Friday, July 3, 2009

Hall of Fame TV Show Comes In Nick Of Time

There is nothing like the distinctive voice of future NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ken Squier to bring the sport back in focus just in the nick of time.

That is a young Squier on the right, hosting a Thunder Road Speedbowl awards banquet in the early 1960's. Squire, then a local radio station owner, still co-owns that track in Barre, VT. Click on the picture to see it full-size.

At long last, the first full list of names was released detailing the nominees for the new NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was a Thursday night TV special on SPEED that served that purpose.

Produced by the NASCAR Media Group, the program originated from the still-under-construction interior of the Hall. Squier was alone, although briefly visited by Brian France and NASCAR Historian Buzz McKim.

These days, this type of setting is where Squier is at his best. Stripped of the roaring engines and the color announcers, Squier simply talked about the people he knows so well. In his no-nonsense New England style, Squier introduced names and faces that already have a distinguished place in the sport. Soon, that status may change. The Hall of Fame now awaits.

The producers broke the nominees up into several groups presented in chronological order. That overlayed an easy to understand theme for even the most casual fan. Navigating from the early days of the sport to the Darrell Waltrip era was not a simple task. Thankfully, there was something to help with the journey.

Once again, it was the use of historic footage that put the NASCAR Media Group stamp on this program. For veteran fans, it was a chance to celebrate the past and remember the roots of the sport. Younger viewers may have seen NASCAR legends like Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts for the very first time.

Nothing serves to put the current issues of the sport in perspective better than seeing the struggles of those who raced in the past. Long before full-face helmets, soft walls and the COT there was a very different style of racing and a very different breed of driver.

With all of the off-track distractions weighing on the sport right now, this simple one hour show did a very nice job of reminding the TV audience of the real reasons millions of Americans flock to watch NASCAR races.

Nowhere in today's modern culture is there a dynamic sports story of risk and dedication like NASCAR. As Squier said, the element of danger and the courage it took to face new racing challenges for the first time is a very unique slice of American history.

Click here for the page that allows fans to vote for their five nominees from the twenty-five men on the list. This interactive element is a great piece of this new puzzle and points to the fact that Winston Kelly and his Hall of Fame team put this process together with care.

This is a weekend where Jeremy Mayfield is rumored to be headed for Daytona. Goodyear is again struggling with tire issues. The forecast at the track is for thunderstorms. Bill Weber was fired by TNT. Michael Jackson's death is still dominating the cable news networks. An upbeat story is hard to find.

Perhaps, Squier and his Thursday night TV program can serve to redirect the conversations among the teams and fans to which five nominees should make the NASCAR Hall on this first ballot. Talking about the courage, honor and determination of twenty-five distinguished Americans is a very nice way to move gracefully into this holiday weekend.

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 on this special weekend to stop by.

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The Track Girl said...

I loved it. Loved it so much. This is what NASCAR needs to bring people back to our sport.

Dot said...

@ The Track Girl, ditto.

Even though I was irked we missed live practice, I thoroughly enjoyed this show. I love the history of NASCAR. Any fan, hardcore or casual should read the stories from back in the day. Better yet, someone should do a series of NASCAR's past. Hint, hint SPEED.

Karen said...

Very well done. So interesting. I expected nothing less from NMG. Great show.

Karen said...

Bill Weber was fired by TNT? I thought just removed from this session of races, suspended for the last two. You think he's a goner for good? I had a nanosecond of sympathy for him when I saw the show but quickly got over it.

Lou said...

It was a great show. I really enjoyed it very much. Every once and a while something like this is good to watch. there is alot of history in this sport that many do not know of. I wish those who remember, enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I agree! It was a great show :)

@Dot--yup a historical show would be awesome. Allow us to learn about these drivers who helped create the sport and for those who are still with us to be able to hear from them :).

Someone linked me a place to get that DVD that SPEED did several years back where they had Mr. C, the King, DW, the Allison brothers, Mr. Yarborough, Mr. Pearson and others chatting about things but I lost the link in a computer crash before I was able to order. I need to search and see if I can find it but that was an awesome show. They aired it as a stand alone and then used it for rain fill.

Rockin Rich said...

Several comments from someone who has been mostly just reading lately:

► It was a very good presentation. I hope that it is repeated. Knowing Speed, I expect it will.

► One niggling thing that I didn't like was that many of the people doing a brief commentary piece were not identified. I recognized most of them, but would liked to have known who some of the others were. Not a big deal, but for me it did take away from the overall presentation a little bit.

► Karen: I too was surprised by JD's statement about Weber. Hope he follows up with more information.

► Gymmie: There was a set of 4 tapes produced called Stock Car Legends Reunion. I believe it was done for the NASCAR 50 year anniversary back in 1988. I think it was later put on a DVD, but don't know for sure. It has been used by Speed as rain filler. They also have run it as a regular feature before. I expect someone on this blog can tell you how to get it.

► Going forward, I hope that the NASCAR Media Group will be producing some more detailed video pieces on the 25 nominees' histories. I particularly would like to see pieces done on those other than the "usual suspects", (France family, Earnhardt, Petty, etc.) for which a lot of video already exists.

That's it for now for Rockin Rich On The Radio!

red said...

as we all know, i have a myriad of complaints about nascar as an organization! but THE number one complaint is that the organization seems to have lost respect for its history and does precious little to honor and celebrate the men and women who lay the foundation of our sport.

last night was the exception that proves the rule and was bittersweet. the depth and variety of stories that even this sole effort brought forth was wonderful and the production quality was, as expected from NMG, solid, professional and top quality.

but it only made me angry that such a show can be produced -- that the footage exists, that there are people who were part of the early years who have stories to tell and that there's always so many amazing stories -- and yet, we get nascar smarts and two hour pre-race shows that can only manage one piece of nascar history.

if nascar wants to bring fans into the sport, they need to celebrate the history -- and NOT just with a HOF effort. i've said it before: get these men and women on film before they're gone. film the story of the sport as told by those who created it. we've already lost so many of the pioneers: this program last night highlighted that.

jd: any word on a re-run broadcast?

Mary said...

Great show - very very difficult to choose only 5 from the nominees....

Rockin Rich said...

Follow On To My 1st Post:

Red, Gymmie, and others: Find the Reunion DVD/Tapes. There are several people on that tape that are now gone from us. An excellent example of what Red is saying about capturing them and their stories before it's too late.

TexasRaceLady said...

I absolutely loved the show. To see the living history was just wonderful.

@red, yes it ticks me off that our sport has a rich history, but can't seem to get it out to the public.

Come on, NMG, give us our history. New fans need to know. It needs to be shared.

On a personal note, deciding my 5 for the Hall is going to be tough.

Anonymous said...

hi i found imformation for the stock car legends reunion show
the website is sport union-gabriel communications the cost for 4 vol dvd set $79.85 or call 1-800-820-5405
i watched bits and pieces of the show when aired on speeed. great stories and funny ones too told by the people there.

Vicky D said...

I didn't realize Weber was fired from TNT. Maybe he can get a job on "Bowling For Dollars"! We missed the HOF because I thought it would just be like any other award show. It will probably be replayed sometime during the week most likely 2 AM. Busy weekend for racing but I hope everyone has a safe holiday. Happy Birthday America!

Daly Planet Editor said...

My only comment about Weber being fired from TNT was in reference to this season.

TNT has not released any details about 2010, but I think chances are slim that we will see the same broadcast team next year.


Anonymous said...

Wow..all I read was he was removed from the remaining broadcasts, fired would be a major move.

glenc1 said...

I enjoyed the show...the only real surprise for me was Richie Evans, very pleasantly surprised to see them honor the modifieds and his incredible success there. Ken Squier was in an appropriate setting for him (and I agree some day he will be in there too.) You know, I didn't notice the lack of name 'subtitles' because I knew who they were, but Rich is right, that was a big oversight. Maybe they didn't want to confuse people since they were flashing up the nominees names?

Btw, there were other specials when NASCAR had its anniversary in 1998; if I remember right ESPN(?) had a 5 hour special tracing NASCAR's history. I remember Tim Flock telling the story about hitting the seagull & it was hysterical; I think that was where I saw it. I'm guessing it's available on DVD as well. The IMAX theatre special was good as well. It was much better programming than the Hollywood special, one of the most ridiculous things ever filmed (anyone remember 'We Are Family'?) But if you're looking for more history, there is some out there. Also there was a new one last year I think on SPEED. The History channel even had a show on Moonshiners that featured Junior Johnson and the ties to racing. I'm thinking now I watch too much TV, lol.

Newracefan said...

Several names were new for me and I very much enjoyed the history lesson, am planning on watching it again.

On a side note I won 1 of those 8x8 bricks now if I could just figure out what to put on it :)

Karen said...

The History channel even had a show on Moonshiners that featured Junior Johnson and the ties to racing. I'm thinking now I watch too much TV, lol.

Glen, I saw that special and I knew that Junior Johnson had to be on there. It was really good. And ditto on watching too much TV.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that was a great show but it was also a sad show for me. Alot of the cars that were featured I remember seeing at the track. I remember as far back as Iggy Katona at Flat Rock. I scored Neil "Soapy" Castles at the '67 Nashville 420. The sadness is because it means I am freakin old!!!

Frank in Sebring.

Lou said...

I can remember last year or so when the history channel ran the series. I remember watching that show many times on Junior many times.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for the live coverage of Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series qualifying.


Anonymous said...

@anon 10AM--thanks for the info! I'll definitely be ordering this :)

Yes I remember that Moonshine show :)

Anonymous said...

The Ride of Their Lives movie that was on cmt is a very good look at the history of the sport and is very moving, I think its on dvd now