Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween On SPEED Is A Tradition



Some folks love it and some folks hate it. The only thing that really matters is that the SPEED on-air announcers are game and the results are often priceless.

It's time for yet another Halloween in costume for the Camping World Truck Series TV team. Thanks to SPEED for the two pictures above. You can click directly on them to see them full-size and right click to save them to your computer.

We have spent a lot of time recently documenting the struggles of ESPN as the network televises the Chase races. There has also been a lot of time and effort dedicated to complaining about what college football has done to the Nationwide Series down the stretch on ESPN2.

Today, we can take a minute to shine the spotlight on the SPEED gang and their consistent presence in the truck series. Ratings are small, but trending upward for the trucks once again this year. The spread of SPEED-HD has no doubt played a role as sports fans discover that the trucks look great on TV.

Krista Voda has recently changed roles and now hosts the Trackside show in addition to The Setup pre-race show for the trucks. From the beginning, it was clear that Voda had the ability to cut through the clutter and hype where NASCAR racing is concerned.

Producer Keith D'Alessandro and director Roger Vincent have taken a very different approach to racing. That begins with the pre-race show. No fancy sets, no heavy graphics and no panel discussions. Voda is alone on the starting grid like a local station news reporter. Here we are, this is what's happening and we are live.

On these Halloween weekends Voda does the entire show front and center in her costume without missing a beat. Over the years, Voda has anchored The Setup in the freezing cold, the scorching heat and the pouring rain. At tracks big and small, this simple and effective approach has won over TV viewers.

It's hard to erase the image of pit reporter Adam Alexander as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. His interviews in costume with Ron Hornaday Jr. and Todd Bodine were priceless. Alexander's broadcast partner Ray Dunlap did himself proud as Dorothy. The video of him skipping down pit lane with Toto in a basket is destined to live on for a long time.

Alexander and Dunlap are effective because the truck series has fewer trucks competing for the win and two pit reporters can usually get the job done. As you may have guessed, it's the budget that does not allow a third person on pit road. Perhaps, next season SPEED may consider that option.

Unlike the various ESPN on-air talent who rotate through the Nationwide Series telecasts, SPEED uses the same three announcers for the entire season. While Michael Waltrip has missed a race or two, the trio of Waltrip with Rick Allen and Phil Parsons are pretty much inseparable.

These three have become fast friends in real life over the years and that away from the track relationship has helped on many broadcasts. While Allen provides the exciting call of the race, it's Parsons and Waltrip who continue to be a vital part of updating fans on the changing faces of the series.

The role of Parsons and Waltrip is to paint a picture of the field at the races and then follow-up on the wide variety of stories. Certainly, some dominant teams always run up front but the field is peppered with independents and young drivers who are sometimes racing on this level for the first time.

This weekend is a great example. ARCA's Craig Goess races for the first time in trucks. Also, names like Jeffrey Earnhardt, Max Papis and Larry Foyt return. Veterans Kenny Schrader and Mike Skinner are going to be competing alongside of Kyle Busch in his own team truck. It's a diverse field with good stories to tell.

SPEED has practice at 10AM and then qualifying at 4:30PM on Friday. Costumes are out for The Setup at 3PM on Saturday and the race begins shortly after 4PM. Since the Halloween costumes are always a theme for the entire TV team, would you like to offer a guess on this year's choice?

If you are a CWTS regular viewer, please feel free to leave us a comment on how you think TV coverage of the series is being done so far this season. 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.

27 comments:

Buschseries61 said...

Overall, Speed has done a great job this season. There have been a few races that seemed off, but the policy of less is best has always paid off for this group. The Truck Series is the one place fans can watch a race without a NASCAR 101 lecture. An infield studio and tech garage is clearly not needed. All that is needed is good pictures, passion about the series and focus on the race on the track at the moment, all things missing from ESPN.

Gymmie said...

Not sure....hear the Jersey Shore costumes are popular this year.

I love the costumes! Glad everyone is a great sport about it! The drivers play along great!

The Set Up tells us about different guys and not the same 5 like other networks. The "richest" drivers aren't the only ones who do things that would make great pieces.

racingfool said...

Very nicely done JD.
Enjoyed the story.

Anonymous said...

So what happens when the inevitable happens and someone has to be life-flighted out? How do the viewers take anything seriously when the people telling them what's happening are wearing goofy clothes and face paint?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:14AM, the TV team tapes the pre-race show in costume and has some fun along the way. They do the live race in normal professional mode. It's a nice little break before the stretch run.

Anonymous said...

That's hardly inevitable. It hasn't happened the last couple of years, for example.

I think it's a fun way to celebrate. This is, after all, a sport (which is supposed to be fun), not a newscast.

mrclause said...

Just please, please,please, get Mikey out of the booth. Like DW tries to make the show all about him, Mikey is the know it all for the truck series and his voice is irritating enough without his yelling into the mic! Love the truck series, but, don't watch because of Mikey!

I don't think there should be a team owner working the booth. Maybe the exception could be made for Parsons. The rest I wouldn't miss!

MRM4 said...

I like the SPEED crew dressing up for Halloween. Let's hope none of the costumes catch on fire on pit road. I'd like to see the Sunday Night Football team dress up this year since their game is on Halloween night.

SPEED's coverage of the truck series is how racing should be approached by any network. They keep it simple while providing good camera shots, good analysis, and staying on top of things while the action takes place.

OSBORNK said...

Speed has been the bright light in an otherwise dark year of NASCAR coverage. I'm glad they make an effort to lighten up and enjoy what they do. Their coverage this year as compared to the other networks proves that less is sometimes more.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Star Wars might be funny...I mean, picture Ray as Princess Leia...in the bikini (actually I'd rather not)...Adam as Jabba the Hut...Waltrip as Chewbacca...Rick as C3PO...

Personally I think some lighthearted fun is just what Talladega needs. The serious stuff, as you have noted, comes later.

Vince said...

Still havin nightmares of Ray as Dorothy and Adam as Good Witch Glenda. Whata hoot!

Anonymous said...

Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean that it won't. Serious accidents (and by that I mean an accident that results in a serious injury or worse) can happen in any race at any time.

I think everyone enjoys the SPEED NCWTS broadcasts, by and large. I just hate to see the buffoonery that has overtaken all of their other NASCAR broadcasts seep into the Truck shows.

AncientRacer said...

Couple hours or we leave for Talladega. Despite the problems we all know about this weekend is always fun at the track - especially Saturday night when everyone seems to be in some sort of costume. One of our crew has a killer rig this year: "Brian Le Roi Magnifique" (Think BZF as Louis XIV on steroids and you will be close) Too, this year we have added inducement to go of maybe finding the Childersburg gold. If you don't know about that google it. It has become the central Alabama equivalent of the Lost Dutchman mine. On a final note, I am happy I do not have to try to watch the races on TV, and I am happy I still want to attend. They have not killed that in me yet though they have been diligently applying themselves to the task.

Cheers!

longtimeracefan said...

The SPEED crew would be great as South Park characters. Would love to see Cartman interview Schrader.

Anonymous said...

I think it's silly and unprofessional. If ESPN did it people would rip it to shreds on here since everybody loves SPEED and hates ESPN.

GinaV24 said...

I love Halloween -- its fun and I like that the Speed gang brings that fun to the track with them. Krista does a great job and I like the trucks. I am not a big Mikey fan and for me he takes away from my enjoyment of the trucks, but other than that one fly in the ointment, the Speed broadcasts of the truck races ARE the best for showing NASCAR racing.

It's about the racing, not other blah blah blah because that's why I tune in to watch.

Anonymous said...

Speed's truck coverage is rock solid. Waltrip gets a little out of hand but has toned it down a little bit this year it seems. I'm sure most fans enjoy the no nonsense, get to the dang race already coverage that Speed provides.

The costumes are funny as can be and it is great when they interview the drivers like that.

ESPN couldn't pull off something like this if their lives depended on it.

Sam

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:16PM, Perhaps I did not make it clear. The SPEED gang gets out of their costumes long before the race and presents the event in the same way as all other races.

Anonymous said...

You know, I just hate it when *some* people assume *everybody* has the same opinion, anon 9:41. As we've noted again and again, there have been things done very well on ESPN that many of us enjoy--NASCAR Now and some of the races themselves. Just because you don't choose to read the differing opinions doesn't mean they don't exist. Many, yes, *many* have not enjoyed the cup race broadcasts. But we are not all condemning them as a network.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see some Halloween tomfoolery on ESPN on Sunday and it wouldn't bother me a bit. I can recall other sporting events (Monday Night FB for one) having fun with the holiday as well.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:41am UNPROFESSIONAL? what's professional? is a tie and jacket professional at a race track? I've seen those guys at the race track wearing shirt, tie, jacket and BLUE JEANS! is that professional?

I'm confused what's professional?

batchief said...

I love the Halloween show. Shows me this group is not above poking fun at themselves and having a good time doing it. I too was leaning to Star Wars (Krista=Leah, Rick=Chewbaca, Phil=R2D2, Michael=Darth Vader, Ray=C3PO, Adam=Bubba Fet) but don't have a clue if that is what it will be. Just know that it has to be something with six characters so that everyone has a roll.

Roland said...

Im gonna go against the grain and disagree with everyone.

I sorta agree with the Anon at 9:41. It is very unprofessional. If espn did it I would rip it to shreds too. Dont really agree with the whole speed/espn bias thing but everyones entitled to their opinions.

I will not be watching the setup. I think it is incredibly embarrasing to speed and nascar. I think they arent doing themselves any good in the credibility department by this nonsense. Speed has a habit of going overboard with things and this will be no different. The halloween edition of trackside is saturday night too so count me out for that. Last year Larry and Jeff couldnt stop giggling enough to let any real discussion take place.

Talladega is a scary track (no pun intended) and things happen here that dont happen anywhere else. The posibility of disaster is greater than anywhere else, and often when disaster strikes it gets pretty violent. This is one instance where you cant have enough hype for this race, but instead we'll get Ray dressed up like dorthy skipping down pit lane and Adam crossdressing and kissing Todd Bodine. Sorry but nothing about that is gonna make me tune in. Ill be there at 4.

Gymmie said...

@anon--it's NOT unprofessional! And I'd LOVE IT if ESPN did something like that! I always feel for the reporters out on pit road in the summer where it's a billion degrees and they're in those firesuits. I'd love to see DJ, Mr. Petree, Allen and Co in a nice dress shirt (can't think of what they're called but the really nice ones) every so often. I think many of them would enjoy doing something like this. But TPTB have determined the dress code and that's what they have to live with.

And we HAVE provided ESPN with props when it's deserved.

Debby said...

Good recap and good info for new followers. Speed does a good job with both the silly and the serious. Lighten up and have some fun. We have seen these programs in person at previous races and makes you appreciate it more when you see it on TV. We will miss the Trucks as we will be driving to Talladega from Cincinnati for the Cup race. Will tape the SetUp and the truck race as it is fun. Will try to go to the special Trackside at Talladega if we can; last year's was funny. Larry Mac was too creepy.

glenc1 said...

I can't see how letting a bunch of reporters provide a few lighthearted moments *before* the race is going to do anything other than give the drivers a welcome laugh. It is a *prerace* show, not race coverage. Lighten up!

GinaV24 said...

AncientRacer -- have fun!

Jimbacca said...

This is always something I tape every year. It's great that they have fun and still are informative. If someone were to have an issue in the prerace during this segment I'm sure they can handle it. BEFORE The race is the key here. ESPN is more than welcome to try it but they don't have the personalities to pull it off. The truck series is a more lighthearted affair. Less cameras, less commercials, less gimmicks, and still for the most part show the race. Sure there are off nights but their offs are far less than the big guys Ons.