that the way racing rolls in the winter on TV. Has for years.

ace said...

Many NASCAR needs to hide that their ship is sinking with car count and sponsors.
A 800# gorilla eats a lot just to survive.
Petty Brand ???

bevo said...

JD,

I'll tune in to Speedway.
What's up with the different layout with the site?

Anonymous said...

How does ESPN continue to claim it is the Worldwide Leader in Sports when it doesn't even cover a major event like this?

That's rhetorical, of course; I know they do it out of an abundance of hubris.

But those of us who pay attention are laughing at ESPN's claims.

Sophia said...

The more I read the more this household wishes we did not like F1 and Wind Tunnel and the trucks so much..or SPEED would be GONE. Not to mention my fondness for TWIN and Steve Byrnes and company on Friday's....ESPN is just a major joke and NEVER watched in this house unless it's a sporting even and we have no choice.

Also as have 12:01 tonight, Time Warner may lose 19 channels thanks to Viacom's greed (similar deal happened years ago with Satellite folks) Course I only watch TVland sometimes..how sad is that we can't get tv stations ala carte..but I digress.

Honestly, how USELESS have the "Nascar partners" tv stations been with the Petty story......

These cable stations (much like NASCAR and their alleged "broadcasting partners")and Powers -that -be, NEED to remember, if we get that much more disappointed, we CAN nix cable and listen on radio or online to many shows. If FOX just shows one car finishing at the end of the race, trust me, i will turn OFF the races for SPRINT cup and hope the newer, stronger signal FM station with the race comes in the house CLEAR this year. I would rather "LISTEN" and catch the race highlights anyhoo.

But the Petty's may just want to fade away at this point...what a painful year for them in many ways.
It's so sad, I sometimes wonder how I feel about this sport when you look at the bigger scope of things in life.....It's really pathetic how this sport is treated like an after thought.

Then again my NFL friends HATE the broadcast of their games on ESPN as well..and other stations..and bad officiating (sound like bad NASCAR calls) is creeping up more and more in recent years....sigh...

majorshouse said...

ESPN will never be the real world wide leader in sports because we know that they don't cover all of them like they should and I for one am really sorry to see the Petty name go down in flames like it has. I was skeptical when they sold out to Boston Ventures and am wondering how well the merger with GEM is really going tohelp as well.

Jimbacca said...

Where is nascar people ask? Counting their money. Nascar is about making money for nascar. They leach away sponsors from teams so they are official nascar sponsors.

Having to spend their money for their own network, shows etc is not advantages to them.

History is only needed if they can sell it like the 50th year anniversary gear. Will Petty selling matter in their pocketbooks? Not a bit. Would it hurt them to see it gone? Obviously not.

Nascar is like the drunk hot chick. You put up with the bs to get to an end. The end is to show races. Anything in between is pointless. There are no fights, stupidity etc to show on the off season. Just alot of news. So they prove yet again they could care less when the busiest news time in the sport is not covered.

Ziggy said...

Great article JD !! I found myself laughing & at the time sadden.

Anonymous said...

This is truly a shame and an historic day in NASCAR history. But from where I am sitting, I am kinda glad that the Petty racing team is done, and I mean that with the utmost respect.

Let's be frank - Petty's racing outfit hasn't been a successful one for many, many years. Watching them struggle to stay in the Top 25, let alone even make the field some weeks, was like watching a once strong person die of a long, slow illness. Yes, it was nice to see the blue 43 turn laps every week as a source of consistency, but at the same time it was really unbecoming of the team owned by the true king of NASCAR to languish so badly for so long.

I hope the Petty's can find a happier life ahead of them. I have felt, from my fan's seat, that the joy of ownership and creating a team that can last has been dead ever since the tragedy that struck them a few years ago.

Just because their team is dead doesn't mean the Pettys won't still continue to be a big part of the sport. Richard Petty has always been an ambassador of NASCAR and he did so not because of his commitments to his team. His son is emerging as one of the most improved and eloquent voices in NASCAR broadcasting and will continue to play a big role in how fans see the action on the races he calls and the shows he hosts. And finally I feel that the Pettys will no longer have to stoop to all the extra appearances, and promotion hoops they had to jump through just to keep their struggling cars turning laps (barely) on the track.

Even though this retirement has been forced upon them, I hope that they will a) enjoy the next stage of their lives, free of the stresses of owning a team yet retaining all the glory they get every time any fan sees them and b) continue to be a big part of NASCAR, even if they aren't on the track competing every weekend. All of the greats have had to reach a point in their lives where they are not actively involved in the competitive aspect of the sport. And now it is time for the King, as well. I hope that in some way this day is more bittersweet than bitter and that they feel some relief.

Gymmie said...

It's definitely a shame :(.

I hate to see this happen to the Pettys.

Robbie needs to remember the harder you deny the more the rumor will end up being true. I remember a certain Rusty Wallace swearing up and down that Mr. Penske Sir wasn't going to Dodge and guess who was at the news conference announcing the switch 2 weeks later.

What a mess this season has been.

Kenn Fong said...

J.D.,

Maybe now that the carnage is over, with a little time, we can go back to associating the name "Petty" with The King instead of "mediocre race team."

Anon 1:37 and Richard in N.C. got it right. Vultures like Boston Ventures approach a business situation without any romantic baggage from the past. I wonder if the world economy didn't get flushed down the toilet so quickly, Boston Ventures might have been able to keep Petty Enterprises alive and racing.

J.D., do you know if the Petty attorneys were clever enough to insert a clause into the contract saying if the brand "Petty Enterprises" was not attached to a race team as the primary owner, the brand itself reverts to the family?

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

P. S. Why do we need an off-season NASCAR television show when we have you and TDP?

Anonymous said...

The loss of Petty Enterprises is a travesty and a black mark on the executives at NASCAR.
Would the NFL turn its back on a brand as important as the New York Giants? Would MLB abandon the Yankees? This is the equivalent to those two brands-at least within the sporting confines of auto racing. Bill France jr. would NEVER have allowed this to happen under his watch, BECAUSE HE RECOGNIZED THAT THE VALUE OF THE SPORT RESTS WITH THE PERSONALITIES (DRIVERS) AND NOT WITH THE NASCAR NAME!!!!!!!!! Bill jr would have worked behind the scenes to insure that PETTY had what it needed to survive another season.
To say that Richard and Kyle will still be "involved" in NASCAR, so "everything will be okay" is short sighted. Of course they struggled as a team each year. That's the way of the sport!! But NASCAR needs Kyle Petty in a car and it needs Richard Petty on a pit box and it needs the 43 car in every race as a Petty venture-NOT as a licensed name! Brian France could reach into the bank accounts and throw these teams 10 million apiece to stay afloat. But no, he seems tot think that his precious NASCAR title is what brings fans their value, and not the participants.
HMMMM, let's see. Bobby Labonte in the 43 or Reed Sorensen......Maybe 6 people care about the latter.
There's an old saying in business that an enterprise that is successful under its founder can grow under the first son (or daughter) but by the 3rd generation, its usually run to ruination. Here is a perfect example.
SHAME ON YOU NASCAR
SHAME ON YOU

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid many of us are showing our age with our concern for the Petty legacy. Our age group is not the target of ESPN, ABC, NBC, etc. The age group that TV is going after was not born when Richard was winning a lot of races and championships. Their target market considers the Jeff Gordon era to be old history.

Anonymous said...

to anon @ 1:19 pm

The blivits at ESPN at al may think they need a new, younger audience, but their dismal ratings and declining track attendence records prove that a new audience is not automatically generated-just because the sport tries to go "Hollywood".
The move toward younger drivers at the expense of established veterans who have a built in fan base has been an abject failure for NASCAR and for FOX and ESPN.
They screwed with a successful formula (remember the "new Coke" campaign?) and blew it.
Age notwithstanding, if there were an autograph session with individual lines for Richard Petty, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale jr, the 2 shortest lines would be Johnson and Gordon. This ain't brain surgery (its Brian surgery-and the patient is dead)

Rockin Rich said...

Re — Anon 1/1/09 @2:37PM:

"Brian surgery — and the patient is dead"

Great phrase that succinctly describes the number one problem with NASCAR today! I would say dying rather than dead, but your logic is spot on.

Tracy said...

JD's point that the demise of Petty Enterprises (and I truly believe Boston Ventures only wanted the the RP Driving Experience from day 1) is big news and should be given a thorough analysis on TV is dead on. I just don't get it - it's news, report it in depth, for heaven's sake!

Red, do you remember how you and I felt, on the day the BV/Petty sale was announced, that it was the death of Petty's racing days? We fans aren't so dumb after all.

Anonymous said...

This was a big story a month ago when SI.com broke the news on Dec. 4th. I agree with the comment above: << The "End" of Petty ownership in NASCAR was really months ago, and was reported as such. >> ESPN didn't cover the story now because it is OLD news. I have no idea why Lee Spencer stayed up until 1 AM writing about it ... maybe she needs to learn to budget her time better.

Richard in N.C. said...

Private equity groups are really unique and, from my experience, not at all warm and cuddly. However, the swiftness with which it appears BV found itself in over its head at PE is really amazing to me. What happened to BV's plans to invest in and rebuild PE? BV is no small outfit. Sure does seem to me that there is a real story here about BV's failure to understand or deal with what it got into at PE, but no one in the media seems interested. Was the failure all due to the sudden, dramatic change in the economy - or was it due to ineptitude or misrepresentation by BV? From the way it looks, I guess PE fans will just have to wait for BV to issue a press release on "How we screwed up."

Rockin Rich said...

Maybe the "ole country boy", (King Richard), snookered the city slicker big money boys, took the money, and ran! Plausible??!!

I have never met The King, so I don't know what he is really like as a person. However, from all I have read about him I find it difficult to believe he would deliberately put his loyal employees out of work.

Truly a sad, ugly spectacle to have to witness. I too believe there is a lot more to this than we know at this point.

It does seem strange that Elliot would include Allmendinger, in the suit. Maybe it's a standard weasel-lawyer shotgun approach tactic when bringing a suit like this?

I also believe it is news worthy of being covered by the NASCAR so called TV Partners. I seldom think that Brian France is taking the right approach, but he may have been correct back in 2006,(I think) when he was whining about how NASCAR wasn't being covered.

Of course, had had just completed another of his "Brian-Surgeries" by agreeing to the wonderful new TV contracts with their "coverage" clauses. Another case of "Take The Money And Run"??

Pitiful!!

3bud said...

DEI is now just a merger waiting to fail. Now Petty Enterprises. This is certainly not my sons dads NASCAR. THE fact SPEED has no programing to cover this is what it is. But ESPN " The World Wide Leader in Sports" not covering it only speaks volumes of the what the sport and it's legacy means to them. They are TV partners,which in a way makes perfect sense, Brian and the ESPN Brass are in it for the $$$$$ Period.Neither seem to care a bit what goes on as long as the cash flows. Unfortunately the cash flow is dwindling and they better start caring how they serve the teams and fans before all are gone. A fan since the early seventies watching bits on Wide World of Sports. A fan who lived and bled NASCAR racing. A fan who admittedly lost a little February 18 2001 but still lived for the sport lost a bit more with this past season. The sensationlism that was tried to pass as news, and the treatment of the drivers and fans. Now this. Yes it was reported to be possible earlier but now seems to be, with not much more then a mention.Sorry if I went a little off coarse just a long winter so far and it's only Jan. 3.Seems strange, it seems everyone involved walks away with the Petty name.