Monday, April 4, 2011

TV Police: NASCAR on FOX from Martinsville, VA

The chaos of Martinsville can be solved by only one man. Lt. Frank Columbo might be rumpled and slightly confused, but ultimately he can solve anything. This telecast requires some serious detective skills.

Chris Myers opened the show with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond from the new outdoor infield set positioned on the backstretch. The first thing that many viewers and even reporters at the track noticed was the colorful fans standing behind the announcers. After two segments, they mysteriously departed.

Waltrip and Hammond ran through the topics associated with the race. Hammond continues to roll his eyes at the antics of Myers and the comments of DW. Waltrip again delivered a "Revved-up" segment preaching the wonders of the sport this season.

Originally at Daytona the outdoor stage seemed to have some real meaning. Since then, it seems to be nothing more than a different location for the exact same show.

Mike Joy called the race with Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. FOX is repeating the same style of coverage in all areas. This is true in the booth and with the production. Waltrip dominated and when he speaks both Joy and McReynolds let him take the lead.

In this telecast, Joy took it all in stride and continually offered a ton of information despite the pictures on the screen. He kept filling in the details and updating the stories. If Joy was ever turned loose to generate some excitement like he used to do, it might be fun to watch.

The "hyper-tight" coverage continued with in-car cameras and tight shots dominating the race. While the booth was calling the action on the track, the director continued to offer forward looking in-car camera views as if they were a new angle for coverage.

Aerial shots were seen in transition and never on restarts. Digger kept a low profile. The scoring ticker seemed to be slower and fans emailed to say by the time it went through the field several laps had ticked by. Tough to use that technology as the primary scoring on a track like Martinsville.

An accident that ultimately brought out a red flag came about as FOX was showing in-car cameras. Replays told the tale and once again the production staff in the truck did a great job with using replays to show all the angles. Never a problem with that in FOX land, they get a lot of practice.

The race settled down with less than one hundred to go and FOX finally provided a through the field style update using the best pit reporters in the business. Ironic that the FOX group is the best and perhaps used the least on the air.

FOX used a nice double video box effect for green flag pit stops and several times broke out a wild triple-split that showed three different races for position on the track.

Over the years, the various TV networks that have televised races from Martinsville relied on wideshots that showed significant portions of the field. The simple reason was that incidents happen quickly and it was easier to replay the tight shots and in-car angles. This approach emphasized the racing.

FOX proudly offers just the opposite. Almost every incident was replayed and information relayed from reporters at the track like pit road penalties was updated by replay. The emphasis from FOX is on making pretty pictures for HDTV viewers.

Ultimately, the race ended with a great story of Dale Earnhardt Jr. getting some quality TV time in the lead. Several NASCAR stars fighting for the win at the end is a story that has played out several times this year.

The race to the finish line was again confusing with FOX trying to show the "drama" of the winner. This time, they had to actually go back and replay the finish of the rest of the lead lap cars. This final lap chaos is typical this season.

This post hosts your race wrap-up comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series racing at Martinsville. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.


James said...

Can Waltrip ever shut up and just let the race tracl action speal fpr itself?

Don said...

Will Waltrip ever shut up? No.

He hasn't stopped talking since 1971. That's why they call him Jaws.

Don said...

What's so fascinating on the ground that Jr. can't look up through the whole interview?

James said...

I guess the fact that he ran up at the front got to him! The whole thing is just wild.

Anonymous said...

DW needs to shut up.

The rest is the same, wide shots, less bumper cams, in car whatever cams. Lather rinse repeat.

Anonymous said...

FOX was dreadful the first 100 laps, broadcasting the race like a practice session. By the last 100 laps, things seemed better, due to the racing picking up. If the drivers raced as hard all race as they did with a handful of laps to go, there would be a packed house everywhere. At the finish, FOX showed the first 5 cars finish and cut to the celebrating 29 crew. Later, they replayed the whole field finishing. While I thank them for doing this, that move served as a humorous reminder of FOX's coverage. FOX misses so much due to their agenda, the key moments of the race are usually seen on replay.

Justin said...

Commentary such as "Darrell Waltrip should limit the conversation regarding Harvick's dancing ability during what could potentially be an informative post race period" would be more useful to the blog as a medium than commenting for him to simply "shut up"

Don said...

The early ESPN used to shoot the whole race with just three cameras and missed a lot of action so I'm happy that we at least have the opportunity for replays.

It's hard to catch everything live with 43 cars to watch, so I'll give them a little slack there. It's not hard to show the entire field cross the finish, then go back for worthwhile coverage of the winner, his crew and family.

The post-race shots are tiring. We've seen the crew hugs and the donuts hundreds of times now. It's rarely worthwhile. With the exception of Daytona there has been no need to spend any time with the winner or his crew until he gets out of the car in Victory Lane.

Roland said...

Pretty satisfied wit the post race. They were way over on their broadcast window and stayed around for multiple segments. Overall though the race coverage was just plain bad, and I listened to the radio the whole time! I never make a scene about camera work but today the camera work was pitiful. At one point the top 10 were single file nose to tail and they would just zoom in on the 48. MRN made this disaster wachable, only because they called the action througout the field. I cant say anything about the booth today, cause I just chose not to listen.

Lookin forward to next saturday. Got my Braves playin on FOX at 1 and the Cup race that night on FOX/PRN. You can bet ill be listening to PRN for that one.

slander q. libel said...

How's this:

Darrell Waltrip should limit his conversation regarding anything relating to himself, his favorite drivers, himself, his favorite manufacturer, himself, anything in general, or himself to a muted microphone.

I long ago tired of his non-stop rendition of Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me"

Anonymous said...

At nearly four and half hours, it was a long race. Amazing hour pit strategies and luck removed the usual contenders (48,11) from having a shot. Still, it was nice to see Jr. have a chance.

Justin said...


Ha, ha...okay that is funny :)

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the race are as follows. I'm glad tires weren't a big factor. The race went on forever. The ending was fantastic with three cars runnibg hard and clean. I'm not a fan of the 'bump and run'. There can never be enough post race interviews and what do we get? Footage of DW trying to teach Harvick the "Icky Shuffle!" I'm serious,you can't make this up. The guys in the booth automatically started talking Harvick and "Championship" as I'm sure the pundits will all week. Predictable. Always happens. Like 7 year olds playing football. Instead of playing their positions,they follow the ball.When another driver wins a couple, they'll do the same. Good finish for Junior. Another bad finish for the #2. Hamlin didn't dominate. Bad race for Stewart-Haas. Glad its over. Hopefully,the Planeteers won't have to live with folks with extreme views on the broadcasting like we did this past week. Glad its over!

Don said...

What Justin said would normally be true, but DW goes off the rails so often and for so long that most of us feel that "SHUT UP!!" is the proper response at this point.

That segment on DW and JJ dancing was a complete waste. I guess that they had no more interviews to do and needed to fill time. They'd already had post-race commentary from all of the announcers and it was nearly all mindless fluff so I saw no need to go back there.

Post-race coverage seems to be a problem for all networks. They never know how much time they'll have and theyrarely prepare for it properly. Too little time and they miss the big stories while covering the pre-determined agenda. Too much time and they haven't prepared to say after they've interviewed Junior, Kyle and the race winner.

The pit reporters should handle ALL of the post-race commentary. They're usually the only ones that have actually been following the race so they know the stories to get. If after calling the entire race, Mike Joy hasn't been able to bring us the main topics of the race, then he's doing it wrong. And he does an excellent job.

Anonymous said...

The graphics showing who's in what position is too small to read. Even on our 50 inch plasma, you had to squint to read it.

Vince said...

Damn you DW! I was gonna take a swallow of beer every time you said "I", but I ran outta beer half way through the race!

Ok, back to the Fox tv coverage. Way, way too many in-car, bumper cam and roof cam shots. And way too many tight shots as usual. On a short track like Martinsville it's important to use wider shots to show us who is where in relation to where they are on the track and where the other cars are. It is extremely hard to follow the action when you constantly use tight shots and gimmick shots (in-car, bumper, roof).

As far as the finish, Fox doesn't get it and doesn't seem to care. It's a short track! It would have only taken seconds to show all the lead lap cars finish. Geez..........

I don't know if I was hearing things or not, but I swear I heard Mike Joy call Regan Smith, Ricky Smith twice during the broadcast. Unusual slip up for Mike, especially in that he did it twice.

GinaV24 said...

Missed the first half of the race so i can't comment on the pre-race, but it seemed like the same old same old, in car camera, bumper shots, too close in stuff UNTIL they got to about 100 laps to go when someone finally started actually showing the race with some better camera work.

the last part of the race was much better and was done well although I continued to use trackpass and the radio feed to give me up to date information.

Pleasantly surprised at the length of the post race. I don't know what the heck Myers was going on about with Harvick -- considering he's so good at what he does covering the NFL, the trashy comments are way out of line on NASCAR.

Tuned out when DW started talking and they replayed whatever that silliness was with DW and Harvick.

Anonymous said...

I give up on enjoying a race except for the last 20 laps. NASCAR and FOX don't seem to get it anymore..

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Way too long since I enjoyed a 'DW Free' race ...oh yeah, I had Fox on mute ...Maestro Barney Hall was as eloquent as ever and MRN's production team stayed on top of the racing ...hey, Fox production team - Martinsville is not so big it can't be better served with w-i-d-e shots ...the racing is best served with out- not in-car shots ...ticker is useless - too small to read ...compliments on double split screen to show 4 pit stops at once - thx ...DW you can talk, we get that ...time for you to try Dale Carnegie to learn when to speak ...please show more respect for the fans and your broadcast partners

Zetona said...

Easily the best part of that coverage was that there were surprisingly few commercial breaks. That somewhat mitigated the overuse of in-car cameras and cameras in the track surface, the latter of which did not work well because the corners at Martinsville are so tight and flat, and thus the viewing angle is smaller than it was at California, Bristol, or Vegas.

And JD, answer me this: If FOX want to provide pretty HD pictures above all else, why do they use so many in-car and track cams, which always look grimy, and neglect the X-MO cam which provides fantastic, albeit rather useless, pictures? The X-MO cam is really cool and I'd like to see more of it nonetheless.

TexasRaceLady said...

I can't comment on DW this week, because I never heard a word he said. hehehe

Thank you, MRN.

I must echo someone else and say that for the last part of the race, the camera work mysteriously got a bit better.

I was impressed that we did get some split screen during pit stops. Almost fell out of my chair at that.

It would have been much better to see the Dale/Kyle fight to the finish as live action, rather than replay.

Chadderbox said...

DW is a predictable nuisance. Much of what he says might be witty the first time he says it but he repeats things over and over again week after week.
When the field was crossing the stripe I got to see a side shot of the owner of the winning car taking off his headphones and climbing down from a chair atop his stand - how exciting! 30+ competitors were neglegted as they finished the race. That is pitiful.
I don't get the hyper tight, I don't get the lack of a coherent OVERALL presentation regarding the entire field, I don't get the childish video game approach to the images!
I love racing but the coverage is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Chadderbox said...

Yes, Barney Hall and the crew is the way to go. I listened to the first 50 or so in the car on the way home and it was cool. They keep you informed.
As I listened to Barney and crew I had NO VISUAL but I was more informed listening to the radio than when I got home and turned on the TV. Very sad (for Fox).

Morton Grove Don said...

I especially enjoyed when Jaws was counting off people at the line when Shrub was in the lead, They showed the 18 car thru out that segment.But the best line of the day. Goes to Larrymackreynoldddds. "By far Denny Hamlin isnt the only car a lap down"

Oh yeah the cameras are too tight.Myers is a waste, and all the other usual Fuax comments.

OSBORNK said...

I enjoyed the last 50 laps in spite of the coverage. My mind has learned to tune out most of the DW and friends rambles and tunes back in at appropriate times. Most of the time, I don't know what they are saying. I thought the dancing farce was stupid and out of place.

Anonymous said...

i thouight the race coverage was very good, a couple to many tight shots of the left rear quarter panel going into, but fox did a good job, dw kept us informed and mike joy was awesome, as usuall fox does a great job with the races

Fireman17 said...

When the red flag it the whole telecast became the HotDog Network!! DW should never talk about hotdogs again why a race is going with a red flag or not!!!

RWar24 said...

The TV coverage is what it is. The fans can't change it, Lord knows we've tried. What amazes me is Capt. Obvious Chris Myers still has a job on the coverage. He's been horrible from day one and hasn't changed with the exception of a race here or there. During the post race coverage, Myers says this is the first time Harvick has won back to back. Then in the very next breath says, "he has never won 3 in a row.." Well no kidding Myers. If this is the first time he's won back to back, I doubt he's won 3 in a row before. Seriously, think for a split second before you speak.

Justin said...

I know this is a forum discussing TV coverage, but DW made a comment early in the telecast that raised an interesting question in regards to the quality of racing on the track.

DW drew a comparison between the "scramble to the bottom line" style of racing we see at Martinsville (and we used to see at Bristol) to the side-by-side racing seen at Bristol two weeks ago. It seemed to me to be a subtle reference in defense of the Bristol race, and consequently FOX's coverage of that race.

Perhaps I am too traditionalist in this regard, but I believed the racing at Martinsville was much better than what we saw at Bristol. The scramble-to-the-bottom-line racing seems to me to embody the true quality of short track racing more so than Bristol's current configuration.

Do others here agree? I also wonder if DW has reconsidered his earlier comment after witnessing today's race.

AncientRacer said...

Did not see a moment of racing today. Real Close Grilfriend of BGFE and new hubby came down to the coast unannounced and unexpected. Threw the whole day off after she called. Of course he had to be checked out ... and all that.

But when I read the in-race comments and JD's opening on "TV Police," viz:

"The chaos of Martinsville can be solved by only one man. Lt. Frank Columbo might be rumpled and slightly confused, but ultimately he can solve anything. This telecast requires some serious detective skills"

I realized, and not for the first time, that only us real and true hardcores would watch this stuff. No new souls are being won in the NASCAR tent -- and have not been for awhile despite what DW says.

Yet I have faith. I have hope.

BTW: New Dude passed, kinda. I liked him. BGFE has been on the phone all evening to others. Final verdict not yet in. :)

Jonathan said...

This was a much better broadcast than weeks past but as always there is room for improvment. Yes Fox did miss a lot the fist 60% of the way through but then we saw more wide shots and a few (I stress a few cause there should be many) blimp shots and some good battles were shown... Mind you the in cars didnt go away but I feel it got better i'd say this race gets a solid C no more no less!

Sally said...

@Justin...yes, this was the sort of racing you used to see at Bristol, and it's why fans sold it out for years. And you wonder why so many of us are disappointed with the 'new' Bristol. It keeps you on the edge of your seat because of the unpredictability of the outcome. Something seldom seen at the 1 1/2 mile tracks.

AncientRacer said...


"Something seldom seen at the 1 1/2 mile tracks."

Perfect. Simply perfect. I bow low before you.

Wendy ETHERINGTON said...

Hey, JD and everybody, am I crazy or did Fox not go to commercial at all during the red flag? If that's true, is there a production reason I'm missing? Seemed like the perfect time to throw in a bunch of ads and not interrupt racing. Course it also seemed to be the perfect time for DW to interview drivers and irritate them even further than they already were...

James said...

I waited a day to reflect on how to say this, most poeple who read and submit to this blog are serious long time fans of NASCAR. We all would prefer to have an event we can sit down and relax and watch some fine racing. I guess there are those who would say we are lucky to have coverage at all! I just want a race I can watch. You can not follow this director at all. I can not believe the mistakes these professional broadcasters make, week after week. If the goal is to attract "new fans" I could understand the stupid things said, but at some point you would think we can get a break and get "real knowledgeable comments" and then if the folks can't get it they got all week to fix it and analyse on all the weekday nascar news feeds. At some point it has to sink in, they sure as hell don't explain the rules to football and baseball every week on tv. If they have the capability to have overhead shots on a short track what better full field angle do they need? If you can't follow the numbers on the roof you need to listen to the radio.
So, bottom line, I really think the coverage is a way to get the "real fan" back to the track, cause this tv stuff is only serving NASCARS ultimate decision to have their own pay for view channel when the tv deal runs out, why else would they stand for such ridiculous showing of "their proprietary event". It is just inexcusable to treat loyal fans like fools.

The Mad Man said...

I was lucky enough to have a DW-free weekend by being at the track. Saw wrecks happen right in front of me, saw beating and banging, Could hear the cars impacting the retaining wall and SAFER barrier. The only interruptions to the race was when I had to go to the men's room. I wondered to myself what the poor viewers at home had to suffer through during the red flag. After reading some of the comments here I know.

After seeing what happened at Martinsville this past weekend, I'm afraid Martinsville has become THE ACTION TRACK in place of the reconfigured, sanitized-for-your-protection, snooze fest at Bristol.

AncientRacer said...


Whuzzup today? Is the Moon full? Gosh I need do nothing but read. Everyone seems to be agreeing with me. And that is as is should be because I am infallible.

"Ijust want a race I can watch" you said. Amen. Amen and Amen.

"Its a game. Its supposed to be fun!" -- Jeff Burton

Anna said...

I think they should find a non-biased tv crew..If it's not Kyle Busch dominating, they don't want to show it..Too many in car camera shots, and way too many commercials..I know there was more airtime for the commercials than the actual race..And listenening to the DW, all about me, show is totally boring..Slipping away as a tv nascar fan..Tired of hearing about DW's favorite drivers..What about Kahne,Ragan, Regan Smith,Keselowski to name a few..Oh I know, they are not the announcers favorites..One final note,what's with Jr looking at the ground during post race interview? If you don't like the limelight, get out of the sport.

Anonymous said...


You're absolutely right. We didn't renew our seasons tickets to Bristol this year, and one of the reasons was the racing has not been the same since the track change.

Chadderbox said...

James I could not agree more with what you said about the mistakes that these so called "professionals" make week after week.
Lately, "Unprofessional" is a word I feel describes DW and some of the things that go on during a Fox telecast.

MRM4 said...

I don't know why anyone tunes in and expects something different when we've been given the same thing for 10 years. So I won't re-hash my same complaints.

One thing Fox has done the last couple of races that I like is them removing the colors of the cars out of the race. I think it actually lets a fan know that might be tuning in late their driver is out of the race. Plus, I don't have to pay attention to those drivers when they scroll by.

Anonymous said...

I'm no longer a Dale Jr. fan. I'm just so tired of this whole sadsack routine. Staring at the ground - even during the post-race press conference. Who wants to be fans of that? I can understand being upset at missing a chance at a win, but c'mon dude - grow up already. Why in the world would AMP want this guy as their sponsor when he doesn't even say the sponsor name, let alone look into the camera. I think the guy needs a shrink!

I thought FOX made an excellent compromise with the last lap -- show the winner like they usually do, but for those who want to see the final cars crossing the line, they went back and showed it. And they showed it less than 90 seconds later, so I don't understand what the big deal is. After Busch/Dale there were no close battles to the line.

I watched the Truck series race the day before and I felt that they used the bumper cam, the stationary wall cam, and focused on the leader pretty much equally to FOX.

Last comment: I am really getting tired of people complaining about how long the races are. Yesterday's race was so long mostly because of an extended red-flag period while the facility repaired the SAFER barrier after the Truex crash. What's more - do you really think fans are going to spend their hard-earned money, plus sit in traffic all morning and all night for a 2-hour race? Give me a break. I've never once heard someone say a 3.5-hour football game was too long. I've never heard anyone say that they were upset that the final 18.1 seconds of a NCAA basketball game takes an additional 30 minutes to play out. If you don't like the sport, why don't you just tune out already and stop trying to take away the sport from the fans. I'm going to the Texas night race, and it had better be 3-plus hours long or else I'm going to feel ripped off. Especially when it takes you two hours just to filter out of the parking lot!

FED UP said...

Loved the race and the action that was shown. Now, I know that there was more there than what I saw. Unfortunately, that's Fox. Was happy that Mike Joy seemed to find his voice over the babbling duo of McReynolds and DW.
I've learned that I can multitask when Fox is broadcasting Nascar. I should have three more quilts done by the time their contract is up again this summer. Thanks Guys for allowing to NOT watch your broadcast. Can't wait until TNT comes back! And I love the ESPN guys!

Sally said...

@ AR...Thank you. From you, a fine compliment.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:56 pm is completely entitled to be tired of people complaining about the length of some races. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are tired of overly long races. Most races at Pocono and the Twebty Four Hours of Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend come to mind. The Martinsville Red Flag delay played no part in my concluding the race was too long. Any long time fan knows that the real racing starts after the last pit stops. At the Super Speedways, its with 10 laps to go. Perhaps if there were more on track passing,the races would be more enjoyable. Having raced on both the Pocono and Watkins Glen tracks, I can tell you it costs an obscene amount of money to have a car run hard that amount of time. What does a complete brake package cost today? $40,000? The point about taking several hours to get out of the track is well taken. Many fans like our group have simply drawn the conclusion that it's not worth the time and money to tow the camper hundreds of miles to watch the racing. It was always mandatory to record the race at home so you could catch up on what you've missed.Weekend passes and on -track reserved camping ain't cheap. I'm a retiree, but a lot of the younger folks aren't going to sit and watch a TV or hand held device for four hours of anything!

red said...

as the chef to whom i'm married says: "a great dessert can save a lousy meal." (of course, as a pastry chef, that is not an unexpected observation.)

i kept tv on mute, channel hopped across 4 stations and sadly, nascar was choice #4 until phillies won, philly union still lost in replay and rangers defeated flyers. by default, i watched the last 50+ laps (still on mute) and i'm glad i did: i FINALLY saw solid broadcasting of part of a race by FOX.

so, i now know it can be done by this broadcast team. that leaves me pondering: why do we only get to see that at the end of the race?

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that we aren't seeing pitting times like we used to? I'm referring to the counters on each pit stop that ultimately show us how long each driver was in the pit. Anybody else?

red said...

anon@11:03pm: i've noticed that as well & chalked it up to the longer pit times this season due to re-fueling constraints. guess the thought process is: fans wouldn't understand why there are longer pit stops so we'll just not show them the actual times.

yes, that sounds silly but since we seem to need to be re-educated about our sport in each and every broadcast, it also seems possible.

West Coast Diane said...

Haven't had a chance to read race or TV police comments...just got home yesterday from our 2 month trip. However...

First, a positive comment. Thanks FOX for post race even though the race ran over. Although, that was an extremely long interview with Junior...and he is my guy...LOL!

Now the negative:

Started by turning DVR on to FOX.
At green flag saw bumper cam, gopher cam, fish eye cam in first couple of laps. Switched to recorded HotPass. Went back to FOX for post race only.

Once again saw more racing from many drivers through windshield of the 88 car.

Just don't get FOX.

Oh, BTW, did you see tweet from Dario F to DW telling him great job, as always, on the telecast. No wonder DW doesn't care what we think!

West Coast Diane said...

During race comments Charlie said:

"If you were at the track, in the stands, would you use big powerful binoculars to focus on just one car?"

Answer: No. We actually bought the spotter binoculars so we could see a "wider" view of "many" cars "racing"!!

Anonymous said...

"Chris Myers opened the show with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond from the new outdoor infield set positioned on the backstretch. The first thing that many viewers and even reporters at the track noticed was the colorful fans standing behind the announcers. After two segments, they mysteriously departed."

*FRONT STRETCH NOT THE BACKSTRETCH and those people had track passes and had to clear the track at 12:30.* "Mystery" solved