Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Totally NASCAR" Is Totally Confusing


Last we saw former ESPN and CBS reporter Jill Arrington, pictured above, she had left the sports TV business and settled down. She married a Hollywood movie agent, started a family and was happily living in Beverly Hills, CA.

Last we saw Totally NASCAR the show had fallen into disarray and been cancelled. After a run of four years, beginning in 2001, SPEED ended the show with the promise of something better. Veteran fans may remember the fiasco that followed. NASCAR Nation anyone?

Arrington first came to our attention as a sideline reporter for the Arena Football League on the revamped TNN. She moved onto the national scene and worked high profile assignments for CBS, FOX and even The Tennis Channel.

Meanwhile, Arrington also did sexy photoshoots and wound-up on FHM and Maxim's Top 100 Sexiest Women lists. She was Playboy's Sexiest SportsCaster back in 2001. All of this did not sit well with former USA Today TV writer Rudy Martzke. Click here to read his observations on Arrington.

That same year, a young man named Steve Byrnes took the helm of Totally NASCAR. In 2002, he was joined by a fresh face named Krista Voda. The weekday show aired first on FoxSportsNet and then reaired the same day on SPEED. It was a nice one-two punch for the sport.

Tiffany Arrington was a tough kid. The daughter of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Rick Arrington, she headed for the University of Miami and majored in journalism. Along the way she played for the tennis team, was elected Orange Bowl princess and stayed active in an on-campus sorority.

It seems ironic that it was a FOX producer who told Arrington that Tiffany was not a name that was going to work in television sports. At that moment, Jill was born. It was a different FOX executive who recently decided that it was time for Arrington to get back on the air. The name of her new show would be a blast from the past. That's right, it was Totally NASCAR.

Over the last two months, FoxSportsNet has quietly added a new version of Totally NASCAR to the line-up. The program is currently distributed to over 80 million households. Compare that to the 17 million Showtime households that currently get the Inside NASCAR series. Arrington is once again being seen coast to coast.

This time, she is not prowling the sidelines for interviews. Instead, Arrington stands in a studio and reads a teleprompter. Inserted right behind her head this week was a huge Subway Fresh 600 race logo. To her left was an "old school" video box with moving animation elements. That wasn't the best part.

This on-air look was ultimately tied together with a superimposed background image of a wall of tan and orange bricks from the top of the screen to the bottom. It looked like Arrington could have been standing in the halftime line for the ladies room at the Rose Bowl.

This new weekly version of Totally NASCAR is filled with repurposed footage from SPEED. Arrington actually introduces chunks of programming taken straight from that network. SPEED logos were still in the corner of the screen when Totally NASCAR re-aired Greg Biffle's recent interview from Race Hub. It made absolutely no sense to see it again.

Mike Joy, Darrel Waltrip and Larry McReynolds provided a PIR preview piece for the show that was recorded in the FOX booth at Martinsville. Randy Pemberton was the brightspot of this week's program, speaking directly with Arrington from the Race Hub set at SPEED about NASCAR topics.

FSN Arizona reporter Jody Jackson was at the track and spoke with PIR president Bryan Sperber on the show. Jackson pushed the integrated agendas of FOX and PIR. That included the SPEED Cantina at the track and assuring fans that despite earlier start times, there would still be racing under the lights on FOX.

Arrington is not a NASCAR fan and it shows. Despite the amateur look of the show, the overall purpose seems to be simply to promote the FOX races and SPEED programs over the FSN regional networks.

I am told that Totally NASCAR is produced in Los Angeles. Why? FOX recently spent a pretty penny to build the SPEED HD Studios in Charlotte, NC. Ironically, not only is most of the repurposed content from SPEED, but most of it was produced at the new studios.

Bringing Totally NASCAR back to Charlotte would make a lot of sense. SPEED could extend its network brand across the FOX regional sports networks using someone directly associated with the sport. Arrington loses a lot in translation, despite her professionalism.

Right now, SPEED is rich in terms of on-air talent. Personalities like Byrnes, Voda and John Roberts all got their start when Totally NASCAR gave them a chance. It might be nice to let another hardworking TV personality and production team step-in and get this series back on the right track.

Have you seen Totally NASCAR this season? What do you think of the host and the format? Share your opinion with us by clicking 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.

19 comments:

Dale88Rulez said...

Anything other than Byrnes, Voda, Larry Mac in a turban, Hammond with a Darth Vader helmet, and Sterling Marlin making Tennessee Football picks is not Totally NASCAR. Sorry. For an old school race fan like me and my friends it's kind of blasphemy to dig out the old name and try to sell that to us as the real thing. Didn't the original win an Emmy or at least get nomintated for one? And thanks for bringing up NASCAR Nation, JD, that gave me a migraine just thinking about it.

Jimbacca said...

It comes off as more of an infomercial look. Canned interviews and content. Nothing new just clipped from other shows. Watched two episodes and it just seems very detached.

David said...

I was in North Carolina a couple weeks back for vacation staying with a friend who had digital cable, while browsing I saw the name Totally NASCAR and immediately flipped my lid! "Was this the same show that I loved when RPM got the boot?" I thought. Unfortunately as you described JD, it was not. Really a shame they resurrect this program but in a junk format. But thus has begun the problem with SPEED/FOX as of late and will be the problem with ESPN late this year. These networks have so much air-time and timeslots to fill that original content every day seems to be impossible so they recycle story after story after story.

Moving it back to the Charlotte area would make alot more sense though, I am shocked someone like an Adam Alexander isn't leading up this show. It'd make for a great opportunity for someone to get a start indeed.

Anonymous said...

JD
Its in L.A. because its "totally" nascar! You know, DUDE, like....TOTALLY. Gnarly! Rad!Like, awesome!
Just too KOOL, DUDE! Like all the hipster execs at FOX, who are, like, so IN TUNE with what's IN, what's NOW, what's HAPP'nin!

They are sooooo smart.....just ask them-they'll tell ya.

Totally groundhog. Totally pizza man. Totally boogity. Totally all-car# 48 all the time!

And on-air talent selection TOTALLY BASED ON LOOKS AND NOT TALENT.

Take a look at Fox exec heirarchy....not a female in the bunch

Vicky D said...

Anon at 7:52. Loved your comments! I'll have to hunt and peck to find this show just to see what ya'll are talking about.

GinaV24 said...

I didn't even know this show existed again - I watched the old show and enjoyed it but I never watch the foxsports channel - at least not on purpose. LOL, probably because I can't find it. One of the problems with having approx 150 channels plus HD (and to paraphrase a line from a song - "150 channels and NOTHING on). Once in a while I'll stumble across channels that I didn't plan to watch and there will be something worthwhile on, but this show doesn't sound like it has a lot of value if its just recycled material from other Speed shows. Why bother? so I probably won't try and find it in the myriad of channels that digital cable now contains.

GinaV24 said...

Anon 7:52 -- totally AWESOME comments. Loved it.

dawg said...

No, & I don't plan to.

glenc1 said...

yikes...you know, I loved the old Totally NASCAR--I particularly liked the features where they'd go visit the drivers and show a bit of what they liked to do. But I haven't even looked at Fox Sports Net in years. I forgot I still had it as a channel, actually. This doesn't sound like a show that would make me want to find it again, lol. Just my 2 cents on the looks thing...these days, you don't find 'unattractive' people of *either* sex on TV. But obviously you want the ones with the brains to match.

batchief said...

I loved Totally Nascar, especially from June of 02 until it went riding into the sunset for the Hollywood produced Nascar Nation. What I read about TN's demise was that Fox's ratings were down. They didn't mention that in some areas (mine) it was aired on Speed at an earlier time then Fox. Those people, more than likely, wouldn't watch it on Fox after seeing the same episode earlier on Speed. Moral to my story is they split the viewership between two cable networks.

Daly Planet Editor said...

batchief,

You are entirely correct. Changes in distribution and airing schedules between FoxSportsNet and SPEED wound-up effectively killing the show.

JD

batchief said...

Totally Agree John! The shame is that it was just the kind of show many on here and other website have been calling for the last few years.

Anonymous said...

It really kills you that television moves on without you, and that the aesthetics that worked in your day are now considered antiquated.

JohnP said...

I sure do remember Totally Nascar. They lost me though and I never watched Nascar Nation.

Had no clue that Totally Nascar was back on the air. Would not have a clue what broadcaster, what channel, what night, what time.

So, to answer your question JD.

Never seen it in it's modern format.

Gymmie said...

Oh dear! I haven't watched it and that doesn't make me want to.

I loved the original Totally NA$CAR. My favorite episode was when the #45 was being prepared for Sears Point with the VJGC logos and all since they were leaving from the Left Coast that year. Kyle and Steve "helped" the boyz at the shop by doing the decals for them. The King did the inspection and told the boyz not to quit their day jobs! They didn't do horrible but there was some fixing the shop boyz had to do! It really showed how difficult it is to get the decals on there and in the right positions.

@batchief--yes in Cali I had like 8 billion FSN channels through Comcast (however it did not good because so many things were blacked out). And sometimes would watch the early TN other times I'd wait. But I did get to see some NA$CAR commercials from the Central TZ especially that I didn't get in Cali so that was one good thing about having the 8 billion FSN channels when something *wasn't* blacked out :).

Yes I do remember NA$CAR Nation. Speed1 was making some good changes until he was "relieved of his duties" and if he had stayed it would have been a good show. He was really taking our comments from the forums and making the changes. It was great to read a comment about something simple even such as how the hosts were positioned and see the changes the next show :). Then when he was released the show turned into Tabloid Hades!

Anonymous said...

JD:
I don't undersand why the ANONs come to TDP to hate on you. (They are always, of course, ANONs)

Don't they have a life?

Makiki
Honolulu

Daly Planet Editor said...

I try to post the ones without profanity or hateful speech.

One guy said I had a fatwa against ESPN. I had to look that one up!

Takes all kinds to make a world.

JD

Newracefan said...

The first version of TN was before I became a fan and I didn't even know this one existed. Sounds like I'm not missing anything

David said...

Oy, NASCAR Nation....I repressed those memories folks!!!! HATED that show!