Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Ponytail Express Is Ready To Roll


There is little doubt that Kyle Petty is ready for the upcoming season of NASCAR on TNT. Freed from the day-to-day chaos of Petty Enterprises, Kyle has been limited on TV this season to a silly trivia show on SPEED.

Last week, Petty filled-in for Jimmy Spencer on RaceDay. Petty kept his cool and had fun on the two-hour show until the topic of the recent NASCAR driver and owners meeting arose. Then, Petty took a deep breath and just laid out NASCAR's senior management live on national TV.

Reminding NASCAR that he was a third generation participant, Petty said NASCAR normally pays only "lip service" to the competitors and better follow through on the ideas raised in the meeting. When Petty was done, the looks on the faces of host John Roberts and fellow panelist Kenny Wallace were priceless.

Petty recently wrapped-up another successful charity motorcycle ride. This time, in addition to raising money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina, Petty and his wife broke ground for a second camp in the Greater Kansas City area. Petty captured the interaction of the riders with NASCAR fans along the way and posted his photos online for all to see.

Now, Petty is embarking on another effort that should raise some eyebrows in the normally structured NASCAR TV world. At Petty's suggestion, he is going to be traveling to the six TNT races on his motorcycle. As you can see in the picture above, he recently added a sidecar for a passenger. That passenger will be SPEED's Rutledge Wood.

What Petty found on his most recent motorcycle ride is something many high-profile NASCAR TV types have forgotten. The survival of this sport depends on people who live outside of the Greater Charlotte area. It depends on folks whose only relationship with GM is a monthly car payment. It depends on those who have never flown on a private jet and are still saving-up for a High Definition TV.

Sticking Rutledge in the sidecar and taking-off to see real American NASCAR fans over a six race stretch is something we would never see from Fox or ESPN. Thankfully, Petty does not have the "Fox Sports attitude" and his wardrobe does not contain enough neckties to get him through even one NASCAR on ESPN weekend.

Dubbed "The Ponytail Express," the journey will be relayed in text and photos on Twitter directly from Wood and Petty. Video from several "lipstick cams" on the sidecar will be sent to NASCAR.com for posting. TNT will also use some of the video during the Sprint Cup Series pre-race shows to update fans on the trip.

Make no mistake about it, there are no chase vehicles or support staff on this journey. There are no helicopters or police escorts. This is just a 49 year-old man with a ponytail and his sidekick driving to six NASCAR races to experience reality outside of the "NASCAR bubble."

If there was ever a time when NASCAR needed a good swift kick in the rear, this is it. If that can be delivered by a couple of maniacs on a motorcycle with a video camera and a GPS then more power to them. It's about time some TV personalities stepped out into the world and made the statement that NASCAR is about the fans.

We fully expect that YouTube, NASCAR.com, Twitter and even CNN.com's iReports will soon be sprinkled with rather interesting video footage. Plenty of NASCAR fans will no doubt bump into this duo going from race to race. Michigan to California and then back to New Hampshire all in 12 travel days during the middle of the TNT stretch should certainly prove to be interesting.

As the memories of Digger begin to fade and before the suit-and-tie Connecticut crowd arrives, it might make for some fun this summer to keep up with "The Ponytail Express" as these two guys put their money where their mouth is and hit the road.

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

30 comments:

Photojosh said...

And this is just one more reason why Kyle Petty is at the top of my list of NASCAR favorites.

Plus, I have to give more props to TNT. Sure, they give us endless promos for Bill Engvall's show, but I could live with that to get all the good stuff they are throwing our way.

Anonymous said...

This has the potential to be really interesting or really awful. I doubt there will be much in-between. I am hoping for the former and expecting the latter. To me, Rutledge is a big question mark that could see a bunch of interesting Kyle Petty-hosted segments devolve into dumb gags. We'll see.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon, we have been asking SPEED to let Rutledge try some real reporting and this might be his chance.

Rutledge and Petty get along great. This experience might turn out to be a great idea by Kyle.

JD

cvt said...

Rutledge, remember David Bloom? You're a big dude and sitting in that sidecar for long stretches won't be great on the circulation in your legs.Think DVT. Get out and stretch frequently along the way.

I'm looking forward to your reports.

Be safe.

Haus14 said...

Are they literally driving from track to track or will they be dropped off some where and do a few hundred miles on the bike?

It is quite a drive from Sonoma to Loudon.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Is that a DVT from cvt? I am sure there will be plenty of gas stations and lunch breaks along the way.

Haus, talked to the TNT guys today. The two will be driving, but they will visit a place or two along the way that has been arranged in advance.

That will allow a camera crew to be there and put a feature together. If you have any interesting locations along the routes, let me know.

This was Kyle's idea, never been done before and we will all see how it goes.

My feeling is a lot of folks might just show up to ride or have lunch or say hi. Kyle had a locator on his Twitter phone, and I have a feeling TNT will figure out with NASCAR.com to publish the location of the road trippers.

JD

Ritchie said...

It has been well documented what Kyle Petty has done for the community, and what the Petty's have done for NASCAR. For that, we should all be grateful. What I am about to complain about is not associated with Kyle the citizen. My complaint is about certain aspects of Kyle the NASCAR personality/spokesman.

Kyle in the past has been one of the NASCAR personalities who enjoyed preaching to the fans, telling them how they should feel about things. I have seen him in interviews during the recent expansion of NASCAR to other tracks telling fans that NASCAR had to close down tracks and expand into other larger markets, and then during the interview tell the fans to accept it and get over it.

What is my point? My point is that its OK if he thumbs his nose at NASCAR, and the racing establishment. It is not OK to tell fans how to feel about NASCAR. As we have seen this year, the fans are collectively in charge of the product he is making money off of. Hopefully we will find that his time off from racing has allowed him to see that.

Gymmie said...

I can't wait! It's going to be awesome! I loved the Tweets about the charity ride. It was great getting 140 characters at a time on his journey and getting pictures. It was also fun to hear from Montgomery Lee :)

glenc1 said...

this alone is worth finally signing up twitter. And JD, I laughed reading your description of 'two maniacs on a motorcycle' and the rest of it is one of the best blogs you've written. As one of those fans saving up for the hi-def, I salute you!

I'd love it if they stop somewhere close enough to me; I would drive aways to go see them.

SonicAD said...

Being in the Detroit area now I hope I can meet these guys on their way to MIS, since I'm not gonna be able to go to the race!

Karen said...

I really enjoyed the charity ride and followed it on Twitter and on Kyle's website. I read all the notes from the day, looked at the photos and played the video. I just now realized they'd be in Florida so maybe I can catch them somewhere. I say give Rutledge a chance. He seems like a great guy. Good NASCAR PR if you ask me.

Dot said...

Is there an itinerary? I'd like to know the route.

I like the name, The Ponytail Express. Cute.

Newracefan said...

When I first heard about this I was not impressed at all but now that JD has explained it I have changed my mind and can't wait to see to the Tweets and segements on TNT. This could be fun, just don't let Rutledge be too much of a goofball.

darbar said...

JD, do you know if the annual Petty motorcycle ride will be on TV anytime? I know Speed did a special on the ride two years ago and it was a great show.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I will get in touch with the TNT and NASCAR.com guys to see if there is going to be something posted about their routes.

In the meantime, if you live between North Carolina and Pocono, be on the look out for two TV suspicious suspects on a motorcycle.

Please feel free to send pics of any sightings to editor@thedalyplanet.tv anytime.

Suspect information includes a very loud stereo blaring country music and the overpowering smell of men's hair products.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Here is the latest directly from Kyle on Twitter:

"Bike packed, camera mounts bolted in place, fueled and ready to go. Departure time 4am. See you along the road..."

If you would like to sign-up for Twitter, just click on the link on my mainpage. It is free, no hassle and you choose to follow the updates of anyone on the big list.

If you need help or advice with this, just drop me a line at editor@thedalyplanet.tv anytime.

JD

Jack from PA said...

I agree with glenc1, that this is one of the best-written blogs I've read from you, JD. Well done.

When I first read about this, I only read the headline because I found it to be foolish. Now that you've mapped out exactly what is going to be done, it sounds like a pretty cool idea. Whether or not it's a hit is anyone's guess. I love Kyle in the booth, and I hate to say I missed his rant on NASCAR on RaceDay this past weekend. He usually has a "tell it like it is" attitude, and maybe he'll make some good points during TNT's six races.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the "Ponytail Express" and in particular Rutledge. Sometimes on the various SPEED shows he just looks out of place, so maybe he will be able to do some somewhat serious reporting and we'll see what he's made of.

Sophia said...

This should be fun to follow.

I also TOTALLY enjoyed Kyle's pictures from the charity ride. Some great fan interaction.

Go Kyle, go Rutledge! too bad no races in Cincy area or I would take them cookies :)

Anonymous said...

John

I remember back in the early 90's that ESPN used Kyle as a pit reporter for the Busch series. Oh, for the good old days............

He was GREAT

GinaV24 said...

Well, this could be very interesting, it's certainly a more unique way of connecting with the fans than other networks and NASCAR have tried. I have to agree with Richie's post -- I appreciate what Kyle has done for charity and that he is a 3rd generation NASCAR participant, but his preaching had rubbed me the wrong way as well. There were several times when I was listening to him tell the fans what they ought to think and it truly turned me off. The final straw was when John Roberts asked him whether the fans should have more say in running NASCAR (this was just before Martinsville last fall) and his answer was "no, we don't want the lunatics running the show". Since that show, I've made a specific effort to NOT watch or listen to anything that Kyle is associated with -- maybe he is changing his tune now that he's on the outside looking in. I'll give this Ponytail Express a look see and see if perhaps Kyle's perspective on NASCAR fans has changed, but he is going to need to convince me pretty quickly. Plus, Rutledge will need to do something other than that crazy crap or I will rapidly tune out.

Vicky D said...

That contraption looks a little uncomfortable and by the end of the TNT schedule, Kyle & Rutledge will think so too. But let's give them an attaboy to see if this will work out and I look forward to seeing the real Nascar fans - not those with those stupid signs and screaming behind the stage on Raceday.

Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting to see if Kyle continues to speak his mind or if he gets hamstrung by TNT and NASCAR.

As to Rutledge, every straight man needs a clown.

Anonymous said...

While I'm sure Rutledge is a nice guy, I've constantly wondered what value he adds to the shows on which he appears. His segments are generally just silly and uninformative.

Love it that Kyle has the stones to call out NASCAR management. Because I can only take so much of Kenny Wallace's mouth, I missed what Kyle said on Race Day. Bummer.

Mary
Richmond, VA

Aven said...

The motorcycle idea has the potential to bring in some very interesting fans and non-fans. I have ridden a motorcycle for several decades. I talk to people that are interesting almost every time I stop. People seem to talk more easily to a guy on a motorcycle than they do with people using other forms of transportation. The sidecar will attract more attention than a typical Harley alone would. It will be interesting to see how they handle rain while they are traveling. I hope they are not wimps who have a cover for the sidecar.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I live only 3 miles from I83 between Baltimore, MD, and Harrisburg, PA. Wish I knew if they'll be coming along that Interstate.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Once again I would encourage NASCAR fans to sign-up for Twitter.

Just add @TheDalyPlanet, @KylePetty and @RutledgeWood to keep track of the tour.

Lots of other good addresses by searching the word NASCAR on Twitter.

JD

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm just too computer illiterate. I checked Twitter this morning, and again now, John, with your encouragement. Unfortunately, I can't see that it shows the planned route. I did read Kyle's remark about "Rain. Winchester to Carlisle." The only Winchester I know is in Virginia, and Carlisle, PA is way above me (and it's raining here at the PA state line), so it looks to me as if I'm too late even if he did come up I83. He must be nearly to Pocono; I wish him a safe ride, especially in the rain.
Thanks, John, for all you do; I always read your blog.

Anonymous said...

Kyle Petty is the best. He knows the sport, is a class act and getting back to the folks who pay the bills for the sport is the best way to wake up NASCAR
Go Kyle. Thank you for all you do.

Ken-Michigan said...

OK , I'll be the first to say it I guess.

I find zero enjoyment in this from a TV standpoint.

Neither of these guys do anything for me with a microphone or a camera in front of them.

Anonymous said...

How do you join in on the ride?