Monday, October 19, 2009

"Race Hub" Faces A New Challenge In Week Two

From out of the clear blue sky, SPEED suddenly dropped a weekday NASCAR news and interview show into the network's line-up. To say this program was a last minute scramble is an understatement.

The Monday through Thursday shows are designed to bridge a huge gap that has existed in SPEED's NASCAR coverage for years. Why this new series appeared with only weeks left in the ten month NASCAR season is anyone's guess. SPEED certainly isn't talking.

Week one of NASCAR Race Hub revolved around the Hall of Fame selections made last Wednesday. Now, that sideshow is gone and the reality begins to sink in. There is a new thirty minute NASCAR show to produce from the SPEED studios four days a week.

Back in 2006 when the new NASCAR TV contract was announced, I wrote a letter to ESPN's head honcho John Skipper about how important it would be to establish a small TV studio in the Concord or Mooresville, NC area.

NASCAR is unique in the fact that almost all the teams and associated businesses are located in a relatively small area. I reminded him of the RPM2Night legacy as the new NASCAR Now series got ready to launch.

ESPN declined and now often uses the ESPN Regional TV and ESPNU facility that is located in the far South end of Charlotte, almost on the South Carolina line. That is often the nameless location for Ryan McGee and Marty Smith's appearances. Not exactly the same as having NASCAR folks just stop by the studio.

Well, now SPEED has jumped into the game and this week some heavy hitters are on the line-up at the Hub. Perhaps, none bigger than Dale Earnhardt Jr. who will be on the Monday show. Tuesday features driver Matt Crafton while Wednesday's doubleheader is Tony Stewart and David Gilliland. The week ends with Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress on Thursday.

SPEED's location and intentions are good, the question is do they have the manpower and production planning to pull it off? ESPN is in the third season of NASCAR Now and is on a roll. Changes in talent and format have made that show solid all six days of the week it airs.

Unlike the hundreds of TV crew folks at ESPN, SPEED is patching together a crew for this new series at a tough time of the year. Lots of other sports keep the Charlotte area freelance TV folks rather busy. Keeping things simple and basic is the only way to go for this new show.

Krista Voda seems to be at the heart of this series, although she has not been formally named as host. Voda lives in Pittsburgh, PA and has a very real life outside of the sport and the Charlotte area. She also hosts the truck series pre-race shows and is a pit reporter for the NASCAR on Fox telecasts. What a combo platter.

This week, Voda is matched with Adam Alexander on Monday, John Roberts on Tuesday and Steve Byrnes on Wednesday. She has Thursday off and I am guessing it's a mental health day. She hosts the truck series this Saturday in Martinsville, VA.

No plans have been announced yet for what will happen to Race Hub once the NASCAR season is over. SPEED has just abruptly ended NASCAR coverage over the past several years and then picked things up again in late January.

Since ESPN also ends NASCAR Now in November, perhaps SPEED will be smart enough to keep things going during this very important off-season and become a new TV information source for fans.

We will keep up with the guest and hosts on this show as it develops. Despite the interesting timing, fans now have a locally produced show that targets NASCAR and hosts extended conversations on topics that are current in the sport.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion about NASCAR Race Hub on SPEED, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Stefano said...

This has been so up and down like you've mentioned. "Race Hub" just came out of no where, but for me, I've come to accept the cast of host that ESPN has been able to put on. I like all of the SPEED host, but SPEED needs to do more to get me to tune in. The whole line up of shows on that network are not interesting to me.

DougS said...

I've had trouble with Nascar Now this season since they turned it over to Mike Masarro. He comes off as a dictator instead of a reporter or host. Same goes for Nicole Manske who's only contribution to the cast is glamor. ESPN does have a distinct advantage with Marty Smith and Ryan McGee as field reporters.

I'm hoping that the Hub transforms and keeps things fresh. Voda does an excellent job. The best show last week was the HOF show with Rick Allen. Looking forward to seeing the development of Speed's core of reporters expand to all series.

Kepping a rotating pool of NASCAR regulars dropping in will definately be a plus over ESPN's Video Tele-conference style interviews. That alone will have me tuning into Speed over ESPN.

Now if we can only get an evening replay....

Sally said...

I'm waiting to see if this is yet another rehash/hype for the 'chase'. fans are blasted with the top 12 drivers all week, and during the races. It's burned me out, and I no longer care who wins the crapshoot. If this turns out to be just another promo for the title, I'm gone.

Anonymous said...

RacecHub=Race Flub

It stinks

rich said...

I have really enjoyed the first few shows. I have never felt comfortable with NN. The ties turn me off. I know they will work the bugs out soon and we are hoping that this show will continue all year round.
ps. love Krista

Donna DeBoer said...

This week's guests looks like a list I would've put together. So I'll watch and see this week if the in studio (I'm assuming) interviews bring a bit of a fresh perspective to the worn out questions. I especially want to see more Truck and NNS drivers interviewed in coming weeks, and again race shop visiting/ behind the scene segments would be really cool.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Doug S, I would like a replay. It's not like they have new programming that needs to be seen.

One good thing about Race Hub, you don't have to play showtime roulette like with NN.

GinaV24 said...

I'm planning to DVR this show this week since they are having a bunch of people I'd like to hear from on (thanks JD for the tweet that provided this update). I'll decide whether it's worth watching based on what I see on the DVR.

Geez, I just read the tweet that Kenny Wallace will be back on Speed next year. Well, I guess that means I'll be skipping Raceday again next year.

Race Hub sounds like a good concept but the jury is still out.

Vince said...

For some reason AT&T U-verse still doesn't list this show on their guide. It still has Pass Time in this time slot.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Vince, I was serious about this series falling out of the sky.

Anonymous said...

NP and VL all rolled up into one, I like it! AA and Krista actually give a sh*t and it shows.

(my veri is latin, crazy)

richard bozwell?

Richard in N.C. said...

About time. I've watched at least part of each episode and have really enjoyed, especially Rick Allen. I sure do hope the Hub does not go into hibernation this winter like Windy Tunnel has been doing each winter.

Sophia said...

the shadows in the faces are unreal on this show...looks a little poorly lit still...maybe candles would help?..:) LOOK at all the shadows even on the show off..

Ok the Jr bit is similar to another interview I heard online or on Speed. NOT what I was expecting.

Color me not super impressed with this show yet.

Asking Jr "how frustrated he is over his year". how many times this need to be pointed out, media peeps. Ouch. :-(

Somebody give Jr a hug.

Vicky D said...

Tonight's show wasn't the greatest. Jr's interview was pretty good and mentioning some of the drivers moving up in racing series was fine. But Krista, ditch the cap.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Soph, poor Jr. Not sure a hug would help.

Not bad AA, wonder if they did a bunch of takes?

PammH said...

Krista is famous for her hats on the truck pre-race shows. I was also disappointed that Adam interviewed Jr. rite before or after Nicole.

Spitfire88 said...

Wow...I tuned in for that? Most of that was already played on Saturday during or after the race. Junior's thoughts were nothing new. We'd heard them all before now.

They're saying "Dale Jr drops by" is false advertising. This is a very lackluster offering by SPEED. Jeff Gordon's appearance on Thursday is also suspect after this.

TexasRaceLady said...

Color me un-impressed with the Hub tonight.

Spitfire88, I'm with you about false advertising. That was not a "drop by" interview.

Anonymous said...


I think a link up interview like with Osborne would be acceptable, as long is it's at least from the same day. SPEED used to use that kind of interview all the time and I guess I count it as 'live'

DougS said...

Wow what a step back. If your going to announce or release that Dale Jr. going to be on the show then have him on the show. Not a rehashed interview from Thursday or Friday.

Can someone get Bob Osbourne a Vitamin Water please. Was that interview 50 out of 50? Same thing I hate about ESPN Nascar Now interviews. Time delays, propped up background, someone fullfilling "media duties". Detriment to a start up show.

Speed News Update. Well nothing new there. Everything there was announced last week. Here's a tidbit from Twitter. Richard Childress, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and BOBBY LABONTE on elk hunting trip in New Mexico...Where's Casey Mears?

Larry Mac a good addition to the show. Glad they didn't put anyone else on that couch with Krista.

Hat shadow at the begining on Krista. Really noticed because all the post race press confernces this weekend at Charolett everyone hiding under thier hats.

PammH said...

It was pretty lame tonite. I haven't given up, because they are finding their footing & I sure as hell trust Speed over BSPN, but geez, gang-give us something new..

Vince said...

I watched this show for the first time tonight. I wasn't impressed. From the teases, I expected to see Jr live on the show and what we got was a canned interview with him from last week.

The lighting is poor. On my HD tv it looked dark and shadowy.

I'm not convinced that Krista is the right host for this show either, but I'll give her some more time. She shouldn't be wearing a hat for a in studio show. Save the hats for outdoors.

The whole show seemed kinda disjointed to me. They would just end one segment abruptly and go on to another. No flow between the segments.

Best part of the show? Larry Mac.

Sophia said...

Vince I second your comments.

Nothing against Krista and all her fans here, this show is just not working for me yet...many kinks to work out but I think I'd like some guys talking more car stuff, new driver info or dare I say it how about a clip with a still alive OLDER driver from DECADES gone some history instead of lame rehashes from the weekend. (still IRKED about the Jr bait and switch)

I don't know...I am still craving some more of what we had on HOF day (not the lame ACTUAL ANNOUNCEMENTS) with Mike Joy, DW and company sitting around swapping old stories and speaking OFF the cuff.

I know I'm dreaming but I totally enjoyed that.

How about letting THOSE guys host an epi of this Hub deal?

Sophia said...

p.s. by HOF lame announcements I meant the poor quality of the show and bad lightings, lack of enthusiam, no build up, just blunt announcements....

Not talking about inducted. :)

PammH said...

I thought the Tues show was much better! The make-up is improving, but they gang isn't quite sure where to look at the camera yet. Having a live driver was also a plus. The biggest prob imo is that they can't beat the web, aka twitter for news, and that's something they didn't have to cope w/a few yrs ago. Still nice to see folks that u know care about Nascar on TV. Take note, BSPN.