Thursday, June 17, 2010

SPEED's "Race Hub" At A Crossroads

There have already been a lot of changes to the new Race Hub series that SPEED airs Monday through Thursday at 7:30PM. Essentially, this is SPEED's answer to the daily NASCAR Now show that ESPN began back in 2007. At that time, SPEED wanted nothing to do with a daily NASCAR news show.

Wednesday, Rick Allen hosted the program. The network continues to rotate personalities through this position rather than hire a fulltime host for the four day a week series that runs for ten months of the year.

While Allen is an outstanding voice for the Camping World Truck Series and works well in the scripted environment of The SPEED Report, he is an alien in the world of the Sprint Cup Series where he has virtually no experience or point of reference.

Allen's interviews with Marcos Ambrose and Tommy Baldwin hearkened back to the early days of NASCAR Now where ESPN on-air talent would read scripted questions to various NASCAR personalities in a show so dry and controlled it was impossible to watch.

The ultimate irony of Wednesday's show was Allen's questions to Tommy Baldwin about the practice of starting and parking in the Sprint Cup Series. Allen's CWTS boothmate and friend Phil Parsons is currently starting and parking multiple cars for profit in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. This reality was never referenced, despite Allen boasting that he was asking the tough questions.

This has been the saga of Race Hub, one week a news program and the next a bad version of PM Magazine. Pre-taped perfect features with perfect faces asking perfect questions. What's the point? Fans already have Internet access and Sirius 128 so the news topics of the day are already known.

While ESPN's Shannon Spake led NASCAR Now with the breaking story of Casey Mears being released by Red Bull, Allen led Race Hub with a polite interview of Marcos Ambrose. ESPN had Marty Smith live from Charlotte to update the latest news on the Mears story while Race Hub relied on guest Tommy Balwin to finally bring up the topic twenty minutes into the show.

When Kevin Harvick was griping about Joey Logano's dad, Harvick said the Sprint Cup Series was not Little League baseball. He was implying that the younger Logano needed to grow up and play the game everyone else was playing. SPEED needs to get that message about Race Hub loud and clear. Either play at the top level or go home.

The world of NASCAR news has daily TV and radio shows, websites, blogs and an endless string of Twitter messages and press releases to get the latest information across to the fans, viewers and listeners.

Casey Mears made an appearance on Sirius 128 Wednesday. His story was updated live on NASCAR Now. Over at SPEED, the Mears story was mentioned at the tail of the pre-recorded Race Hub show only after a studio guest brought up the topic.

If SPEED wants to play in the big leagues, Race Hub shows need to be an hour in length, have an experienced host and be done live. This TV series has been on the air since February and has gone nowhere. If SPEED does not want to put the TV resources toward a major league effort for NASCAR news, the network should just take its Little League bat and go home.

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glenc1 said...

while I still enjoyed hearing Tommy's comments, the fact that he seeks sponsors and Phil doesn't was never mentioned...that angered me, essentially, guys like Tommy could race more if guys like Phil weren't taking their places. This was a better show than yesterday, but still not where it needs to be. Expecting a live, or near live, daily show from Speed is asking a lot though.

glenc1 said...

ooops...missed the rest of the comments, still not used to clicking on the bottom. (I kinda miss clicking on the headline.) I missed some of the end and didn't realize they mentioned Casey eventually. I don't find this a big story as Casey himself had said he was racing week to week. But yes, news at the beginning would be better.

The rivalry pieces was not good and quite pointless,, much as I like Krista.

Ritchie said...

I am at a loss as to how SPEED, a channel that should be dedicated to auto sports, could possibly think that it is appropriate to not have a journalistic presence every day.

There are dozens of top notch NASCAR centered reporters in the Charlotte area that would jump at the chance to create a daily NASCAR show.

It wouldn't have to be slick and fancy like NASCAR Now, it would just have to have integrity.

Is that really too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

Speed's management has decided to go down the reality tv path. RH is too politically nascar correct to be worth much. It could be a great nascar show, but the content is too "light". I quit watching.

JohnP said...

TDP talked me into trying the Race Hub show at the beginning of the season. I gave it about 4 to 6 weeks and finally stopped watching. Boring, and no real information I didn't already know. As everyone who reads here knows, I don't do twitter. I don't want to know what someone had for dinner, or when their sitting on their porch as the Twitter commercial advertises. However, I keep up with Nascar news online. Mostly through jayski, but not limited to them. Race Hub offers me nothing of value. And that's a shame. They Had a really great opportunity and blew it.

GinaV24 said...

race hub really wiffed on this one. I didn't like Rick Allen in the role of host at all and saying he was asking the "tough" questions is a joke.

He was on the Inside Nascar deal that was streamed on, too, wasn't he? I didn't think he added anything.

Missing the whole Mears story was poor, too.

Speed still isn't doing the job it needs to get and keep my interest on a daily basis.

Unknown said...

I find myself not watching the daily shows anymore. Part of it is that I get home too late during the week and it doesn't fit in. The other part is that I read a lot of the news during the day, so by the time I get home things aren't fresh. I'll try to watch if there is someone I am interested in being interviewed. Part of Baldwin's interview was posted before the show aired. Other pieces from both shows are rehashes of columns posted earlier in the day.

I was happy to see Baldwin on defending his practices, being visible, and trying to get sponsors.

Parsons is no longer a part of the NW S&P brigade, at least publicly. The cars that ran under the MSRP banner are now Humphrey-D'Hondt Motorsports cars. Parsons nor his wife are no longer listed as the owner on either the 90 or 91.

dawg said...

NO NASCAR show on SPEED can survive without a Waltrip. Add 2 of them & it's an instant home run. A Grand Slam if Jaws brings Digger.

Donna DeBoer said...

I DVR both NASCAR Now & RaceHub, and watch them back to back. For me, NN is the news show and while RaceHub should certainly touch any breaking news, I don't want news to be their focus. While it was awkward because of Allen (who is GREAT with the Trucks) I enjoyed hearing what both Ambrose & TommyB had to say, in fact I enjoy most of RaceHub's interviews with NASCAR people who hardly get any coverage anywhere else. I would like RaceHub's focus to continue there since as they (SPEED) repeatedly point out, they are in NASCAR's backyard and ESPN isn't.

Anonymous said...

Being retired, I have the opportunity to watch many of the Nascar related shows on the various networks. A common thread runs throughout all the shows-poor quality hosting and pit reporting. If you listed all the names, probably 30% do a really poor job. They are nice, pleasant people but really don't know much about Nascar racing and are technically ignorant. Criticism that Rick Allen isn't up on Cup matters is probably legitimate. I think he does a good job with the Trucks and would take him over Marty Reid any day. With the Internet,we often know breaking news hours in advance of the 'breaking news' on the TV broadcasts. Race Hub is very inconsistent,still has a hokey set and doesn't need Race Queens.

Richard in N.C. said...

I have and still do enjoy Race Hub, watch it almost every day, and now realize that I watch much less of EESPN's SpoutsCenter as a result.

Unless his car is involved in a big wreck or lands a major sponsor, I doubt I will ever see Tommy Baldwin on N-Now.

Beyond anything else, Race Hub serves a major, major purpose as EESPN almost always seems to make a better effort when it has competition.

Kate said...

Anonymous 11:40 am is right... the Internet gives us the real 'breaking news'. Which brings me to my pitch.
Totally NASCAR. Bring it back. It worked. People loved it.

MikeC said...

What I find with SPEED is it comes across as nothing more than as if they're an arm of the NASCAR PR department. Everything's fine and dandy, the sun is always shining and they shy away from anything controversial. Whereas, ESPN tends to dig a little deeper and get a little edgier. Mind you, it's not to the point where ESPN sensationalizes things, but they're not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Anonymous said...

who is john daly anyway ? people only know the have opinions but this website is run by a guy who was run out of broadcasting because he couldn"t cut it.. john daly is biased, jealous, and not in tune with nascar broadcasting..i'd rather hear from fans than from some angry grouch like daly..and there is alot more dirt on him that we can bring out if needed...

Richard in N.C. said...

I thought Race Hub was actually pretty good. Except for ignoring Parsons, I thought the interview with Baldwin was a good explanation of what underfunded teams have to do - and Baldwin and Parsons really aren't doing the same thing since Baldwin's car actually races sometimes. It will be interesting to see whether SPEED can continue to ignor S&P'ers now that it has been discussed on Race Hub.

It seems to me that Race Hub continues to take on added importance as what used to be the print media continues to wither and replace reporting with commentary and quasi-informed speculation. For Pocono Jeff Gluck, Jenna Fryar, Dustin Long, Ryan McGee, and Monte Dutton were all not there - in part I suspect due to its inconvenience. Writing about races based on watching them on TV (especially when the absence from the track is not disclosed) is not reporting in my mind - and resulted in much writing about Pocono and Michigan that was incomplete at best. For instance, I have seen articles by well-known members of the press bashing NASCAR about the debris caution at the end of the Michigan race that failed to make any reference to Kasey K's having seen debris. It would appear that the economy is finally cutting into the bone of what used to be the press.

Richard in N.C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vince said...

The problem as I see it is that Speed and Race Hub in particular do not have any journalist types that can ask the hard questions. ESPN's NN has guys like Terry Blount, David Newton, Ed Hinton, Ryan McGee and Marty Smith. Who does Speed's Race Hub have? Nobody. You'll never get anything but softball interviews and fluff as long as you just have "personalities" or NASCAR shills doing the interviewing. Don't get me wrong, I like Speed. But they just don't have the personel to ask the hardball questions.

Anonymous said...

We thought DW would be gone home by now and we could enjoy all of our favorite shows on speed. They must be getting him cheaper than good sensible people so we'll watch something else. Have to pity poor John Roberts for being stuck with DW and Kenny Wallace. Race day was a decent show but these guys will kill it now.Fox/Speed just do not see the problem.

Richard in N.C. said...

Ryan McGee is in a class by himself. Otherwise, I believe the biggest difference is that Steve Byrnes, Krista Vota, Randy Pemberton, and Wendy Venturini are TV interviewers, whereas the guys at EESPN are primarily writers and the people at SPEED spend the bulk of their time preparing to be on TV rather than out trying to find news.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:45PM,

Where ya been? We have been right here since 2007 talking about NASCAR TV with the fans.

Did you miss the great comments about TNT at Michigan? How about the fantastic truck series race on SPEED?

Would you like to talk about the wonderful changes ESPN made for this season? How about the fact that "NASCAR Now" is a top show for 2010?

No one here is a grouch, has an axe to grind or is hiding something. If you have a problem with me, simply drop me a line and I will be happy to solve it.

Over the past couple of days I have dealt with TNT, Showtime, ESPN, SPEED and NASCAR directly to get the information and topics contained in this site.

I have worked with these parties since 2007. The act that is getting old is anonymous folks trying to infer that somehow I am the problem and these real topics within the NASCAR TV world are not.

So, either comment on the topic that we are discussing or take a hike. The BS store is closed for business.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic truck race on SPEED. It may have been but I couldn't watch it. I hate to say this but M.Waltrip bothers me so much I can't stand to watch truck races anymore. That goofy voice of his, the comments that never apply to the situation, and the fact he just sounds ignorant have kept me from watching.Honestly, and I hate to write and be negative, but he grates on me so bad I can no longer watch if he's on.