Saturday, October 17, 2009
Live Blogging "NASCAR RaceDay" On SPEED
This is the home track for SPEED with the network's new headquarters and studios right down the street from the Lowe's Motor Speedway.
RaceDay is the franchise for SPEED. This program has been around for a long time and is now two hours of an incredible mix of elements. Last year, we described it as the Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR TV. Eventually, there is something for everyone.
John Roberts is at the heart of it all. Fans may remember that several years ago Roberts would put himself right in the middle of the funny skits and outlandish crowd baiting routines. Now, he has taken on more of a serious host role and there is a good reason why. Actually, there are two.
Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace began this TV series as two NASCAR drivers with mediocre pasts who were in the middle of a career change. Wallace had been a familiar face as a frequent panelist on the old Inside Winston/NEXTEL Cup on SPEED. His personality and outgoing nature seemed to be a natural for TV.
Wallace brought his St. Louis background to the table, while Spencer represented his rough and tough Pennsylvania roots with frank talk and sometimes harsh comments. Spencer quickly became the lightning rod on this show with Wallace providing the comic relief.
This season, the reporter role is being shared by two familiar faces, Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler. Venturini is a true television professional. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in TV production and has worked in the field since then. Make no mistake about it, Venturini is the star of RaceDay.
One trademark of a TV pro is being confident enough to share the stage. Venturini has done that with Hermie Sadler. Coming from a minor role on the series providing track descriptions, Sadler was perhaps best known for spinning out the SPEED camera car during one memorable effort. Now, he has developed into a self-taught pro who is comfortable on-camera in a variety of situations.
Rutledge Wood is getting a little bit old to be the class clown. There is no doubt that he may be a nice guy in person but SPEED's continual use of him to portray the fool is ridiculous. If he has something to offer, let him show it. Wood is buried in sponsor-driven features, ill-prepared celebrity interviews and embarrassing TV moments.
RaceDay drives a lot of viewer email that is almost all focused on the words and antics of Spencer and Wallace. This year these two seem to be speaking directly to the viewers each time Roberts tosses them a questions. "Let me tell you something," says Wallace at the start of almost every answer. Something is missing.
Spencer has recently been added to the Monday This Week in NASCAR show and removed from Victory Lane. Larry McReynolds replaced Spencer on Victory Lane and the difference was remarkable. Spencer's emotional questions were replaced with informed inquiries about specific issues.
Every TV series goes through changes and it now seems like Roberts, Sadler and Venturini are in a different league from Wallace and Spencer. The first three are involved in heavy TV duties and interviews while the last two are disconnected and struggling to fit in.
Long gone are the judges robes, the fake court and the table dancing. Now RaceDay has become a serious pre-race show for hardcore fans who want information, interviews and opinions. As we watch this two-hour show from Lowe's Motor Speedway, keep these issues in mind.
We want your comments on this program and the series in general. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting.
TDP will be live blogging the Sprint Cup Series race with a post going up at 6:30PM for the 7PM pre-race show. Thanks for stopping by.