Thursday, September 2, 2010

BET And NASCAR Debut "Changing Lanes" (Updated)


Update: Going to leave this post up to host your comments on the first episode of the show. Some folks put it on the DVR and will be watching it later. I liked the personalities of the kids and the fact that viewers got to see the parents. I did not like the choice of a voice-over announcer or the hyped drama of the heat races. I will be back next week and watch the next episode.

The NASCAR Media Group, BET network and former DEI president Max Seigel are partnering to bring a new series to TV. Changing Lanes is one of those infamous "docu-series" that allows producers to walk both sides of the street.

Part real story and part scripted competition, Changing Lanes is sure to be controversial to some. Click here to watch the official video preview.

Here is the basic premise from a recent press release:

The series kicks off at NASCAR's Drive for Diversity Combine where 30 drivers gather to showcase their on-track skills as well as their ability to conduct themselves professionally in various settings. Those that perform well continue in the competition, undergo further on- and off-track evaluations and subsequent eliminations until there are only four contestants remaining. The final group will join Revolution Racing and compete in the 2010 K&N Series as well as partake in a 50-lap head-to-head race. The winner will get the opportunity to qualify for the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, CA.

Click here for a link to Dave Kallman of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussing this ten episode series. Kallman makes several very good points. The mix between the real world and "docu-drama" content edited for TV might work well in entertainment, but motorsports is a bit different.

Over at commonsensemedia.org, the website gives the series high marks in several different categories. Click here to see the review. "The series offers positive messages and role models for tweens and up," says the article.

Meanwhile, over at The New York Post the Changing Lanes headline says "NASCAR: It's not just white guys." In yet another major market publication out of touch with the sport, the Post pushes the redneck stereotype while using Danica Patrick and Wendell Scott as the best NASCAR minority examples.

The rapper Ludacris, whose real name is Chris Bridges, provides the narration for Changing Lanes. Bridges is no stranger to media controversy and is certainly an curious choice. He has walked a fine line between mainstream media acceptance and public criticism for profanity, misogyny and racism in his song lyrics. Those critics have included Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama.

BET as the destination for this series is also interesting. SPEED sits as the de facto motorsports cable TV network right now and certainly could use some new Monday night NASCAR-related shows. There simply is not much of a cross-over between the current NASCAR TV partners and BET. That makes promotion in existing NASCAR programming for Changing Lanes tough to do.

Seigel had a rough ride in NASCAR after coming to DEI with lots of dreams and ambitions to integrate current music and entertainment celebrities into the sport through his personal connections in the industry. Now, those same connections have resulted in a reality-style TV series that will certainly open some eyes among the existing fan base.

The MaxSeigel.com website calls Seigel "one of the most influential executives in the entertainment and sports industries." This time, Seigel is walking in backed by an established production company in the NASCAR Media Group. His product is airing on a well-known TV network in BET and NASCAR has given him the official stamp of approval for his effort.

Changing Lanes is going to be a fascinating television experiment to watch. The series debuts Wednesday at 8PM Eastern/7PM Central Time on BET.

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.

24 comments:

Leaphart3 said...

The show will be compelling. Nice photo. Who shot it?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let me guess! That would be Leaphart3?

Wisconsin Steve said...

If this does anything to help NASCAR’s attempts at diversifying the sport, then I’m all for it. Since Max Seigel is heavily involved, it will probably treat the sport with respect. As for the choice of networks, BET is probably a better choice than Speed if the primary goal is to attract new minority fans – most of the people watching Speed are already fans anyway.

Ritchie said...

In your post, you indicate that the choice to air this on BET instead of SPEED is "interesting" because there is no crossover promotion.

I believe you may have missed the point. Shows like this are meant to create new fans, not satisfy established ones. Potential fans do not seek out SPEED to sample racing, it is up to the sport to go out and introduce its self to new demographics. That is why programs such as this, and having NASCAR drivers on SportsCenter are so important. That is where the new fans are, not on SPEED.

Maybe this show won't feel very satisfying to the "hardcore" fan, but it doesn't seem to be its intention.

SPEED needs to take care of its own self. If it wants to satisfy its core audience, it should start offering hardcore racing and info. Not fluff game shows and SPEED "personalities".

The fact of the matter is that the average age of a NASCAR fan is 40 years old. If this doesn't change, the sport will die. I like SPEED as much as the next fan, but that is more important than SPEED's ratings.

SPEED needs to worry about its own programming, not BET's.

Brian Fletcher said...

I've never been a fan of contrived "diversity," and that's what this seems like. I dont know the reason why there are few women, blacks, Hispanics or Asians in NASCAR, but I doubt it's because there are no "reality" shows giving them a shot. The only thing this will do is set the winner of the contest up for a career of "[S]he only got here because of that TV show."

Anonymous said...

That mansion is for sale.

Duncan Macleod said...

The road to Cup competition is paved with a combination of talent and a lot of capital. If you don't have both, you aren't going to make it. It doesn't matter what your race or gender are. The other option is to find someone to sponsor you whether you can drive or not. This is just another example of how NASCAR doesn't get it.

Darcie said...

Ummm, American Idol for Nascar? Sorry, but a reality show is not going to change diversity in Nascar. You can have talent, but nowadays, unless you arrive with money or big sponsors, you're not going to succeed. And regardless, there is still inherent racism and sexism within the sport. When the best driver, Richard Petty, says that a woman cannot possibly succeed in Nascar, you've got more than two strikes against

77KJAX said...

I believe Max Seigal has one PRIMARY GOAL, to raise the stature of Max Seigal .....I also think the diversity program,as a whole,is a good thing....Darrel Wallace Jr is a great example(part of Max's program I think),his name is ironic considering it was given about 20 years ago ....Darrel(Waltrip)Wallace(Rusty etc)Jr(Joonyer)....he is a great young talent (among others)who happens to be black & for now mostly runs in the K&N east series.......I wish him & the others the best in their future journeys..... BET is full of hypocrites that I choose not to watch ....

glenc1 said...

JD, you are brave, discussions on these things can go so wrong....

Jack's 'gong' show was pretty much like this; I think they found people with talent (including some minorities) but as Darcie says, the sponsorship issue is the key, especially when the economy tanked. However, I think a show like this could possibly bring new sponsorship, if a person sees the right opportunity who may not have noticed before. I have no problem with 'contrived' diversity. The reason they are not in NASCAR isn't because there wasn't a reality show, it's a lot of things that NASCAR has been looking at a long time. I love the King, but he is kind of a dinosaur in that way. Lot of it is probably to do with families (you tend to get involved if your parent is) and some of it is probably money, plus attitudes about racing and about NASCAR. Anyone who saw that show with Junior a few years back that features some rather ill mannered fans (I won't go into the gory details) might think NASCAR and its fans are all like that: even sponsors might hesitate to get involved for that reason. It also helps to have someone to look up to, and there just hasn't been anyone. They ought to figure out why it's so different in drag racing. But I do agree with one thing Ritchie said--you have to get new fans or the sport dies. I love the truck series & its old timers, but a bunch of old white guys (no offense intended) are just not going to bring in new fans. And the empty stands indicate that something is indeed broken.

When I started working, a manager in my office had a sign that said 'if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Is that what you want?' And the truth is, diversity does bring in new ideas & growth, especially if you wish to expand globally.

Ludacris does seem an odd choice, but most of those guys seem to know when to turn it on & off (ie, it's an act.) And you'd have to have a 'name'. If I remember to, I might check it out.

Anonymous said...

um, trying way too hard to be politically correct

Anonymous said...

Darcie, is there also inherent racism in the NHL? Or the NBA and NFL? None of those leagues are as diverse as our country. I don't have facts and figures but I would bet that MLB is the most diverse. And last time I checked there were zero women in any of them. Just wondering.

Kathy16 said...

anon 8:52--that's apples & oranges. Physically, *most* women are not the size they would need to be in the top leagues as men in the sports you mention. She did not reference a league, but 'the sport'. There is racism in all of society. It just may not be at the highest level, just pockets, but it's naive to think it isn't there.

Anon 8:48, hard to imagine, but some people believe that you need to be correct for reasons other than politics. Like maybe you believe it's the right thing to do. Max had a good interview on SPEED.

Darcie said...

Anon 8:52, your argument is not germane. Women cannot compete in the NFL/NBA/NHL due to obvious physical reasons. Do you honestly think a woman could play quarterback in the NFL against 350 lb defensive tackles and huge linebackers? Do you think women have the strength to rough it up in the NHL? Yes, there was one woman who tried to be a goalie in the NHL, but she was too small against the men. The size of a woman has nothing to do with racing in Nascar. Most male Nascar drivers are tiny and lightweight, probably averaging 5'6" and weighing less than 160lbs. So physically, a woman should be able to compete with men in Nascar but they just don't get the opportunity. Again, it's all due to who you know and how much money you can bring with you, and most women don't have the deep pockets that the men have. Only Danica, with her big sponsors, has been truly brought into Nascar---and we all know it's not because of her talent, but because of her looks and her sponsorship.

What do you mean by racism in the NFL/MLB/NBA? They are as diverse racially as you'll ever get, unless you're talking about reverse racism in the NBA where caucasians are in the vast minority. But, how can anyone say that those sports aren't diverse enough with regards to minorities? Sure, Hispanics don't choose to play pro football, but that's not because it's closed to them. For whatever reason, they choose not to. For Hispanics, it's baseball, just as football and basketball is where it's at for African Americans. Who knows why neither is attracted to hockey, and while there are a few Blacks in the NHL, again, it's not closed to them if they wanted to play the sport. For those sports, all you need is the physicality, talent and the desire to play the sport. It has nothing to do with needing sponsors or big bucks.

Darcie said...

Anon 8:52, I would like to add, the NBA has the WNBA, which no other professional sport has, so women are represented in that sport.

As for numbers: MLB: 39% minority
NBA: 78% minority
NFL: 72% minority

I think those numbers go way beyond reflecting the US population with regards to minorities when you consider that African Americans comprise approximately 13.5% of the population.

GinaV24 said...

Saw Max Seigel on Race Hub last night. I thought he did a nice job promoting the show.

I'm not sure if I will watch simply because I may not remember that it is on and BET is not a channel that I view on a regular basis. It sounds like it will be a well done show and if it brings in more fans to racing, more power to it.

Scott Orr said...

You're all overlooking the one critical reason why people don't generally race: They weren't given the opportunity as children, a la Jeff Gordon and others.

To play basketball, all you need is a $25 ball and a hoop. To race, you need a $2500 go-kart, for starters. And the price goes up as the kids get older.

It's expensive and that's a barrier to many families.

glenc1 said...

actually Scott--I think several of us mentioned money and families...

But anyway....I really liked that. I found myself wanting to know more about them. They kinda made a lot of Paulie being the 'bad boy'...but I also think all racers have a certain amount of arrogance. I would watch it again. I hope they give everyone enough of a chance considering their different backgrounds.

Donna in FL said...

We liked the show. Not sure how much additional career impact it's going to make for any of these hopefuls- being "on TV" can go both for & against you- success in racing comes by way of exceptional talent & finding money not physical attributes. But it is an interesting story. I'd already heard of the more promising drivers from their track appearances. I can see where this show might help pique a non-racing fan's interest.

Photojosh said...

Ludacris isn't an odd choice at all when you consider the audience that BET has. It's actually a very good choice. He's smart, has a name, and a recognizable voice. Plus, he's got enough street cred for some folks and is mainstream enough for others. It's actually a choice that should be applauded if you recognize that the goal is to introduce new fans from a new demographic to racing.

Anonymous said...

Photojosh,I completely agree with you because I also see him as someone whom the audience can relate to. I also see this show as a good step for Nascar to reach that audience.

OSBORNK said...

I thought the show was fairly good but I think it might be to PC for the intended audience. They concentrate on a chosen few and the rest are just filler. They seem to concentrate on one from different demographic groups. They have an African-American male, a white female, a hispanic female, a foreign male(don't remember the country) who lives in Virginia and a "old" male(25).

Dot said...

To Darcie 9:51PM,
Brava! Great post. I totally agree.

To Scott Orr,
I agree with you too. Not only the expense of racing equipment but, kid has to be driven to track. Stick & ball sports can be played by just walking to school yard or park.

Anonymous said...

First off I believe that the show was a good idea. However Max Siegel thinks that he is well known. Not even going off his 3,000or so twitter friends...he has yet to cross over in the African American community. Which is not a bad or good thing.

The concept for Changing Lanes is to expose the sport more to women and minorities, choosing BET was a great idea, except the network, along with Max Siegel forgot to create trust within the black community. Because NASCAR is not a respected or well watched sport in the A.A community, trust must first be obtained. I believe Max thought that because he was in gospel entertainment and currently in the race car industry, that this would be an easy transition. Nothing is easy when conversion is involved.

The show also had a very broad target audience. The key leaders of the show were older teenagers/young adults, yet the promotional marketing of the show was targeting a much younger audience. They should have focused on highschool to college (the majority who rule social media)

It's not impossible to convert African Americans into the world of racing but the approach has to mixed with something that is relatable.