Race Weekend Central

The Critic’s Annex 40: The 10

by Phil Allaway

Hello, race fans. It’s time for another discussion of motorsports-related programming. For 2011, new President Patti Wheeler has rolled out a series of new shows that will air on SPEED over the course of the season. They range from competitions to scientific shows, and basically everything in between. The 72-hour challenge show Car Warriors is getting a special showing on FOX during the Sprint Cup off-week (along with a special one-hour recap of the Daytona 500).

Meanwhile, some old stand-bys are taking their swan song. For example, Pinks: All Out aired their series finale earlier this week. During 2011, I plan on giving critiques of some of SPEED’s new programming here in the Annex. I’ve already covered SPEED’s special, “The Day: Remembering Dale Earnhardt,” in an earlier edition of the Annex. Today, we’re going to cover SPEED’s new countdown show, The 10.

Earlier in the year, I wrote that The 10 seems to have come out of countdown features that were created to celebrate NASCAR on FOX’s tenth season last year. My best guess is that those features were supposed to run during pre-race programming at some point. Instead, they ended up running as filler segments during rain delays last season.

The Top 10 features have evolved into a half-hour show where a series of personalities sit in front of a green screen and talk about whatever the topic is. So far, the show has featured countdowns of top “Earnhardt Moments,” “Most Outrageous NASCAR Moments,” and “Greatest Finishes.” Future episodes (according to the show’s page at SPEEDtv.com) will include the greatest moments at Talladega and the “Wildest Throwdowns.” That last one should be interesting.

The personalities that talk about the particular selections are FOX and/or SPEED personalities, radio personalities, and particular drivers who were affected by certain instances. For example, Kurt Busch’s broken wheel during the 2004 Ford 400 ranked as the ninth most outrageous NASCAR moment. You can take issue with that later on. Regardless, Kurt briefly talked about his wheel coming off and how that affected his run to the championship. For discussion of the infamous fight between the Allisons and Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison was there to give his rather well-known explanation for the fight. You know what he said.

The show never really gets into how they determine the lists, which really bugs me. Its clear by watching the show that they have a substantial number of people that contribute to each episode (Maybe 20 or so). Do they all discuss and/or pitch certain selections in a large conference room, similar to how the NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees are chosen? Are suggestions taken via e-mail and the producers simply compile the responses? Do the writers make up the order? The answer is anyone’s guess. I would recommend that SPEED reveal that fact.

Just for reference purposes, here are the two Top 10 shows that aired Wednesday night:

The Actual Top 10 Most Outrageous NASCAR Moments:
10. Crash Coming to the Finish, 2007 Daytona 500
9. Kurt Busch’s Broken Wheel, 2004 Ford 400
8. Darrell Waltrip Winning the 1989 Daytona 500, and his celebration
7. Rusty Wallace Spinning Out Darrell Waltrip, 1989 The Winston
6. The Big One, 2002 Aaron’s 499
5. Jeremy Mayfield Executes Bump-and-Run on Dale Earnhardt, 2000 Pocono 500
4. Dale Earnhardt Resumes After Rolling Over, 1997 Daytona 500
3. Start of the The Winston, 2001
2. Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison Wreck, then Tussle, 1979 Daytona 500
1. Carl Edwards’ Flip Into the Catchfence, 2009 Aaron’s 499

Honorable Mentions:
Petty and Pearson’s Crash, 1976 Daytona 500
Dale Earnhardt’s “Pass in the Grass,” 1987 The Winston
Bobby Allison’s Infamous Crash into the Catchfence, 1987 Winston 500
Terry Labonte vs. Dale Earnhardt I, 1995 Goody’s 500 (Bristol)

The Actual Top 10 Earnhardt Moments:
10. Dale Earnhardt Resumes After Rolling Over, 1997 Daytona 500
9. Earnhardt Races Against His Son Dale Jr. for the First Time, 1998 Coca-Cola 500k (Motegi, Japan)
8. Winning 4 in a row, 1987 (Darlington, Bristol, North Wilkesboro and Martinsville)
7. Dale Earnhardt’s “Pass in the Grass,” 1987 The Winston
6. Earnhardt “Rattles Terry Labonte’s Cage,” 1999 Goody’s Headache Powders 500
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first Cup win, 2000 DirecTV 500
4. Earnhardt’s First Win, 1979 Southeastern 500
3. Earnhardt’s Charge from 18th to Win in 4 Laps, 2000 Winston 500
2. Earnhardt’s First Championship, 1980
1. Finally Winning the Daytona 500, 1998 Daytona 500

Honorable Mentions:
The Big Crash where Earnhardt Broke his Collarbone and Sternum, 1996 DieHard 500
Earnhardt Blows His Right Rear Tire on the Final Lap, 1990 Daytona 500
Earnhardt Hits a Seagull, 1991 Daytona 500, Lap 2

On the surface, such a show is inherently designed to create discussion about the order and whether stuff belongs on the list at all, let alone where they are listed. You could argue that Allison’s crash had bigger consequences than Edwards’ because it resulted in NASCAR taking steps to lower speeds at Daytona and Talladega (first with mandating a smaller carburetor, then the restrictor plates in 1988). If that was the main point of the show, then SPEED did their job. Mayfield’s bump-and-run was an interesting inclusion since quite a few people don’t even remember that one. It should be noted that the race was run on a Monday due to rain and like they said on the actual show, Pocono was not then, and is not known even now for anything ground-breaking. Of course, that is unless you consider quirky wrecks groundbreaking.

With the Earnhardt Moments, the 1998 Daytona 500 will likely be the moment that everyone remembers best for him. I have a hard time believing that people would remember his first title better than the other six, especially since TV coverage was still quite dodgy in 1980. I also probably would have put the “Cage Rattling Incident” higher than No. 6.

Despite the reservations I’ve mentioned, the show is still enjoyable to watch. As you know, I’m a historical nut and like these types of shows, be it NASCAR-related or not (If VH1’s showing one of their I Love the shows, I’m watching). Its a nice way to kill thirty minutes. I would just like to see more accountability as to where the rankings come from, that’s all.

I hope you enjoyed this relatively quick look at The 10. Don’t forget that next week, I will infiltrate the Style Network to provide a look at “Fast and Fabulous: A NASCAR Wedding,” the show that chronicles Kyle Busch’s wedding to Sam Sarcinella. The show premieres Saturday night at 8pm if you want to watch it for yourselves. Until then, have a great weekend.

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