Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TV Topics: Economy, Kyle Petty And Digger

ESPN continues to tackle the economic issues affecting the sport head-on in the daily NASCAR Now program series. Wednesday, host Nicole Manske was joined by reporter Angelique Chengelis, analyst and Sprint Cup Series owner Brad Daugherty and Eddie Gossage, the president of Texas Motor Speedway.

The starting point for the discussion were the recent remarks by President Obama in reference to the future of the domestic car makers. "Everyone recognizes that years of bad decision making and a global recession have pushed our auto-makers to the brink," said the President. "We should not and will not protect them from their own bad practices."

He called for a re-tooled and re-imagined industry to continue in the very country that invented the automobile. Chengelis put this topic in NASCAR terms. She reminded Manske that the priority was not NASCAR, but simply survival for these companies.

"It would be absolutely devastating," said Chengelis in response to the question of the auto-makers leaving NASCAR.

She reinforced that all three of the companies have to prove to the President they are viable in order to receive financial help. "If they are not viable, I don't know how the sport can be viable," said Chengelis of NASCAR.

Daugherty is a single-car team owner and he used the word "catastrophic" in reference to the potential pull-out of the domestic manufacturers. Gossage addressed the challenge for NASCAR tracks to sell tickets by outlining the reduction in tickets prices, parking fees and change in food policies at his facility. It has been a long time since $20 bought a ticket for a Sprint Cup Series event.

Kudos to NASCAR Now for addressing the economic issues head-on. Manske also had Whelen Modified champ Teddy Christopher in the studio to recap the recent test in Bristol, TN where the Mods will hopefully race later this season. The group shattered the track record in testing and ran both with and without restrictor plates.

Over at SPEED, the network is still trying to explain how the cast of the now defunct Tradin' Paint is suddenly involved in a game show that seems to be made-up as it goes along. NASCAR Smarts is a mess and while TDP has consistently called for more fan involvement with SPEED at the tracks, this ain't it.

Traveling Kyle Petty to the Sprint Cup venues for a thirty-minute game show also does not seem to make a lot of sense from an economic perspective. Petty appears in no other SPEED Stage programs.

Finally, reports that Digger appeared 46 times in the actual California Sprint Cup series race. That number would be 47 for those of you who watched the pre-race show cartoon. This week there is another new episode. Here is a brief overview from Fox:

In the third installment, “Picnic Trick”, Digger’s girlfriend Annie accuses him of watching too much NASCAR and not spending enough time with her. In an effort to make it up to her, Digger comes up with the perfect plan – a romantic picnic on the infield during the race! But when his loving gesture looks to be ruined by a visit from Lumpy Wheels, can Digger and Annie work together to save themselves and their romantic day?

That wraps-up a very diverse journey around the NASCAR TV beat. Please feel free to add your comments on these topics. Just click the comments button below.

TDP is a family-friendly website, foul language or hateful speech will result in your comment being deleted. Thanks again and happy posting.


PammH said...

I shouldn't comment on this, but I will, since I can!! ty, JD for that!!! I did not watch the Digger crap before the race, but could Nascar be ANY more sad??? And w/ KP being so hurt-I hate that the family seems to be so in different directions...:(
Yep,it sucks w/the economy-it's been bad in MI for the last 4 yrs!! Sorry for everyone else. I still have a job, for now.

Anonymous said...

Ouch..more Digger to look forward to.

TC was great to see, nice job of ESPN to cover that. Was is me or was Nicole kinda 'reaching' for some of her words? Just felt like her teleprompter was off or soemthing.

Totally agree on 'Smarts'... I was wondering the sense on that myself. I wondered if it was 'sponsored' by enough to cover expenses.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now was outstanding on Wednesday. I am beginning to look forward to each episode of NN as much as I used to look forward to RPM 2Nite.

Anonymous said...

JD...Please dont bring up Digger on this site anymore..It has nothing at all!! To do with Racing..Thanks! Spungbob squarepants...

majorshouse said...

I am so sick of Digger that I could scream. This is nothing more than a bad marketing ploy by NASCAR and the Fox network. It has nothing to do with racing and desperately needs to go. As for NN, it keeps getting better and better over time and I hate to miss it.

Anonymous said...

We watch NN every night don't know what the special occasion was,but
Nicole looked great all spiffed up.
She also looked like she has lost some weight.Don't blame me for this comment my wife of 44 years brought it up.
Tks.JD Ron Il.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if we ignore Digger, he will go away. Fox must figure that their audience has the mental age of a pre-teen. They must be following the example of our National politicians.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Just a point of clarification. The automobile was not "invented" in the US. Karl Benz of Germany has that distinction. Most people think it was Henry Ford. However, he is credited with mass producing the automobile with the assembly process.

I am enjoying NN. I like Nicole and wish she had the Mike Massaro role. I am glad they are addressing the economy issues with different segments of NASCAR.

Digger...just FF through anything on the prerace that is Digger related. Embarrassing. If I were a new fan, older than 6, I would change channels and find another sport.

Tracy D said...

Wed's NN was brutal in its honesty. Wow. I'm still reeling.

Loved Christopher asking Daughtry for a chance to drive for him. There's a man you can't keep down!

I didn't know Gossage's track wouldn't allow fans to bring in coolers and charged for parking in the past. Every track we've attended, free parking and small coolers are the norm. I agree, lowerng prices to $20 is wonderful, but where are the seats? If they're in the hinterlands with poles in front of them, who cares? I'm still paying top dollar for my season ticket, plus a $9 "processing fee" even tho I pick them up in person. I don't see any signs they'll reduce the price for season ticket holders anytime soon. I'm seeing tons of tickets, bought by longtime ticket holders, for sale on Ebay, and they're not selling for anywhere near face value, even for tracks like Bristol - if they sell at all.

Anonymous said...

It's certainly true that many people dislike Digger. I hope that everyone will consider that Nascar is a family show. My kids and my grandmother love it. I wish that sometimes would 'give' a little bit so that families could watch a show together.

Anonymous said...

Since I'm an old-school race fan, it's difficult to find a positive thing to say this morning.

Obama said "We should not and will not protect them from their own bad practices." This in regard to the auto makers. Well, excuse me, but how come the banks didn't have to measure up the same way - they were "bad practices" personified! Bail one, bail 'em all!

Poor Digger - probably more disliked than any other cartoon creature anywhere. It was bad enough to watch his little head popping up during a race, but who in their right mind wanted to watch a cartoon episode starring him?! We're race fans, we want to see races! If one wants to watch a cartoon, they need to go to a different channel. Next thing you know, we'll be watching "Digger out-takes".....

A game show? Yeah, I really want to watch a game show that relates somehow somewhere to NASCAR. Maybe if I watch it often enough, it will grow on me - kind of like mold or somethin'....

Congrats JD! You managed to insert 3 of my pet-peeves in one column! How did you know?!!! LOL

Lou said...

As far as digger and friends are concerned. FOX has now lost another viewer of pre race during the season of races on FOX. I will tune in during the scheduled start or FF the tape to the start. Do not need another cartoon. Just want to see/watch racing stuff. I am not embarassed for FOX they brought this on and have to live with it.

OMG, I did watch the second show of nascar smarts. how embarassing is that show for a driver of so long in the sport to stoop so low and has done so much to help others. KP's knowledge of racing is so great and there is alot that he can share with us. Look forward to him during the TNT coverage of racing. Miss trading paint.

Dot said...

With the banks, etc having to give up their junkets, how are the Big 3 going to justify NASCAR to the government? They can't use "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" adage anymore. The Emperor saw to that when he brought out the COT. I'm all for safety but, the old car could've been retrofitted at a much lower cost.

stricklinfan82 said...

I'm very much looking forward to seeing if Fox will be consistent and add the same over-the-top distracting cartoon influence to their baseball coverage in a few weeks and to their football coverage in the fall. Surely if the Fox executives feel having a weekly cartoon segment and live shots from obstructed view grass level cameras with animated characters screaming and jumping all over the screen while play is going on is "enhancing" Fox's NASCAR coverage there would be no reason not to treat baseball and football fans with the same disrespect, right?

I have a feeling that baseball and football fans would react in much the same way that we NASCAR fans have to these "enhacements" in Fox's coverage. I also have a feeling though that this same disrespect will not carry over to their baseball and football coverage because Fox actually has respect for fans of those sports. I'm willing to be proven wrong on both accounts however.

As for NASCAR Smarts, I've made these same general points in your "I surrender" and "Do you miss Tradin' Paint?" columns and will repeat them here. I greatly miss Tradin' Paint, I strongly dislike the new NASCAR Smarts show, and if Kyle Petty's truly angry at the NASCAR world and doesn't even watch the races on TV anymore, he must really hate having to fly to these tracks on Fridays solely to play a silly trivia game with Rutledge and a fan from the audience.

Daly Planet Editor said...


This is exactly the direction that the on-going discussion is taking.

The COT has changed the equation. I certainly hope it all works out for the best.


Anonymous said...

When the COT was conceived, and the timeframe was implemented for its introduction, no one could have possibly conceived that the economy would fall off a cliff, taking the domestic auto industry with it. The time for regarding the COT as the cause of NASCAR's problems is over. The car is a reality, and no handwringing is going to change that. But the bigger consideration must be that one or more of the Big 3 will pull all of it's support from NASCAR within the next 6-12 months. It's not a remote possibility, it's a likelihood, particularly in GM and/or Chrysler slide into bankruptcy.

Unknown said...

What makes me angry about all this is hear butt heads like Eddie Gosage whine that ticket sales are down and we should be so greatful to them for lowering prices and suspending ticketmaster fees BLAH BLAH. You have been stickin it to the fans during the rise of NASCARs popularity why stop reaming us now? The prices never should have been what they were and this just proves you are all nothing but a bunch of greedy SOB's. If you can make it with the price cut now how bout leaving it there when the economy comes back and the seats are all full you TOOLS!?

Anonymous said...

I happened to walk out into the front room when the Digger cartoon came on.

My words afterward- What the heck was that?

Boy, NASCAR coverage has gone downhill.

Charlie said...

In this comment from your article -

She reinforced that all three of the companies have to prove to the President they are viable in order to receive financial help. "If they are not viable, I don't know how the sport can be viable," said Chengelis of NASCAR.

Ford did not take any government money and I don't think they have to follow the same rules the government will tell the other two to do.
I do agree it is a scary thing happening now.

Glenn said...

Can't comment on anything ESPN, haven't watched a show this year.
Tradin' Paint was getting pretty dull; it didn't appear they could get enough cooperation from the media. It is better than "Smarts".
I can't believe KP even appears on it. It is a great show for Rutledge, he fits right in. (not bustin' on Rutledge, he just fits).
If the show would work like it was in the beginning, I would love to see it back. Dave Moody described how he thought the show would work a while back. To the effect, Pick a subject, tell each person what side their on and trade paint. It's not supposed to be a happy, happy, joy, joy show.
As for Digger, I'm not to crazy about it. The only positive I can see, if it gets the kids watching, the more they watch, the more they may grow up to be race fans.
Luckily the cartoon was on during the first 30 min, while I was still watching Raceday.

Glenn said...

I had forgot about this.
Has anyone noticed how quickly the Speed announcers are saying the name David Hill. They seem to make sure everyone knows who started the character.

Anonymous said...

For the life of me I can't understand why Speed killed Tradin Paint. It was the only NASCAR program that included 'speak your mind.' I suppose thats why they killed it. I am a huge Kyle Petty fan... always have been and always will be. Seeing him on that silly game show is just painful. I hope he walks.
I don't think I could possibly be more P.O'd at the King... this is the last time I'll ever call him that. Taking money over family was bad enough. Moving Kyle out the way he did was wrong on so many levels. When I saw that #44 Valvoline Dodge I about freaked. I never wanted a car to DNQ so bad in my life. Then when I heard how hurt Kyle was over it, I just wanted to see it loaded on a wrecker. But the ultimate indignity was Richard when he was asked why Kyle hadn't been told they were running that car, "It slipped through the cracks." Aside from Adam's Busch car, I don't think Kyle has ever driven a more important car than that #44 Magnum... and Richard 'forgot' to tell him they were running it on the 30th anniversary of that win???? Tell me Valvoline wouldn't have run Kyle in one race with that scheme if they'd been asked. There is zero respect for Richard Petty in my house. I hope Kyle uts something together for a few races this year and I hope he kicks RPM's ass.

majorshouse said...

The COT was supposed to have saved the teams millions of dollars but have not seen it yet, and NASCAR desperately needs to give that car some changes and let's face it, a spec car isn't going to win on Sunday and sell on Monday like it did when I started watching NASCAR in the 1960's and 1970's where the Monte Carlo looked like the one you would go to your local Chevrolet dealer and buy.

Sophia said...


David Hill must have an ego the size of Donald Trump.

I doubt the guys on SPEED/Fox have a choice but to mention his name. And that insipid rodent with the OVERSIZED and OVERUSED LOGO/Animation.

Well, only if the talking heads want to keep their jobs. Same with all the cross promotion balogna/baloney. They have to do what THEIR bosses tell them.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was odd that nobody seemed to notice that Obama was wrong when he said the car was invented in America. It was in invented by Benz in Germany around 1885. Anyone who knows so little about the history of automobiles should not be deciding whether the manufacturers live or die.

Anonymous said...

I really am sorry I did not get to see the show. I have become increasingly skeptical of media reports about the plight of NASCAR when they fail to also mention the similar plight of the media and other sports. I think it is safe to say that NASCAR is in far better shape than the nespapers.

The whole PETTY Enterprises situation has been poorly reported by the media - by EESPN in particular. In December and January when the whole PE deal was going on EESPN reported nothing. I am a long-time Petty fan, but RP and Kyle could obviously have handled things better - especially publicly. It sure seems to me that Kyle should have talked with his father before popping off in public - and various members of the press should have asked RP for a comment before reporting Kyle's comments. When I read about the 44 car I viewed it as a tribute to Kyle. It sure looks to me like RP saved a Petty place in NASCAR from the clutches of Boston Ventures. After the deal with BV, RP owned a minority interest in PE. BV alledgedly is a venture capital firm managing over $2 Billion of assets with experience in media and entertainment businesses - but in only about 6 months it managed to apparently, virtually run PE almost into the ground. Did BV lie to the public about their intentions for PE, or were they really so inept and unprepared for their investment in racing, or did the decline in the economy get BV into financial trouble? It seems to me there could be a big story in BV's PE debacle, but the so-called NASCAR media is either not qualified or too lazy to pursue it.

From watching Dodd and Shelby perform for the cameras I am afraid that they are more concerned about scoring political points than whether a U.S auto industry survives, which seems to me to be a national security issue a whole lot more important than racing. At the same time, if the auto industry cannot promote and sell cars, no amount of cost-cutting and restructuring will save it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Rutledge is a nice guy, but have no idea as to what purpose he serves.

Anonymous said...

I have said it other places and I will say it here, Thank Goodness for MRN. I shut off the sound on my TV during the Daytona pre-race show on FOX when I heard them starting to talk about a Digger song and cartoon coming up. I thought I would wait until the green flag flew before I turned up the sound on the TV but instead I listened to the race on the radio the whole day and it was great. MRN knows how to broadcast a race.

Anonymous said...

I love Kyle but I also think it's silly to have him out to cover one show.

@Jim--agree. I love Mr. Gossage but yes the "little" things help but keep them there after things improve. Even when things were good, it was harder and harder for families to afford to attend.

Sears Point has a deal where for $10 (at least that's what it was when I went...I purchased the package to go for the full weekend) where you can sit on the hills. And then they give you the opportunity to upgrade to an actual seat if you choose on Sunday at a discount. They even have a "family zone" where you can go with your kids and hang out during the weekend and watch the race from there. I don't know if other tracks have similar areas, but I thought it was nice to be able to take your kids and give them a safe area to play and have special perks. The drivers had special autograph sessions and such.

@Rick--agreed about how the PE thing went down. After I found out the real story I was so heartbroken for Kyle. I didn't have a problem with the "new company" focusing on the youth as that is their right. But it was so heartbroken that Kyle was left out of the loop and ultimately kicked out of his ride and he basically finds out by reading Jayski :(.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for all you Nascar historians. Back in the day, were the car manufacturers totally involved in the sport? I just have the feeling that the actual industry wasn't all that involved in terms of research and development. But I could be wrong.

Also, if the car manufacturers don't support the sport, what kind of impact will that really have. Won't it just mean that teams will just have to build their own cars without any help from the engineers from Ford, Dodge, Chevy and Toyota? I know that back in the day, teams actually raced in cars that the fan could buy and drive themselves. The saying was, "Race on Sunday, buy on Monday". But now, all the cars are so generic looking you can't tell a Ford from a Chevy from a Toyota.

So realistically speaking, if the manufacturers pull out, what would happen????

Anonymous said...

Since when does running a charity entitle you to have a ride in Cup. Why does Michael Waltrip (who has at least won a Cup race this decade) get lambasted constantly, while Kyle, who hasn't won in 14 years and had an average finish of 36th in 2008, wants people to feel sorry for him. He should be thanking his father, as he would have no career in Cup if his father hadn't been a legend.

Frankly, I'm so sick of Kyle Petty. If he's talking about the sport in general, fine. But if he's just crying about he got a "raw deal", then I don't care.

In regards to Digger, here's what I wrote about David Hill before:
David Hill has done more to hurt sports on television than just about anyone. Instead of just showing the sport, it's now become just a large infomerical with loads of useless gimmicks.

I mean, alone he has contributed to: the glowing puck, "Scooter" (a talking baseball), "Digger", loads of useless graphics on tv, large amounts of product placements, pushing back of all sports telecasts (not just NASCAR) to get the "west coast", and loads of other garbage. But, then again, his boss has pretty much ruined the media in general.

Sophia said...

Anon 6.30

In regards to Digger, here's what I wrote about David Hill before:
David Hill has done more to hurt sports on television than just about anyone. Instead of just showing the sport, it's now become just a large infomerical with loads of useless gimmicks.

I mean, alone he has contributed to: the glowing puck, "Scooter" (a talking baseball), "Digger", loads of useless graphics on tv, large amounts of product placements, pushing back of all sports telecasts (not just NASCAR) to get the "west coast", and loads of other garbage. But, then again, his boss has pretty much ruined the media in general.

All the blathering on and on and on I have done but there you go. Two paragraphs that tell THE TRUTH!!

*sigh* now what :(

Anonymous said...

How about we have this Rutlege clown and Digger and his friends have a special Nascar (Fight to the Death!!) Now I would watch that for sure!!!I think I would also rute for Digger!!