Thursday, August 27, 2009

Last Deep Breath For NASCAR TV Crowd


It doesn't seem like all that long ago we were looking forward to the Fox coverage of the Daytona 500 and the first edition of RaceDay on SPEED.

Most of the NASCAR TV gang takes their last deep breath this weekend before the run to the finish line in Homestead. SPEED's truck series crew heads to Chicago for a one-day show while ESPN sends the "B team" to Montreal for a Nationwide Series event.

At this point in the season, the NASCAR TV trail has left Digger, Chris Myers and the Hollywood Hotel far behind. It has welcomed the Twittering Kyle Petty to the broadcast booth and made "shootout style" the two most hated words in the NASCAR vocabulary.

Over in the TV studio, Nicole Manske has held her own, Mike Massaro has made himself at home and Chad Knaus has emerged as the perfect foil for the outspoken Mr. Waltrip.

Meanwhile, John Roberts, Steve Byrnes and Larry McReynolds continue their on-air battle to see who really is the hardest working man in NASCAR TV. At this point of the season McReynolds continues to work as an analyst in the booth for SPEED, as the host of NASCAR Performance and as a panel member on Trackside. He seems to be leading the race.

Memories of the Bill Weber for Ralph Sheheen swap have faded, with Sheheen still being seen once and a while on The SPEED Report. Weber, not so much. The lingering TNT memory is the versatile RaceBuddy that once again showed just how much better racing can be with a live online presence.

Krista Voda has quietly moved through her roles as a NASCAR on Fox pit reporter, the truck series pre-race host and a co-anchor on the revamped SPEED Report. Last week, she even guest hosted Wind Tunnel. Is there anything she can't do where TV is concerned?

Surprise of the season has to be Adam Alexander. Solid as a truck series pit reporter, he has built the Sunday NASCAR in a Hurry show into a neat little package. Top it off with his strong performance on The SPEED Report and Alexander is having an outstanding year.

If you find "buttoned up" in the dictionary, there is probably going to be a picture of Allen Bestwick. This Red Sox loving Rhode Island native worked himself up from an ESPN pit reporter to once again stake his claim as a major NASCAR TV presence. On both NASCAR Now and when hosting live races from the Infield Pit Studio, Bestwick has just the kind of controlling but friendly presence that is often needed.

Speaking of control, Randy LaJoie this season has been fun both on the ESPN races and as a panelist on NASCAR Now. LaJoie made the combination of Rusty Wallace and Marty Reid work on the Nationwide Series telecasts. LaJoie continually kept Wallace loose and laughing by giving him on-air grief about the driving exploits of his son Steven. Unfortunately, LaJoie will not be in Montreal as Andy Petree will make that trip.

Fans may remember that last season around this time a lot of things began to happen. Once college and pro football began, the post-race press conferences left ESPNEWS. The Nationwide Series pre-race shows often disappeared and sometimes only a good open field tackle allowed a college football game to end just in time for the green flag. Let's hope the ESPN programming folks have a little more mercy on NASCAR fans this season.

If there is something that has grabbed your attention, either good or bad, about this NASCAR TV season feel free to tell us about it. Once things get back underway, there is going to be nothing but a media sprint to the finish line. Thanks for hanging in this season with us and sharing your views on this huge sports TV package.

To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

J.D.,

Any one heard or has there been any word on what ever happen to Bill Weber? Will he ever return to T.V. broadcasting? This event has been buried very deep.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Bill does some work for other TV networks, but there has been no comment from TNT on whether or not he will return for 2010.

Jessica said...

I for one hope they bring "Digger" back. I have a 7 year old and a 4 year old, and we waited in line at Dover in the Spring for Digger gear at "his" trailer. Hopefully now I have two future NASCAR fans, who got their start because of Digger.

In fact when TNT had Wally Dallenbach superimposed into the race for his feature, my 4 year old son said "Daddy, I like Digger much better than Wally". At least he pays attention.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps your column might have been titled, "The Twilight's Last Gleaming". Despite AB, Randy and Rusty, when he's with Randy, and Brad, ESPN is taking the viewer to the stygian depths of Dante's view of television.

No. Not Joe Dante. Read a book. :P

JD's recent columns, taken as a whole, have been right on. The big picture of "NASCAR on TV" is spiraling to earth like a stone. It will be interesting to view the pieces once the season is over.

Adam said...

Just Ralph Sheheen has been a positive to what little NASCAR I have watched this season.

Overall, the season has been a train wreck to say the least.

All networks need to look at TNT and Vs. when covering auto racing.

Richard in N.C. said...

What most grabbed my attention is how very important TDP is to dealing with NASCAR on TV - and how very unique TDP, and the majority of its posters, are on the sports blog landscape. Thank you JD.

Jonathan from the SouthSide Of Chicago said...

I love Randy Lajoie hes been funny! Also Ralph S fit into the TNT Booth Perfect. My thoughts on Bill Weber is I dont think he was digging Kyle Petty cause the first race on TNT I recall Petty sorta messing up and Bill hated it. Before going to one the brakes Bill said "This is going to be a long 6 weeks" and I picked up on it again the next couple races as well. Just my 2 cents on that, did anyone else pick up on this? As soon as I heard about it I put 2 and 2 together and thought maybe thats why Bill was sick of having to broadcast w K P????

Jim said...

Is Michael Waltrip outspoken?
Not by anyone I can think of!

clownboy said...

JD - I agree that RaceBuddy '09 was the single best thing to come across the NASCAR TV landscape. I know not many of you multi-task to that level, but for those of us who do, it was nothing short of fantastic!

Kudos to TNT for spending the $ to make it happen, and to Jim Noble for making it fun AND informative. Can't wait for RB next year - other networks, take note!

glenc1 said...

Jonathan...I think you're reading a lot into that. JMHO. I think it was exactly what we heard earlier...Bill threw a hissy fit about something at the hotel and was unprofessional enough to get suspended (perhaps fired...)

BTW...Ralph Shaheen is the best 'surprise' of the season, if you can call it that (he has always been good). But...has anyone noticed the Kellogg's mini wheats ad where the kids are going back to school with the minis on their shoulders? I swear that crossing guard mini wheat sounds just like Ralph...lol.

LaJoie was good...I thought so when he did either a truck or NW race once many years ago when they were shorthanded (one of those weeks when they're all stand alones.) I'm glad he's back.

I certainly don't miss Digger, especially at any time *during* the race. And I'm to the point where I mostly skip prerace--at least until the Chase; there really aren't many new stories to tell (unless silly season heats up.) But we could always use more Bestwick. It's funny, I always think I don't need to watch 'Hurry' but end up watching it a lot anyways. I think if I hadn't been watching all week, it would be an excellent way to catch up.

GinaV24 said...

I can live without Digger being so "front and center" at Fox and I'd like a little more professionalism from DW in particular and not so much cheerleading for "his" favorite driver or team. DW, it's NOT about you.

TNT, once Weber was out of the booth, was my favorite of the broadcast networks for NASCAR this season. Weber can stay gone and that will be fine with me. Between Kyle, Ralph, Larry and RaceBuddy, I got a really great look at the racing that was going on. Oh, yeah and they had someone directing the cameras who got it!! They showed the race! Amazing!

Then we've got ESPN -- oh dear, what a letdown for the end of the season. Someone needs to take a deep breath all right and make a decision that makes sense for the TV viewers. As a fan, I've taken enough of them in dealing with the absolutely horrendous coverage that ESPN has provided during its race broadcasts, both Nationwide and Cup. The good news for me is that I'll be at 5 of these last races so I won't HAVE to watch it on ESPN/ABC. I can actually SEE the race. Yahoo.

And thanks, JD, for giving the TV watching NASCAR fans a place to talk about the issues and talk to one another with a great moderator. No bashing here, just fans talking - it's great and maybe, just maybe, NASCAR and the others will listen.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Jessica. You obviously are an employee of FOX, or married to David Hill. If your kids watch the races only for Digger, then obviously they'll never grow up to be Race fans. Digger will be remembered as the most hated entity since a corporal in the German army in 1939.

MRM4 said...

How came up with the title "shootout style" for the double-file restarts? Was it NASCAR, the networks, or somewhere else? I think that's overkill by whoever came up with it. It's just double-file restarts.

GramaFan said...

Am I the only fan who cannot tolerate the "YAPPER",Kenny Wallace. He is the master of words "I" and "ME". Me and him would never get to be "friends". YUP, everyone is his friend - well, except ME. Am a very old GramaFan of racing but he acts like the "Clown Prince" of 1960's racing in USAC.

Anonymous said...

I'm with GramaFan in that Kenny Wallace gets on my last nerve. And Jimmy Spencer is right up there with Kenny too. We need less air time for them and more for Wendy and Hermie.

Keep Weber wherever they're hiding him and let Ralph continue to do the race broadcasts. I actually enjoyed TNT because of the change.

Mary
Richmond, VA

Anonymous said...

MRM4...A few weeks ago Kenny Wallace Twittered that NASCAR sent out a memo telling the media they *had* to call it that...

Zieke said...

What a treat getting your pic taken w/ Miss Sprint Cup. I'd pay for a race ticket for the priviledge. The COT racing, not so sure. "Shoot-out style" and Digger should go the same route. Their welcome has long been worn out. I agree that cartoons are great for little kids, but not to connect w/racing. Have'nt seen many 'toons in the NFL, & look how successful they are.

Anonymous said...

JD -

I believe that sometime in the past you identified the woman in the picture and gave a little information about her. I have been seeing attractive women like her in visible postitons at motorsports events since the days of Linda Vaughn. I like attractive women, but it has always seemed strange to me just to have someone like that standing around for the camera.

In all my years of following racing, I can recall few if any who actually had to speak as part of her duties. I was wondering if you know if the current Sprint Cup representative ever has to speak on behalf of NASCAR or Sprint or anyone else. I have seen her smiling face many times, but I can't ever recall her speaking.

Just curious

David said...

Shootout Style is a Larry Mac-ism. He called it that over and over and over, FOX really pushed for the change then from what I can remember (someone jump in if I'm off base) NASCAR mandated to the networks that the restart procedure to be called Shootout Style so people dont confuse it with a restart. I personally think calling it a restart is just fine.

FOX had their good and bad moments this year, Digger was something I could do without though I appreciate Jessica posting in support. Differing viewpoints make this place fun.

TNT had a slam dunk this season after the Weber change. Great to see Ralph get his shot at long last doing a few Cup races in the booth. Thought he did very very well and is a guy I love hearing from, and with TNT's amount of races, his tone and personality fits the short schedule.

ESPN, ugh. Just one big epic fail this season for them. AB has done great, Petree and DJ have regressed in recent weeks, hopefully with AP in the booth with Marty we might get the best out of him instead of what JP got out of him at the Glen a few weeks back.

Smiff_99 said...

Jessica @ 10:31pm.......if your kids like digger, it doesn't necessarily mean they're gonna be fans. It just means they're typical kids: they like goofy animated critters.

The problem is roughly 99% of the audience is OVER the age of 7.

When I tune in to a race broadcast, I just want to see coverage on racing.

I don't need to be subjected to a 3 minute cartoon of a bunch of obnoxious gophers, nevermind a dancing gopher EVERY TIME the broadcast returns from commercial.

I didn't intend this post to come across as condescending or mean, so if it does--I apologize.

But seriously......Digger has NO place in a NASCAR broadcast.

If they want to turn it into a legitimate 30 min show and run it on fox on Saturday mornings....FINE.

But don't force fans to sit through useless crap just so David Hill can pander to the 'under 10' crowd.

NASCAR doesn't really need new young fans as much as it needs to earn back the respect and following of the millions of fans who have turned their back on the sport in recent years.

Anybody agree with me or am I just talkin' outta my butt?

Anonymous said...

anon 10:48, I believe that's Anne Marie Rhodes, but the other one, Monica Palumbo, is the main one...if you google her, you'll find a NASCAR.com article where she explains what she does at the races.

GinaV24 said...

Right on, Smiff! I think you said it well -- Fox could make a Digger cartoon, link it to NASCAR commercials and show it on Saturday for the kids. That would be fine for me, too, but as a race fan, I'm over 10 and I really prefer NOT to see the dancing gopher. Still keep hoping a race car will run over him when he pops up!

Anonymous said...

We need less of Rusty and Sally. Just show the race and make us all happy,we don't need to listen to a bunch of hollywood hopfuls

Dannyboy said...

Once again JD, THANKS FOR THIS FORUM!!!

I have little time to invest in blog posts as I'm a small business owner and we're not participating in any economic slowdown - Thank God! But this column and its info and insights have been invaluable to me as a fan. Hopefully the voices raised here will be heard at the ivory towers of TV land. Not likely to make all that much difference, knowing what I do about the TV biz. They do what they do.

Meanwhile, there have been quite a few positives in this season of negatives: #1) I have enjoyed Randy Lajoie since his guest appearances on Inside Winston Cup in the 90s. He brings a very down to earth outlook on all this stuff. In case anyone didn't know, he builds custom race seats for many NASCAR teams. #2) I dislike almost nobody on the NASCAR TV scene. While some bug me more than others, to each his own.

I just wish someone could figure out what happened to Jerry Punch and fix it. He used to be a staple of NASCAR TV and was a voice I'd listen to over many others. Now, he's virtually a "nothing". Sigh.

ESPN has become a major sore point with lots of fans of all sports. I hope someone can come up with an alternative that will give them the kick in the pants they need and force them back to reality.

hotaru-raganbaby_6 said...

Boy this year has been random- FOX got on my nerves, for obvious reasons. TNT- not so much once they got rid of Weber. And as for ESPN... I can't say it in a family friendly way.

BTW- Digger should hold NO place anywhere. Besides, FOX cancelled their Saturday morning lineup, and replaced it with... infomercials.

bevo said...

The biggest development (or lack of actually) for me this season has been the absence of HotPass. Before this season I could watch the regular broadcast long enough to get annoyed then enjoy the rest of the race on HotPass wih people like Rick Allen, Randy Pemberton and even Larry Mac doing the play by play. I got more information on the whole race watching one driver's channel than the Fox or ESPN coverage.

I really don't know if I'll be able to last through the rest of the season with ESPN. I might have to use the radio exclusively for race coverage.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully now I have two future NASCAR fans, who got their start because of Digger.

I doubt it. You have two plush animal fans who like Digger.

That's the problem with using the character as a draw to NASCAR: You don't have to like watching racing one bit to be a Digger fan.

TexasRaceLady said...

The one thing that grabbed my attention in a great way --- how wonderful it was to watch the TNT races with Shaheen, Petty, and Dallenbach. Outstanding work.

The one thing that has grabbed my attention in a bad way --- how bad the ESPN camera continues to be.

ROTFL at word veri -- grabl
How about that for word association

Anonymous said...

@ Smiff99, I agree with you about Digger. Back in 1996 my 5 yr old daughter didn't need Digger to start liking racing.

I wonder if NASCAR and David Hill use the same focus groups for research.

Dot @ work

Anonymous said...

While "Digger" is not a favorite around the house, It's not a deal buster for me and the Fox coverage.

I think Fox brings energy and some real excitement to the event. The guys "seem" like they really enjoy the races and want us to feel the same. I can put up with some antics, I just ignore digger popping up and move on.

Fox is not afraid to promote the broadcast coverage across their other broadcast entities, I've seen commercials for this weeks race on Fox News. FX, etc.

For those REALLY bothered by Digger,

Just google "Fox Robot" and be grateful that this blog is family oriented.

Dave in Milwaukee

glenc1 said...

to be honest, I think the way to get your kids into racing is to *take them* to a race. Not talking about a $90 NASCAR ticket, just head down to your local track. Lots of them have family packs and/or promotions, coupons, etc. It's actually quite cheap compared to some things, like video system games....

Anonymous said...

The NASCAR Nationwide Series finally gets some televised coverage with biased (are you reading this Rusty) coverage and you the TV Executives continue to fiddle with it? Point taken, the dismissal of Bill Weber for more of Rusty? No team owner should be allowed to cover any series he has kin (although Rusty is embarrassed to have Steven in his immediate family versus the fictious Lauren)! Fortune 500 companies, corporations are finally acknowledging that they are going to get more return on their investment versus the Sprint cup series where they shell out over $250,000.00 per race versus average $75,000.00 per race and you the TV Execs want to fiddle with the little coverage the Kyle Busch (oops Nationwide)series? Why?

P.R

darbar said...

I held Ricky Craven, in his role on Nascar Now, in fairly high esteem until I read an article written by him, sounding as if he had started drinking the Nascar kool aid. I cannot believe he was touting the absolutely great racing this season, and said how this car has made the cream of great drivers rise to the top. What races is he watching? And why did he not point out that five drivers in the top 10 are driving Hendrick cars---and are part of the whole big money Hendrick system? After reading his comments, I will be viewing Craven quite differently.

Nicole Manske has improved, somewhat. But her huge mistake of wearing a way too short skirt, along with shoes that can politely be called "pumps worn by those who charge by the hour", while interviewing the President of the United States, was a big mistake. Like I heard someone say, you wouldn't see Helen Thomas in her very early years, or Andrea Mitchell wearing stuff like that.

While many people have their "Bucket List", I have what I call my "Dump List"----things that I would like to see gone. Here's the Nascar part of that list:

ESPN---break your contract with Nascar and let TNT take over

Digger---if this is the way to attract fans, well, it hasn't attracted this fan

High Tech Stuff---no more bumper cams, tech centers, in car cams and all the rest

Punch, R. Wallace, Spake, Little--they are either out of their element, clueless, ignorant of the sport or all of the above

The COT and Chase---we all know why these are on the dump list

Anonymous said...

Point taken, the dismissal of Bill Weber for more of Rusty?

Weber worked for TNT/NBC.
Rusty works for ESPN.

Two different companies. No connection.

Anonymous said...

MRM4...A few weeks ago Kenny Wallace Twittered that NASCAR sent out a memo telling the media they *had* to call it that...

Kenny's tweet notwithstanding, it was a request.

NASCAR cannot tell the networks what to say on their air. This was not negotiated into any contract.

Dannyboy said...

DARBAR:

I too thought Manske's skirt was inappropriately short for a Presidential interview, but we obviously elected a different kind of president this past November. Most earlier administrations would've nixed such attire beforehand.

And anyway, you don't REALLY mean anyone would have WANTED to see Helen Thomas or Andrea Mitchell in a mini & spikes, even in their younger years, do you? Puh-leeze!

And it seems to me when I myself was a youngster, I can recall only one or two drivers (#43 or 21 sound familiar?) winning EVERY race. By multiple LAPS in many cases.

Craven's OK in my book. Ask most drivers and they'll volunteer that they're enjoying the racing this year.

P.S. as for on-air talent not mentioning problems like start-and-park, have a look at the Little League World Series: the ghost of Eric Gregg is calling a 2-foot-wide strike zone! It's embarrassing how bad it is, yet Orel Hershiser & company have barely questioned any calls. ESPN needs the programming and Little League needs the big TV money. It's the same in ALL the sports - you just don't get any serious criticism of blatant problems any more, so don't expect NASCAR to be any different.

GramaFan said...

Sometimes I think I lived thru the "great" days of auto racing when it was racing. We had no TV coverage, per se - I remember the night the team we worked with hurried back to our house to watch the local news since they had won. Racing was never mentioned so I wrote to the Lancaster, PA newspaper and the TV station. Got little response tho the newspaper did carry a few after I told them who was at the house reading and watching. Thus, be thankful for the poor reporting now. Another "cute" note here - we had stopped at a diner - had on Fike Plumbing shirts I made and people there thought we had been to the Maple Grove Dragway near-by. Oh yes, car was on open trailer in front of diner. For those unfamiliar with it - was a Chevy powered sprint car with Parnelli Jones name on side - So let's be thankful that we have to sit thru the "odd" reporting - I use the mood "mute" button well and I am TV and PC challenged. And, I am biased - my children played in the tracks infields with many others - one being Wally Dallenbach and his brother and sister. Thus, I like him. Another thought - I hate "S&P" racing and I am a fan of one of those - I support him tho he knows I dislike the method. No rain this week-end in Montreal - no extra TV time for the "announcers".

Vicky D said...

I think Randy would do a better broadcast than AP in Montreal. I think AP needs a vacation he's been sub-par the last 3 or 4 races.

glenc1 said...

GramaFan...thanks for sharing those memories, very cool. Doesn't mean we're gonna stop asking for better coverage though!
:)

I know lots of people who are/were fans of S&P car drivers. Dave Blaney, particularly, since he ran full time in Cup. I think most of us see, the drivers are the worker bees, the owners are the ones responsible. And in *some* cases, I can understand it. Robby's solo team probably made some tire money when they ran PJ at the Glen. Made me sad for him though. I think some only do it when they've run out of money to finish (can't pay a pit crew, etc.) But the ones who go full out from the start, you listening Phil? that's just wrong. But I do think they need to mention it, I almost had a stroke when Punch actually said S&P the other day. I hate to say it, but there is a 30% chance of rain in Montreal...let's hope it holds off.

tom in dayton said...

Got a question for you, JD.

Referencing your earlier YouTube column, is there anything preventing Turner Sports from deploying "RaceBuddy" online for the entire Sprint Cup season? If I understand that NASCAR, through NMG, owns the entire video content of every race, wouldn't it be possible to ramp up the RaceBuddy platform not just when TNT has their segment, but also during the FOX and ESPN segments?

Jessica said...

Wow, I didn't expect such a response to my Digger post. The truth is, my kids still watch the races with my husband and i even though FOX isn't on the air any more. I think they would've ended up being race fans anyway since we are, but Digger's presence helped start it sooner. Like I said, we went to Dover this spring and the Digger trailer was probably the third busiest one throughout the days behind Junior and Tony.

I just don't understand all the hate for Digger, it's almost like people just feel the need to complain about something. It's harmless, silly fun. He's not to be taken seriously by adults at all, positively or negatively.

Anonymous said...

it's not harmless when there is racing going on and we're seeing the rodent instead. Before the race, if they want to run a five minutes cartoon instead of interviewing someone interesting...well I guess that's their choice. But they lose fans like me who no longer watch their prerace.

Jessica said...

Really? You can't just change the channel for the five minutes while the cartoon is on? Your choice, but to not watch the prerace because of a silly cartoon seems a bit much to me.

Again, it's making a mountain out of a molehill. Pun intended.

I just don't think it takes away from the racing itself, it might be a bit much that they show him every time they come back from commercial, but in the big picture, it's not a big deal.

Daly Planet Editor said...

tom,

NMG owns the video one day after the race is over. It is used for news highlights and then just like the PGA, NFL and MLB becomes the property of their in-house video company.

That is why the old NASCAR races can play on ESPN Classic, those were produced by ESPN before NMG came along so ESPN still owns them.

Any online piece like RaceBuddy has to be done in cooperation with the TV network doing the race. That is the shame of all these various pieces being scattered around.

If NASCAR decided that side-by-side commercial breaks, a new NASCAR.com provider and a full-time online RaceBuddy-style application should be their focus for 2010, the entire sport would change.

The only thing each of the individual pieces of the TV pie is offering right now are excuses.

As usual, the fans are left holding the bag.

Jessica,

Only DW is more polarizing then Digger. Inserting this cartoon into the NASCAR pre-race and the animated character into the races made "old school" fans go bonkers.

But, as long as Fox has the rights to the races they can use good old Digger just as much as they want to.

Please don't take differing opinions personally. Everyone has a viewpoint and where NASCAR fans are concerned, we are probably going to hear what they think.

JD

Josh said...

Some thoughts:

-I wish FOX & ESPN would make something similar to TNT's Race Buddy. That's the best innovation in a while. I liked having 4 camera angles on my computer to go along with the TV broadcast, especially when it was commercial time.

-Speaking of TNT, I don't know what made the difference, but the post-2006 TNT's coverage is MUCH better than what we saw 2001-06. The NBC/TNT coverage always felt stuffy. The current coverage is much more enjoyable. FOX is still my favorite, but I'm getting to where I wish TNT's part of the TV contract was a few weeks longer.

-3 years on, I still can't get excited for ESPN's coverage of NASCAR.

-Shootouts are for hockey. "Double-file restart: Shootout Style" sounds like Brian France is trying to manufacture extra hype for something that can create its own excitement without an extra nickname.

-I don't get the Digger hate. If people hate it in the pre-race so much, wouldn't it be easier to go grab a beer, a bag of chips, or change the channel for a couple minutes while the cartoon's on?

For those complaining about seeing Digger coming out of commercials, is it any different than FOX's Robot on the NFL broadcasts that we've seen for years now?

glenc1 said...

Josh, I think people are saying that Fox risks its prerace ratings by showing a cartoon during a program aimed primarily at adults. When a friend of mine who doesn't blog and barely looks at racing websites asked me if I saw the ridiculous gopher cartoon, I knew it wasn't just me. I watch football too, and the robot...I forget its name...comes on, it's not while a play is being run. That's the difference. Every interview, every taped piece, every gopher cam shot takes time away from actual racing. Yes, I sometimes turn away *intending* to flip back the channel, and then I realize 20 minutes has gone by.

JD...I love being considered an 'old school' fan...11 years ago, I was the newbie, everyone said I was fickle & it wouldn't last, (they thought we were all 'bandwagon' fans) and now I'm old school, that's awesome, lol.

Anonymous said...

Really? You can't just change the channel for the five minutes while the cartoon is on? Your choice, but to not watch the prerace because of a silly cartoon seems a bit much to me.

I shouldn't have to change the channel. I tuned in to watch trace coverage, not cartoons.

For decades, kids have become baseball fans, football fans, hockey fans, and yes, even race fans, without having cutesy cartoons run during the live game coverage.

Digger is a stupid idea designed by people who don't like actual racing.

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

And why did he not point out that five drivers in the top 10 are driving Hendrick cars---and are part of the whole big money Hendrick system?

I count three Hendrick drivers in the top 12.

How do you get five? Tony? Yeah, that car (Haas-CNC) has been using Hendrick engines for several years, and I don't recall seeing it in the top 20 before, let alone the Chase. Maybe the driver makes the difference, huh?

Who else are you claiming is an HMS driver?

Anonymous said...

uh, I believe that'd be Ryan Newman, Tony's teammate. It isn't about the driver, as Tony would probably tell you. It's about the owner who put the right people in the right places, but with Hendrick power, his job was made just a little easier. I am not Darbar, in fact I disagree about the COT, but I think the other teams were behind on their technology, and any HMS or satellite teams have hit upon a good combinaton.

peggyann said...

I really wish all the Digger bashing would stop. I know several kids (above 7!) who are fans of both the rodent and NASCAR. I personally found the little rugrat who personified Race Buddy most distasteful. If Digger is the only thing you have in life to rant about, you have far fewer troubles than I do.

I won't be reading all the protests about my opinion. We are keeping our fingers crossed about the weather in Joliet tomorrow and will hopefully be there to watch the ARCA and Truck series races. And maybe IRL qualifying.

Anonymous said...

peggyann...we can agree to disagree, but we're not going to stop complaining about the cartoon gopher. There are people on this blog who've lost jobs and yes, there are a lot bigger things in life to worry about, but this is a place to get your mind off those things. It's unfair to make assumptions about people's lives because they complain about things they don't like on TV.

Smiff_99 said...

There's nothing like the smell of a forum in the morning.

To all the pro-digger people out there.....I dunno if it's even fair to consider you 'race' fans.

A true race fan would be up in arms about the whole digger thing. It's a shameless act of profitability by Fox....and all you folks who waste money on the digger junk are deserving of the online criticism, whether you buy it for your kids or not.

It's like, GO BUY YOUR KIDS SOME TOY RACE CARS.

Like I said in my previous post, I don't mean to offend anyone or come off as a jerk.

It's just....sad, though. This is what a race broadcast has become.

Could you imagine Ken Squier trying to sell Digger crap, let alone anything else? NEVER. Or even Dr. Punch? Nope.

And I think somebody mentioned earlier about bringing the kids to a short track.....THAT is the way to make your kids love the sport. That's how I got into it. From age 3 on, I went to Oxford Plains Speedway 10-15 times a year. I loved it. And it led me to my love of NASCAR.

Sorry to repeat something I said earlier, but......NASCAR needs to earn back the trust and loyalty of it's current fans and the ones it has lost, rather than cater to children in HOPES that they'll one day be fans. And Digger, ESPN's coverage, and the NASCAR brass aren't helping.

What do you think a non-NASCAR fan would say if they decided to check out the race, only the first thing they happened to see on their screen was Digger? They'd say 'what is this crap? Is this what people get when they watch a race?'

P.S.-Does the NFL broadcast have a 5 minute cartoon of their robot before the game? I don't think so.

Sorry if this blog was extra long, JD, it's just I can't stress enough how depressing the whole TV deal is across the board, especially the travesty that is Digger.

Anonymous said...

Fans may remember that last season around this time a lot of things began to happen. Once college and pro football began, the post-race press conferences left ESPNEWS. The Nationwide Series pre-race shows often disappeared and sometimes only a good open field tackle allowed a college football game to end just in time for the green flag. Let's hope the ESPN programming folks have a little more mercy on NASCAR fans this season.

What makes you think anything will change here? What sports has ESPN dropped since last season? What additional networks has ESPN started since last season?

Football is still king in America, and everything else will just have to take a back seat.

ESPN will still continue to fully utilize its Saturday programming schedule. Frankly, I don't blame them. Thats there big day, and they need to get as much out of it as they can. Its no different than an airline that overbooks trying to maximize revenue. Empty airline seats doesn't make you money. Likewise, dead time one of your main TV networks doesn't make you money.

Zieke said...

It appears to me that the Digger thing is just another irritant by the Fox network. Most people who don't like Digger (myself included) also dislike most all of Fox's other coverages. So I guess we can say Fox has manifested itself into one huge cartoon with a little racing thrown in to fill time. Way to go Fox. You must be a legend in your own minds.

Newracefan said...

This "newraceface" has been an avid fan for about 5 years so I don't remember when all we got was a 3 minute blurb on wide world of sports. I learned to love Nascar by watching Mike Joy and the Fox guys and still prefer them to all the others. Yes Digger is a problem but overuse of car camera, single car shots, never seeing anyone outside the top 5 are bigger problems for me. The job of the guys in the booth is to make me want to look at the screen. Fox is the best at that unfortunately the race breaks, promotions, and car camera shots are hindering them greatly. I wonder if we would all be screaming about Digger if all we had was the cute little commercial and an occasional graphic in the corner and silence on the subject from the booth. Of course all those Race Breaks, video clips, etc would need to go too for it to be effective. Perhaps we wouldn't be as annoyed with DW's love affair with Kyle Busch (he was doing pretty well back then so I'm thinking he would have moved on to Smoke and Mark but I digress) if he wasn't also promoting Digger and what ever else he was told to by the Fox people. Mike etc still make me want to look at the TV screen now the pictures I see need to keep me there.

TNT did an excellent job with the picture aspect and Race Buddy is a bonus that I used for commercials. Ralph works for me much better than Weber but I prefer Mike, DW, etc yelling TROUBLE in turn 4 then details to Kyle's and Wally woooo and a long wait for specifics. When that happened I tended to look at Pit Command or Race Buddy on my laptop and I could usually figure out who's involved before they told me, if it was something big. My perfect world would have TNT camera work with an agenda-less Fox crew.

Then comes ESPN they for the most part don't make me want to look at the TV screen and when I do they don't keep me there. JP has no change in tone except when promoting a commercial. DJ and AP try but they are so busy doing what they are not suppose to they can't analyze which is their job. AP has been off lately and I'm wondering if it's the lack of information from the Pit Road reporters, we have all heard Larry Mac hounding them to get him information. Perhaps Andy can't or hasn't though of it. It will be interesting to see if AP will do better with someone who actually does PxP so he can do what he was suppose to do. ESPN camera work is a mess just like Fox's can be with the tight shots and car cameras because even if the PxP continues to be poor I would at least be looking at the screen instead of the little circles on my laptop because it gave me a better idea of who was racing who. I am even more worried now that the chase is almost hear once that happens I'll never hear about any of my other drivers because the won't be the magic 12. I am a huge JJ fan so I'll know what he is doing but I like several others who will not be in the chase an if it's anything like last year unless they win the race or crash big it's like they stayed home even with a good run.

I need to stop now and go back to work. I am sure this post is long enough already.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:52AM,

When ESPN got the NASCAR contract, the Prez of the network said the Nationwide Series was "a diamond in the rough" that ESPN would develop.

The reason this made sense is because the Nationwide Series is the ONLY NASCAR series that the ESPN networks carry from start to finish.

The only other involvement is the final seventeen Cup races. Instead of following through on this promise, ESPN has done the same thing for the last two seasons.

They pour all their resources and manpower into the N'wide events right up until they switch over to the Cup series coverage. Once they have their minds focused on Cup, the N'wide series is pushed onto the back burner.

Well, who that leaves in a lurch are the ESPN viewers who have been watching this series since February. We now know the personalities, the youngsters and the Cup drivers who are involved in the championship hunt.

When football begins, the change in the level of Nationwide Series coverage is criminal. Pushed around networks, sent to ESPN Classic and even bumped to SPEED.

Why not man-up and either decide to give the N'wide Series good coverage or shift it to SPEED and simply concentrate on Cup down the stretch?

JD

David said...

JD, NASCAR made the boo boo by putting the NW Series on a dedicated network family. I rather enjoyed it when it was in sync with the Cup package. If it was a network like a Versus that doesn't have a stake in the Cup Series, think of how good the coverage would be though?

They made a move in the right direction by allowing Marty Reid in the booth with Rusty and Randy though so credit where it is due. Now they just need to step up and give these 3 the primary duty of handling the Nationwide Series full time all year long. Use the ABC races as a rehearsal for JP, Andy and DJ but let the guys who have something at "stake" in the NW Series call it the way it should.

If they replaced Rusty though, wouldn't bother me lol.

Anonymous said...

Very astute observation, David. It makes me wonder what sort of due diligence Brian France and his crew did in negotiating the TV contract. Its not like ESPN just started showing college football on Saturdays.

Its like buying a house by an airport and then griping about the noise from the airplanes flying overhead.

NASCAR really screwed this one up and the fans are paying the price. No matter what ESPN execs said about a "diamond in the rough", I think ABC/ESPN just really wanted the chase, and a few races leading up to it.

Its my opinion that in order to secure the Chase, NASCAR made ESPN pick up the Nationwide series as well. They made it a package deal pawning something off less desirable in order to also get the golden nugget.

ESPN has always treated the Nationwide series as yesterday's leftovers.

By the way, where the heck are the live practice sessions and live qualifying for tomorrow?

Dot said...

@ Anon 8:17, good point. Bet you're right.