Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SPEED Jumps Into The NASCAR News Game

Update: SPEED now advised that this program will also contain non-NASCAR news and information.

Over the past several years, eyes have been watching SPEED TV as the network slowly drifted away from its extensive connections with NASCAR. Lifestyle shows began to dominate primetime and other than TWIN on Monday nights, the vast majority of the NASCAR programming came from the racetracks on the weekends.

In 2007, ESPN launched the daily NASCAR Now show. Originally a complete flop, it has been slowly turned into a solid program featuring capable hosts, good features and interviews with NASCAR newsmakers. There was just one problem. It is done from the studio in Connecticut.

ESPN made a decision back in 2006 not to invest in a small studio in the Concord or Mooresville, NC area due to financial reasons. The NASCAR TV contract signed by ESPN runs through 2015, so perhaps the network reasoned that it was easier to service this sport from Bristol, CT.

In the meantime, SPEED moved from the cramped studios in South Charlotte up to a new HD facility near the Lowe's Motor Speedway. This finally gave the company the ability to consider originating regular studio-based NASCAR programming. Now that concept has become a reality.

On October 12 at 7:30PM ET, SPEED will launch a new daily NASCAR news and interview program called NASCAR Race Hub. The show will air Monday through Thursday and is intended to go well beyond the NASCAR season that ends in November.

Here is some official information from SPEED:

As The Chase winds down and we look ahead to the 2010 NASCAR season, this unique program provides drivers, owners, sponsors, or crew members an opportunity for TV exposure. The atmosphere and format will be structured in such a manner that keeps it open to any idea. Virtually anything goes because NASCAR Race Hub will not be a straightforward news and information program.

Our goal is to have at least one in-studio interview per day. The set will resemble a renovated garage complete with televisions, a pinball machine, and even a pub-style bar with chairs. The result will be a very relaxed, casual setting right here in Charlotte. Content will consist of everything from top-10 lists to poll questions, fan emails, features and video of drivers at and away from the track.

Some might ask "why another NASCAR show?" The answer is because SPEED has continued to enjoy growth in its NASCAR ratings in 2009 – from our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcasts to our weekend programming, such as NASCAR RaceDay and NCWTS Setup. As a result, we view NASCAR Race Hub as an extension of our weekend NASCAR coverage.

At this point we are still waiting on the announcement of the on-air talent, the reporters and the format. But the good news is that now NASCAR personalities will have the opportunity to take a short drive over to the SPEED studios and update the news and stories that fans want to know more about.

TDP has long described SPEED as a two-headed monster that enjoys racing of all kinds on Friday through Sunday but changes into a poor imitation of the Discovery channel during the week. SPEED currently airs reruns of Pimp My Ride from MTV and Jacked from A&E. The weekday shows feature towing and several off-shoots of the PINKS franchise.

Perhaps establishing a NASCAR toehold at 7:30PM during the week will lead the network to consider extending Wind Tunnel to a Monday version or contracting with the NASCAR Media Group to create some more quality programming. SPEED rejected the Quest for the Cup series that is now seen on Versus Tuesday nights.

The NASCAR Now franchise will continue on ESPN with no issues. The company has built a strong set of field reporters to cover the sport away from the track and offers a tremendous set of preview and review shows on every Sprint Cup race day.

There is plenty of room in the sport for two shows. These two companies already co-exist at the track all season long and there is no reason to believe that will change. The sport is better served with diversity in the TV news department and this may just be just the trick to help the sport at a time when more media exposure is critical.

TDP will continue to offer updates as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please feel free to add your comments about this topic below. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...

I just hope Rutledge isn't the host. When I hear "pinball machine" and "bar stools" I think they are building a show around his goofball persona. I hope I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

This is all well and good. But for those of us out here that don't limit our motorsports interest and viewing to just NASCAR, when we will see a daily general motorsports news show? The month of September alone showed why a general motorsports news program is so important. Starting with the Labor Day Monday dust up at the US Nationals between John Force and the Pedregon's. Additional allegations of cheating in the long running soap opera that is known as Formula One. Championship season's winding down in Grand Am, Indy Car and ALMS, etc. ESPN once produced "RPM Tonight" with John Kernan and other fill in host's such as Reece Davis. There is a huge void for a show of this caliber that the "Speed Report" and "Wind Tunnel" doesn't fill because of it being a once a week show, on the weekends. There is more to be said than Dave Despain reading e-mails or taking phone calls from Homer in Buttscratch, NC droning on about Kyle Busch or some such non-sense. Speed Channel certainly has the resources, insiders and the personalities to produce a program of this caliber as it carries most these series on it's air. Thank god for the internet and The National Speed Sport News and other publications so that broad minded motorsport fans can still keep up on the daily news in the world of motorsports, not just one sanctioning body.

Bucky in South Florida

Jonathan Howe said...

Sounds like it's right in Krista Voda's wheelhouse. Would love to see her hosting this thing.

Also, as for Quest for the Sprint Cup, I thoroughly enjoyed it last week. It's basically the same as the scanner feature they did for the All Star race with added interviews.

Best part about last week's show was the extended scanner audio from Kurt Busch. That was some tirade he threw at Tryson. Neither of the scanner features on last Monday's programming included that much of it.

All in all, the more NASCAR on TV, the better - as long as it's good quality stuff.

Haus14 said...

I am glad to hear about the more casual atmosphere. I think it is a little odd to see guys sitting around a "garage" talking racing in suits.

Lou said...

We realize that the season ends in Nov. But something like this reminds me of RPM2night. I really hope this takes off on SPEED. We may need something like this to promote/keep nascar up front.

Just because espn/abc does a terrible way of presenting the race on play by play for the end of the season(kind of letting the air out of the ballon) after the build up from watching fox and TNT, especially TNT and makes me wish for more of the TNT broadcasts

It is no secret that I do not generally watch prerace programs.(sponsors take note).

Look forward to the oct12th showing. Wait, maybe i should wait to see who the on air talent will be. To me that is important also.

thanks for the heads up.

as you have said at an earlier time
"isn't tv fun." Yep, you bet is is.

Hotaru1787 said...

Reading into it, I'm hoping it doesn't turn into a 'fluff' disaster (remember the dreaded 'NASCAR Nation'.)

Problem for me with the time slot... I'm usually watching something at that time.

I'll watch, but if it seems lame, back to The Simpsons (played locally on our Fox affiliate)!

RLDreams said...

agree this is long overdue on Speed channel, BUT also agree that it should be a motorsports show, like Speed report or WindTunnel and not limit itself to only Nascar.

Anonymous said...

I have high hopes. Lets hope they left the fluff behind at Preseason Thunder.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Maybe we should encourage SPEED to include a general motorsports segment?


The Loose Wheel said...

Cautiously optimistic. If this feels like the old Totally NASCAR I feel it will be a huge success. If it goes the NASCAR Nation direction, well...FML.

bevo said...

Good news. Count me as another who would love to see a return of an RPM2Nite-type of show. Other than Krista my vote would be for Adam Alexander to host the show. Be great to have a segment with Robin Miller, Bob Varsha, and others covering their particular series.

Anonymous said...


I'm certainly not opposed to a nightly NASCAR news program. NASCAR as a sanction, has three national touring series as well as the (i'm guessing four to six) regional series. Certainly plenty of news and stories to fill up 30 minutes a night, even in the off season. But my wish has been for a nightly, general motorsports show. As I outlined in my previous comment, there's plenty to talk about. What I'm driving at is, I concur with your comments post that Speed should be encouraged to do a program such as this not just "a segment" in a NASCAR news program. I would think for a channel called "Speed" this would be a no brainer. Not programs about tow trucks.


Bobby said...

One thing you noted about what Speed has tragically become was airing reruns of MTV's "Pimp My Ride". The announcement of this new NASCAR programme also included the airing of two other MTV Networks films, "Dale," and "The Ride of Their Lives".

Now I wonder if carrying the original "Pimp My Ride" was MTV's caveat of letting Speed air their "Dale" and "The Ride of Their Lives". And as I've noted in the past, there is bad blood between hardcore race fans and MTV for how they killed TNN, the original RaceDay, mistreated the World of Outlaws (which reared its ugly head with this year's Knoxville fiasco, which had its roots with MTV's moves in 2001 with the Nationals), and killed the old American Speed Association.

The scary part of Pinks is now that with Mikey going part-time, and NAPA's sponsorship of the popular franchise, will Mikey become a "celebrity official" for Pinks the way professional racers, including Greg Biffle, who did the task for the Charlotte race in April, have become extra officials for each race. Imagine Toyota sending Mikey their best supercar from Japan, have him drag race it on Pinks All Out with the arm drop, and demonstrate it in front of the crowd.

And maybe, speaking of Pinks, stock car racing needs a Pinks-style street-stock race. Imagine 500 drivers taking hot laps around a half-mile paved asphalt track, then selecting the 80 closest cars, pair them in five heat races of 16 cars each for 10 laps, picking the top four in each heat, and the top four in the last-chance race, with a $10,000 to win 100-lap race for grassroots racers.

Just think of the talent we might see if that happened, and a NASCAR driver or two might observe, where a winning driver could earn his shot at a CWTS ride.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this isnt another "NASCAR NATION" flop.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that they are serious about not stopping the program the day after Homestead.

That has always killed me how NASCAR nation goes dark with virtually no reporting until Daytona

batchief said...

Now wouldn't a 30 minute, daily, Nascar show coming directly from Charlotte be a novel idea. They could have in studio guest, maybe even a driver or crew chief as co-host once a week. Maybe they could designate one night, Wednesday would be good, to cover the truck series. How about a round table of media people on say Tuesday's. Isn't it too bad that they tried to make Totally Nascar something it wasn't meant to be (Nascar Nation, especially the revamped version), it might still be airing and yes, it did have the things I mentioned above.

Matt TSB said...

This is great news-competition should benefit us, the fans and viewers. It's a little disappointing to read so many people already worrying about Speed repeaing past mistakes. I'm looking forward to seeing what the show's all about.

Richard in N.C. said...

I too would like to see a nightly show covering racing of all kinds, not just NASCAR, but I certainly will make a point to check SPEED'S show. Now that it has been demonstrated that Wind Tunnel can survive with a substitute host, I would hope that SPEED will keep both Wind Tunnel and NASCAR Race Hub on the air in December and January.

Unknown said...

JD, your comment about a 'general motorsports segment' is kind of what I was hoping a show like this would be - essentially a nightly version of Speed News (or what's now The Speed Report)

Newracefan said...

Well it's not the name I picked but it sounds like a great idea so far. Krista or Adam would both be great and I like the idea of an informal setting. Just a bunch of people hanging around talking racing. It's not listed in my guide yet, have to remember to keep checking cause it's a not miss for me

Sophia said...

could be interesting show..I second Bevo's suggestions.

WT SO NEEDS to be a TWO HOUR SHOW ON TV..though the online version is great 1/2 hour.

Remember Robin Miller hosts this Sunday with AJ Foyt. I would like to see him fill in for WT more often.

an hour on TV sunday always feels RUSHED.

Please stop the pinks & other rubbish shows SPEED. a nightly racing report would be a great step!


Vicky D said...

Sounds like a good idea maybe they'll be in sports shirts/pants instead of the suits like Nascar Now. I would love to see Krista or Adam host but Reece Davis or John Kernan brings back great memories from years ago. If anyone wants to see a picture of a casual set, you can go to my profile and see the picture when my nephew was on Fox Sports Net in Cleveland.

PammH said...

This is terrific news! Someone is listening at times...

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the new show.

Anonymous said...

Everything I've seen come from the new studio and nascar media lately, I think this is going to be a great show. I really like the fact that its goin to run past the homestead race, hope it stay's through the winter!!! Is nascar now going to air past the season finale? Maybe this will lead to more motorsports type shows during the week. if nothing else they could replay old races. didn't they use to replay old daytona races? 1 a week i think? Anyway, Thanks Speed Channel and good luck!

mike in louisiana

Dot said...

I too, would like a show covering all aspects of racing, not just NASCAR. I think there's always something of interest in other forms of racing.

I like the set idea. I would love to see a driver/CC/owner drop by for a surprise visit. It sounds like that kind of place.

I agree with Anon 12:20, no Rut. Let Krista host.

@ Haus14, I'm with you. Suits and race talk just don't go together.

Tom said...

While it is good news that SPEED will do something during the week, the idea that it needs to be generalized to include ALL racing cannot be overemphasized. SPEED has use of the best analysts/announcers in just about every form of racing and now is the time to utilize them! A daily, shorter version of SR would be very nice, as would at least one more WT (though I won't hold my breath on that). Time for SPEED to step up and live up to it's name during the weekdays!

Inverness, FL

GinaV24 said...

I'm happy to hear that a show like this is going to be back on Speed. I'll watch and hopefully it will be something useful and enjoyable for NASCAR fans, something that has been in short supply on Speed for the last few years.

Geez, I hope it's not Rutledge hosting either!

glenc1 said...

I have long missed the original Totally NASCAR so this is good news. There were some good features on that show. (Anyone remember the original hostess, Kirsten Gum? She left after a mishap with the law but I saw her on the Travel Channel a while back.) I doubt anyone would intend for Rutledge to *host* a show, but I could see them sending him out for features. Krista is the obvious choice if she wants to do it, but they have other reporters who could handle it, or even rotate like NNow (Ray Dunlap, Bob Dilner, etc.) And they certainly have enough talent to send these guys out to the shops or whatever.

50 yr. fan said...

Great news! Finally a program with
no flashy suits and pomade at a
fixed time that a working man can
sit back and enjoy.

MRM4 said...

It would be nice if SPEED would take it a step farther and add some actual racing shows or racing action from 8PM on.

Anonymous said...

Please SPEED, no Waltrips, Jeff Hammond, Larry Mac , Spencer or Kenny Wallace. Please treat us fans with respect and show us you can have an intelligent, entertaining show without the people who play the dumb act and think they are funny, and are not! Although if the DW who appears on Wind Tunnel would appear as opposed to the one on the race broadcast or other shows appears , forget it.The people here who worry about what the people are wearing as opposed to the content of the show and what they are saying are missing the point. I watch Mondays NASCAR NOW and never notice what they are wearing , as that panel is so good I am busy listening, as they give real info you cannot get elsewhere. Did anyone notice Chad tell Ricky , you hit the nail on the head? What Chad said and how he said it showed his high respect for Craven.

Donna DeBoer said...

I'm not interested in other forms of racing at this time so another show of exclusively NASCAR content is great news to me and my family. NASCAR needs to be on TV all it can get, until The NASCAR Channel is ready for the assault. I just hope they focus on ALL teams, not just the big ones, for content.
I have not yet had a chance to see Quest for the Sprint Cup, it's being stacked on the DVR. Not real happy with the timeslot it drew.
Just a brief pet peeve. Having access to driver scanners is great during the race, but in the last couple years I'm not sure how constructive it is for fans and reporters to harp on these via TV and internet after the race is long over and the heat of the moment has evaporated. I've been finding fans who are making character judgments about drivers from these transmissions, and IMO that's wrong.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that I am not the only one who remembers NASCAR Nation. I usually watched it strictly for the news segments which they quickly abandoned to have more room for the stupid reality show stuff that no one cared about. Hopefully now that Speed has something worth copying, they can do a better job.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Guess what gang? SPEED responded to your comments.

They advise that the show will also check-in on non-NASCAR racing news and information.

That is a great start, keep the comments coming.


Sophia said...

When they discuss OW or at LEAST IRL, how about a segment with Robin Miller? Now there's ya a colorful host...or maybe co-host.

He's a pistol & deserves more TV time.

Daly Planet Editor said...

They are still working it out and it is a big positive that everyone here voiced their opinion.

Richard in N.C. said...

Sophia - Kudos! I think both Robin Miller and Bob Varsha would make super occasional hosts or guests - at a minimum, each of them as guests at least twice per month. Covering other series - like IRL,ALMS, Grand Am, F1, and NHRA - would seem to me at a minimum to give SPEED a broader pool of meaningful content for the show. It would also seem to me that extending coverage thru Dec. and Jan. would give SPEED the opportunity to hook an audience while EESPN is dark for auto racing. Best thing I've heard of from SPEED since the internet Wind Tunnel add-on. Thank you SPEED.

Anonymous said...

I would be glad to see a spin-off of The Speed Report on a daily basis. Does this go through the off-season...? Marybeth

lillyrockhill said...

Yea! I look forward to having more NASCAR shows. Many of the others are on when I am unable to watch. I am also excited about SPEED in HD! Thank you!!!

Sophia said...

Richard @NC

Kudos back to the Bob Varsha mention! Yes, sane calm voice of reason and the loose cannon but loveable curmudgeon Miller :-)

Sooooooo much potential SPEED.

Miller has a huge fan base and the guy won't even do Twitter but tv would be even better anyway. :-D

Anonymous said...

Oh, oome on JD. NASCAR Now was far from a complete flop when it started up 3 years ago. They had just about as much talent back then as they do now. Even from day 1, it was a far better produced show than rpm2nite was.

Anonymous said...

So it's called NASCAR Race Hub but will have other forms besides NASCAR????? That makes no sense. Either call it that and only have NASCAR or change the name to something more race generic.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:23PM,

NASCAR Now featured a production team that had no NASCAR experience and two announcers that had never been fans of the sport.

Doug Banks was quietly fired halfway through the first season.

Erik Kuselias embarrassed the sport for an entire year before he was moved to an obscure NBA radio show on ESPN.

NASCAR Now upset the teams, drivers and owners. Remember the harsh words of Tony Stewart and Junior toward the ESPN reporters?

We give big credit to ESPN for moving this show in the right direction with new talent and production staff.

The Sunday night wrap-up show is much better than Victory Lane on SPEED right now. That takes some doing.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:43AM,

One issue is that motorsports are now more connected than ever before.

NASCAR drivers own World of Outlaw teams, some still have open-wheel ties like Penske and even motorcyle guys like Ricky Carmichael are now competing in NASCAR.

I think the idea is to check in with the general world of motorsports during the show, but not to swing the entire format toward an RPM2Night deal.


Kenn Fong said...

[reposted here]


My thoughts on why the ratings are down:

I think the season is too long. When the racing's great and your drivers are doing well, there's a lot of incentive to remain fiercely loyal to the weekly coverage. But if you are faced with yet another huge heaping dish of vanilla ice cream -- Jimmie Johnson for the fourth consecutive Championship -- one longs for some mocha fudge swirl or orange sherbet.

Think about it: what stick and ball sport runs a ten-month season? Baseball only seems long with a six-month season and three weeks of post-season.

That aside, here's what I'd do if I were in charge of NASCAR:

I'd load the 10-race Chase with tracks known for great racing. Michael Knight said it in his first segment. New Hampshire and Dover are not known for exciting races, they're follow-the-leader tracks.

Give the 12 Chasers their own scoring table. A Chaser should not be eliminated from contention when a back-marker runs out of talent.

I'd consult historical weather reports. If rain occurs often over the past 20 years on a one-week window around a scheduled date, I'd attempt to switch the date. Postponements only serve to alienate fans.

I'd award incentive bonus points for the driver who makes up the most positions from start to finish. This would be a sponsored item which would give the broadcast an interesting point of drama. The producers ned to use video and scanner audio to illustrate this.

I'd award the Lucky Dog/free lap to the leading driver of each laps down group. This would encourage racing deeper into the field.

Standardize the start times for daytime and nighttime races in the Eastern Time Zone.

Amend the television contracts to include your suggestion made at the end of The Race Reporters: a (minimum 30-second, my idea) report on every driver during each racecast.

Amend the television contracts to require a minimum of 30 minutes of post-race coverage.

Amend the television contracts to encourage side-by-side coverage of the race during commercials if an advertiser will allow it.

Amend the television contracts to require that during green-flag racing, live racing must be shown somewhere on the screen except during commercials and five seconds leading in and out of breaks.

I'd appoint you as my special broadcast consultant.

Using Twitter, Facebook, and Daly Planet, I'd read comments and contact fans to find out what they like about NASCAR and what doesn't work for them.

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California