By admin | May 31, 2010
By Richard Allen
The Fox Network has just completed its tenth season of broadcasting NASCAR races. Since their beginning of covering this sport in 2001, they have made very few changes to their on-air team or style of coverage. In my opinion, the time has come for some changes to be made.
Quite frankly, the material of booth commentators Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds has become more than a little stale. It seems as though the two have offered essentially the same commentary from week to week and year to year.
When I first heard that Waltrip would be part of the broadcast team I thought he would offer fresh, insightful and perhaps even controversial discussion. As a driver he certainly never minded speaking his mind and rubbing people the wrong way. I hoped he would do the same as an announcer. However, he has seldom brought that same edginess to the broadcast booth.
Waltrip has offered a number of anecdotes throughout the years. Unfortunately, he has seemingly told the same tales over and over again. For example, how many times over these past ten years have we heard the ‘Vortex Theory’ of the cars keeping rain away. And, the discussion between he and Richard Petty as to why Petty used to run so high on the track has been rehashed more than a few times.
According to several e-mails and comments I have received over the years, many fans believe Waltrip has taken on the role of on-air spokesman for his brother’s team, which if true would certainly hinder his ability to be unbiased.
In my opinion, Waltrip has disappointed as a commentator and after ten years in that role it may be time for a new duty to be assigned to the three time champion.
McReynolds was brought in to provide a crew chief’s perspective of the action. He certainly has been able to add insight into the goings on through his personal contacts in the garage area. He does add numerous details of race day set ups and other tidbits he has picked up on at the track.
However, McReynolds has proven to be terribly indecisive. His commentary often sounds as if he is afraid of making anyone angry, perhaps for fear of losing those garage area contacts. Like Waltrip, McReynolds has shown a different persona from that of his active days in racing. From listening to scanner talk of him when he was a crew chief he cared little about sparing the feelings of his drivers or crew members.
Along with the booth personalities, the act of Chris Meyers and Jeff Hammond needs to be revamped as well. These two have gotten plenty of mileage out of the same jokes they began telling in 2001. But I will say this. I do not necessarily mind a non-racing personality such as Meyers being involved in the broadcast. He just needs new material.
There is not enough time here to get into Digger or Pizzi so I’ll just let my silence do the talking.
Not all of Fox’s work has been all bad. Mike Joy is one of the most solid lap by lap men in the business. The pit reporters typically have done a good job of describing the action. Also, the network has brought new technology to the sport that has given fans a better perspective of both a visual and audio nature.
All in all, however, in the opinion of this person who has never worked in broadcasting but has watched many broadcasts, it is time for Fox to consider shaking things up a bit. If I have heard my last boogity, boogity, boogity I will not be disappointed.
Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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