Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Race Hub" On SPEED Returns For 2010

It dropped out of the clear blue sky during the week of the NASCAR Hall of Fame selections. It came together at the last minute and looked exactly that way when it began. Now it is making some real news of its own.

SPEED confirmed to The Daly Planet Wednesday that NASCAR Race Hub would return for 2010 beginning on Monday, January 11. The final show for this season will be Thursday, December 3.

After being roundly criticized for a lack of weekday NASCAR programming, SPEED is changing its tune. This thirty minute show fills the void Monday through Thursday with a mix of news, highlights and interviews.

Let's face it. There is simply a lot about this TV series that does not make sense. Why start a new show with only weeks left in the NASCAR season? Why put tired announcers on a new assignment after nine months of hard work and travel?

If SPEED wanted to float a trial balloon, they certainly did. Beginning with bad make-up, rough lighting and awkward moments, Race Hub has settled into what fans have wanted for a long time and ESPN never delivered with NASCAR Now.

The new TV studios for SPEED are right down the street from Lowe's Motor Speedway and just a quick drive from most NASCAR shops, team suppliers and racing-related businesses. ESPN declined to establish a TV studio in the area back in 2007, opting instead to keep NASCAR Now in CT.

It only took a week or so until major NASCAR drivers and personalities started figuring out that a ten minute drive could land them on live national television. Suddenly, sponsors were being announced, issues were being discussed and "want ads" were being posted by those actually looking for a job.

Along the way, SPEED took a bare studio and started to assemble the kind of scenery usually associated with a TGI Friday's or a favorite sports bar. There is certainly still some work to do, but the purposeful statement of casual conversation and attire is clearly aimed at the suits and ties of the NASCAR Now gang.

While various on-air talent have been tried on the program, Krista Voda stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else. While she has been fun to watch on the Camping World Truck Series pre-race shows, there is little doubt that a studio environment allows her once again to show the skills that brought her to our attention in the first place.

It has also been interesting to see SPEED move the various pit reporters and color analysts through the show allowing them to get their feet wet in this format. While all are clearly comfortable, it was surprisingly Jeff Hammond who was most effective in his appearances.

Stuck for years in the Hollywood Hotel for Fox, Hammond also works regularly at the tracks for SPEED. He is an analyst for practice and qualifying, then works as a panelist on shows like Trackside. Race Hub put the spotlight squarely on him and it worked like a charm.

Just as NASCAR Now rotates reporters, hosts and panelists, there is little doubt we will see the same from Race Hub for 2010. It should be interesting to see if Voda is named as the host and the rest of the cast rotates through the series.

The end result is that NASCAR fans will now have two very different programs to view on the four days between TV coverage from the Sprint Cup Series tracks. Increasing the amount of national TV exposure for NASCAR on these days can only help to focus on areas of the sport that clearly need media attention.

If you have watched Race Hub, share with us your opinion of the show and how you feel about SPEED deciding to bring it back for the entire 2010 season. To add your opinion on this topic, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks as always for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.