Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day Two: SPEED Rolls Out 2012 NASCAR Changes

It's the time of the year when TV changes are announced and SPEED did just that following a staff get together on Monday night in Charlotte, NC.

New network president Scott Ackerson said in the gathering that the network was going to increase "storytelling" and ramp-up production for this season. SPEED originates the NASCAR studio shows from Charlotte and handles the Camping World Truck Series races, but employs the NASCAR Media Group to produce the other programs from the race tracks.

Ackerson took over at SPEED on January 1 after coming to Charlotte from FOX Sports in Los Angeles, CA. A studio producer and veteran executive, Ackerson worked at ESPN prior to FOX and has a solid reputation as a people person and a "TV guy."

Changes in assignments announced by SPEED started with Jeff Hammond leaving the Trackside series. Now completely changed from the hardcore racing show of the past into an entertainment-style program, that was perhaps a good move.

Krista Voda will once again step into the host role with Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood as the panelists. You may remember SPEED tried Wood in the host role late last season. Voda has also been in the host role for this series before and it did not click.

Love her or hate her, Marianela Pereyra is back as the show's reporter. Another LA person, Pereyra is the star of the World Poker Tour programs this season and frankly it is surprising that she is back on the NASCAR beat. The hot rumor was that former Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo would fill the reporter role.

SPEED has also decided to split the Trackside series into two shows this season. As logistics and schedules permit, there will be a thirty-minute show on Friday night and another on Saturday. Obviously, the issue is the Saturday night Cup races.

Wood will also appear on the RaceDay show that remains as the network's Sprint Cup Series preview program. John Roberts, Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace are the trio seen above and they return as the core of the show. This year, they will be joined by Larry McReynolds on the stage. A crew chief perspective should be good for the series.

Veteran RaceDay reporter Hermie Sadler is not returning for this season. He has been replaced by former pit crew coach and now RaceHub regular Matt Clark. Wood and the true star of the show, Wendy Venturini, are the other two reporters.

While Hammond might have left Trackside, he has joined the NASCAR Performance series. In the past, the show was hosted by McReynolds. This season, SPEED has added RaceHub reporter Danielle Trotta as the host with McReynolds, Hammond and Chad Knaus on the panel. While produced last season at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, this year the show moves into the SPEED studios.

One of the positive changes for this season is the commitment of SPEED to showing the NASCAR Victory Lane show immediately after the TV network carrying the actual race goes off the air. This puts an hour of conversation, interviews and highlights on the air after every Sprint Cup Series telecast, including the Saturday night races.

While the SPEED information did not mention it specifically, the Victory Lane show is Roberts hosting with Petty and Wallace. When Wallace has been away driving in the stand-alone Nationwide Series races, it has been McReynolds or Hammond filling that void.

Additional information from SPEED confirmed that the SpeedCenter show will return. This was the pet project of Patti Wheeler, the former head of programming and production at the network who resigned suddenly in December. The series is the only one that offers additional motorsports news, highlights and interviews on SPEED.

Last year it was Adam Alexander who struggled through the season as host of SpeedCenter. The depth of the show's coverage was rough for Alexander, who is limited in his motorsports knowledge. The SPEED release did not mention how many episodes of the show will appear on the weekends or who will participate as the host. Ray Evernham also appeared to talk NASCAR last season, but he was also not mentioned in the SPEED release.

The final topic is Wind Tunnel. I have long advocated a second all-NASCAR version of the program at 8PM on Monday nights. With all the different motorsports topics on Dave Despain's agenda on Sundays it's tough to get a thorough discussion on NASCAR topics done with the fans.

Needless to say, once again this concept did not fly and Despain will be returning for his show on Sunday nights only. The studio will get an update and the show will have a new look. Fans should remember this is the only show on SPEED that has an Internet-only thirty minute webcast after the TV hour is done.

That's the basic scoop about SPEED in 2012 where NASCAR is concerned. No doubt on Tuesday there will be some things added and others clarified with all the information we tried to get across. Those items will be updated right on this post.

We welcome your comments on any of the topics above. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

Well I no longer will worry about seeing these shows.

Racehub tonight had too much silly mess. DO NOT CARE for these kind of shows. Enough of the stupid shows on every channel.

I watched these shows for information and learned a lot about racing from them in the past but that is no longer there.

I guess they think new fans do not want to learn about the sport just want goofy. Without shows covering facts and rules then how will they learn enough to get interested?

Run off your true hard race fans then see where your ratings are.

The person running Speed is destroying it. Just wait and see. LS

AncientRacer said...

Having to be at the airport at 11:00pm for a 2:30am red-eye to the left coast affords one time to think and with enough effort thoughts emerge.

Here are mine.

Please take them for what they are worth and remember they cost you nothing.Evaluate accordingly.

I do not mind @MarianelaPereyra (I swear I am beginning to spell everyone's name with an "@") though I believe shoes love @KristaVoda better and I could, personally, would prefer unlimited hours of @RobinMeade.

Now, the important stuff.

We have, in our sport ... somehow ... come to the point where the "last big thing" to be decided and/or annouced are the media assignments.

Huh? ... Seriously? ... OK.

Glad I'm a Planeteer then for we ARE media.

Hope to see some of you during the 24 as now, with the media set is ready -- except, I hope, Digger.

"Here we go!" (as JD sez.)

Roland said...

LOVE the Larry Mac to RaceDay move. Ive long been an advocate of that and look forward to the results.

On the other hand, Matt Clark as a reporter? What? I dont know about that.

Ive long been a supporter of having 2 tracksides during the weekend, but since the show has become a new version of Nascar Nation, I could really care less. That show is dead.

Victory Lane on right after the race is great, shoulda been done a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Even with new management, Speed appears to be hopeless. After all the off-season news, last night's Hub was an embarrassment. Are you smarter than Kenny Wallace???? Puffball interviews with Danica??? I really like Danielle Trotta, but she's gong to host Nascar Performance??? Speed is clearly NOT serious about covering Nascar. Enough said.

Vicky D said...

Roland, I'm with you thinking Matt Clark will not be a good fit, but maybe it's too early to tell. I had to watch Hub in parts last night so I can't really judge it but what was that game show on there? Anyway, maybe after the 500 things will calm down a bit!

Herb said...

I believe a year of us attending dirt track Super Late Model races would give NASCAR and its related industries time for observation, analysis and transformation. Oh, wait! NASCAR has done that? Who knew?

glenc1 said...

Actually, I found Matt Clark to be a pleasant surprise...he is very good on screen. Now, whether that translates to interviews remains to be seen.

On the other hand, I hope we will find Hermie on truck series broadcasts, at least. His delivery is a bit unusual and breathless, but I have gotten used to it and would miss his insight.

I actually thought Hammond was very good on Performance when he filled in last fall. Not sure they need a 'hostess' there, but we'll see what she does.

I didn't mind Krista on Trackside. What I minded was the absurdity of what the show has become. I also did not mind Marianela, it's what they gave her to do that was stupid.

Add me to those embarrassed by last night's Hub. How can they do that to a classy guy like Steve Byrnes? I get they were trying to find a clever way to 'update' on the off season, but that was most certainly NOT the way to go. The Danica interview was okay. This show has never been known for hard hitting drama, it's not what they do (I just wish *someone* did). but so much of the show was just silliness.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with everyone about Race Hub. I usually really like Steve Byrnes, but Race Hub is really getting to be too stupid. I want to be informed about what is going on with NASCAR. I don't think the show should be completely serious, but some of the stuff that went on last year with Jimmy Spencer and then last night with everyone dressing like Danica was absolutely terrible - the "game" was completely stupid also. Hopefully, the show will get better as the season rolls on.

shadow said...

Speed has not made 1 change to make me want to watch any of these shows. I used to watch Race Day, and occasionally Track side, but I will not put up with 2 more hours of Larry Mac constantly repeating himself or any program featuring Rutledge Wood. There is too much Nascar programming as it is so none of these shows will be missed at my house

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Matt Clark last season. He's obviously not a Talking Head. He's someone who spent many years working the front lines of Nascar racing. He gives it to you straight, which I find refreshing in this era of silliness.

Sophia said...

Wow! they messed up NASCAR Performance by adding a woman (No offense!) I liked the trio last year. It was weird when they added that fourth guy for a while (name escapes me) he was nice but a 4th messed with the rhythm of the show.

Now your telling me they have turned NHub into sillieness? the dvr did not record the early showing so maybe it caught the 2am showing...not sure i will watch after comments on twitter and here.

Steve is a classy guy and i hate if they dumbed down that show, too, like SPEED has done to Trackside :-(

I turned tv on about 3/4 in to NH show when i noticed dvr not recording and saw a girl, kyle petty & somebody else as I hunted on guide for repeat.

Just stop fixing things that ain't broke, Speed. Years ago Trackside was must see. Now it's a 'must miss' because of drunken, screaming fans waving signs, & chicks added & cupcake interviews.
Wow. I miss the SPEED of years back.

Call me a female chauvinist but i liked it when all the shows had male hosts. the older the better!!

I was hoping NASCAR might be a fun distraction this year as well as the pre season shows right now.

guess i'll have to watch hub and see for myself. I had no idea the show was not going to keep the host SB featured for most of it? Byrnes has been a favorite of mine, too.

Still can't get over they added a woman to NPerformance. Why?? I like Chad & Bootie as side kicks.

Anonymous said...

Wow - just gave me more reasons to just not bother with Speed except right after the race which is 1 good idea. The rest not so much. I had such hopes...

David Evertsen said...

Really don't like the Entertainment tonight quality of Racehub. They started the season picking on Dale Jr and in bad taste. I would like to see the cars, the crews and the shops. Learn how they do stuff and what NASCAR is doing. Too much fluff, NASCAR Performance seems more about selling Moog suspension parts than telling what goes into making a Cup car.

I am looking forward to 2013 and the Social Changes for and that.. This year will be year of constant change, should set up next year for good stuff..

Stick with the Biff said...

Sophia...that really, really is sexist. I know you don't mind that, lol. But much as I personally like watching the menfolk (particularly Bootie....) I wouldn't have a problem with a woman who knew about parts. It's just not the right person. I assume she'll just be fluff introducing them or other segments & what not, but we'll see. I also assume that guys like Bootie may find they don't have the time for these sorts of things (don't know why Chad does, although he bailed late in the Chase.) Doug Richart--former Roush crew chief--is who you are thinking of, I believe. Nice guy, just not the greatest TV person.

drdiandra said...

So where did Bootie Barker land...?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Has SPEED lost touch with reality? Why why why would you add Danielle Trotta to anything let alone Nascar Performance? Although she is less annoying and far more knowledgable about racing than Marianela who is clearly just supposed to be eye candy. Trackside used to be an informative AND entertaining show and has now been reduced to the childish and bitter filled rantings of Kyle(my daddy never loved me) Petty and Rutledge who I like but in smaller doses. I don't understand what Speed execs are going for any more. I had already stopped watching Raceday except for the Sunoco Chad Knaus segment and had to start skipping Trackside when they destroyed that so now I'm down to having to put up with Trotta so that I can see Chad Knaus on Nascar Performance. Bad calls all around SPEED! BAD BAD CALLS!!

Daly Planet Editor said...


No mention of Barker anywhere on the SPEED release.


BToS JD said...

I have no interest in "NASCAR entertainment" on SPEED. I watch NASCAR oriented programs for information and racing, not drivel put-on's by NASCAR personalities.

Seems I even recall an old SPEED show with 4 NASCAR journalists sitting around on Friday or Saturday nite BSing about NASCAR, maybe Mike Mulhern and David Poole were on it. I found out stuff I didn't previously know. It was fun listening to them talk and banter back and forth.

I also like to look at folks when they talk rather than watching a racing replay on video to distract me from the commentary.

Obviously, I am not the demographic that SPEED is looking for in their rush to the entertainment paradigm.

It's simple enough though, I just tune out the things I can't relate to.

MRM4 said...

Big fail on not adding Monica Polumbo to Trackside. But that show is so far removed as how it started, it probably doesn't matter anyway.

GinaV24 said...

since speed is going the path of "racer-tainment" for these shows, I will probably not watch as often as I once did. Rutledge does not amuse me and I'm sure that my overload meter for those named Waltrip and Wallace will redline after one show.

I'll tune in only if they have a guest worth watching.

Despain doesn't really LIKE NASCAR IMO. He mostly disparages it, so I can't see him doing a full NASCAR hr on a regular basis.

Like that VL will be on immediately after the race, but since Kenny will still be doing his shtick, again I will probably pass unless someone I like is the winner.

Sorry but Speed has lost me for the most part as a viewer.

Sophia said...


Agree with let us watching "people talk" without always constantly playing video & often with car noise with it.

I say the Art of Conversation on tv has long been dead and I guess SPEED is just going to keep gunking things up for puff ball junk.

Makes me sad.

I apologize if my sexist comment hurt anybody's feelings. I'm an old talk show junky & love men's voices. I like some women on tv for sure but for sports? Let's face it most are eye candy/barbie doll types. Some are attractive AND race savvy (i.e. Krista & Wendy on SPEED shows)

Female Chauvinist Soph

Stick with the Biff said...

Sophia, no need to apologize. I think it's funny, but it just sounds so wrong! I get what you mean about the Barbie dolls. I just keep hoping for more of the Wendys and Kristas, and fewer Marianelas. For another example, Pam Ward has been doing play by play for college football for years, and she's better than some of her male counterparts. I don't think you have to have played a sport to comment about it intelligently, but it's pretty rare.

Anonymous said...

I personally feel these changes made by SPEED are good (generally). We will see how it goes when Speedweeks comes around.

Anonymous said...

Big mistake in not nailing down Monica Palumbo. She is knowledgable in the sport, knows the players and would have been a great fit.

Buschseries61 said...

Amazing what Trackside has transformed into. I don't get the new format - 20 minutes of fluff Friday & 20 minutes of fluff Saturday? Whatever.

RaceDay sounds overstuffed. I'm surprised McReynolds was added instead of Jeff Hammond, considering Jeff is off Trackside and working a reduced role on the broadcasts this season. Good luck to Matt Clark in his new role on the show.

Lou said...


very informative post, thank you.

going to miss Hermie Sadler on race day. watched race hub the other night. smarter than KW segment was so unprofessional. hope that is not what i have to look forward to this season on race hub.

Bucky Butler said...

Anonymous 12:21 AM pretty much summed it up for me. To much goof-ball, silliness for me on the pre-race & post race shows. Don’t watch NASCAR Performance any longer and sure won’t now. I will give Speed Center another shot with a new host. A Bob Varsha perhaps. I’d rather have that nightly than Race Hub because I like all forms of motorsports. Which is why I like Wind Tunnel just the way it is. This channel has way to much NASCAR content as it is and it doesn’t need a NASCAR-Only edition of Wind Tunnel. You can only say so much about the same thing before it becomes simply repetitive.

Shadow 9:32 also nailed it. What is this channel’s fascination with Rutledge Wood? There is no entertainment value to him and his antics.

Sophia 11:37 opinion of Trackside is SPOT ON! A rabble in the background, drowning out a bunch of non-sense on the stage. I’ll pass. Too many other choices.

B to S JD 2:16 and I share a sentiment. I really enjoyed “Pit Bulls”. I know what the show ultimately degenerated into but the concept, a la “The Sports Reporters” was a good one. With the right revolving cast of Motorsports writers and the right moderator, it could be a good show again. I really believe Speed got real nervous with the writers constantly bashing NASCAR. Speed after all is nothing but a shill for NASCAR. All the incestuous relationships with drivers and owners on these shows, you’ll never hear any hard criticism of NASCAR. Speed wouldn’t want to be ESPN’d out to the parking lot.

There are many good folks at Speed, Steve Byrnes is first rate, Krista Voda works very hard and does her best no matter the setting and Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler do great work. But all the corn-pone silliness is too much for me. Nothing wrong with light hearted banter but serious talk and analysis is what I’m looking for.

diane said...

I won't miss Adam Alexander at all if he is no longer on Speed Report. You need more of an all arounder like Varsha, Diffey or Voda.

West Coast Kenny said...


To me, Rutledge Wood is a lot like that very potent Srirachi (Thai) hot sauce that comes in the squeeze bottle with the green dispensing cap. A tiny bit in a dish adds a little zing, but if you squeeze too much into your food, you've ruined it.


Sophia said...

Ooh, I'd love Varsha on the Speed Report. Heck anybody over AA who CAN'T STOP YELLING. Oy vey. Where is Ray Evernham these days? He'd be good too....

Nice guy AA but not good at hosting a show on his own. Better during the races to work pit road or something.
And I am SICK they've gunked up N Performance and added a female. Holy Cats!

Anonymous said...

Are TPTB purposely trying to drive viewers AWAY from the network? It appears they are ...

I can't stand Marianela ... She was a failure at the Sprint Cup Awards banquet ... Body language showed the drivers don't like her ...

I can't stand Danielle ... She's still making all kinds of "rookie mistakes" even though she's NOT a rookie anymore ... She still doesn't have the knowledge of the sport that the job demands ... Her voice is very irritating too ...

Matt Clark is okay in the studio ... Not sure about at the track coverage ...

All of the changes to Trackside have made it so disjointed that it's very hard to watch ... Turning the stage around was a horrible decision as the hosts & guests keep turning around to see the drunkards mocking for the cameras ... Turning it into the KP/Rutt/poker chick show's made it basically impossible to watch ... The last ep I saw was with Hornaday and I almost gave up on it even though he's a LONG TIME favorite of mine ...

I like the old cast of Trackside ... They could still use Elliott Sadler for the weekends when NNS is at the same track as Cup ...

NASCAR Performance's "feel" changed when they moved the show to the HoF ... It was better when it was AT the track ... Maybe that's why Jimmie isn't 6x ;-) Adding Trotta to it will just turn it into another crappy show ... Did she give up her local tv sports gig? If so, WHY??

Nowadays, I only watch RaceDay for the West Coast and Night races ... The earlier start times make it hard for those of us on the West Coast to get up at 6-7am to watch the show ... Replacing Hermie with Matt Clark isn't a good idea ... Hermie relates better with the drivers as he's been in their shoes ...

Victory Lane's still pretty good ... Though, I wish Spencer was still on the show ...

Wind Tunnel was better when it was 1 hour 5 nights a week ... It was a source of news during the week for ALL motorsports ... Saying that it's going to have a "new feel" does NOT bode well ...

I liked SPEED Center with Adam Alexander ... But, I also like him having co-hosts like Varsha & Diffey ...

RaceHub ... I tried to watch it Monday as I wanted to see the Danica interview ... That was the ONLY good thing about the show (other than Byrnzey) ... The rest of the show was a debacle ...

I got a cryptic private message on Facebook from Byrnes on Tuesday night ... thanking me for my very kind words about RaceHub ... I went back to see what I had posted & it was a "thanks, but no thanks" in regards to Tuesday's show with JGR ... I don't know if he was seriously thanking everyone for their comments or if he was being facetious ...

Ackerson & SPEED have done an EPIC FAIL in NOT hiring Monica Palumbo ... She's very knowledgeable about NASCAR as she's been a fan for the majority of her life ... The fans / drivers / teams love her ... I've seen her tweets saying that she wants to work in the sport ... What better way than to have her on some of the NASCAR shows on SPEED ...

Based on the changes that you've listed, I think I'll be watching LESS of the non-race / practice / qualifying TV coverage ... WHY do TV people keep trying to "fix" things that aren't broken, especially when they do NOT have in-depth knowledge of the subject in question?? #rhetoricalquestion

Anonymous said...

can a stick and ball studio producer make it work for live events?

I am wary of the over-used word "storytelling"..........smacks of Hollywood.....which smacks of FOX hype