Thursday, December 18, 2008

Media Reaction To Grant Settlement Should Be Interesting

The words from NASCAR were brief and relatively easy to understand:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 18, 2008) – At a mediation held in New York on December 3, 2008, Ms. Mauricia Grant settled her discrimination lawsuit with her former employer, NASCAR. Ms. Grant was represented by her attorneys Morelli Ratner PC. NASCAR was represented by Jackson Lewis. Neither NASCAR nor Ms. Grant admits liability or wrongdoing by way of the settlement.

“We’re glad to have the case settled on mutually acceptable terms,” said NASCAR Managing Director of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston. “NASCAR remains dedicated to maintaining a professional work environment for all employees at all times and we wish Ms. Grant well in her future endeavors.”

The specific terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential and both sides agreed not to publicly discuss the details of the case or the terms of the agreement going forward.

This action allowed NASCAR to cross one item off the list for 2009 at a time when the sport itself finds crisis management a full-time job.

Since this release came out on the Thursday before Christmas week, it should be interesting to see just how much national and international media exposure it gets.

Brian France has said all along that NASCAR would not admit wrongdoing and denied the allegations brought by Ms. Grant from the beginning. Now, he gets to walk away without any admission of guilt and with the promise that the issues will not be discussed by either party in public.

Between the holidays, the economy and the very public struggles of the US automakers, it will be interesting to see if the Grant issue simply fades from sight after a brief flurry of Internet posts. Since there is absolutely no NASCAR TV right now, it will be up to ESPN to offer any TV exposure on this issue.

Please tell us where you see, hear or read about the Grant settlement in your area, whether it is online or the local TV news. You can also relate just how you think NASCAR handled this issue from the start. Thanks again.

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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.

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Krista Voda Heads To Cotton Bowl For Fox

It will be January 2nd at 2PM ET when Krista Voda takes her reporting skills to the Cotton Bowl game on Fox for the third consecutive year.

Voda will be reporting from the sidelines while Brian Baldinger and Pat Summerall will call the action. Also, Jeanne Zelasko will be handling the hosting duties.

“I couldn't be more thrilled to have been invited back to the Cotton Bowl,” said Voda. “The Cotton Bowl and the people who work for it are top-notch. I have never witnessed better hospitality or more passion for an event!"

“This year, once again, should be an incredible match up...Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss...especially with so many hometown kids coming back to play in the Dallas area,” she continued. “One of my favorite things about covering the Cotton Bowl, or any event, is that the storylines are the same. Similar to NASCAR, you have athletes overcoming obstacles and also the thrill of competition. How could it get any better?”

Voda has a diverse TV sports background that includes The Kentucky Derby, NFL football and even men's college basketball. This college football special usually features Voda working hard to follow the storylines of the game and also handling all the special TV features that go with a Bowl setting.

There is no doubt that Krista Voda is one of the most underutilized "talent" on the roster at both SPEED and Fox Sports. This past season she established herself as a regular co-host of The SPEED Report, but that interfered with her pit reporting duties on the NASCAR on Fox broadcasts and also made for some tough airline miles when she returned to Charlotte after hosting the Truck Series pre-race shows.

How SPEED and Fox utilize this versatile announcer in 2009 with the looming budget issues should be very interesting to watch. Voda has strong studio hosting skills, is an experienced pit reporter and has earned her stripes with the entire Fox family of networks over the past several seasons.

Up next, however, is the Texas Tech vs. University of Mississippi match-up that will thankfully not have tire troubles, single-file racing or a pit road speed limit.

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