The Frontstretch: Propositioning the Perfectly Coiffed Master of any Ceremony, Allen Bestwick by Cheryl Walker -- Monday July 18, 2005

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Does anyone recall a very funny Stacker2 commercial awhile back? One which featured the up-until-recently-sponsored-by-the-product Kenny Wallace, as well as the charming Allen Bestwick? In the ad, while Wallace is momentarily distracted by a member of his crew, Bestwick sneaks a sip from a can of Kenny’s Stacker2 drink, and the
results featured Allen’s hair spiked out in a freakish way.

Only followers of NASCAR would realize the extent of how humorous this scenario would be, as anyone who can identify a driver besides Jeff Gordon knows that Allen Bestwick’s hair is always in the same pristine condition, with nary one out of place.

In addition to the perfect hair, Bestwick is also well-known as the host of Monday night’s ‘Inside Nextel Cup’ on SPEED TV.  His ability to maintain the pace of the show while keeping the likes of Michael Waltrip, Johnny Benson, and Jimmy Spencer lassoed up and reined in is truly a skill that not all show hosts can provide, especially with such a brilliant smile.

Many NASCAR fans were surprised to hear, then, of the recently announced plans to replace Bestwick on the show with the venerable Dave Despain, of ‘Wind Tunnel’ fame. The chemistry of Bestwick with his trio of sometimes bawdy but always entertaining ‘panel of experts’ is what has kept ‘Inside Nextel Cup’ a consistent favorite of NASCAR fans everywhere.

With the patient guidance of a beloved college professor, Bestwick steered the show through race recaps and interviews, eliciting knowledgeable responses from his show’s panel, while curbing wild forays into silliness. With his feigned ‘what am I going to do with these incorrigible drivers I have here’ attitude, the end result has always been a fun yet worthy show about the prior weekend’s racing action.

Fans of Bestwick had just been getting over his recent replacement in the announcer’s booth by Bill Weber, a move that put Bestwick in his new position as a pit reporter.  This has seemed to go down a little easier with fans, however, as Bestwick’s ability to get a great
interview with a driver and thinking on his feet cannot be denied.

Still, many folks with an affinity for Allen’s talents behind the mic are disappointed with these current events. Some are even equating it to another one of those ‘NASCAR is just a big evil corporation who doesn’t care for its fans’ conspiracy theories.

While I do not view things so hysterically, I do wonder how things like the ‘sprucing up’ of ‘Inside Nextel Cup’ will pan out.  And while I enjoy Bestwick’s pit road interview abilities, I do miss his participation in the announcing of the races.

I mentioned to a few fans on the Frontstretch.com message board how I am inspired to start an ‘Allen Bestwick Fan Club’, and the response was immediate. “Hey that would be great!” and “If you
start it, I’ll join it”
were the posted replies.

Therefore, if this article happens to pass across the screen of Mr. Bestwick, I would like to proposition you with an offer to start a fan club for you. It might not be the most exciting proposition you have ever been given, but it does come straight from the heart. Every star needs a fan club, and in the eyes of many, you are definitely a star in the NASCAR galaxy.

I am already working on a catchy name for your fans (‘Allen’s Besties’, perhaps) and have a few ideas for a logo, which would include the profile of a perfectly coiffed head and a microphone. So if anyone reading this feels that Allen Bestwick deserves his own fan club, please let me know. I know there are a lot of Besties out there, and it’s time to bond.

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doris battles
07/19/2005 05:01 AM
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Wwhat a grest idea. I would love to be a part of Allens Besties. I think Nascar and Speed are doing a grreat dissservice to a very fine sportscaster. I also recommend an email campaign to Speed and Nascar that shows them that Allen is a FAN favoorite. The powers that be talk about how important the fans are to them, lol, and we need to raise our voices en masse.
b.davis
07/19/2005 05:19 AM
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very soon there won’t be any shows about nascar worth watching!!!Nascar nation is terrible and when Allen leaves Inside Nextel Cup. I will be leaving the show too!!!!
d.brooks
07/19/2005 05:42 AM
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I couldn’t believe they replaced Alan with Bill Webber!! Webber just doesn’t have the personality or the intelligence about Nascar. I don’t watch Nascar Nation anymore either and will not watch Inside Nextel Cup when Alan leaves. What’s up with SPEED CHANNEL!?!?
don
07/19/2005 06:24 AM
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Allen Bestwick sucks,thats why he is being demoted!!!
Diane
07/19/2005 06:53 AM
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I’ll join the Besties as well. You’ve hit the nail on the head. The changes to Speed Channels shows has been terrible. I want Mikey or DW on Trackside, Nascar Nation sucks and I don’t watch it although I did give it a fair try. The sexing up the show have only shown what little those hosts know about the sport. There is little to bite into – all fluff and no action. If I wanted to watch ET, I would, but I don’t. And Bestwick in the pits is great but I miss him in the booth as well. Too bad he can’t do both. Webber is just not that interesting. And as for taking him off INC, what a big mistake!!! Bestwick has a sense of humor. Although I respect Dave Despain, he’s not a fit for INC.
Ken W.
07/19/2005 07:33 AM
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I agree with you. What is SPEED thinking?? “Inside Winston/Nextel Cup” was built around Allen, Mikey, Johnny and Schraeder. Leave Despain on “Windtunnel”. And the replacement of Benson with Harvick? “NASCAR Drivers 360” has shown what a jerk he is off the track. I hope someone at SPEED is listening.
Jason T.
07/19/2005 07:51 AM
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I agree with all the previous statements (except the Bestwick sucks one). Allen is the best announcer by far in all of sports. I watch INC every Monday evening, because of the lighthearted, yet informative views…”but I digress”. Remember when he came to work with that huge cast on his leg? Talk about dedication. What are they thinking?
JT
07/19/2005 08:08 AM
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It will be interesting when Dave Despain takes over for Bestwick on TWIN. Wind Tunnel watchers will note that Despain is a no-nonsence, motorcycle/open wheel racing fan, not your typical, talking-head shill that NASCAR’s brass prefers. If Speed Channel is not careful, with Despain at the helm, TWIN may turn into another “Pit Bull”, which the fans loved, but NASCAR’s dictators hated, since the reporter panel often revealed too many “family secrets” on the air. I’ve heard Despain have some sharp, negative comments about NASCAR on Wind Tunnel. Stay tuned!
Terry Mcdonald
07/19/2005 08:19 AM
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I was hoping I wasn’t the only one who felt like you. Allen made the Inside Nascar show fun to watch and cannot be replaced by Dave Despain with out the show taking a dump. Dave is more impressed with himself and that voice, that, for some reason dosen’t line up with his lip movement. .......
Bill Weber, another move that shouldn’t have happened. Doom and Gloom personality and has anyone else noticed the job the plastic surgon did to his eyes? Looks like they put a bunge cord around his head to pull the wrinkles out.
Guy
07/19/2005 08:34 AM
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I really miss Allen in the booth, Bill Weber was OK as a pit reporter, but doesn’t have the snap like Allen to make in the booth. BP is always having to correct him on the simple stuff. Dave Despain works with the WindTunnel format just fine, but the Inside Nextel Cup program is a much different show and with the addition of that jerk Harvick, it should completely mess up a perfectly good program. The new Speed Channel producer is not going to be happy until he ruins every NASCAR program on it. A prime example is; NASCAR Nation which in a very short time has become the biggest joke on the tube. The 3 talking heads along with the producer are clueless to what NASCAR is all about. The only part of the show worth watching is Marty Smith.
Gracia
07/19/2005 09:15 AM
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Great article, Cheryl. I agree with you. Alan was great and the booth and between he and Mikey, they make Inside Nextel Cup what it is…sorry this is happening.
Grant
07/19/2005 09:26 AM
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I look forward to the Inside Nextel Cup show each Monday evening…It’s a very relaxed and entertaining look at Nascar racing. I believe that Bestwick is more responsible for that than the Speed Channel may realize.

I do know one thing, if Kevin Harvick becomes a regular on that show I will never, ever watch it again. Harvick is a punk…I can hardly stomach the obligatory two-minute interview with him each week during the pre-race show. I don’t even want to imagine having to look at that smart-alic grin on his face for an hour and a half!
Jerra
07/19/2005 09:29 AM
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I have to say I am completely baffled at Despain’s appointment to host of INC. Alan is one of the most credible members of the media and I always looked forward to the show. Not too sure I will now. I don’t know where he is headed next…but I hope we see him on another program soon.
Heather
07/19/2005 09:30 AM
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I’m for the Allen fan club. I love Allen dearly and will miss him on INC. I hope I get to tell him that this weekend here at PPIR!
Nikki
07/19/2005 09:31 AM
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Have you noticed that Benny has needed a lot of correction himself recently? :)

I’m still not sure why they switched Allen and Weber on NBC, but Allen may have wanted the change himself, too. I’m getting used to Weber, but it’s just wierd. I do enjoy Allen in the pits.

As for INCR, from the look/sound of his little announcement last night on the show about things changing including him, it’s obvious that one wasn’t his idea. The show will not be the same, that’s for sure. I will give it a chance, but who knows. It will have a different feel with Despain, that’s for sure. As for Harvick joining in, it could be interesting. Sure, he can be a jerk, but I think he’s fun. And he’s not Mr. Politically Correct, which could make some of the race review discussions interesting!

As for NASCAR Nation, the sad thing is that I kind of like it better now. I could do without the hosts (I miss Ralph and Voda), but the format runs a little more smoothly and 30 mins is definitely enough. But I like the drivers and their personalities and sometimes enjoy seeing their lives off the track.
J Ram
07/19/2005 09:38 AM
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First Nascar Nation now this ! The new head of the Speed Channel ( A Holloywood Producer who put on Super Bowls) is now calling the shots on the Speed Channel. This is why Nascar Nation is unwatchable and soon INC will be too. Nascar is trying to get the “New” fan to the sport with shows filled with fluff! What they don’t realize is that when those fly by night fans are all gone the long-time fans will be gone with them just a little sooner becasue they forgot about us and the shows and reporting we want and deserve.

Shame on Speed channel everyone should e-mail them in protest!
Jack
07/19/2005 10:13 AM
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Count me in on any support we can give Bestwick. He’s the best announcer in motorsports and he’s not getting the credit he is due.
BillW
07/19/2005 10:23 AM
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I personally feel that Bestwick was a great fit in the booth and on INC. It seems NASCAR and Speed Channel just aren’t happy unless they are messing with a good thing. I don’t get it. If they’re going to make changes, then get Benny Parsons the heck out of the booth. He’s opinionated and arrogant. Maybe FOX will pick up Bestwick and put his talents to good use next season.
Glen
07/19/2005 10:23 AM
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I think Allen is great on INC with the “three stooges” and it is probably a mistake to replace him. But, as a race commentator, I think he was a great studio host. I like Dave Despain also but, I’m not sure this show is the right vehicle for him. Why fix something when it ain’t broke?
Last year when Allen broke his leg & Bill Weber filled in, I noticed a definite improvement in the on air race coverage. However, this year I am thoroughly dissapointed in the three man NBC/TNT crew. I always felt that Wally was very knowledgeable but had a very bland personality. Benny, this year, seems to be suffering from “Ken Squier Syndrome”. By that I mean he has forgotten more about NASCAR than most of us will ever know. He frequently gets names, places, numbers, etc. wrong. Then he has the nerve to correct Weber when he makes a mistake! Benny was at his best when he was paired with Ned Jarrett! Bill Weber has not lived up to the standard he set for himself in the few races when he filled in for Allen last year. Arguably, he might be doing a worse job than Allen ever did.
Maybe Speed(or ESPN) will create a new nightly NASCAR news show with Allen as the host.
Marvin M
07/19/2005 10:48 AM
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In reading the responses and news about Allen, the question comes to my mind, Why? Why are they making this change? Last night he mentioned that with new management changes are often made…a class act by the way. But to some of you in the media…have you heard a snippet of why these decisions have been made? I like Bestwick.
kris alfonso
07/19/2005 11:06 AM
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I think Allen should not have been taken out of the booth nor should he be replaced on INC. He has a great on screen presence and he can think fast on his feet. He’s a good pit reporter but I liked him better in the booth. The new hosts on NN are an insult to long time Nascar fans. Krista and Ralph were great. These new and “improved” hosts are all fluff or should I say “all chests” and no substance. The stories about the drivers off track are OK But I can’t stand to watch the hosts all “cutsie” and stuff so I don’t. I’ve been a faithful viewer every Monday of INC and I think Despain is the wrong choice for that show. I think Allen is getting a bum deal. Does anyone that makes these decisions actually consider or even care about the huge “MATURE” Nascar following (remember us baby boomers)that are being shoved aside for the fan of the month generation?
Give us some credit and respect. We like Allen, leave him where he is.
Robert
07/19/2005 11:44 AM
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My 2-cents, Respectfully speaking. Allen B is a great talent, and will be heads above most anyone, whatever role he is cast in! Loved his MRN work. Just wondering if NBC could capitalize on his style & knowledge and let his role evolve-expand into something new/fresh ? the roving team captain/on air welcome/last to sign off ? – {all the while keep him as lead pit road guy}. Unfortunately he can not be in two places and the real issue is Bill Weber just isn’t very good, knowledgable or well spoken. Heck give me news anchor Brian Williams, paired two man with Wally. Sorry BP. NascarNation, it had good points before, an hour was too long. Agree with others it’s unwatchable now. Funny thing is if you do manage to sit through it. Afterwards you have no idea what the subject matter of the program was. Kinda like a info-merical, without the 1-800-number. Quikies: Harvick is a bone-head, doubt if he will change. If he does have something to say it is cloaked in “I am a donkeys butt” delivery. INC, well sorry here, but the ratings were poor and despite Allen Bestwick’s lead; it offered little in the way of “Inside” news. Mikey has huge media potential, he will outshine DW in time. Teams require chemistry, they had none. By 11pm Monday I have pretty much have seen all the highlights worthy of my time. Dave Despain’s addition, curious at first, adds instant ‘Tom Brokaw’ clout. For my money I would partner the respected anchor [Despain] with a first hand account-media savy-great delivery,non driver [Bestwick] and a racer-insider-fresh face-not afraid to say it type [Jimmy Spencer]. I personally do not want the NASCAR version of politically correct, I want to hear something I did not already know. Final thought: SPEED channel does seem to be reinventing itself, hhmmmmmmmm ….
pat
07/19/2005 11:58 AM
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Just have to put my 2 cents into the mix. Allen is very talented new person. They should have kept him in the booth. Bill Weber stinks… I love INC. The main reason we watch is because of the group they have on now. They mix so well. Allen is so extremely knowlegable on NASCAR,rules and drivers. By the way, Bill Weber get your hair cut.
denise
07/19/2005 12:06 PM
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Sign me up for the Allen Fan Club.

The speed channel has lost me as a viewer of INC – David Despain is like nails on a chalk board.
Matt
07/19/2005 01:01 PM
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I for one do not actually like Allen as a person. I do not think that their is a better broadcaster out there though. I have learned to totally respect how well he does his job and have come to realize that I don’t care if I like someone as long as they are compitant at what they do.

I have Watched INC since the begginning and am afraid it will go in the toilet with the new changes.

I do like Dave’s show but what was someone thinking putting him in.

Good luck Allen and I’m sure you’ll be back soon with a handsome raise.
betty
07/19/2005 01:11 PM
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I REALLY miss Alan in the booth but get to enjoy his interviewing talents in the pits. I have been wondering if perhaps he just couldnt take any more of Wally & BP and asked to be moved.

As for INC, I like Despain but think he is a bad fit for this show. Alan is the glue that holds the group together. Without him, it will likely fly off in all directions and the only direction it will have is down…and out the door. Ten years of faithful viewership down the drain.

Count me in for the fan club.
kenfmm6fan
07/19/2005 01:26 PM
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Sign me up for Allen’s Besties! While I like my fellow New Jerseyan Bill Weber, I think Allen is better than Bill in the booth. As far as the INC show goes, I have a feeling that Allen will be back before long. The show is informative but it’s light and funny – I think putting Dave Despain in there is going to make it too serious. Dave’s good but I just don’t see him in this role. Speed Channel, what are you thinking?
Ron
07/19/2005 01:42 PM
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What in the world are they thinking at speed channel? Put me down as a member of Allen’s fan club.

Ron
Linda
07/19/2005 02:03 PM
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Sign me up too. Along with being a fellow New Englander Allen is a terrific broadcaster.

I watched the first Nascar Nation show and haven’t watched another one. Why Speed Channel felt it necessary to make changes is beyond me and it sounds like a whole lot of other people too.

As far as putting Kevin Harvick on INC that’s a mistake too. He’s obnoxious on and off the track.
Paula
07/19/2005 02:17 PM
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Loved the article. I think it’s a great idea that Allen should have a fan club. Sign me up! And if you are the president, can I apply as treasurer? I had tears in my eyes last night when he made that announcement. I was upset when they annouced that Bill Weber was going into the booth but like having Allen in the pits. And what was up with that pink shirt? I believe the chemistry will not be there with Despain & Harvick on the show. I don’t see Kenny being on the show much longer as he will be come nothing more than a prop.I’ll probably watch a few episodes to give it a fair chance but I don’t think it will ever be better than INC.
Mandy
07/19/2005 03:04 PM
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I’ve quit watching Nascar Nation and will quit watching INC. What is SPEED thinking?!@? Sign me up for the Allen Fan Club! Havick – PLLLLease!
Tiff
07/19/2005 03:05 PM
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Most certainly count me in as a memeber of the Besties! Allen is a wonderful broadcaster and an even better ring master. What’s being done to him by the powers that be at both Speed and NBC is a shame. Out of all the broadcast staff on all stations his is the one voice I always look forward to hearing. Seems they think we don’t deserve the type of quality that Allen is.
Sharon
07/19/2005 03:10 PM
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One of the saddest announcements I ever heard was that Allen is leaving Inside Nextel Cup! I probably won’t watch any more, just as I no longer watch the tawdry Nascar Nation. Allen is the best commentator in the sport, and it’s a shame for us all that the powers that be are so stupid that they can’t understand that. I miss him in the booth to keep Parsons straight, but I will not watch Inside Nextel Cup once he leaves; the chemistry among the 4 of them is what makes that show. It was my favorite. If you form a fan club for Allen, I’ll sure join!
Kayla
07/19/2005 03:19 PM
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Im gonna miss Allen. Daves very rude to people on his show. I dont need him on another one.
Ill gladly join that fan club! I love Allen
Tama
07/19/2005 04:53 PM
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Just wanted to add my two cents worth. I’ve been watching nascar for a couple of years, not all that long but, I have become a real fan. I think that Allen was the best annoncer for the race broadcast. He also has a really good voice, and he also does a great job as a pit reporter. Mr. Webber is just so bland and gets alot of names incorrect.

As for INC, I would make sure I was home just to watch all four of the quys doing the show. The chemistry was amazing. I really wish SPEED TV would listen to the fans. I hope Allen does get a new show and Dave goes back to what he really likes. I like Dave’s Windtunnel but he doesn’t seem to have a real passion for NASCAR. He also doesn’t seem to appreciate Mikey so I wonder who’ll take his seat?

I’d join Alan’s fan club in a heartbeat….
Sue
07/19/2005 05:22 PM
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Count me in for the Fan Club! I agree with almost everyone above – I can’t picture Dave on INC (and I really like Dave), and I won’t watch Harvick, either. So, they’ve lost another one with this stupid decision.
Dave Brown
07/19/2005 05:57 PM
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Mr Bestwick is by far the most knowledgable of the other three in the booth. He also keeps them on track better than Weber. He does come off like a dork because of that goofy laugh but he is the man for the job. One more race with Weber and I will go back to turning off the NBC sound and listen to the MRN audio.
Lorne
07/19/2005 06:00 PM
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I only watch INC because of Allen, Mikey and Schrader. I have been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years. Allen is the consumate host and does a great job of corralling the cast. Despain is great on Windtunnel and I respect his breadth of knowledge. Dave has more of a drag racing personality. My late brother was a NHRA crew chief so, I know these people too. However, Allen is the man for INC. Long live Allen and his Besties!
Bill Wood
07/19/2005 06:49 PM
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I have been a NASCAR fan for forty years. I would rate Allen Bestwick with the very best of the talking heads. He and Barney Hall (MRN Radio) are absoleute joys to watch/listen too. Now that Speed has screwed up INC like it has most of it’s other NASCAR programming, I guess that’s one less race program I will watch. Good luck to you Mr. Bestwick…you deserve better.
Marlene
07/21/2005 07:02 AM
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Please give us a e-mail address at speed so we can let them know what we think of their stupid moves at speed channel
Dispain has said he don’t even like Nascar and they want him to host INC.????
Nikki
07/21/2005 10:19 AM
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Speed has a Feedback page on their site which you can access at
http://speedtv.com/feedback/ (Sorry it doesn't work as a link, just cut and paste)
Linda
07/21/2005 08:43 PM
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I sure miss the ole days of RPM tonight!
I used to watch all the ancilary shows, but not anymore.
Michele
07/22/2005 11:28 AM
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Loved the article; fan club? – I’m his #1 fan for a long long long time, can’t figure who the “Genius(??????)” was who replaced him in the booth; actually sent Speed my opinion of that – first the booth and now they are taking him out of “INC” – what kind of lunacy is this folks? – We need to ban together – maybe if there are enough of us we can save Alan ” let’s put him back in the booth and back on “Inside Nextel Cup”!!! My husband and I couldn’t wait for Monday nights to watch Alan, Kenny, Johnny and Mikey together – loved how Kenny kept Mikey straight – kind of reminded me of “Abbott & Costello”
one playing off of the other – and poor Alan trying to keep the show going – the most entertaining show they have !! Without this group we won’t be watching !
Despain is like watching one of his bobblehead dolls on his show on speed(the drug) – too too much!!!
If something isn’t done then we won’t be watching either!
Michele
Carolyn
07/31/2005 12:12 PM
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When Allen goes——my whole family will stop watching INC. What is the matter with Speed Channel ?????
George W
07/31/2005 03:40 PM
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Alan Bestwick is the glue that holds INC together. I’ll give DD a try since I like Mikey best, but if Mikey leaves, I’m gone too. I was hoping that Johnny Benson would get a Cup car ride and stay on INC, but I guess they wanted a younger driver on the panel.
John
08/01/2005 06:00 PM
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I think it was about three years ago at the Brickyard 400. I was attending the race and was keeping track of the action on my scanner. I can’t remember exactly what happen, but there was a track incident. the NBC feed was fired up with people trying to get it straight during the commercial break. People yelling back and forth, and with seconds to go a producer said “Alan on in two” He then described exactily what had happen and got it right just off the cuff. I’ve been a fan ever since.

 

Cheryl is no longer a contributor to the Frotnstretch, having branched out on her own, starting CawsnJaws with her son Josh. If you'd like to see more of Cheryl's Frontstretch articles, check out her bio and archive page.