Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Whatever Happened To Mr. Excitement?

One year ago at this time, Jimmy Spencer was busy. Two hours of RaceDay and one hour of Victory Lane put him front-and-center on SPEED each NASCAR weekend. When the Chase for the Championship rolled around, Spencer was added as a panelist on This Week in NASCAR.

These days he inhabits thirty minutes late on Monday night after an amateur talent show and a NASCAR cooking program. Spencer's outspoken style was once something that SPEED exploited to get the network recognition. Now, after line dancing and hamburgers, he is buried in obscurity.

What's the Deal? is the title of Spencer's new show at 10:30PM on Mondays. Ray Dunlap sits with Spencer in what is supposed to be a replica of the Spencer family auto salvage business in Berwick, PA. That's right, Spencer sits in a junkyard.

That irony is not lost when discussing a man who literally fought his way up through the Modified division and represented in NASCAR the hard-nosed competitor ready to mix it up on and off the track. Like it or not, you always knew what you were going to get when Jimmy Spencer opened his mouth.

There was a time when SPEED could not get enough of that. Spencer used the two hour RaceDay program to pontificate, debate and aggravate. Sometimes, it appeared that Spencer was on target and good for the sport. In other moments, his personal insults and poorly expressed opinions reflected a time gone by. In many ways, the network grew up and Spencer did not.

When SPEED had another option, it made the switch. After appearing in Daytona, Spencer has been absent from SPEED programs except his own. He does not even appear on Race Hub, the network's weekday news and interview show.

The last episode of What's the Deal? aired after the Atlanta weekend. Dunlap offered Spencer an opportunity to speak on the Carl Edwards vs. Brad Keselowski issue.

"I'm going to explain this to you fans," said Spencer. "If he (Edwards) waits six weeks to do it, there is no benefit to it. Do it when it's fresh in his mind. You take him (Keselowski) out of a good run and you know what? The kid learned a valuable lesson. He will respect everybody in the garage area a whole lot more. Thanks, Carl."

"At the end of the day, this hit every national paper and the Internet," Spencer continued. "It's the story. It's what NASCAR needed. It's what Brian France intended the sport to do. At the end of the day, this is good for our sport."

That is the kind of frank talk TV viewers used to hear on RaceDay. Dunlap is clearly not a Spencer fan and appears to hate every moment of the programs. In the first show, Dunlap introduced Spencer as a curmudgeon. He then added that others call Spencer a windbag, sourpuss and blowhard. That set an interesting tone.

The television show itself is a mix of mockery and patience. Spencer is made to look the fool and allowed to fill thirty minutes with unstructured rants. Baited by Dunlap, Spencer "goes off" so frequently that it loses the effect. Dunlap sits patiently waiting for Spencer to finish before tossing the dog the next bone.

In the age of social media, the series falls far behind when trying to interact with fans. Reading a handful of emails is ridiculous. As we related in an earlier article, this program needs a Twitter account and a Facebook page yesterday. Spencer needs to chat live at the SPEED website and give the audience an online destination to call home.

The Bristol weekend should result in some interesting storylines. By Monday night, fans will have been offered The SPEED Report, Victory Lane, Wind Tunnel, NASCAR Now and Race Hub.

Spencer faces an uphill battle to capture even a slice of the NASCAR TV audience at an odd hour on a confusing night of programming. It should be interesting to see if SPEED makes changes to the series or continues to let Mr. Excitement slowly fade into the background.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, 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 The Daly Planet.


RvNGrammy said...

Hoping to see Jimmy fade to his rose garden and never darken my television set again. I don't like him any more than Ray Dunlap does. Less, probably.

Smokey_14 said...


Dot said...

Somewhere between the end of last season and now, Jimmy was neutered.

He is not a draw by himself. Jimmy fits as a part, he is not a whole. i don't watch his show.

I have the perfect solution. Put him at the end of Monday's Race Hub, ala Andy Rooney. One less show for SPEED to produce and Ray won't have to work with Jimmy. Win win

Sophia said...

I find since no more TWIN, I do not watch SPEED at all on Mon nights. But I hate to see Jimmy Spencer paired with the wrong person...tried watching it a few times...Jimmy needs balance from a person who compliments his personality.

I MISS CONVERSATION in nice QUIET studio with Steve B & the Odd couple. Kenny Schrader coulda stopped in to fill in or JPMontoya.

I STILL MISS, TWIN, too. :-(

to be honest, I am just not focused on NASCAR at all this year for plethora of reasons..but losing TWIN seemed to be the final diss to many long time fans... for freaking cooking shows or 'talent shows'.


RobFromCanada said...

Spencer is was and always will be a menace to thought processes everywhere..he's about as coherent as a dead squirrel...please remove him from tv..he adds nothing and usually removes alot..VIEWERS

bevo said...

It's a simple case of overexposure. In order to fill more and more airtime he had to talk more. The more he talked the more stupid things came out of his mouth. Remember his bizarre attack on Kelly Earnhardt Elledge because she kept Earnhardt in her name?

SPEED is better off without him. Hopefully they'll come to the same conclusion about Kenny Wallace.

Joe Dunn said...

Jimmy is an old school racer with a take no bull attitude. He had this attitude in the old modified days and carried it over to NASCAR.
Rough around the edges, one thing you can always count on, Jimmy calls it the way he sees it. That makes him an honest old fashion racer, the kind of guys that the new Brian France NASCAR wants to get rid of. Speedtv has gone, in one off season, from a great racing network to the laughingstock of the real racing fans. The new show lineup on speed can be summed up in one word, SUCKS. It seems pretty obvious that Ray Dunlap was placed on What's the Deal for one purpose, to ruin any chances of the show succeeding.
Dump, this show, as well as Fast track to shame and the chef. Put Dunlap back in the pits and put Jimmy back on the Raceday shows and TWIN.

Anonymous said...

I often was not a Spencer fan when he was on Raceday and VL. Unfortunately, Kenny Wallace and Kyle Petty have made those shows unwatchable for me. I decided to be open minded and give Spencer's show a chance. I thought the last show was quite good. What I'm looking for is honest, candid feedback from someone (driver) that knows what they're talking about compared to some of the airheads running around with a mic in their hands!

Jonathan said...

Sucks I work when this show is running on Monday, but I caught the end of last weeks show when Spencer was joking w Ray about suspending Carl (w the blackboard)or not that was funny and seemed like those 2 were somewhat clicking unlike the first episode I saw where it felt odd! How was yesterdays episode like JD?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Same one Jonathan. No race.

Mike said...

One think that I've noticed about NASCAR coverage is that no one wants to be critical about anything, execpt for Jimmy Spencer.

When I watch an NFL show, I'm not surprised to hear that "Terrell Owens dropped 6 balls and shouldn't be playing anymore"

You almost never hear something like that on NASCAR TV shows. Except from Spencer.

TreeTopFlyer said...

I got to the point where I could not watch RaceDay because of Spencer. I liked him as a driver but can't stand to listen to him as a commentator. As Bevo said, his comments on Kelly Earnhardt Elledge was a classic case of "hoof in mouth" disease. Guess he didn't know who the CEO of NASCAR is (Lesa France-Kennedy). As far as I'm concerned the next time Spencer has a thought, he should just let it go.

As for his replacement on RaceDay, it was only a slight improvement.

Aven said...

A little bit of Jimmy goes a long way. He's the strange uncle you see once a year but avoid the rest of the time. He's like a Big Mac at McDonalds. I buy one a time or two a year so I can remember why I don't like them.

51 yr. fan said...

Sorry JD but Spencer is not "made"
to look the fool. He plays it
with all genuinness. If Speed
wanted a controversial presentation
they should have hired someone able
to carry on a intelligent conversation.

Christopher Leone said...

You know, it would have made a lot more sense for Kyle Petty to get the talk show and Spencer to stay on RaceDay. When Kyle speaks, people listen - when Jimmy does, not so much. Sad to say but true.

West Coast Diane said...

Haven't watched. Don't intend to. Like Sophia, since TWIN's demise I no longer watch SPEED for anything but track activity and maybe Trackside.

Maybe it's because we have been traveling these past 2 months. Somehow I doubt it (we were stationary for 6 wks and have a DVR).

Returning home tomorrow, so will see if our viewing habits regarding Speed, pre race shows changes.

Anonymous said...

Spencer doesn't "look" the fool--he IS a fool.

He says things that make no sense just for effect. He says things that are just plain incorrect and then has to apologize.

We're better off not having to wade through his chaff to get to the wheat of SPEED's shows.

Matt said...

This is the only show other than the race itself that i record on Tivo now. Need me mo' Jimmy! and less of the other boring stuffed shirts who are afraid to ask real questions of drivers, crews, Nascar, etc.

Dannyboy said...

Like Anonymous 4:21 and Jonathan 5:14am, I also felt that the last show was MUCH better than what I'd seen previously.

JD, you and I sometimes see different things happening on the screen. What you interpreted correctly IMO about the very awkward first episode of WTD seems to me to have faded as they get used to each other. I also thought Ray was visibly having fun in that Atlanta show.

I'm sure your opinion is based on far more inside knowledge than mine, but from a strictly fan/viewer perspective I actually enjoyed the Atlanta episode.

I say let's give the show a chance. And this is despite the fact that though I respect his credentials, Ray Dunlap's incessant shouting is one of the most fingernails-on-a-blackboard voices the I've ever heard on TV.

Zieke said...

I think Dunlap is as much to blame as anyone for agreeing to do the show with someone he doesn't like. Maybe he needs the money. Put him on with the Waldrips so they will all be in their little domains, and their audience will consist of egotists.

GinaV24 said...

Spencer lost me when he went off on his Kelly Earnhardt Elledge rant. I understand that he is rough around the edges, but there is a difference between honest opinion and thoughtlessness.

I stopped watching RaceDay because I couldn't stand listening to the Spencer/Wallace rants and silliness. Watching Spencer alone to essentially talk to scream to himself for a half hour has NO appeal for me at all.

Other than RaceHub, which I DVR to watch at my leisure, the shows that are presented as Nascar-centric on Speed aren't what I'm interested in watching, so I don't.

For those folks who like Jimmy, as you say, adding a real time response setup through twitter or facebook might help the show.

Sorry, with this lineup, there's very little reason to watch Speed these days.

If I could have TWIN back WITHOUT Mikey, but with Steve Byrnes, Chad, Schrader and a guest - I'd tune in immediately. I loved Kenny's humor and ability to make sense about the racing.

GinaV24 said...

Dot - I think your idea of 2 minutes for Spencer at the end of RaceHub is a great idea!

Richard in N.C. said...

As with many former drivers, Spencer comes with baggage. Those who disliked him as a driver tend to dislike him on TV. He is not the best communicator, but I like to hear his take, with which I don't always agree - but I find him more consistently honest, and knowledgeable, than much of the NASCAR press corps. I believe there is a place for him, but I'm not sure he's up to the burden of having to carry a show.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mind Jimmy as much because I knew he was an old-school racer. If you've paid your dues in the sport, you should be given a little break for not being the best broadcaster (*cough* DW *cough*).

One of the funny things I remember about him on VL was after the Daytona 500 a few years back...he was noticeably intoxicated. His eyes were glassy, he was slurring his speech and the words coming out of his mouth made absolutely no sense (more so than normal). It was kind of comical...and the uncomfortable "mood" on the stage was very noticeable. I expected him to get the axe that day but he didn't.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the great comments, keep them coming.

I want to apologize for a delay in posting. Computer glitch that is now fixed.


JohnP said...

I like Spenser as a driver, he's the BK of his era. And yea, BK is winning me over for his take no prisoners attitude that racing USE to have. Talk smack, do it on the track. Seems to many Cup driver just want to "turn left" and cruise 80% of the race. BK does not want that, nor did Spencer. I respect that attitude. Just go at it. Now, as a TV host, well, I can take it for a while but to much gets old really quick. He was never a very winning driver, but he stood up for what he believed in no matter what people thought of him. On and off the track. He still does so today. I think it's a take him or leave him deal on TV. I choose to leave him for his rantings. But only for that reason. I don't need it. Get enough arguments out of the folks on TV new channels. I want a nice funny entertaing show with some good information in it. TWIN fit that want.

Speed, when are you going to bring TWIN back? With or without Waltrip. Someday you, Speed, will realize he's replaceable like everyone else. And someday you will realize TWIN did in fact resonate with your viewers.

GinaV24 said...

If we're going to talk about funny Spencer moments, my favorite was at Darlington AFTER he served the suspension for punching Kurt Busch in the nose. It seemed like everyone in the grandstands stood up and cheered when he was introduced. As Jeff Gordon said afterward with a big smile - who'd have thought Spencer had that many fans? Or Kurt that few.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy, like Kyle Petty, is balls to the wall honest.

The best thing to do is get rid of the Kenny Wallace.

I have lost count of the number of times Kenny has insulted and mocked all the fans of this sport.
He's a travesty, a sham and a mockery. He's a traveshamockery!

If I wanted to see a clown I would go to the circus. After watching KW, I have problems sleeping.

"Cant Sleep Clowns Will Eat ME."

Jimmy on the other hand is rough around the edges and maybe at times a little abrasive. Those are the qualities the I found refreshing about him.

Bob from South OC Cal said...

JD - During the years of his broadcast 'career' Mr Excitement turned into Mr Excrement. I can't count the times when he was like Jim Jones trying to get everyone to drink the NASCAR KoolAid, and the next minute would he would be espousing his displeasure with something the NASCAR Brass did, said or changed.
It's like he became a mockery of himself.
If Jimmy is to remain on tv, we need to see the guy before the toupee showed up that used to 'take no prisoners'.
We need Jimmy to be the Devil on one shoulder, while all of the others compete to be the programmed robot on the shoulder.

That's my two cents.........

Anonymous said...

Love him or hate him,at least Spencer tells you how he honestly feels. It's almost unheard of to have anyone criticize Junior,but Spencer does. Starting last year, Spencer came down on Brad for dumb driving. Last year Jeff Gordon was in the booth with DJ and Andy Petree when Biffle said on the radio that he was going to wreck Logano and then did it. The replay was shown and DJ said that Biffle 'mis judged a bit'. Gordon deadpanned 'I think he mis judged a LOT!' It was hilarious. Petree almost always dodges placing blame. Just a few weeks ago in the Nationwide race, Brad wrecked Logano on the last lap. The replays,especially the overhead shot from the blimp showed how blatant it was, yet Petree just waffled. I just hate it when announcers and politicians just lie to your face! It's insulting.

Anonymous said...

Here we go with social media again. Boy, I knew it wouldn't take you long to bang that boring old drum again.

Face it: Jimmy Specner's show can have TWO Twitter accounts and THREE Facebook pages... it isn't going to make the show any better.

And even if they DID get on the Twitter bandwagon, what would they do with it? That's right, they'd read a few tweets on the air. Why is that so valuable yet reading a few emails on the air so worthless? Answer: There is no difference.

Twitter and Facebook do not make a show. They might enhance a show if used correctly, but they can't fix Jimmy Spencer's show, so stop with the constant harping about Twitter and Facebook. You're like a kid with a new toy that can't stop telling everyone what he got for Christmas.

Vicky D said...

I've only seen the first two shows and I thought it had possibilities. Now with the time change, it's on too late and I don't watch it. Maybe they'll switch the time back again after that (no) talent show and cooking show go down in flames.

Anonymous said...

I'm sort of surprised by the amount of dislike for Jimmy. I've never talked to him in person but I've been around him in his modified days at New England tracks and he often was "outspoken" but always interesting. I think some of us oldtimers need to support him.

Anonymous said...

I've watached the first couple shows and Ray Dunlop needs to go. He's a good pit reporter but he seems to really dislike being on with Jimmy.

Anonymous said...

What kills me about Spencer's show is the set: It was never explained what it was. So if you flip by the channel, you don't know what the heck you are looking at.

Second, look at the set closely: it has been METICULOUSLY decorated. I mean, the detail is astounding. How can they put that much detail into it, yet no one has figured out that if you side-light Spencer on HD, it shows off the line where his toupee meets his regular hair? Or how can they pay that much attention to the little nuances of the set, and then not even have a warddrobe guy know how to dress the host?

It's crazy what's going on at SPEED.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comment and I hope it gets seen by the right sets of eyes.

Anonymous said...

Of course Spencer is not on Race Day,he actually questioned NASCAR on things he didn't believe were right and that gets you the door on all NASCAR related programming. NASCAR doesn't want people with opinions different than what they believe is true theyed rather you watch Rutledge? What does he bring to TV other than a low IQ?

Frank said...

I want TWIN back on Monday nights, I cannot believe the trash that SPEED has put on in its place. Jimmy Spencer was a great anchor on Raceday, I can't believe that they dumped him. Most of the NASCAR programming on TV has been ruined. Why? Why?