Friday, March 27, 2009

Double Dose Of "Digger" On Tap For Martinsville


This is the weekend where the NASCAR on Fox crew produces the Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday for the Fox TV Network. While the theory is that broadcast TV network exposure brings more viewers to the series, veteran fans know what else it brings.

That's right, it will be a double dose of Digger and friends this weekend as the animated character will appear in both the Truck and Sprint Cup races. Last year, the Truck race was ruined by the Fox Director and his unending use of the track level camera and the goofy animation.

Click here to read "Digger Dominates Craftsman Truck Race on Fox." This was the TDP column from last season's Martinsville race. Make sure to scroll through the comments, there were some outstanding debates over all kinds of TV issues.

Many of those had to do with the fact that key moments of the live racing were missed while inserting a cartoon gopher to sell T-shirts. Here is a quick quote to help readers remember:

The big "Digger" moment came with only 13 laps to go when Rick Allen yelled "problems as Jack Sprague gets turned around coming out of 2!" Once again, Fox viewers had been watching big truck tires drive past "Digger" and missed another key moment of the race. The Director had been using his favorite toy and not covering the action on the track with less than 15 laps to go.

Martinsville is not the most exciting venue to cover a live NASCAR race and last season the focus of the event quickly turned to having fun with Digger while the trucks roared by in the background. Perhaps, doing only a couple of truck races during the season makes them not exactly a priority to the TV team.

The good news is that last week the movie promos for "12 Rounds" took the place of many Digger moments. The animation was toned down considerably and the "speed shots" of fixed cameras sometimes had only the stationary Digger logo inserted.

Perhaps, the best part was that the NASCAR on Fox team stopped trying to make funny jokes every time Digger appeared on the screen and concentrated on the race. Bristol turned out to be one of the best NASCAR on Fox broadcasts in recent memory.

Aside from the focused commentary and solid directing, the production team topped-off the race by again switching to a nice wideshot that allowed the viewers at home to see almost all the teams race to the flag.

This has been a tremendous change in coverage that used to show only the leader and exclude the remainder of the field. Abandoning the efforts to build drama and instead delivering to the fans a great picture of their favorites racing to the finish line has been a wonderful decision.

As Steve Byrnes has said many times, SPEED is "all in" on Friday from Martinsville. The full TV schedule is posted on the right side of the TDP main page, but SPEED starts at 11AM and runs straight through to 5PM ET with Martinsville activity.

After a short break, Byrnes and company return with Trackside at 7PM. Marcos Ambrose, Aric Almirola and Timothy Peters will be the guests.

ESPN2 will offer NASCAR Now with Mike Massaro at 5PM on Friday. Massaro will be joined by Mike Wallace on Sunday morning at 10 AM for the race preview version of NASCAR Now.

Pleas feel free to offer your comments about the topics mentioned above including the Friday TV coverage on this post. Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting.

Just a reminder, we can be found on Twitter by clicking the logo on the main page.

34 comments:

Anthony said...

JD,
If your column on the right is true, you're telling me that FOX and Speed are going to bring in the entire CWTS broadcast team for Friday coverage only? That sounds a bit awkward. Last year, FOX had no problem with Rick, Phil, Adam, and Ray being on-air. I don't get this idea.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anthony,

Fox will produce the CWTS race on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday.

The line-up of announcers was forwarded to me by SPEED.

JD

Anthony said...

I wasn't doubting you, JD...I just thought it odd that they would send 2 entire broadcast teams when FOX is covering both. Did they do that for the California race?

Also, about Digger, hopefully what we saw at Bristol was not just because they had the movie preview. Maybe the FOX execs are finally getting what we've been saying!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anthony,

Last season they mixed the teams a bit, you can read the details by clicking on the link in the column to last year's article.

Here is the Fox PR release:

"On Saturday, March 28 FOX Sports presents live coverage of Camping World Truck Series Racing from Martinsville. Coverage begins at 2:00 PM ET as race announcer Mike Joy, analysts Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip handle coverage for the highly competitive Truck Series. Krista Voda, Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum provide all pertinent racing info as they account first-hand on the fast paced nature and decision making on pit row."

Lots of big words in that one!

JD

Dot said...

About Digger, oh boy.

About Marcos, OH BOY!!!!!
Thanks JD for the Trackside lineup.

majorshouse said...

It would be nice if Digger would be gone all together. I love watching the truck races because I think it is the most exciting series out there, but do not need a cartoon character that has nothing to do with racing to keep cropping up

Anonymous said...

Death to Digger!

Anonymous said...

Ya know, someday the dolts at FOX might realize that in all of their idiotic cartoon programming, a real race might emerge.

Send fox a message. The first time digger appears, TURN THEM OFF

midasmicah said...

It seems that Fox would get it by now. The jury has weighed in and it's decision is unamous. Digger must go and it can't be soon enough.

Ken said...

This weekend might be an adventure. We might get more digger "movies" than we would ever want during delays. There is a 70% chance for rain today, Saturday and Sunday morning. The sun is supposed to come out Sunday afternoon. I live about 150 miles west of the track and the rain pattern that is going that way is for it to rain just enough to get everything wet, it stops until everything gets almost dry and then it rains a little more.

GinaV24 said...

Ugh, all Digger all the time! What a horrible thought.

Tracy said...

Someone must love Digger, if it's still around. There's no accounting. . .
Sigh.
The weather doesn't look good for Martinsville. I hope that doesn't mean more Digger.

Julia said...

For some odd reason, Fox seems to think that Digger appeals to the kids. Well, I can tell them it doesn't! My nephew is 8 and he thinks Digger is the dumbest thing he has ever seen. Every race he yells for someone to run it over! LOL! My brother is thinking of getting a stuffed Digger for him, so he can run it over with his bike he keeps telling his dad he wants to. LOL!

Mike said...

As of now there's a good possibility Saturday's truck race could get postponed due to rain to Sunday or Monday. If so, would Fox still carry the race, or would it get moved to Speed?

d said...

Trucks belong on SPEED, love Phil, Rick and Mikey.......

hotaru said...

I have been a truck series fan since Speed began airing in 2003, but I don't like the moves to Big FOX. Keep them on one channel.

Lou said...

JD, not sure where I want to start. Just after 1130hrs here in the east. Enjoying trucks on the track. But the possible "Double Dose Of """DIGGER""" On Tap For Martinsville", may be the straw that breaks the back of this racing fan.

If we look back, the ground hog, or what ever you want to call it, is not something I want to see on race day. Maybe a few percussion bombs will take care of him. In my previous career that is how they were taken care of. Just ask the vets returning back from iraq with traumatic brain injury.

My point is that I just want to see racing. I did not watch the race last week. But, I understand it was a good broadcast and the announce booth was better concerning the ground hog and was less intrusive.

This is the first year in a few that we are not attending the spring race at Martinsville. (Gotta tell ya, we had a heck of a time tailgating before and after the race.)I might watch the race, but then again may not. And I am not working this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to Julia and midasmicah,

Digger merchandise is selling like hot dogs. Mark Dyer, President of Motorsports Authentics (owned by Bruton Smith and the France family), reduced the number of trackside trailers from 49 to 25--due to the economy. A couple of months ago he said they were going to increase the Digger offerings. Well, last week at Bristol, MA let Digger have an entire trailer for his merchandise. Only Dale Jr has more merchandise than Digger.

Bloggers don't seem to know what the public wants. If you Google for Digger sales, you'll see that Digger is sold everywhere NASCAR stuff is sold, including big outlets like Dick's Sporting Goods.

NASCAR.com has incresed Digger stuff since they first started selling it. Who would have thought?

Daly Planet Editor said...

"bloggers don't seem to know what the public wants."

That has to be the biggest leap ever taken on this little blog.

Covering live racing with cheap special effects and compromising the credibility of top NASCAR TV talent is not worth it.

Digger could be used creatively and worked into these broadcasts without any intrusion. In my column, I never suggested that Fox dump Digger or that it had to end.

I simply pointed out the decline in the ratings and the problems with the TV broadcasts need attention that does not include animated rodents.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

The weather forecast does not look very good. Daggone it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Unofficially, the Truck race would move to SPEED and probably the CWTS regular announce team would call it should the event be delayed by rain to Monday.

JD

glenc1 said...

Lou...it's a gopher, lol, not that it makes it any better.

Julia--your story reminds me of a woman I saw at Richmond a few years back. She had a string around her waist and at the other end was a Kurt Busch bear dragging on the ground. I wanted to go stomp on it myself, lol (this was in Kurt's bad boy days...she's probably moved on to Kyle by now.)

And yes---the idea of Digger itself isn't that bad, it's how its used. I did find out that they actually DO make that NFL robot as a toy (I had no idea), but it doesn't appear *during* the broadcast except going to commercial. It's not like they're picturing it and obscuring a play.

Sorry to hear about the weather.

Mike said...

Yeah, looking at the Weather Channel radar, the rain that's delaying truck practice is a small piece. But by the time the track would get dried, there's a long line of showers that stretches back to Atlanta, Georgia from the direction it's heading.

Mike said...

That stretch of showers I was talking about is on top of Martinsville Speedway as we speak. It stretches back about 300 miles.

Bill H said...

>> NASCAR.com has incresed Digger stuff since they first started selling it. Who would have thought?

If you think about it it makes some sense. The stick and ball sports all have approved merchandise that is non-team specific (football, baseball, bat, basketball etc). But with Nascar all merchandise is has eaither the nascar logo or has some company logo(s).

Digger kinda fills a niche since, though personally I hate it only cause it is force fed to us. If they did it like they do the robot on football on fox (ie sidebar) I could probably live with it.

Maybe we can all dress up as digger on halloween?

Bill H

Mike said...

MRN is saying qualifying has been cancelled and the race will be lined up by points.

David said...

Qualifying is canceled

Line up by points the 09, 75, 46 and 37 went home.

WOW anyone see the crazy trick front suspension on the #2?!

hotaru said...

And the worst part of all this... I had it on FNC (for Studio B W/ Shepard Smith) and there was an ad for the digger junk during a commercial break.

I don't think they're limiting it to just race broadcasts anymore.

Anonymous said...

Fox is going to be in a rock and a hardplace come 2011. The NFL is going to add 1-2 regular season games and the season will extend into Daytona Speedweeks.
John - any talk of this yet?

The Track Girl said...

Here's hoping that all the kids who are out there watching Digger feel the same way as Julia's nephew!


I am not looking forward to a double dose. That's for sure. I guess I'll be sending off my weekly letter to Fox twice.

Richard in N.C. said...

I do disagree with how it is used, but I hope Digger is successful and leads to more NASCAR fans - builds the base - so FOX stays in the sport and does not give the Evil Empire a chance to get all of Cup also. I heard on CNBC or radio last week that there is a rumor that EESPN is now after the NCAA tournament when the CBS contract expires.

In most cases, competition improves things and, within reason, I am in favor of just about anything that keeps EESPN from extending its sway over sports, and the options to EESPN are rapidly diminishing with the economy and the rapid decline of the print media.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how News Corp. is any less "evil" than Disney. I think they have both contributed to the stupid gimmicky sports coverage we see today.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:33PM,

There was a brief review of the NFL vs. NASCAR situation on NASCAR Now with Mike Massaro at 5PM.

The discussions are tentative and expanding the regular season of the NFL would affect all kinds of things in the media.

The NFL Commish is having a tough time (like the NBA) and he is looking for more value.

This could change the entire NASCAR season and re-organize the entire schedule if it happens.

Should be interesting to see if the Trackside guys talk about it.

JD

Vicky D said...

I was certain the race wouldn't get underway on time, and there the broadcasters were interviewing the drivers sitting in their cars. And I saw the rain, and was surprised when the guys were talking about the race getting underway shortly!!!