Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Anybody Watching "NASCAR Smarts" On SPEED?

Since we have a moment, let's talk about something that pops-up in the mailbox on a weekly basis. Usually, right after the show airs. NASCAR fans are often left asking...what the heck was that?

It's time to talk about NASCAR Smarts on SPEED. Host John Roberts calls it a show designed to "test your NASCAR knowledge." The thirty minute program is taped on the SPEED Stage at the Sprint Cup racing weekends. It has a live audience that seems to be mostly concerned with getting themselves and their homemade signs on-camera.

Kyle Petty was a big hit on SPEED when he took over the regular panelist role on the Tradin' Paint TV series from Michael Waltrip. Right from the start, Petty waged war on the NASCAR journalists and had some memorable verbal brawls with the likes of Jenna Fryer, Bob Pockrass and Mike Mulhern.

In 2009, SPEED cancelled Tradin' Paint and Petty changed from an opinionated and impassioned defender of the sport into a grinning game show contestant. Gone from the scene was his powerful personality and strong opinions. Instead, Petty and Rutledge Wood laugh and joke their way through this meaningless program.

Wood sits across the stage from Petty and each of them are paired with another contestant to form a team. The rules, which change frequently, have Roberts offering questions to both teams about NASCAR trivia. In the first few months, almost no one got any questions right and the format was quickly changed. Now there are true and false, multiple guess and even video questions to "help" the show along.

On this day from MIS, Roberts introduced yet another new wrinkle. Instead of fans, Petty and Wood would be joined by two "NASCAR type guys." Elton Sawyer is a well-known name in the sport and is currently the Competition Director at Red Bull Racing. Keith Barnwell is also a NASCAR veteran who is currently working as a spotter in the Cup Series. Both were labeled as "NASCAR Fanatics" on the program's graphics.

As usual, the questions being asked were inserted on the screen and the graphics contained a huge logo. That is not by coincidence. The content of the questions centered around MIS and the various events, owners and happenings at the speedway over the years.

All four panelists took their cues from the smiling Mr. Roberts and stared at the TV monitors on the stage to read the questions and see the video footage. In the final segment, Wood and Petty then get to wager any or all of their points on a supposed fan question voted on at Here is the actual question from the MIS show:

In your opinion, did NASCAR's new double-file restart "shootout style" rule at Pocono:

A - Racing more exciting.
B - Less exciting.
C - No change
D - Too early to tell.

Amazingly, Team Rutledge picked A. Amazingly, they were right. As Roberts tallied their points, Team Kyle changed their answer from D to A and were disqualified amid hilarious laughter from all concerned. End of show.

There is a distinct possibility that the laughter did not extend to the TV viewers. The fact that SPEED is trying to keep this program afloat all season long is bad enough. Add-in the fact that it replaced the only opinion-oriented show that featured NASCAR journalists and media types and that makes it a double-whammy.

So, let's talk about NASCAR Smarts on SPEED. Do you watch it or record it? Do you think it has a place on TV or is just an infomercial? Does this show affect how you regard Petty or Wood? Do you miss Tradin' Paint or had that program run its course? Please feel free to add-in any other opinions on this topic.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave your comments.


Anonymous said...

I watched it -once. That was enough. I've caught bits here & there. This is a long infomercial for
Nothing more or less. And its not very good.
I loved Tradin' Paint.

I'm not into game show w/my sports thanks anyway.

I'm not a fan of Pass Time/through/out/ what ever its name is.

Speed bring back Tradin Paint &
If Kyle P doesn't want to do Tradin Paint - how about Tony Stewart? lol

I really need to get another part time job. Thats scary.

The Loose Wheel said...

Love the concept as some of the questions are throwbacks to the mid 90's and even late 80's but the way they have executed it has been a mess to say the least.

Haven't watched since the all-star version and really dont make an effort to do so.

If I had to choose between this, or a TP or Pit Bull type show, I would take option #2.

Someone has to be willing, and able to have a platform to have serious discussion about this sport without it coming across as a biased or almost scripted voice. Raceday has its moments where it tries to throw back with Spencer, or Kenny but the problem is you don't have anyone to refute or counterpoint their argument like you had on these other shows.

I guess NASCAR Smarts isn't THAT bad, if your looking for a lighthearted fun show which I think SPEED felt was necessary given the current climate, but what we lost in turn was just a rough tradeoff. One of the best serious toned shows replaced for a 30 minute joke...

Anonymous said...

I watched about 15 minutes of one episode and was totally disgusted. The only thing they're missing is a chick in a bikini with round # cards. It is filler, stupid filler--as is anything that has the so-called "talent" Rutledge Wood on the show. When you look at the "Beyond the Headsets" quality that NASCAR entertainment CAN produce--like the NFL Films' version of "Inside the NFL"--you wonder why they even bother making this kind of barf. If SPEED wants to build viewership, they need content, not marshmallow fluff.

Karen said...

I've watched it a few times but don't make any effort to tape if I can't.
Silly and a misuse of Kyle's knowledge and talent. He speaks his mind and that's what I liked so much about Tradin' Paint.

Dot said...

I'll watch NS if it's on at a reasonable time. I think last weekend it was on at 6:30A PDT!! I don't DVR it.

I like KP & Rut, just not on this show. David is right about the execution.

KP was great on RD and should be on every week to offer his opinions. Rut could do a segment during RD and go out in the audience and ask a couple of fans questions about NASCAR. If they answer correctly, he could give them a hat or t-shirt.

I prefer shows like NASCAR Performance. I like learning about the technical stuff before a race, not during. irritates me. When the questions were on FOX, you had to go to the website for the answer. Just answer the question on TV. If I want to know more, I'll go to the site. Just try to tear me away from TDP during the race. Only RaceBuddy does that, and only during the commls.

West Coast Diane said...

Never have. Never will. Not interested.

Anonymous said...

It's been hit and miss since the dead TV. When the guys on Justin are still streaming and it's on that's about when I see it.

I did like it when it first started because there were questions that I *didn't* know the answer to so I liked that aspect. But from your description I wouldn't want to watch the "revamped" version. Sounds like they've dumbed it down.

I'd *love* to see TP back. I even enjoyed the Pit Bulls show but they needed more order. Poor Steve did his best but everyone always talked over each other. The late David Poole was a regular on there.

@Dot--LOL! Agreed! Now if Blogger would auto refresh I'd be set! Now I do have to post on another board every so often or the spies will come for an intervention :p.

stricklinfan82 said...

In my opinion Tradin' Paint with Kyle Petty was the best show on Speed Channel.

To me seeing "NASCAR Smarts" on my program guide is the equivalent of seeing "Paid Programming" or "Test Channel".

Three words immediately jump to my mind: no... thank... you.

Charlie said...

I caught a bit of it twice and I changed the channel. I don't have any interest in watching it.

Anonymous said...

I was at the Daytona 500 this February where they auditioned fans for the First Fan involved NASCAR Smarts (the first one being Rut & Kyle's wife opposing Kyle & Mike (from Speed TV). Now this Mike and the Speed "bikini" girls are passing out a 10 question trivia form. I answered 9 out of 10 correct - these questions were multiple choice but pertinent to the sport. I hung around from 9 am til 11:30 am when the final cuts would be made. After a long delay, and having someone save my place at the front of the stage...I was cut - maybe because I was not a US citizen. Did you know all the promos, contests and perks are only open to US residents. But as Cdn. or others, we spend hard earned money plus exchange to support NASCAR races/events and charities. The lady that won had a Jimmie Johnson ball cap on and the young male kid had a Speed TV T-shirt.

So, okay, they just weren't into me! But this backwoods Cdn. got a hard lesson in the real story behind shows. John Roberts took forever to come out due to "hairdue problems" and makeup issues. They changed the kid's ball cap with something more appropriate for pushing their advertiser's interests.

I hung around well past the noon taping that didn't happen til close to 1:30 thereby missing Sprint cup practice. I stuck around to watch John Roberts & contestants "perform spontaneous" question answering skills with their backs to the real live audience. After numerous "cuts" from the producer due to JR's hair issues and filming of the commercial with the "bikini" girls (in racesuits but you get my drift), my dreams were shattered.

Whatever happened to NASCAR being a grassroots, common man sport? Now it is all ratings and money grabbing (ever buy a lousy hotdog at the track?). So I say, NASCAR Smarts???? do they think we are idiots? Okay, I'm Canadian and I am smarter than US 5th grader but even a fake WWF wrestler (Mikey Rourke)would win NASCAR Smarts after winning the Academy Award for acting!

There I've said my piece!

Anonymous said...

TV execs are generally gutless and unwilling to step on the box, so fox' david hill was an exception. lately though hill has been downright goofy on some of this nascar stuff. to be honest, i give darrell waltrip kudos this season for stepping up and making some hard statements -- things that someone on tv needs to make. however nascar apparently has given marching orders to its tv minions to accentuate the positive and not play journalist. fine. but i dont have to watch any of it, and i don't. me, i thought nascar tv was a lot more exciting when we had pit bulls barking and biting.

SallyB said...

Once. Never again. Total waste of time and effort. Embarrassing to Speed....they just don't know it.

Anonymous said...


Deborah said...

I watched it once because Michael Waltrip was on and that's the only reason I'd watch again. I like Kyle Petty but I have much better things to do with my time than watch a silly game show like that.

Cooter said...

NASCAR Smarts is horrible. Rutledge should be relocated to the Disney Channel.

Anonymous said...

one and out for me - total crap
perhaps if they can get digger to host ?

majorshouse said...

I watched NASCAR Smarts one time and it was a joke. Please bring back Trading Paint, because if I missed it the firsst time it aired, I usually caught it the second time around and loved the fireworks that usually insued.

red said...

watched it once and my only comment was "pfffttt." not impressed in the least. it doesn't matter who they use as contestants or host, it still falls flat.

my problem with nascar smarts is that it's not clear what the intent of the program really is: 1/2 hour ad for or . . . well, i've run out of alternate explanations for this show. it just seems like a variety of infomercial for

again, it doesn't matter to me who the host is or who the contestants are: it just falls flat. kyle petty is far more interesting when he gets riled up about our sport and i appreciate his honesty, even if i don't agree with him. he is being wasted on this "show."

for the life of me, i don't understand why we can't have a nascar program that doesn't look to appeal to the "casual fan" and instead focuses on the interests of the dedicated fan. yes, we have nascar performance but it's newest timeslot means i don't get to see it anymore (yes, jd, i know: "red, one word -- dvr!") how about one that focuses on a driver from the earlier years of our sport, one driver per show? how about one that just looks at all aspects of nascar history: drivers, teams, tracks, cars, owners? how about one that spends time with "the rest of the drivers" and features one or two each program? i'd be ineterested in knowing more about some of the current guys who are runing 20-43th each week.

but what do i know? i'm just a dedicated fan of this sport so i'm clearly not in nascar's target demographic. . .

Jonathan said...

I have no problem with the show. I DVR it each week.

I guess I'm in the minority because I love me some Rutledge Wood. I just enjoy his interaction with Kyle. I could care less about the sponsor or if it's a half-hour infomercial for

I usually learn a few things about the track and race that the gang it at each week and Kyle usually has a good story or memory about something back in the day.

The main problem I think everyone else might have with it is that it really has no point other than to advertise for a sponsor and have some fun. If you're looking for some stimulating discussion of all things NASCAR, then it's not for you. If you enjoy light-hearted humor and Rutledge's antics, then you'll probably enjoy the show.

Andrew said...

You know, some days I really dislike not having Speed (especially Fridays).

Other times, like now, I really don't miss it at all. This shows looks rather screwy and it's really bad that they killed Tradin' Paint to put it on.

TexasRaceLady said...

I watched about 5 minutes, felt my brain shriveling, and turned it off.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

I wonder how much they are paying Kyle to do this ridiculous "show". It's obvious he doesn't want to be there and thinks the whole thing is a farce.

I used to look forward to Tradin' Paint w/KP. NASCAR Smarts is, in my opinion, a complete waste of airtime.

Anonymous said...


SPEED must think NASCAR fans are dumber than dumb to have this TRASH on TV!!!

allisong said...

I have nothing against this show, they seem to have a good time with it. I think a lot of the animosity towards it comes from missing what it replaced. But in my opinion, having fun has a place in this sport. Every show doesn't have to be "hard-hitting journalism". You asked, does it change my opinion of Kyle or Rutledge? I assume you mean by seeing them having fun instead of opining on some serious issue? Absolutely not!

As an example, the late, lamented David Poole was beholden to no one and told it like it was on The Morning Drive on SIRIUS every morning. And yet, on Fridays if you were privileged enough to hear him do the "dramatic read", you would be rolling on the floor laughing! In other words, it is OK to have fun.

And speaking of the SPEED stage shows, JD you tweeted a while back about the "Lazy Boy Lounge" segment on Trackside. That has to be the most awkward segment I've ever seen. They've been doing the one-on-one for at least two years now, and I never understood the reason for that in the first place. Do the other panelists need time to check their notes, or what? Anyway, if Lazy Boy wanted to sponsor a segment, why couldn't the marketing geniuses at SPEED hook them up with TWIN? It just does not fit in the Trackside atmosphere, IMO.

Hotaru1787 said...


Anonymous said...

I never knew this show was on until I started reading this site. After reading about the show, I would not take the time to watch the show. I do miss Tradin Paint, it was the best show on SPEED at the track.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Kyle lowered himself to this level. It would be more appropriate to have Rut and Digger on opposite teams - since they both suck.... Although, I should not give SPEED any ideas.

bullitthead said...

Tradin' Paint always found its way onto my DVR as required viewing, especially after The Pit Bulls program was canceled. The only remaining program I am aware of that compares to either of the above is The Pit Reporters on PRN (which I find to be an above average to excellent show every week).

I tuned in to the 1st episode of NS hoping that it might be entertaining enough to be a decent substitute, but I switched channels at the commercial break and have ignored it since. As the old saying goes, "money talks..." and's money must be hollerin' at the top of its lungs for this kind of TV drivel to see the light of day.

Hey give KP & Co. a better SPEED TV program on which to opine than this inane "game show". In return, I'll change the default search engine in my web browser. Deal?

GinaV24 said...

Absolutely not! If I even happen to be channel surfing and find that stupid show, I can't get away from it fast enough. I saw a few minutes of the first show, that was plenty!

A total waste of time and insulting to NASCAR fans. On a similar topic, I forget which track we were visiting and they were doing trivia questions before the race started, they were so absolutely mind numbingly stupid it was insulting. the only way a race fan wouldn't have know the answer to the questions they were asking over the PA system was if they had started following the sport the day before the race. Absolutely pathetic -- right up there with whoever thought NASCAR Smarts was a good idea.

Anonymous said...

I hoped this show would be good, so I watched the first episode. Didn't like it. Caught part of another ep later on, and have avoided it ever since.

I generally like Kyle, and I want to like Rutledge, but this show doesn't help either of them. I just keep thinking that I could be watching Tradin' Paint instead...

Anonymous said...

to answer your question ... NO

Anonymous said...

Re: Nascar Smarts, I'd rather watch the 24 hours of digger.

PammH said...

Watched the first one-ugh. Caught some w/the MAW kid who wanted to be a reporter-okay. Saw the tail end of the last show where Kyle & bud cheated. It's just a goof-off show that I really don't care for.

Unknown said...

Speed TV needs to bring back the "Lost Drive-In"


Vicky D said...

I actually watched a little of this the other day and I prefer 4 Nascar people instead of Kyle Petty with a fan and Rutledge Wood with a fan. That one made no sense to me, however I think they should bring back Tradin' Paint or that other one with the sports writers.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Sorry for the profanity on the site. Appreciate those who brought it to my attention.


Anonymous said...

I guess I'm one of the very few that likes "Smarts". However, I don't tape it. I tried to see if I can answer the questions, before they do on tv. But then again I like game shows. I also liked "Trandin Paint" I wish they would bring that back. Maye alternating the 2 shows.

Anonymous said...

I've watched bits and pieces of "NASCAR Smarts" since its beginning. It does not seem to be a well crafted show and I did not find it very entertaining.

I'm sure it's a fun show for people who like Kyle Petty, Rutledge Wood, and John Roberts. I'm also sure the show's production costs are minuscule.

For TV personalities like Roberts and Wood, the show gives them additional on-camera time and pads their resumes. I still don't understand why Kyle Petty travels the nation to do this 30 minute show, but I hope it's financially beneficial to him.

It's about the crudest racing show I've ever seen and it seems made to appeal to the lowest common denominator of NASCAR fan. Personally, I'd rather watch something more educational and insightful, like a discussion panel of NASCAR journalists and insiders debating critical topics in our sport. Oh..... wait..... that's already been done, hasn't it?

Well, someday someone will get it right. How about more race coverage and insights instead of silly time-wasting TV shows that do not enrich our sport?

RobFromCanada said...

I had the misfortune of watching part of an episode of smarts to watch that...the pain is unbearable.
It was a horrific display of turning back the clock to when the world thought nascar folks were moronic bumpkins.
Speed has some truely excellent programs..this is not one of them..there are other humongous mistakes in speed programming..such as Wrecked....but even thats a quality show compared to nascar smarts.
What i wonderis..are these advertiser commanded shows that speed has no choice in putting on?
Or are the programmers at Speed really that dumb.

jennifer6973 said...

I try to make a point and watch it, I think it's a fun show. Why does everything have to be serious.

I'd love to play the game with Kyle.

I like the show, and even some of the earlier shows, I knew the answers to most of the questions.

BWBarefoot said...

First of all, I'm back! Due to some schedule changes, mostly my return to adult school to take computer courses, I haven't posted at all this year.

Now for my comments about NASCAR Smarts. It is a great concept, but it is done horribly. Even with ample help, a whole lot of questions are missed. And calling two NASCAR team executives merely "fanatics" was very misleading.

I hope is getting its money's worth with the sponsorship of this show. But I doubt it.

As for shows I miss, where do I begin? NBS 24/7, Pit Bull, Drivers 360, bring them all back!

Anonymous said...

Not a terrible idea for a show but the show is terrible. Gave it 3 chances.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said most people didn't like it because Tradin' Paint was gone is right in my mind. It seems like people are missing the point of the show, which to me seems to be to entertain people, which it does, and to sneak a little history in at the same time.

I always watch because they guys on the show make me laugh and I learn a lot. Those questions are really hard some weeks. When you can stump Kyle Petty, to me, that say something.

Almost every show on the this network and many others are sponsored, so that's not a great criticism for people to make. Does that mean Raceday is a 2 hour Home Depot commercial ? Maybe.

In the end, take a deep breath people. TP is gone because it doesn't help anyone to sit around and be negative all the time, which some of the people on here should question in there own lives. NASCAR is a fun sport, and it's only point is to entertain people, and for me, this show does just that.

The studio shows they did for the All Star were the best and they're silly to not do them all that way. Almost every show from the SPEED stage looks the same, so for some people, it probably just looks like a wacky NASCAR Live. Kyle, John and Rutledge all do great on the show though and if some of these people tried to watch for enjoyment, rather than to criticize they might not only learn something, but have a little fun in the process.

If SPEED was truly Smarts :) They'd put Kyle and Rutledge's Ponytail Express on in a 30 min format every weekend and then you'd see how many real fans want to have some fun. Lots of them!