Race Weekend Central

The Critic’s Annex 41: Fast and Fabulous: A NASCAR Wedding

Hello, race fans. Welcome back to the Critic’s Annex, where I take an additional look at motorsports-related programming that cannot fit in the normal Tuesday critique because of space constraints, or that it simply has nothing to do with the rest of the piece.

Last September, ESPN aired the five-episode reality series Riding Shotgun: Kyle Busch. The show followed Busch and his then-fiancée, Sam Sarcinella around for a period of roughly six days in and around the Richmond race weekend, and the week leading up to the Sylvania 300 in New Hampshire, Race No. 1 of the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup. In and around the Chase Media Tour, ESPN’s blatant self-advertising, fourth wall breaking, and gratitutousness, viewers were treated to some wedding planning.

During the show, Busch and Sarcinella talked about their wedding, scheduled for New Years’ Eve in Chicago. There were even scenes depicting the couple shopping for wedding rings and checking out potential venues.

Well, the wedding went down on New Years’ Eve, and shortly afterwards, the newlyweds jointly announced on their Twitter feeds that their wedding would be covered by the Style Network on a special edition of Style Weddings. That one-hour show, Fast and Fabulous: A NASCAR Wedding, premiered Saturday night. The description of the show on my cable box pretty much says it all: “Kyle Busch and his fiancée get hitched on New Years’ Eve in an over the top affair.” Let’s get started.

The Busch’s more or less spent the first segment introducing themselves and described how they met (Sam was a promotional model and Kyle was…well, being Kyle). I think some of the early footage was actually reused from Riding Shotgun: Kyle Busch, but the actual interviews were exclusive for the show. The engagement ring shopping clips were definitely reused from the ESPN show.

A significant portion of the show is centered upon Sam’s quest to get her dress, which could be best described as a monstrosity. To be fair, I saw a picture of it online on New Years’ Day. General estimates had it costing roughly $50,000, minimum. Sam had her sights on a Dubai-based designer named Michael Cinco, who ended up agreeing to design the dress. The end result was a flowing, feathered gown that could be best described as “extravagant.” Cinco insisted that “no ostriches were killed to make this dress.” Let’s hope not.

Its quite obvious watching the show that Sam had grandiose ideas for what she wanted the wedding to be. If this was a wedding for normal people, such ideas would be considered insane. Kyle was more or less along for the ride. I’m not married, and won’t be for a long time, but I guess that’s sort of normal for weddings these days. She basically says that “boys don’t really dream about their weddings, so they should just stay out of the way.” Such a strategy can work if you have near unlimited funds.

Hard to believe, but Kyle comes off here as a normal person. Yes, he was insistent on having a “Kraft Macaroni and Cheese serving station” (right out of the box) for late night snacks, but that was the only thing he insisted on for the reception. His reasoning? “When its late night and you’re kinda hung over, that’s what you’re looking for.” Works for me. If this was anyone in my group of friends, that would be Mexican food there.

Sam (along with Ashley Greer, her Maid of Honor (Matt Crafton’s girlfriend)) also more or less insisted on dressing Kyle and his groomsmen (which included Crafton, and Brian Ickler, amongst others). Apparently, they didn’t trust Kyle’s fashion sense. Maybe that was a good idea.

Finally, we get to the wedding day. The bride and groom sent each other jewelry and love letters ahead of the ceremony to help set the mood. As could be expected, Sam was a emotional wreck. Meanwhile, Kyle was fairly calm. At the wedding, a brief glimpse of Mike Helton could be seen before the ceremony began in earnest. Kyle and Sam gave commentary on how the ceremony went and how they were feeling at the moment.

Finally, we had the reception at the Chicago Cultural Center (which took some hand-wringing (Big Bucks and No Whammies) in order to acquire for the event since it is usually closed on New Years’ Eve). The cake was…insane, but then again, judging by the rest of the planning, it would be surprising if it wasn’t completely nuts. The show ended with the newlyweds counting down to 2011 and celebrating with a Midnight kiss.

Well, here’s where I have to give my opinion on this setup. I believe that such a show that I just described might anger some people. I have no idea how much such a wedding and reception would cost to put on, but its easily in the low to mid six figures, probably more. What the Style Network has done is display the pinnacle of weddings here. Jealousy is sure to spread.

It should be noted that the NASCAR Media Group (NMG) is actually the group that put together the special. The Style Network just aired the show since it more or less fits in with their programming. Since the NMG was heavily involved, they were easily able to provide the race clips (mainly using commentary from MRN Radio) and radio chatter that aired intermittently throughout the special.

I’ll admit right here that Fast and Fabulous: A NASCAR Wedding is not my type of show. I was at a bit of a loss as to how to compare it to other shows since I’ve never really watched a show like this in the past. The best I can do is compare it to other offerings from Style Network and judge it based on how it treats the sport.

On both of those criteria, the show holds up very well. Having the NMG put together the show means that they will most definitely respect the sport and viewers won’t have to put up with explanations of the simplest terms. That goes for anything having to do with NASCAR, and anything having to do with the actual planning of the wedding as well. Outside of NASCAR, I’m not really sure how recognizable Kyle is to the general public. This show will go a ways towards introducing him to a broader audience. The same goes for Sam. She was a near complete unknown quantity before Riding Shotgun: Kyle Busch last fall.

As for how the show compares to other offerings from Style Network, it comes off as fairly similar. As I mentioned earlier, Style Network has a regular series called Style Weddings. That particular show covers the buildup to, and actual weddings, but not quite on this scale. On the surface, the show reminds me of shows televised on E!, Style Network’s sister station (Style Network basically grew out of E! in the late 1990’s).

Finally, we come to the all-important question. Is the show enjoyable to watch? I think its dependent on your tastes. If a show that builds up to a wedding (or any kind of similar event) is your kind of show, then I think that you might enjoy it. As for me, its not really my kind of show. But, for what it is, its ok. It definitely could have been worse.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at Fast and Fabulous: A NASCAR Wedding. Next week, I’ll be back with something that doesn’t involve weddings for you to enjoy. Also, before I go, many communities (including Albany, New York) are having St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this weekend. If you go, please remember to drink responsibly, and never drive drunk. Thanks in advance.

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