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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