Wednesday, January 21, 2009
On-Air Mistake Finally Shows Real NASCAR Problems
Note: We are on day two of comments about why the NASCAR TV coverage on SPEED has been so off-base. The column below sparked the discussion, which is taking place in the comments section. Thank you for all the great opinions.
The first of five Trackside shows aired Monday evening at 7PM on SPEED. These programs were taped during the weekend Fan Fest in Daytona.
The regular cast of characters were back once again. Steve Byrnes hosted the show with Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds as his panelists. Instead of the SPEED Stage or a live set outside among the fans, the show took place in the indoor studio located in the infield.
The program opened with Sprint Cup driver Paul Menard and Camping World Truck Series veteran Rick Crawford on the set as guests. The opening segment gave both drivers an opportunity to talk about the upcoming season with the panelists.
After the first commercial, the program returned but something was just not quite right. What fans were seeing at home was the casual conversation between the panelists and Crawford as he was leaving. There was little doubt that this content was not intended to be on the air. What happened next was amazing.
The panel was addressing the real problems NASCAR was about to experience. For some reason, this type of content has been banned from SPEED so far this season. Polite talk and softball questions have been the order of the day since SPEED returned to the air with NASCAR programming.
"When we get to California, I have a feeling it might look like a ghost town," said Darrell Waltrip. "Everybody that's broke drags everything they got down here (Daytona) because they know they can make a buck if they can get to start the race."
Apparently, the discussion on the set was about the reality of the season after the Daytona weekend. This is exactly the kind of frank talk that fans have been waiting for and not getting on SPEED. Waltrip had more to say about the Camping World Truck Series.
"NASCAR did this market study and they said that fans did not like the fact that there were no pit stops," said Steve Byrnes. He was talking to Waltrip about the truck series and the recent talk about changing the rules.
"Oh, they are not going to," answered Waltrip. "But, if there are no fans there, who cares?"
A commercial was suddenly inserted and that ended the only real talk about NASCAR issues on this program. If fans wanted to know about Jeff Gordon's baby, his recent trip to race Go-Karts or his animated character in Speed Racer, Trackside was suddenly the place for them once again. Reality had left the building.
Other than the accidental "real talk" that had mistakenly made its way to the homes of TV viewers, Trackside had joined the parade of fluff that SPEED has presented this season as NASCAR TV. Why and how this shift happened is anyone's guess.
How long it will continue is something only the SPEED executives can control.
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