Friday, January 23, 2009

Darrell Waltrip Finally Gets Honest With The Fans

The Thursday edition of Preseason Thunder on SPEED promised to be a good show. John Roberts hosted with Darrell Waltrip as his co-host via satellite from his home in Tennessee.

Waltrip's commentary was mixed with soundbites from various drivers and personalities from the Charlotte media tour. The faces of Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and others flashed by, but it was the comments from Waltrip that made it worth the wait.

In this setting, where he is alone and allowed to speak his mind, fans finally got a glimpse of the frank and honest opinions that used to be a hallmark of SPEED. The network has wasted almost two weeks on "fluff" programs that have painfully avoided all the issues dominating the sport on a daily basis.

Trackside and Preseason Thunder have been off-base from day one as an endless parade of smiling drivers have fielded softball questions from both the SPEED and Fox on-air personalities. It has not been pretty.

Watching SPEED, one would not believe that two of the three NASCAR touring series are rumored to be in dire trouble after Daytona. It was Darrell Waltrip who remarked that the second race in California might resemble a "ghost town." That one comment was aired earlier in the week by accident and was actually replaced in the program's re-air with more happy faces and polite chit-chat.

Even reporters Wendy Venturini and Randy Pemberton have been following the SPEED script as they both cover the media tour. The smiling faces of freshly scrubbed drivers at beautiful shops are about as far away from the reality of what this sport is actually going through as humanly possible.

How can the "other side" of this equation not be reported by SPEED? Where are the DEI and Gillett comments about downsizing to two teams? Where is Max Siegel on his departure from DEI after all his bold predictions of growth for the company?

Where are the voices of the drivers and owners who are not happy and have comments about this season that might not be all rainbows and sunshine? The answer is they are not on SPEED.

Waltrip talked about topics from Stewart's new team to the outlook for Hendrick Motorsports in 2009. Viewers at home could have used a full hour of Roberts asking Waltrip questions and then letting him speak. Waltrip's time in this show was far too short and left a lot of great content on the table.

His final comments that closed the show were the most compelling.

"Look folks, it's not all gloom and doom," said Waltrip. "Yeah, we got problems with the economy, we got sponsors and all kinds of things that we have to work on (like) attendance and ratings, but this is the most resilient sport with the best people in the world. We know how to get it done. We will work hard and we will survive."

This is the kind of straight talk NASCAR fans have been waiting for from Waltrip and rest of the SPEED experts and analysts. Hopefully, speaking directly to the fans and offering honest opinions about the NASCAR journey for 2009 will be allowed to continue.

The final Preseason Thunder of this week is at 7:30PM on Friday, but the series continues on Monday through Friday of next week at 7PM ET. This should give SPEED one final opportunity to open up the coverage and let the reality of the challenges facing the sport become a topic that is open for discussion.

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majorshouse said...

What I really enjoyed about tonight's show was that it was very simple and straight forward and Darrell did not mince words. I hope that we see more of that next week as well.

Anonymous said...

That was still rather weak from Waltrip. Lets see some details, not just a sentence or two of generalities. That doesn't even come close to covering the topic like it should. JD, I can't believe you are actually happy with that. SPEED still gets an F in my book.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My comparison is to what we have been getting, this is hopefully just a start.

Nothing has been more bizarre in recent TV memory than the first ten days of the 2009 NASCAR programs on SPEED.

To have my mind saying that I cannot wait for ESPN2 and NASCAR Now is still a strange feeling.


Rick Remixx said...

i felt like DW was talking to me and the very end of the show tonight.. thanks for the honesty ..hope to see some more this season

E-Ticket said...

I was amazed at no mention of any of the NASCAR announcements today. I considered DW on there more of a do-over from earlier in the week.

I still believe we will never get truly honest cover on par with the NFL, NBA and MLB when the guys that are reporting it are so invested in all of it.

Rockin Rich said...

Copying my post from the France Talks Everything... article. I just didn't wait long enough to post it where it should have been.
Watched Pre-Season Thunder. The following well known saying applies:

The definition of stupidity is doing the same naive thing over and over, each time truly believing the result will be different.

I again convinced myself to watch what has almost always in the past been a frustrating waste of time, one of these during-the-week "news shows". Thursday's Pre-Season Thunder was no different.

Does anyone know if any hard, truly relevant questions were asked at the news conference. More importantly, was any meaningful attempt to forthrightly answer such a question, if one was asked, actually made?

Where can we go to find out? I haven't looked at Mike Mulhern's new website yet this evening, but I suspect that is a good place to start. I am hoping that the AutoExtremist website will also feature an article on it.

How about it JD, is there a single clearing house type of place we can go to learn what is really going on today? We sure are not seeing it anywhere in NASCAR TV Land!

Daly Planet Editor said...


In the past, I would have said to watch the preseason specials on SPEED.

Now, I think we are waiting until Feb. 2nd when Bestwick, Massaro, Manske, Smith, and the rest of the "NASCAR Now" cast return.

How things change in TV land...


Anonymous said...

Not a bad show, but it makes you want a lot more. We're going to miss Trading Paint as it was the only show where you could count on a good discussion.

BTW, not to be mean, but whoever does the makeup for John Roberts needs to lighten up on the pancake makeup. Sorry to say, in high def, it looks a little too mortician-like. Darrell looked much better without the makeup.

Sophia said...

this saddens me to read SPEED has been muzzled by NASCAR...imagine how those guys on tv hate it.

I DO remember DW being very honest at least 2 times last year on Wind tunnel...about the COT problems and I forget what else...but it was pure honestly and not "PC" at the time.

I still don't know if I will watch ESPN....then again, I am not sure how I will feel for the races.

I do love DAYTONA but will tell you right now, LOUSY CAMERA direction and bumper cams will have me screaming and shutting off the tv and listening online somewhere.

darbar I have not watched anymore shows lately but do you notice the whites of the eyes on everybody glowing? that seemed to be a camera issue to somebody has the saturation levels too strong...something...terrible.

Also the blue shirts were all crinkly and oversized...just like the beige shirts last year...wardrobe person needs replaced. :)

Anonymous said...

Now, I think we are waiting until Feb. 2nd when Bestwick, Massaro, Manske, Smith, and the rest of the "NASCAR Now" cast return.

That is pretty funny. I found myself thinking the exact same thing the other day.

Sophia said... watching DW...the color is way off on this show...this show once again as darbar mentioned makes everybody looks like they have one way too much makeup...JR is too pasty and DW too red. Well it's bad makeup or different camera settings. or both...with DW must be the camera settings

but NOTICE D.W.'s eyes "look normal" on remote...J.R.s whites of his eyes look odd as others did last week. Everybody's eye color looked too intense and whites of the eyes like white out..I posted about this earlier.

ANYBODY else noticing the way too whites of the eyes in the "new" SPEED studio..methinks that shade of blue is NOT FLATTERING AT ALL..or bad makeup..or as mentioned camera saturation/vivid color settings are goodness.

Guys looked better on the tv last year...sheesh...all that money spent..

NEVER before was makeup an issue or the eyes looking odd....I have seen these boys for years and all have look ed good but this STUDIO light is hideous..sorry.

Distracting. :(

Anonymous said...

I echo the too much JR makeup. There's so much on his forehead that you can barely see his natural creases of skin when he talks.

Anonymous said...
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Vicky D said...

I think we might get more negative information regarding Nascar from DW than Brian France so I like to listen to him.

Lisa Hogan said...

Sophia- I have also noticed the weird distracting eyes and teeth glowing effect of the new SPEED studio. To me, it looks almost cartoonish.

This will truly be a negative if all of the SPEED studio shows are going to have this look.

Anonymous said...

I'm still catching up on these broadcasts via dvr, but I must agree. Please give us more straight talk about our sport and less softballs and fluff. I understand that NASCAR might be concerned about sponsor retention (as everyone is right now) but I think most companies involved in the sport respect honesty.

Anonymous said...

SPEED needs more HD cameras. Some of the stuff that gets shot at remote locations clearly is not HD. They just shot it in SD and reformatted it to fit the 16:9 display.

Anonymous said...

Scary to see most comments have to do with Make-up and how people look on TV. Is it a wonder why SPEEDTV shows the programs it does?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's time for an upgrade...

Everyone looks great on my set.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how two back to back shows showed DW in a different light. On Trackside, he could barely contain himself that he was sitting in the same studio as Jimmie Johnson. I thought at one point he was going to propose! Gasp! Then they started talking about the meat and potatoes of the sport: Jimmie Johnson's beard. Yes, that's right. A beard. The same as Monday, when the hot topic was Ella Gordon's clothing choices.
I turned the t.v off, because I was embarrassed for DW.So I missed the Preseason Thunder segment, but for me, the damage was done.One of the problems with DW, is he acts sometimes as if he never drove in NASCAR, never became a legendary driver, never seen other celebrities. Now he acts like a little child, seeing the giants of the sport for the first time.
Point being, this constant fluff being thrown at me as a fan is starting to alienate me, and it's only January 23rd.
What's next? Shopping with Delana?
Oh, wait. TLC already has that covered.Maybe now we know who the brainchild is of "NASCAR Wives". Ol' DW.

Lisa Hogan said...

Of all the shows that cross my TV, why is it that the SPEED new studio shows are the only ones with the “eye glow” look?

Surely Sophia and I aren’t the only viewers seeing this effect. :)

Anonymous said...

DW honest with fans? After all these years I thought he was just a self-promoting phony. How silly of me. Maybe I will change my mind, but I doubt it.

Tracy D said...

I think the heavy makeup is for the HD viewers, one of whom I now am. I noticed that Larry Mac looked as if he wore a Kabuki mask, and JR is almost as bad. I don't care if they have real skin and real flaws. They aren't movie stars. Let 'em look like real guys.

The DW interview was almost there. I'm sure he could have gone deeper into the "issues," but as we've seen from all this fluff stuff, the marching orders are to "make nice."

I'm truly disappointed with Speed, and I never thought I'd say that.

Tracy D said...

Anon at 9:58 - I think the comments about the make up are here because some of us find it so disconcerting. Anything like makeup that pulls the viewer's attention from the program can't be good in TV land. Haven't you found yourself wondering why someone looks so weird on TV to the point you're not listening to what's being said? I couldn't focus on anything but JR's odd-looking forehead and eyes. He's a handsome man, but that makeup did him wrong.

Sophia said...

Thanks Lisa and Tracy for confirming the distracting make up on other tv's. Some folks may not notice...I take photos and used to do some drawing so have a detail for things that others do not see, I guess.

This would be fine if I was listening to "radio" but for TV, looks/lighting are everything and on 3 tvs all look bad in the new is an new HD tv that we took off of digital tv and get other over the air channels...but digitizing on some stations is poor. Even when hooked up to cable which we cant figure out but I digress.

But I found it odd on one show, DW was on the set and the next, back home. So some of these fluff shows are taped in advance.

I hope all the shows are on remote...if TWIN looks like this in the new SPEED STUDIO that show will be distracting as HECK...just make the guys look NORMAL...we enjoyed them that way for years.

P.S. Re: makeup comments: yes the poor makeup/camera settings is the same as seeing a celebrity who just got a bad face lift and you think "What the heck happened". :-) These guys looked fine before the overly busy, TOO brightly colored "NEW IMPROVED" studio!? show more cars on the track and we won't see the guys as much.

Anonymous said...

I think they'd really like to say more but just flat out are not allowed to. Darrell actually looked uncomfortable making that last comment, like he knew he was about to get fried for it. Just keep going on the whole 'emperors new clothes' path that everything is just rosey. The car is great (not), the racing is great (not), the sponsers will stay forever (not), what wins on Sunday sells on Monday (what the heck won?). In the end NASCAR is hurting themselves by hiding the truth. They would probably be better off making an impassioned plea for the fans to support the sport and put butts back in the seats.

Wildstar said...

I was thinking about the economy and sponsorship; I think we can call what we are seeing as the (New look) of nascar. It seems to me that the COT is going to result in more up and coming teams than high dollar teams. I am thinking that since teams can now operate with less "special staff" sice the grey area is so small it is not worth pushing tons of time on since if you mess up your season is done due to fines and loss of points. Guys like MSRP and NEMCO can now buy or build cars that are for the most part as good as anything the big 3 teams can build. Engines are the only weakpoint however that is a point that I think will start to fill in since as these new teams get going there should be lots of oppertunity's for guys like pro motors ect to close the gap simply due to having more outlets for engines. In closing the economy should push sponsers to these lower budget teams, Resuling in guys like Roush,Hendirck,and JGR having to settle for less money or start to loose partners like Roush did with Office Depot, resulting in short term so so racing but in the long term 2-3 seasons much better racing and many more teams(just maybe not all full time kina like Junior Johnson and the Petty's did in the older days).

Vince said...

It's pretty obvious to me that somebody really high up at NASCAR talked to somebody really high up at Speed and told them to stick to the NASCAR script this preseason. All fluff and no negative comments about lack of sponsors or car counts. I wouldn't be surprised if we got the same thing from ESPN when NascarNow starts again. If the word from above has gone out to Speed you can be sure it's gone out to ESPN also.

Anonymous said...

I did not find Waltrips comments compelling at all. What he said is common knowledge and whether he said it or not, most fans and people in general are aware of the conditions in our country and in NASCAR as well.So his comments were not very bold or compelling. The guy to me who writes and says things that are compelling are Mr. Ed Hinton. He is a real straight shooter with no agendas, other than writing excellent columns that are always relevent.

Anonymous said...

It's true about DW, as well as Rusty Wallace. Both of them have lost their credibility with the fact that neither can hide their agendas.Both are cheerleaders for their own agendas. I have watched John Madden do NFL games for years and have been really impressed at how his connection to the Raiders never shows in any favoritism. DW and Rusty both FLUNK that test in my estimation, both NASCAR cheerleaders. I also watched and admired how Ned Jarrett handled himself without being compromised. I know there are other people in racing who can handle the tough topics and it's time ti find them. Did anyone say "Ricky Craven"

Anonymous said...

In my view, at some point the mainstream media, especially newspapers, decided that negative sells - and most of what is written about NASCAR, except some internet sites, is done so with a negative slant. To some extent, the focus on the action on the track balances the constant negative drum beat from people like Lee Spencer and, to a somewhat lesser extent, David Poole.

What has been on SPEED has been far superior to what's been on EESPN - but the economy and other off-track issues need to be covered also.

Ed Hinton can be pretty good, some times - but he frequently regresses to doing hatchet jobs like his commentary on the Grant settlement and his recent article about Petty Enterprises. After reading his commentary about the Grant settlement, I am anxiously looking forward to his expose on the EESPN - Harold McReynolds situation.

GEEZ would I like to read Bob Margolis' take on the state of the sport.

Anonymous said...

You may say those articles were a hatchet job but I don't agree, my take is they were thought provoking and interesting.I don't always agree with Mr. Hinton but he aways gets me thinking. I say we can agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

The scary thing is all the money that sponsors are gonna spend in 2009. and 50% of them we'll feel like they did not get their money's worth. the sport is too expensive.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with most of the assements of SPEED Ive read so far. After the last Wind Tunnel left the air (say what you want about Despain, at least the show provides a forum for open thoughts and discussions) I have barely watched it.Hours after hours of Pinks, Wrecked, Import shows, that idiotic drag racing time show, I awaited the upcoming season, but to watch what has essentually been a paid commercial for the Daytona Beach Mafia, has sent me to the brink of dismay even more.
Yes, they act as if the economy wasnt in bad shape, that 43 cars wil be there for the start of every race, and that fan following has never been higher. But to sit there and continually feed the fans this info and not expect us to know any better, shows the lack of respect they have for the fans.
Last year's hiding of seemingly vast sections of empty seats and a Chase that wasnt all that exciting, I can understand. You are trying to sell a product, but to go into another year without acknowledging that some drastic measures have taken place in your business shows me that instead of dealing with the bad news, they simply look to their customers, US, that they appear to be sticking their heads in the sand.
As far as DW's comments are concerned, yes its nice that someone tries to go out a limb and at least appear to be truthful,but how far can you go? My old boy Rusty, well I dont think he'd even go this far. I always knew he was there to collect checks, which is fine but, If you continue to run from the truth, it will come around and bite you on the behind.

Anonymous said...

I'm really concerned about the appearance of Terry Labonte in the MSRP Motorsports car for the Daytona 500.

This is one of those "start and park" teams of Nationwide series fame. Back when old DW's #17 car was on its last legs, he used way too many champion's provisionals - but I never remember him entering a race he didn't intend on running.

Anonymous said...

I do think the news media bears some responsibility for the NASCAR news conference not being more informative - for not asking better questions.

I do believe the world may not end since I found a recent article by Ryan McGee and a new website for Jerry Binkowski on Jayski - and Mike Mulhern has a good article on the NASCAR press conf.

Glenn said...

Anonymous said...
I'm really concerned about the appearance of Terry Labonte in the MSRP Motorsports car for the Daytona 500.

This is one of those "start and park" teams of Nationwide series fame. Back when old DW's #17 car was on its last legs, he used way too many champion's provisionals - but I never remember him entering a race he didn't intend on running.

Phil Parsons was on Sirius last week and talked about his "teams". He said the Daytona 500 would be a full race. I don't think he announced the driver then, but with all the new teams sprouting up I guess they figured a little help might be in order.
Other than that he spoke of the Nationwide series. They felt there was a need for the cars to be there, and they were there to provide help to fill any voids. (lol)

I'm interested in seeing the entry list. I'm thinking at least 55 cars.