The Frontstretch: Scanner Static : NASCAR Fans Speak Out by Jess Nicholas -- Wednesday June 7, 2006

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Scanner Static : NASCAR Fans Speak Out

FOX Needs a Fix · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday June 7, 2006


Q: When is NASCAR/Fox going to do something about the few minutes of TV race coverage that keeps interrupting commercials? It’s ridiculous that we have to sit through 4.5 minutes of racing in between commercials. I think NASCAR/Fox should mandate no more than 9 minutes of race coverage per hour. This way we could watch 51 minutes of commercials per hour "" the same commercials too "" without those pit stops or boring lead changes or spinouts. For once, I wish NASCAR would think about RACE fans "" we do NOT want to see the race, we want more and more commercials since it is commercials that keeps us fans of RACING. Bob

A: I think Fox’s coverage all around this year has been mediocre. The missed restarts are just unacceptable, in any form. Wrecks happen so often that it’s just bad business to be in commercial when you’ve got five cars in the grass on turn one back at the track. That isn’t all, though: not only are commercial breaks way too long, but too often we’re treated to a race for eighth place with two laps to go. Wouldn’t it be much more interesting at that point to know if the leader is going to hit his marks and hold on for the victory, even with a big lead? Show that race for eighth at lap 100, instead of another commentary on how Dale, Jr. is getting along with Tony, Jr. or whether Visa just bought its 61st "Race Break" of the afternoon. Also, when a car "" any car, even a backmarker "" goes out of the race, I want to know that. And I want to know why he went out. A lot of the backmarkers get their engines from someone who also supplies a larger team. That’s news I can use.

Q: I’m surprised TV hasn’t figured out a way for Mikey to do some live advertising with sound on the in-car camera yet. Then we could get all of his sponsors in, plus all the advertising that Fox/FX uses to support the rest of their broadcast schedule during the week. Nothing worse than having your commercials interrupted by some racing. The gall of some people. Mike

A: I like Michael Waltrip to a point, but sometimes it’s like putting four Sweet ’N Lows in your iced tea instead of two "" more is not necessarily better. Also, I realize Darrell is his blood family, but qualifying the last two weeks has turned into "Listen to Darrell pray Michael into the race," when there are other storylines afoot amongst the go-or-go-home cars. And while I know Michael’s partner, Bill Davis, has been embroiled in a bitter legal fight with Dodge, it’s insulting to Dodge fans to hear Michael call his car the “NAPA car” rather than the “NAPA Dodge.” It’s a Dodge; call it what it is, or drive something else.

Q: We mute the TV and listen to the radio during the commercials. Also we recently signed up for the race scanner thru for $4.95 a month. Between the two, at least we know a little of what’s going on during the races. I was VERY impressed watching the Indy 500. They split the screen several times with the race and the commercials. Connie

A: If some NASCAR fans can overlook their distaste for open-wheel racing, they’ll be forced to admit the coverage of the Indy 500 whipped the stuffing out of any Fox or NBC broadcast the last two-plus years of a NASCAR event. The in-car camera angles were better, the commentary was more on-point, and the split-screening during commercials is the best television idea in auto racing since Howdy Holmes started carrying an ESPN camera on the side of his Domino’s Pizza Hot One #30 in CART back in the 80s. NASCAR has a better product right now, but the IRL is selling what they have very well.

Q: If I was Scott Wimmer, I’d be howling mad at Chad Knaus. Wasn’t Wimmer actually in front of Johnson when that caution came out? What about their deal? Gorscht

A: I’d have to go back to the tape, but I caught myself thinking the same thing at the time. Bottom line though, when the rubber hit the road did you really think Knaus was going to leave Johnson on track in favor of a car not in the Top 35 in owner points?

Q: I keep hearing Casey Mears’ name come up in talks of different rides next year, and I don’t understand it. He started fast, but he’s fizzling now. Do owners just care about pretty faces? Don G.

A: In Mears’ case, he has the name to go along with pretty good "" not great "" talent. Roger and Rick Mears are known by thousands across the country. You have to remember, too, that Mears is driving for Ganassi this year "" not exactly the death knell, but it looks like even Petty Enterprises has jumped ahead of Ganassi’s group at this point. The name I don’t understand being continually in the mix is Brian Vickers. He’s put up mediocre results at what is no worse than the second-best organization in NASCAR.

Think Casey Mears’ face isn’t really pretty after all? Wondering if Michael Waltrip can film his commercials in your very own home? Email Jess at and he’ll see what he can do…or, give us a different question or comment, and you might be in this very column next week.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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M. B. Voelker
06/08/2006 06:25 AM

Summer is Civil War reenacting season and beach season and gardening season so I end up watching a lot of races and other programs on tape.

I assure you that no matter if I’m taping a race, a race-related show from Speed, or a documentary on Discovery or the History Channel it ALWAYS takes 45 minutes to watch each hour of taped program.

The ad jump button on my remote is 30 seconds so I can get a very accurate picture of how long the commercial breaks are as well.

Speed’s commercial breaks are almost inevitably 2 mintues exactly.

Commercial breaks during races vary from 2 minutes under green-flag conditions to 2.5 or 3 minutes under caution.

Commericial breaks during the other programs I watch are usually 3-4 minutes and sometimes as long as 6 minutes.

Naturally, the short breaks during racing are spaced more frequently. But, would you really want to miss 5 or 6 minutes straight at Bristol? That’s 20-30 laps?

Additionally, NBC in particular, but Fox to some extent front-loads the commercials—scheduling more in the early part of the race in order to broadcast the final laps without interuption.

People need to stop complaining so much about the commercials because,

A. They’re no worse than they are for any other show—its just that racing doesn’t have commerical time-outs like stick and ball sports.

B. The only alternative is Pay-per-View. And there’s no way most fans could afford the money for that.

06/08/2006 09:04 AM

Ditto to all on this subject. I have been in racing for 40 years. Can’t sand to watch now. Randy

06/08/2006 10:35 AM

Regarding all the commercial time – don’t the advertiser realize the people watching do other stuff during the breaks ie: bathroom break – frig raids – anything but watch commercials. I’m so sick of seeing the same commercials that it really turns me off from using that product. I too listen to the radio & mute the TV & I’ve found that there are really 43 cars in the race & not just 10.

Frank R
06/08/2006 11:23 AM

I’m also annoyed by the commercials and how they cause us to miss a lot of the action, but am I the only person that is also annoyed by the ridiculous practice of using cameras in the fences, flagstand, cranes, and in-cars during the first lap of the race and during restarts, focusing on everything BUT the race itself?? These are usually the most exciting laps when you see a race in person, why should we have to put up with the director’s desire for dramatics during the best parts of the races, maybe the most influencial Keep the cameras on the head end of the field, where they belong!!

06/08/2006 11:45 AM

One thing that really chaps me is the commercial time spent hyping their own shows. It is totally unacceptable to watch commercials about the fire guy and come back to the race and find out they have missed the restart.

Scott Wimmers crew chief was on XM radio and said that the 48 car was ahead of them when the caution came out. They ran out of gas because of the track banking. They had a couple gallons in the fuel cell but couldn’t pick up, He had high praise for the 48 crew and felt they were treated equally.

06/10/2006 10:58 AM

I think that they should not have commercials but instead watch the whole race but maybe for the commercials have what ABC did for the Indy 500 with the split screen. that was cool


Jess no longer contributes to the Frontstretch, but you can still read all his articles on his archive and bio page.