Friday, March 20, 2009

Updated - Fox Sports Pulled Darrell Waltrip From The Charity Race?


Things seemed a little tense on the Trackside set as Darrell Waltrip said he had something to clear-up right at the top of the show.

Waltrip wanted to address the growing issue about why he was not participating in the ESPN-televised charity race early on Saturday evening in Bristol, TN. Waltrip is the all-time winner at Bristol with 12 victories and a big fan favorite.

"I called my boss (at Fox Sports) and I want you to hear the message he left me," said Waltrip. He then played the song "I think you're crazy" back on his cell phone, much to the amusement of the panel.

"That put me out of business," declared Waltrip.

"I think we were all out of business with that phone call right there," said Larry McReynolds pointing at Waltrip and Jeff Hammond.

"We had a plan," said Waltrip. "But we have a man who is bigger than the plan."

About that time, Jeff Hammond jumped in and changed the subject. But, Waltrip had done what he needed to do in terms of getting the message out that he had been derailed from participating in this ESPN-televised race by his employers at Fox Sports.

TDP and many fans had been wondering why Waltrip had pulled-out last week after seeming to be very excited about this event and even being promoted as the in-race reporter.

Waltrip has appeared on ESPN many times for NASCAR conversations. He and Ed Hinton had a great appearance last season on NASCAR Now and Waltrip is often in demand as a spokesman for the sport, not just the TV network that carries some of the races.

If Fox executives David Hill or Ed Goren pulled Waltrip from this special one night event, they did so by choosing the interests of Fox over NASCAR and the fans. The Fox broadcast network only carries thirteen Sprint Cup points races and is then gone for the year.

At a time in the history of both the sport and the country when everyone is being asked to rise above petty differences and cooperate for the greater good, this smacks of selfish behavior and a very poor choice in priorities.

Waltrip, Hammond and McReynolds all seemed very discouraged that Fox had forced them to step away from this one night fun event at the very track where the NASCAR on Fox team will call the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. What a shame for all involved.

Updated - Thanks to Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip for reviewing this situation on the air Saturday afternoon. They explained it was Fox Sports Chairman David Hill who made the call that Waltrip should not participate. Joy also explained the decision had nothing to do with the ESPN coverage of the event. Classy touch by the Fox gang to update this info for the fans once and for all.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

51 comments:

David said...

In a word: Disappointing. That is if this is true.

Daly Planet Editor said...

David,

DW's words...not mine.

JD

Glenn said...

It did appear obvious which "boss" DW was talking about.
What little I know of DW's career I think he should be in the race if he wanted to.
Like him or hate him, DW does create conversation, (fan attention)
DW may not want FOX anymore when his contract expires.

Gymmie said...

Yes, it's so disappointing to hear that :(. My TV died so I missed all the hype but I bet he was so excited to be apart of it.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, It did occur to me a couple of days ago that FOX might not want DW to participate to protect against his getting injured - no joke. I happen to enjoy Andy Petree, a lot, Brad D., and some Rusty, but I think DW is much more important to the FOX broadcasts than any of the ESPN guys are to ESPN and DW's getting injured would be a big loss for FOX. At the same time, I do believe the race being broadcast by ESPN and getting so much attention probably played a big part in FOX's decision. I did not get to see Trackside and have not had a chance to lokk at recording of it yet.

majorshouse said...

I have to say that this is horribly disappointing but not surprised that Fox would screw one of the best racers that the Bristol track has ever seen.

Anonymous said...
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Newracefan said...

Bad move on Fox's part, I would have been OK if Stevie asked him not to race, I respect that relationship but his employer that's sad. It sounded like Larry Mac and Hammond were going to be behind the curtain or perhaps on the box. Fox made a hugh mistake with this decision, they never stopped him from running the trucks and NW in the past few years and his chance of injury was at least the same so I don't think that is it. Grow up Fox and learn to share, time are tough put the fans first. I have started to seriously question Fox; Digger, now this not good.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dale Jarrett did not get pulled from the charity event - he was asked by Bristol Motor Speedway and declined. It was at that point that ESPN chose to invite Ned back to your living rooms for a hour of pure fun. You can choose to believe it or not - but it's fact. ESPN was prepared to let any of their talent race that wanted to - they have a deep talent pool and would have had no problem covering the race.

Rockin Rich said...

Wow! The conspiracy theorists have really gotten stirred up over this one. Lots of "authoritative sounding" folks sounding off.

I hope that the "real story" does emerge, but if not, so what?

The main thing is that it is going to be a charity event, and should be a lot of fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

Well, my fellow Planet Orbiters, if we ever needed more evidence of the source of FOX Sports' self centered, arrogant, "fans and viewers be damned" attitude, here it is.
Watch basketball this weekend instead.At least CBS has a real sports division, not an annimation house pretending to be a sports entity.

red said...

i've been following the recent columns about dw racing/not racing, fox/espn for the last few days and have sat on my fingers until now b/c i had no solid info on why dw wasn't going to race. until now.

seems to me that fox has pulled an espn and just shot themselves in the foot -- well, both feet, actually. if they had just given one of the reasons posters here have provided (dw's wife, stevie, didn't want him to race, the concern over on-air talent being injured, etc.) it may have flown under the radar. but to let it drag out like this and then not be in control of how the real reason went out over the air? amateur time.

dw has a flair for the dramatic and fox just HAD to know that he'd eventually address the issue and in an "unusual" way. he's done that -- in spades. and fox looks unprofessional and petulant.

personally, i would loved to have dw race b/c, like him or not, he's a champion and i respect what he's done in our sport. if his wife had said "no way, m'dear!," that would have been acceptable to me as a fan. even fox saying "No" b/c of legitimate concerns over the possiblity of injury MIGHT have been ok in my mind. (ok, not really: the man is a racer and should be racing whenever and hwoever he chooses!) but this is just wrong.

has anyone from fox offered an explanation as to why they don't want dw in the field? i mean, a concrete explanation, not a cell phone message? b/c, at this point, we're speculating as to why and, altho' we may be spot on, it'd be nice to hear what david hill has to say about it. after all, TDP is a site about the relationship among nascar, the media and the fans.

but, bottom line is: i'm setting time aside tonight to watch and i'm picking cale to take it!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:33AM,

Your information is not correct. If you would care to return and post that as your opinion, please feel free to do so.

If you would like to drop me a line, please email me.

JD

Sophia said...

Red

I second your post and your reasons. DW deserved to be in the race and between the Digger junk pushed on us and this decision, this is a MAJOR SHARK JUMP for Fox.


DW loves this sport with a passion and deserves better.

p.s. Isn't David Hill the arrogant pusher of Digger? We know where his priorities lie. Cartoons over the integrity of a sport and it's driver that were part of history.

Then again, NASCAR has little integrity these days.:(

Jack said...

Further evidence of Fox being out of touch with what the viewers/racefans would like to watch.

Anonymous said...
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David said...

I didn't see trackside and I did read that you said those were his words but I wonder what kind of backlash this would cause with his "boss" since he pretty much threw FOX under the bus on their own network...

I cant possibly understand why FOX would pull DW out like that...they could have easily used this race to promote themselves even if they didn't have the coverage. DW is the promo king, throw Digger on the hood, a NASCAR on FOX logo or 10, etc. There were better ways to handle this then just strip him out of the car last second.

red said...
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Anonymous said...

David Hill could care less about race fans, DW's desire to run at Bristol one more time, nor does he care about the tradition of NASCAR. How do we know this?
One word....

DIGGER!

Can't get David Hill out of NASCAR fast enough!!

Mike said...

Anonymous at 10:31....I understand what you're saying, but this isn't an ESPN event. This is a Bristol event that happens to be televised by ESPN.

Ever since they came on board in 2001, Fox has always had this aura about them that they're the only media outlet (Fox/Speed) people tune into for NASCAR related broadcasts.

Since this race is only for an hour, it's probably not long enough for the main Fox network to televise (would be a different story if it was 2 or 3 hour block)....but this is the kind of thing Speed would've jumped on in a heartbeat, but they're problem is they were already committed to Sebring. Yet Speed (which is owned by Fox) seems to think they have a lock on these type of NASCAR broadcasts, it's probably killing them that they're committed to Sebring and that ESPN2 is taking the time to televise this charity race. So, they seem to be taking the approach if the event isn't on SPEED, that the event isn't important and having DW in it would only justify that it is an important event.

red said...

ok, having gotten rid of all my typos, let me try this again!
anon @10:31: agreed that it's business. so now let's look at how having dw on an espn2 broadcast race could have been detrimental to fox from a business perspective.
i, for one, don't see a downside to fox. as others have suggested, fox could have put digger all over dw's car and had their logo/brand as part of what is certain to be a well-watched event. dw is an great employee for fox and i'm pretty darn certain he would have promoted HIS network to the n-th degree tonight. he might have even been able to build in some inter-network rivalry with his espn colleagues. the man loves racing, loves talking about racing and loves ragging on other racers. sounds like a receipe for a great show.

honestly, i don't see a downside for fox in all this . . . except the one course they chose to take by not permitting dw to particpate. by doing that, they have create a big ole mess and it doesn't sound as if dw et.al. are looking to bail them out.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to see DW do the race, but who can blame Fox? They have a sizable investment in DW as an on-air personality and have worked to make him one of it not the single leading personality of their portion of the NASCAR season. As such, if Fox says DW has committments - from filming interviews to doing prep work - then I for one think that is their right that should be respected. The bottom line is that FOX has invested millions into DW and they don't need him missing Bristol as an announcer because of a crash or have him not performing up to snuff because he was distracted all weekend with beating Rusty Wallace. It is FOX that forks over the big money every week to fly DW to the various tracks and put him up in a luxury coach just like he is a chase-level driver (don't steve byrnes and others stay in hotels?). If they say they need him to honor his obligation to his job, then I say they should let him. As a fan, I would love to see DW turning laps in Thunder Valley again... but I am mature enough to understand that in a downward economy, you should honor your employer's wishes - especially when they have so much money already invested in you. I won't say this was a good call by FOX, but I respect the decision and wish other fans would see this through a little bigger lens than simply their own viewing enjoyment.

Ken said...

Fox could have turned
DW's racing into a plus. He could have had a uniform and other badging with Fox logos and it woulod have helped Fox tremendously. Fox could also have made a significant donation to the charities based on how well DW did

Anonymous said...

Fox should of let DW race but not pit or in car report thats his job with Fox. Maybe the reason is the Health insurance company that covers Fox employees. Besides all that David hill is helping ruin racing on TV with his late starts and stupid cartoons. We need Bob Jenkins back.

MïK said...

I have to comment on the pulling of DW by FOX. If FOX tried to put a car on the track with all the FOX-related Ho-Ha, would ESPN allow them to run. It might've started when DW announced to them who was gonna be on the car. After all, He had signed on to race, so something happened to put him out.

ESPN said that they'll broadcast the event late in the planning, so details involving a conflict between the two would of been late, too. If (We'll really not know until FOX actually 'fesses up) ESPN didn't want FOX going across their screens, FOX might've pulled the whole car, in a fit of pique.

Darrell's quick 'spelation didn't say whether "I think you're crazy", was FOX talking to him...or him talking to FOX.

Anonymous said...

Let's say they let DW race and then he gets into a wreck. And let's face it, between Rusty Wallace running like this is the Daytona 500 and a few guys who haven't raced in decades, the chances of a wreck is reasonably high. I don't need to get a lesson in osteoporosis to paint the picture that it is pretty easy for these older dudes to get hurt. Can you imagine: DW is on ESPN all Saturday night, misses the FOX broadcast because of a wreck, and it is FOX that is left picking up the bill since they are the ones paying for him to be at the track this weekend? And then they gotta go broadcast from Thunder Valley without Mr. Thunder Valley himself on the show? Can anyone here imagine for a minute if they were in charge of FOX? Obviously, you wouldn't let DW race in this situation - even if the risk is small, is it your place to risk that sizable of an investment? The downside is far too great.

I'm looking forward to some fond memories but I'm not expecting a great race anyway and will be pleasantly surprised if one happens. Besides, I'm more interested in seeing someone like Cale race who hasn't raced in front of fans in YEARS. Wasn't DW racing occasionally in the truck series like two years ago?

Anonymous said...

i'm sure ESPN would have loved to have DW in the race - Fox logo and all. After all they have had DW on NN in FOX wardrobe and all - seems like ESPN respects DW as a racing legend and DW's Boss David Hill treats him like a hired piece of meat.

Perhaps David Hill was upset that Digger was not invited to run.

FOX and David Hill just don;t get race fans.

Lesley said...

This should come as no surpries to anybody!!The fox network has always been self serving! (Politics anyone?)These people,(Fox) with there way of thinking, care about know one but themselves...Would I work at the same network with a (Shaun Hannity) on board?I dont think so..This is more than likely a one time chance for all these great drivers to race together!!This must be eating DW alive..I feel bad for him and his fans not to see the greatest Bristol driver of all time get back in a race car..I think DW has enough money to walk away from these Bullies,and I think he should!!

Dot said...

To echo David 11:06, I wondered the same thing.

I don't believe it's an injury or wife issue. Didn't the Redhead let him race there before? Racers can hurt themselves out of the racecar. Just ask Biff.

Jo From SC said...

Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip are defending their decision not to participate on Happy Hour. They say they have to be able to work on Sunday (which presumably they couldn't risk by racing Saturday) and that the decision was made BEFORE ESPN decided to broadcast the race. But it seems like they are making a lame defense.

SonicAD said...

Mike Joy just said (pretty much referencing us) that the decision was made well before ESPN chose to air the race... but that doesn't really gel with NASCAR Now mentioning him being in it within the last couple weeks, because I knew they'd be airing it before then.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Nice of Mike and DW to address the topic. The one commen theme is that Fox Sports Chairman David Hill is the one who made the call that DW could not race.

Since the ESPN coverage was added late, my personal opinion is that this had nothing to do with the network's coverage.

I have a feeling the debate will continue.

JD

Tracy said...

We're off for Bristol in a few minutes! Will post when we get home Monday.

Will miss posting during the race - don't have too much fun without me!

Daly Planet Editor said...

New post up for the Nationwide Series race.

JD

Anonymous said...

John,

How about updating your entry now that we know what really happened?

This in particular seems like a pretty cheap shot:

At a time in the history of both the sport and the country when everyone is being asked to rise above petty differences and cooperate for the greater good, this smacks of selfish behavior and a very poor choice in priorities.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:17PM,

The story was updated on the main page immediately and also in the comments section.

Not quite sure what your problem is with my column, I stand by those words.

How about posting your opinion of the situation?

JD

Anonymous said...

I think it was his wife that changed her mind. They "spun" it to say it was Fox so DW didn't look pw'd. Remember one other time, DW stated his wife wouldn't allow him to race again, and she is the boss.

Newracefan said...

DW has never had a problem in the past saying Stevie didn't want him to race, actually a BIG deal was made when she gave Mikey permission to let DW drive the Aarons Dream Machine in a Busch race a few years back. It's not a PW thing it's a love and respect thing. Now David Hill that's an entirely different story.

red said...

anon @ 2:43 said (in part):
"They "spun" it to say it was Fox so DW didn't look pw'd. "

aside from that obnoxious expression (and thanks for using the abbreviation there!), i guess that characterization applies to The King as well, huh, as his wife will not allow him to race again?

i don't like DW all that much but i doubt fox would try to spin this to deflect away from what dw himself has said repeatedly: his wife is the boss when it comes to racing again. it's why he hasn't been in the chili bowl as well as many other races.

while i appreciate mike joy and dw trying to clear it all up and i am not doubting what they're saying to us, any situation that involves david hill in any way, shape or form is open for doubt in my mind.

GinaV24 said...

Well, it sounds like DW made his point about wanting to race and why he isn't. I'm not always a fan of his, but I think if he wanted to take the risk, it's his business, not Fox's and if it was a business decision for Fox, well, they need to grow up -- just like ESPN does with never posting information about when the race starts if it's not on their network

Richard in N.C. said...

As I recall DW's last race was at Martinsville in a truck. The speed at Bristol would be greater than at Martinsville, thus the likelihood of serious injury greater - and I suspect a truck would be a more crash resistant vehicle than the late model cars they're going to use at Bristol.

I'm willing to take DW at face value and, thus, believe he would have no problem saying Stevie did not want him to race if that was the case, unless Stevie objected to his saying so.

What I really hate is missing the chance to see DW race Junior.

The really amazing thing now, given all the excitement the race has generated, is that no one did this before - and apparently Humpy is not involved.

Anonymous said...

I think it was his wife that changed her mind.

What evidence do you have of this?

DW said Fox told him not to participate.

Unless you have specific knowledge of a different story, your opinion counts as much as one saying "Space aliens told him not to do it."

Anonymous said...

JD - in the words of Jack Nickleson...."You can't handle the truth."

Figures you would pull the post down cause it was true.

I challenge you to prove one thing I said this AM was false. One thing.

But you won't.

LOL

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:19PM,

That comment was removed after checking with my sources. Jarrett was never a driver in this event.

ESPN was added (as both Mike Joy and DW said clearly) after the DW issue and none of this is connected in any way to the TV networks covering the event.

In addition for the others, DW's wife is not in this mix at all.

JD

Bobby said...

Remember last year Darrell came down with a bad virus the night before the Bristol race and was left virtually incapacitated for the race Sunday. Remember that race where he couldn't speak and it was fortunate they had a week off so he could recuperate?

They needed to ensure it didn't happen again. Darrell is on par with Tim McCarver and Troy Aikman on Fox's pecking order of game analysts.

I can understand why they needed to protect him to prevent a repeat of last year's race.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Bobby,

IMHO that is the biggest bunch of baloney in the history of NASCAR.

Those cars were not going to hurt anyone and ultimately they did not.

Unless DW stuck his head out the window and yelled during the race he would have been fine.

70 year old men were in that race as well as college coaches and a former NFL placekicker.

We may never know the real reason why because DW's contract details will never be released.

It sure would have been nice of David Hill to step forward and tell the fans why the 12 time Bristol winner could not make some charity laps in a critical year for the sport.

Maybe we will see that on Sunday.

JD

Anonymous said...

"I think it was his wife that changed her mind. They "spun" it to say it was Fox so DW didn't look pw'd"

I stand by what I said. The FOX brass have known for at least a month DW was planning on racing. I seriously doubt they would change their tiny minds at the last minute. More likely the freak accident that killed the woman on the ski slope scared Stevie, and she then didn't want him to race. Those who don't think so, don't understand women.

Anonymous said...

12 time Winner and fox wouldnt let D.W. race how SAD is that

Anonymous said...

Fox Sports was thinking only of themselves and relinquished to GREED. Same as when the Daytona race was pushed back to a later starting time.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that Fox only carries 13 of the races and then are gone for the season. ESPN does a crappy job at it, and the other networks are even worse.