Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Regional Racing And "NASCAR Now" Still Can't Connect

This is the third season of the daily NASCAR Now program on ESPN2. The series has grown by leaps and bounds from its early painful days of clueless announcers and a rookie production staff into a solid news and information show.

Unfortunately, the production team's learning curve continued this week with some of the content choices on the Tuesday and Wednesday shows. These two days, especially Wednesday, have long been suggested by TDP for regional updates and highlights.

Perhaps, some racing fans may remember "Open Wheel Wednesday" where ESPN's RPM2Night show used this mid-week day to show regional racing highlights. Well, this would have been the week to start for 2009.

When Rick Hendrick celebrated his 25th anniversary in NASCAR this past weekend, it dominated the media up to, during and after the Sunday Sprint Cup Series race. Hendrick certainly deserved the attention, but so does another family of racers.

Thompson International Speedway, just a short and scenic drive down the road from ESPN, will be hosting the opening of the 25th season of the NASCAR Modifieds. Sponsored by Whelen, the Mods open with the traditional "Icebreaker" on Sunday afternoon in the Connecticut countryside.

Names like Jimmy Blewett, Teddy Christopher and Eddie Flemke Jr. might not be known nationwide, but these racers have a big following on the East Coast. Ask around about Reggie Ruggiero, Jamie Tomaino and Mike Stefanik from Maine to Florida. Stefanik alone is a seven-time season champ of the Whelen Mods.

Tuesday, NASCAR Now took an entire segment to interview Dario Franchitti, primarily because the IRL opener is this weekend in Florida. ESPN will not telecast the race, the Versus network has its own IRL show and Franchitti does not even race in NASCAR.

Wednesday, it was Brian Vickers in the ESPN2 studio talking in circles about his season and then wasting time with a foolish interview of reporter Marty Smith. Even host Nicole Manske seemed annoyed. "Where is this going?" she asked.

This time could have and should have been spent talking about any of the three NASCAR regional series in action this weekend. The Southern Mods are at historic South Boston Speedway and the Camping World West racers are at All American Speedway for Saturday night shows.

Ironically, NASCAR Now has awkwardly stabbed at the regional series in the past, including having several of the Modified drivers in the ESPN2 studios. Despite the fact that video clips and highlights are easy to get, NASCAR Now continues to be hypnotized by the Sprint Cup Series.

Meanwhile, 25 years after Ritchie Evans roared home with the first Modified win at Thompson, a field of 36 cars sponsored by local companies like Triple G Scaffold Services, Buoy One Seafood and Reen Othodontics will begin another storied NASCAR tradition right in ESPN's backyard.

Maybe, someone at NASCAR Now will open the door and discover the racing reality that many fans have known about for a very long time. 25 years, in fact.

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The J said...

if they barely talk about the truck series, what makes anyone think theyll talk about the mods or any other regional series? im not shocked by this, just another poor showing from the bristol bullies.

Dot said...

@ The J, Ditto.

Tuesday's and Wednesday's shows weren't very good. How does BSPN justify the interview w/Dario? Don't get me wrong, I like him. Just wondering.

Tues and Weds are slow Cup & NW news days usually. Unless there is breaking news, and I mean REAL breaking news in CUP & NW, make the shows about NASCARs' other series.

Tracy D said...

I like Vickers. I really do. But sheesh. . .what a waste of TV on Wednesday. Didn't even watch the whole thing, it was so awful.

hotaru said...

I was waiting for a post of this nature since Tuesday night

Here goes...

Tuesday's Dario interview was another one of those 'okay, off topic again' moments of thought.

Tonight's show I only glanced at as I was busy packing for a trip, but it had some good Vickers moments (that interview was dumb).

I agree with some of y'all... talk about the others during the week. But I have another idea... does the show have to be on EVERY weeknight?

Photojosh said...

Sure, the nascar regional racing would be cool to hear about. But I'd be happy if they would just support the damn truck series.

Why do the trucks get ignored like a cousin nobody likes by Speed and ESPN? I just don't understand.

Dot said...

I need to revise my earlier comment. I did enjoy the interview with Diandra Leslie-Pelecky. She was the bright spot today. Too bad time was chewed up by Brian and Marty. Diandra should have been interviewed longer. If they need filler stuff, this is the way to go.

majorshouse said...

I agree that the truck series needs to be covered better and Wednesday's show was just a useless waste of time. I love watching ZNicole Manski, but I think even she was a little bit bored with the show like I was. Give us real news and not this fluff garbage, it is like watching Digger on the pre-race shows.

glenc1 said...

again, I just don't understand why ESPN doesn't get that promoting the sport, even races they don't carry, promotes racing in general and in the long run is good for their ratings. It's hard to believe they're that stupid....

Daly Planet Editor said...


We can still not get NASCAR Now to even promote the start time and the network for either the Trucks or the Sprint Cup Series.

Instead, they insert the NHRA Drag Racing promo because that sport is televised by ESPN.

This is a sign of the internal struggle of this company where the good of a sport is often put behind the interests of the network.


glenc1 said...

but that's just the thing...I don't think it IS in the best interests of the network not to mention those very things. Yes, I suppose there is ESPN programming on opposite those events that they would prefer us to watch, but's just common sense that promoting sports on a sports *network* makes sense. I know, I'm preaching to the choir...

But they'd better look out, because those alternate networks are going full guns....can't wait to watch IRL on Versus...

Anonymous said...
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Ziggy said...

To ESPN. First, let me drill my first question down to a K3 grade level. 1). The name of a weekly sports talk show on your network is NASCAR NOW. (ESPN) Right!

Now that we got that outta the way...

2). Then please explain to us what in the name of God does Dario Franchitti have to do with NASCAR ?
I'll answer this one for you - NOTHING !

Sorta like Emeril Lagasse talking about microwave cooking.

Frustrating very frustrating.


allisong said...

JD - First, let me say that I agree that racing at the local short-track level is some of the best racing there is, and these tracks need help in staying afloat in this economy. I get all that, however, the key word above is LOCAL. What good does it do the track to be spotlighted on a national TV show, when, as a viewer, it is certainly not going to get me to jump in my car and travel the 800 or so miles to take in the race, nor can I see it on TV. And I'm sure Buoy One Seafood and Reen Orthodontics are great sponsors, and I'm sure the drivers and the track are happy to have them, but I'm never going to have the opportunity to spend my money with them.

I feel that these tracks should focus their promotional efforts on the local radio and TV stations and daily or weekly newspapers in their areas. NASCAR NOW is the only daily motorsports show on a network devoted to ALL kinds of sports. In my mind, I feel they are correct in focusing on the national motorsports series.

I can agree with you that SPEED (which is, or at least was, a motorsports network) should give the Trucks way more exposure than they do. As you pointed out, that would be in their best interest, after all, to draw additional viewers to the races they broadcast.

I do, however, agree with the poster from earlier this week who said the Trucks are 3rd in the pecking order behind Nationwide and Cup. If you look at any measurable criteria such as, purses, cost of competing, size of the field, attendance, cost of sponsorship, length of schedule, they come in 3rd. The only exception is the actual racing, which quite often is the best of the weekend. But again, that is a subjective opinion.

Feel free to disagree, just don't be disagreeable. :)

Anonymous said...

On the Thursday SPEED telecasts of the Camping World Series - are the announcers actually at the track or is it a voiceover done at the SPEED studio?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if TBTB at ESPN believe that having Johnny Benson on occassionally as a panelist on the Monday Roundtable discussion of NASCAR Now is the same as covering the truck series.

ESPN needs to learn that NASCAR is NOT just the Sprint Cup series and that the only stories in the NW series come from the Cup drivers. Before calling ESPN to cover the developmental series, which they should cover, they need to start covering the #2 and #3 series in the sport.

It has been said that the reason why the NW series allows/needs the Cup drivers to race in that series is that they need the name recognition and to draw fans into the seats. Well, if the NW only drivers were given any attention, people *might* just learn who they are and would be interested in seeing them race. The same goes for the truck series.

Once the NW and truck series are covered, then ESPN should start focusing on the regional development series.

Anonymous said...

The Mod squad goes back way more than 25 years. They are the best racing your going see anywhere.

ESPN is missing the boat by not covering the mod's.

Every week when the so called big boys and the COT bore us to death on TV I say the same thing to my son: There is nothing wrong with this race track that 43 modified's could not cure."

If you ever get the chance get to New Hampshire to see the Modifieds, if you like many think that track is a problem, the modifieds will change your view.

If your lucky enough to be in Connecticut when the Tour runs Stafford or Thompson, buy a ticket, its the best racing your ever going to see.

Newracefan said...

I like BV but really what was that, he obviously is very intelligent but I'm not sure what the point was in having him interview Marty, it went on way too long.
About the only question that I wanted the answer to regarding Dario was the one about his hair but everything had nothing to do with Nascar. The name is Nascar Now right?
Perhaps promoting the local would/should encourage people to seek out their local, I know it makes me think about hitting the local short track. That would be Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, PA.