Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jimmy Spencer Cuts A Wide Path In NASCAR TV


Every year since TDP began back in 2007, there has been a memorable moment or two for SPEED's Jimmy Spencer during the racing season.

Spencer's sometimes hilarious and sometimes mind-numbing comments have been keeping fans coming back to RaceDay and Victory Lane every single racing weekend for years.

It was Victory Lane in Homestead last season when Spencer celebrated another Sprint Cup Series championship by asking Jimmie Johnson how he was "going to get it up" to defend his title in 2009. Click here for a video link. The look on Johnson's face was priceless. It was certainly an interesting transition to the off-season.

Click here for the 2007 link to the TDP column featuring Spencer offering comments about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his sister, Kelley.

As fans may remember, it was during the time that Junior was making his decision whether or not to remain with DEI and continue the strained relationship with his stepmother. Spencer was not pleased that Kelley was involved.

"I think her ego is so big and (that) she is backing Teresa and Max (Siegel) into corners," said Spencer. "She's not a good negotiator. If she was working for someone else they would probably fire her."

Eventually, Spencer apologized for his comments, which included criticizing even the name that Junior's sister used professionally. At the time, it was Kelley Earnhardt Elledge. "I am shocked that she kept her middle name," remarked Spencer. "Why keep Earnhardt? I think she is using ego to control this and Dale needs to be careful about it."

TDP readers may remember the wildest RaceDay show in history from June of 2008. Click here to read the original column. The Sprint Cup Series was in New Hampshire and RaceDay was featuring Jimmy Spencer and his history in the old Modified Series. During that feature, the satellite transmission pathway failed and RaceDay was off the air for over forty minutes.

By the time the show returned, things were out of control. Sudden screams from the audience could mean only one thing. In the front row was a man with a monkey on his shoulder. The monkey was watching Spencer and drinking beer from a can. As show host John Roberts said at the time, you can't make this stuff up.

Spencer responded by talking about the new ownership of the Boston Red Sox, one of the most beloved sports franchises in the entire New England area. Unfortunately, he started by saying very matter of factly that "the Red Sox sucked."

This brought yet another classic moment that was right up there with the drunken monkey. The many Red Sox fans in the RaceDay audience expressed their opinion of that comment as a group. Mr. Excitement was getting the finger.

This year, Spencer has been up and down. At Daytona, he often seemed ill-prepared and several times lost his train of thought and just gave up. Spencer appeared frustrated and disjointed. John Roberts has become a pro at getting things back on track when Spencer falters.

The good news is that it only took a couple of weeks for Spencer to return to his outspoken form. Last week, with the series in Atlanta, there were several brand new comments destined to be added to the Jimmy Spencer collection.

It was Steve Byrnes while hosting the Monday This Week in NASCAR show who asked his panelists if they had seen Spencer call for Jeremy Mayfield to fire himself. The laughter that followed told the tale. Spencer was back in all his glory.

"In fact, I think they need to get rid of Mayfield," said Spencer on RaceDay. "Get new drivers if you want to be successful. They missed races. You can't fail in this sport. You find somebody that can push the pedal and be successful."

"Jimmy, you are asking Jeremy Mayfield to fire himself," said an exasperated Roberts.

"If he does not fire himself he is going to realize that the (financial) ditch is going to get deeper," said Spencer. "He won't get out of it. It's time to make changes."

"One thing about Spence," added sidekick Kenny Wallace. "He is brutally honest."

Earlier in the same RaceDay show, reporter Wendy Venturini had presented an interview with Michael Waltrip about the growth and success his team had experienced this season.

"Unfortunately, I don't think he (Waltrip) will win this year," said Spencer. "Michael needs to get some more hired guns in there. David Reutimann is finally paying off for him. Michael is going to do a whole lot better job for this organization by being the owner...and putting a top-name young driver in there and (then) being successful."

"Michael has done well, he is one of the best (restrictor) plate racers of all-time," continued Spencer. "But at the end of the day he is going to serve (MWR) better out of the car." Now that was vintage Spencer.

Where else on TV are fans going to find a commentator who can say that Mayfield is digging himself a financial trench and Michael Waltrip should get out of the driver's seat? Spencer often makes the carefully chosen words of other TV commentators and analysts seem almost meaningless.

At the same time, he can rile the fans and teams with his shoot from the hip style that has made RaceDay one of the most popular TV shows on SPEED. Spencer and the entire cast return for the upcoming Bristol race in one week's time.

Do you have an opinion on the TV commentary of Jimmy Spencer this season? Do you tune into the program to hear Spencer's opinion or reach for the mute button when he comes on camera? No TV personality with the exception of Michael Waltrip has such a divided fan base with strong opinions on both sides.

TDP welcomes your comments. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting.

Thanks again for taking the time to read The Daly Planet.

38 comments:

NASCAR-ista said...

I don't always agree with him, but Spencer makes race day coverage interesting and colorful. At least the viewers always know where he stands.

spot check billy said...

Is there really anyone who doesn't believe Mikey would be better off with another driver in the 55 assuming he can keep the sponsorship? But only Jimmy Spencer will say so. God bless him, I hope he can keep that job for a long time.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, Thank you. Super topic. I do enjoy RACEDAY and Jimmy Spencer. I don't always agree with him and occasionally he makes me cringe, but I do believe he gives viewers HIS honest opinion, not the opinion someone at the network has given him to pass on as I find all too common on EESPN. One reason I do enjoy Jimmy is that he still seems to be the same guy I watched when he was racing - something of a throwback.

The J said...

he has great opinions, and that makes him watchable. and he has moments where its just like jimmy shut up. sometimes he does get annoying, like calling hendrick hendrix every time. but ill live through that to hear his opinions.

Dot said...

Jimmy says the darndest things. I don't think he should have to apologize to anybody. He sure didn't when he bagged on DJ a couple of years ago. With Jimmy, he is what he is. SPEED knows this and that's why he's on their shows.

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with what he says, but his comments are memorable and makes him a wild character on the show. You can always count on him to create excitement.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Spencer isn't worth the airtime he uses. Put DW out to pasture and replace him with Michael. Sure would be fun to listen to MIKE,LARRY & Michael call a race.

stricklinfan82 said...

Just like I said when Kyle Petty was on Tradin' Paint, whether I agree with what they're saying or not I very much appreciate it when a TV personality isn't afraid to take off the gloves and speak exactly what's on their mind when they have a strong opinion on an issue. I sure hope Speed never decides to censor Jimmy like they did to Kyle this year when they re-assigned him to game playing duty.

Anonymous said...

For a long time, I didn't care for Jimmy Spencer - like when he was driving....

However, I thoroughly enjoy him now and like so many others, I appreciate that he just says what he thinks. I don't have to agree with him, but I do respect his opinions.

Hopefully, SPEED knows a good thing when they finally have it!

RonF. said...

Jimmy Spencer is a broadcaster because people can relate to him. That's the kindest thing that I can say about him. He's not real bright, and never has anything insightful to add to a discussion. He seems most comfortable as an apologist for the status quo, and will never take a position that is critical of the NASCAR establishment. He's really an embarrassment, and Speed really owes it to the fans to find someone who is at least competent to serve as one of their talking heads.

Richard in N.C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Spencer is a two-faced blowhard.

Get Mayfield or Waltrip on the set with him, and watch him suddenly have a change of heart about his comments.

He'll say anything....until he's sitting next to the person he slammed.

That lack of intellectual honesty is why I don't bother to listen to him.

Tom said...

I used to be a huge Spencer fan, back when he was Mr. Excitement, running modifieds and just generally using bad judgement to make great racing....
Today, I appreciate that he speaks his mind...which unfortunately isn't saying much. While I defend his right to say what he wants, I refuse to watch him because he is terribly ignorant of the world around him. He has alternately showed himself to be mean spirited towards people in the sport (busting on Earnhardts sister because of her NAME?) but yet unwilling for the most part to call out the establishment on real issues that need discussing (I seem to remember him telling us we saw a good race at Indy last year??!!!).
Speak, Jimmy, Speak!!! Just do not expect me to listen!

Tom
Inverness, FL

glenc1 said...

I kind of agree with anon 12:28--I have found this 'two faced' side of Jimmy not very appealing. I loved it last year when Vickers called him out, I hope Jeremy gets to do the same. For a former driver, he spends a lot of time claiming the driver 'can't get it done' when he rarely did. I am one of those who believe it's about 80% car and team, and that's a lot out of the driver's hands. I don't know why Jimmy doesn't get this. If a guy goes to the first practice and is 42nd off the truck, that's on the *team*, not the driver.

Anyways, I do find Jimmy funny and, at any given moment, somewhat honest (although he'll say the opposite the following week), but I admire the things he's done for a laugh (after all, the show is party entertainment.) I just don't highly value his opinions because he just doesn't have any logical reasoning to back it up, but he is, as others have said 'colorful'.

Anonymous said...

I for one don't like his mouth. How come he can get away with swearing on tv and the drivers get docked points if they do it!!!!!

50 yr. fan said...

With all the intelligent and
reflective individuals in the sport, I don't understand Fox
having JS and KW representing
Nascar. Oops, they did create
digger.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Spencer's comments to NASCAR on the start and park cars.

Mary,
Richmond, VA

Newracefan said...

Do not agree with Jimmy most of the time and sometimes he just makes me gringe but he always makes for an interesting show and isn't that the point.

David said...

Spencer has a 50/50 shot with me. Sometimes hearing him put his foot in his mouth is worth his weight in gold because he is so good at it. However, there are moments he makes remarks that are so far out of left field for a driver whose credentials aren't much better then the drivers he is critiquing. An example is Spencer calling for Mayfield to fire himself, correct me if Im out of line but Mayfield's career stats probably top Spencer's in most every area...

However Spencer making the remark that MWR won't win a race? I agree because the difficulty level to win in the Cup Series is extremely high.

He provides a good balance with Kenny Wallace though. I've just learned to take Spencer with a grain of salt if I'm going to listen...works out better that way.

Can't imagine he hurts ratings though...

3KillerBs said...

I liked Spencer as a racer (presenting an interesting dilemma for a Kurt Busch fan), but I love him as a TV guy.

I don't necessarily agree with him, I often think he'd be better off giving his first reaction a moment's thought, but I cannot dispute his straightforward honesty about what he thinks.

Spencer is unpolished, but he's a lot smarter than people give him credit for and a great deal of what he says turns out to be right on target -- no matter how much people dislike it.

And I love the way he has put himself in the position of often putting his arm around a young driver's shoulders to tell him, "Don't make the mistakes I made."

GinaV24 said...

Well, I don't always agree with what Spencer says and sometimes he makes me boil with anger (as in the comments about Kelly Earnhardt Elledge's business ability), but its also refreshing to have him say what he's thinking (and sometimes what the fans are thinking), rather than just the PC nonsense we hear from so many.

Anonymous said...

I for one like jimmy, he says what he has to say because people want to hear the truth about certain things. As far as that guy who sits on his left is a NASCAR yes man if there ever was one, I can't stand to listen to him, and he thinks he's funny which is far from the truth. If he had to sit on his hands he couldn't say anything. When his jaw opens his hands start moving, it's very hard to watch him.

Anonymous said...

I kind of agree with anon 12:28--I have found this 'two faced' side of Jimmy not very appealing. I loved it last year when Vickers called him out, I hope Jeremy gets to do the same.

It's easy for Jimmy to say whatever he wants--that's what everyone keeps calling "refreshing"--but that doesn't mean much when the doesn't have the guts to back it up when the person he's attacking appears on the show.

The technical term for this is "bullying."

Not much courage required to open your mouth if you know you're just going to back down when the going gets tough.

Vicky D said...

I thought the story in Vegas was funny but I don't normally watch this program (hubby has it on frequently) becuase of Spencer and Wallace.

Mary said...

Spencer is a bit of a loose cannon and JR does a good job dealing with him. I think some times he's a bit over the top but I enjoy Raceday.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could get Spencer, Kenny Wallace, and Mikey Waltrip tohether for a cage match smack down. Those three together are not much better than pro wrasslin

Paducah Mike said...

Well Some Things Never Change For An Overweight Obnoxious So Called Commentator He Should Try An Think Just For A Second Before Opening His Mouth Because Everytime He Does It Seems He Is Putting Someone Down And His Behavior Is That Of An 8 Year Old Spoiled Brat So If That Is What You Want To Listen To And The Show Likes Its Ratings Because Of His Actions Then It Doesnt Say Much For Those Who Are In Charge I Know Jimmy And His Family For Several Years But I also Worked For Jeremy For Over 6 Years An He Is A Standup Guy He Has Had Some Ups An Downs Thru Out His Career The Same As Alot Of Drivers But He Doesnt Deserve The Thrashing That Jimmy Gave Him Hopefully He Gets The Chance To Confront Him All I Would Say To Jimmy Is That I Will Definitely Pray For You Because Nobody In Their Right Mind Should Act Like That Let Alone On National Tv

ProudinNC said...

Jimmy tells it like it is, that's what gets under the skin of so many others who don't have the gut to do so. He's a real racer through and through, and will hopefully be sharing his experience AND opinions on SpeedTV for a long time.

Brian said...

I think Jimmy is Great!!! Speed should keep him for along time but I miss Jimmy in a car!!!

Chris said...

John,

Something that wouldn't have gone through any public channels is that at least a few of John Roberts' chuckles last Sunday, happened when he saw a few hastily made "* U Spencer" signs in the Raceday crowd after Jimmy made those comments about Mayfield, Riggs (yes, he insulted Tommy Baldwin, too) and Mikey.

I know it's difficult to work in information like that into reporting that meets professional standards, but it does seem to reflect the value that the general audience places on Jimmy, more so than internet comments.

When Jimmy's qualifications in operating a business are considered while interpreting his comments, it would be fair to not include his racing statistics. While they are poor compared to each of the racers he criticized, Jimmy was making business opinions not racing judgments--and to Jimmy's credit he does seem to have faced the fact that he can't race by getting out of the seat.

Business issues are a different matter for Jimmy. the construction and junkyard companies he's been involved in with his family has had severe legal--not financial, legal--trouble resulting in multiple arrests in years past. Since the most recent arrests were heavily publicized in the media about two years ago, I'm going to pass on adding footnotes and a bibliography to my comments...the coverage should be easy find in a search since he and the involved family members all seem to share the "Jimmy Spencer" name!

His discredit in business continues with his attempt at operating a then-Busch series team, which never really even got off the ground. I don't remember an event that team successfully qualified for. the former address for that team became a year later the address used by RWI, so I would have to call that another failed business by Jimmy Spencer.

Nearly every reputable news outlet discloses conflicts of interest, professional relationships, or other adverse relationships that may be interpreted as affected the neutrality of affected reports. Moreover, any editorial opinion or rebuttal is normally offered by experts in a given field, along with documentation by the news host to authenticate the expert standing of the person.

Jimmy's documented history would seem to contra-indicate any endorsement by any legitimate reporting interest. Persons in similar situations, who seemed to draw people through antagonism instead of professional reporting practices, have typically gotten their own shows like Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera, and Nancy Grace.

Perhaps the appropriate resolution is for John Roberts, Kenny Wallace, and NASCAR (through it's "NASCAR TV on Speed" effort) to divorce themselves from any association with the show, rename it from Raceday to "The Spencer Show" and thereby relieve themselves from any issues, similar to the ones his businesses have had, that Jimmy could cause for them?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Chris,

Conflicts of interest inside and outside the sport have been topics at TDP for several seasons.

Often, the ESPN Infield Pit Studio consists of Allen Bestwick and three NASCAR owners (Wallace, Evernham and Daugherty).

Now, Phil Parsons is active again as an owner and he works in the SPEED both with another team owner, Michael Waltrip.

When we move to Fox we find DW neck-deep in Toyota and Hammond still racing trucks.

That is why Spencer keeps coming back into the sport. He is just like the rest, constantly battling through personal business and financial conflicts to try and squeeze out some commentary that fans can believe.

Since the new TV contract began, this conflict of interest issue has been the biggest for the NASCAR TV partners.

Thanks again for your comment.

JD

Anonymous said...

I think Spencer and Wallace are an embarrassment and play to all the negative stereotypes about Nascar and its fans. In these hard times,I think we'd all fall over if we learned how much money those two buffoons make a year to "enlighten" us.

Anonymous said...

At Daytona, Jimmy was all for the new start up teams like Jeremy's and Tommy's. A few weeks later - he's calling for the drivers to be out of the cars?! I was at Atlanta, and had a chance to make up a little sign for Jimmy, and stayed after the show to ask what he had against Mayfield. The coward just turned and walked away... Hope ya'll liked my sign!!!

Anonymous said...

Jimmy tells it like it is, that's what gets under the skin of so many others who don't have the gut to do so.

No, he gets under the skin of people because he only "tells it like it is" until someone confronts him--then he runs and hides, or worse, changes his tune.

How can y'all be such big fans of a guy who's afraid to stand up for his opinions? ANYONE can do that.

glenc1 said...

you know, the funny thing is, Jimmy actually seems 'hurt' when people call him out. I don't know if that's just fake or if he later regrets some of the stuff that comes spouting out of his mouth. If that's the case, maybe he ought to *think* a little more before he speaks (although he seems incapable of this...). It took him PO'ing Junior to make him actually apologize on the air, but most of the guys just seem to let it go like it never happened (and he went sooooooooo far over the line on that one...)

Part of me would love to see Shana go after him...now *that* might be fun on her reality show...

But I would like to add that I think those who suggest that there are other potentially more talented people to do this show are right. I think especially because they have *both* of them. A little Kenny, a little Jimmy go a long way, and with the both of them, it's just too much at times. Thank goodness for the reporters (Wendy, Hermie, etc); it does help to balance. Trackside is full of silliness and that's fine, it's an interview show, not like Raceday & VL, which ought to come across as a bit more professional. They could do better.

Ziggy said...

Ref: Conflict of interests.

Can there be more than one Phil Parsons within the racing community ?

Looks like Phil & Mikey team up together on the board of directors for M.R.W. Hmmmmm

Anonymous said...

"Spencer's sometimes hilarious and sometimes mind-numbing comments have been keeping fans coming back to RaceDay and Victory Lane every single racing weekend for years."
JD, His comments may keep bringing others back...they are the reason I don't watch anymore, that and as someone else said, how does he get away with that language on "family entertainment". Junior would be docked points and paying a fine.
Jimmy has no problem with going back and dredging up a personal grudge and finding a way to air it on tv.
Marybeth
JD, It worked this time...?

Anonymous said...

My top 3 "Spencerisms" are:
3). "...like a monkey out of the desert!" ?????

2). "the cream rises to the crop"

1). "I may not be the smartest knife in the drawer!"