The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: Split-Screen Sadness by John Potts -- Thursday September 29, 2011

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Potts' Shots: Split-Screen Sadness

John Potts · Thursday September 29, 2011


Harold Irvine of Owen Sound up in Ontario comments, “On Sunday during the second half of the race, ads were shown on a split screen. While the idea of not missing the race was good, it was wasted. Over half of the screen was not used; the two boxes could have been doubled in size. The race half was so small, on a 52-inch TV it was hard to make out. If the whole screen was used as much as possible, it would be much better. I watched the race on TSN as I can’t get ESPN in Canada in HD. Also, it seemed that more time was used showing ads than just the race during the second half. Thanks for taking my beef.”

I’ll be perfectly honest, Harold. I was somewhat derelict in my duty on Sunday, as I got tied up in pro football and missed all but the last 80 laps at New Hampshire. That may have been a costly mistake for my future NASCAR attention because it wasn’t long before I realized that I hadn’t really missed much. A friend of mine has been telling me this for months now.

I’ll agree that there seemed to be more time spent on advertising than racing up to the last 20 laps or so, but we have to remember that commercials are the price we pay for “free” telecasts.

And, I have to agree that it could be done much better. I don’t have a 52-inch screen, so it was a little tougher on my old eyes. (I have a similar complaint with FOX’s football coverage, with part of the scoreboard in the upper left hand corner being off screen on some telecasts – but that’s off-topic).

While ESPN’s split-screen commercial idea is a great concept, some fans complain it’s not being utilized to its full potential.

I guess the best way to ask them to improve the coverage is the same as always, complain in the most visible format possible. You’re doing it the best way I know how, because we are very much aware of the fact that NASCAR pays attention to Whether this particular column is a part of that attention, I can’t say, but we can hope.

On the same topic, sometimes the “side-by-side” coverage of IndyCar races shows the action on an even smaller segment of the screen.

- – - – - – - –

With no more questions or comments this week, how about we revert to a “Driven to the Past” segment? As far as I know, this story hasn’t been printed here before, and isn’t in the book, because I keep getting reminded of more incidents. It won’t be long before it’s time for another book. We’ll try to do this as often as we can, but you folks keep the questions coming.

Bruce Walkup is a former open-wheel driver, and was a good one. He’s also a good friend of mine who just happens to be a bank president in Indiana nowadays. When I lived up there, we used to get together for an adult beverage now and then, usually in the motel lounge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

One night while we were bench racing, Bruce told me a story about practicing for the Indianapolis 500. Going into the first turn, he had a problem with the right front. All of you NASCAR fans have seen what happens when this occurs in a stock car. Think about it happening at maybe 200 miles an hour or so in an open-wheeler on an essentially flat race track. Those turns at IMS are a quarter-mile long, so they have a pretty big radius, but it still has to be a hairy experience.

Drive Back to the Past With John Potts’ new book, a collection of historical stories from racing started right here at Contact John to get your hands on a copy today!

I don’t know what the setup is for the observer stands at IMS now, but in the ’70s they were nearly up against the outside wall, with the floor about level with the top of that wall. Bruce told me that even doing everything he could, he knew he was going to hit the wall with the right front at just about the location of the observer’s stand. He could see the observer standing up, and he was sure that the guy was reporting the situation to Race Control.

The guy was also understandably getting a bit nervous about the whole thing, and was backing away from the wall.

“The last thing I saw before I hit,” Bruce said, “Was a headset just hanging in midair.”

Naturally, his crew chief wanted to know if Bruce was hurt.

“I told him I was OK,” he recalled, “But said he might want to tell USAC to send somebody down here to check on their observer.”

Thankfully, the guy wasn’t hurt.

Oh, another comment about that wall…

A road racer on his first trip to Indy had an accident in practice, and when talking to one of the old oval hands explained that a suspension failure had “…put me in the fence.”

The reply from the oval veteran contained an explanation: “Son, that’s not a fence. It’s a wall. I’ve hit fences and I’ve hit walls. THAT is a wall.”

Contact John Potts

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09/29/2011 01:20 PM

As I previously stated, the ESPN coverage is awful. The split screen does nothing except encourage more commercials. And ESPN is not free; basic cable is not free. If it was ABC, then you’d have a legit argument. Regardless of who covers the races, fans are the last on the least to please.