Lights, camera, green flag.
Hermie Sadler has been staying busy in the sport of NASCAR for over 15 years. With two wins on his Xfinity Series record, Sadler still sees occasional starts in NASCAR’s second-tier division. In fact, he was behind the wheel as recently as last September at Richmond. The 46-year-old native of Emporia, Va. has also become a popular voice on FOX networks, serving as a pit reporter for FOX Sports 1.
In the past, Sadler has also used TNA Wrestling to promote NASCAR and expand his passion of professional wrestling, having a 10-minute talk show on YouTube called “Hermie’s Hotseat” where Sadler would interview the stars of TNA. Sadler also suited himself up and competed, including an in-ring confrontation with past NASCAR veteran Sterling Marlin – yes, Sterling Marlin.
His unique Virginian accent hits the air during practice and qualifying sessions, interviewing drivers and breaking down the sport for the people at home. During the race, Sadler is in the center of the action on pit road, supplying the viewers with updates on drivers, teams and adjustments they make.
“I’m fortunate to still contribute and talk about the sport,” Sadler explained Friday. “Doing TV is a great job but nothing replaces the adrenaline rush that you have of being behind the wheel, competing and trying to win.”
The transition from the race car to the booth is one seen often nowadays, but is nothing new in this sport. Most notably, Hall of Fame drivers like Darrell Waltrip and Ned Jarrett shifted their NASCAR careers into lengthy runs in the TV booth as well as the likes of Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker. Jeff Gordon will be the latest to make the switch, moving to the FOX TV booth in 2016.
“This is the closest thing that I can be doing right now to take the place of competing on the racetrack,” Sadler said.
It’s been a long time since he’s has seen Victory Lane as a driver, though. In the Xfinity (then Busch) Series, Sadler won twice at the Orange County Speedway in 1993 and ’94. A series of up-and-down seasons followed, the veteran eventually pursuing his dream of owning his own Cup car to pull a limited number of series starts in NASCAR’s Cup division during the early 2000s.
With 64 starts in the Sprint Cup Series, 261 in NXS and 15 in Camping World Trucks, Sadler says the experience not only aids him in his job today but is essential to give the fans what they’re looking for.
“I think the key to any network being successful on television is being able to give the viewers at home as much information,” he continued. “Either that may be obvious by watching, but also some of the more subtle things that go into whether or not you’re able to succeed and win in this sport or struggle.
“I think people that have experience, and we have a lot of them at our network that have experience of not only driving, but crew chiefs and different areas of the sport. I think all that experience is crucial when you’re trying to let the people at home know as much about what’s going on on the track as you possibly can.”
To join Sadler’s over 15 years of racing knowledge, Kenny Wallace is a popular on-air personality with years of on-track time as well as Truck Series champion Todd Bodine, 21-time Sprint Cup winner Jeff Burton, Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and Sprint Cup winner Phil Parsons. However, looking past the numbers, all these men have one other common trait that bonds them together: brothers in racing.
Sadler started racing his younger brother Elliott in go-karts in Emporia; since then, he’s competed with him in NASCAR and now watches him race in the Xfinity Series.
“When I watch [Elliott race], obviously I am pulling for him, not only to go to Victory Lane, but also for his safety as well,” Sadler said. “At the same time, when I’m on the air and covering a practice or qualifying session or race that he’s in, then it’s my job to cover the race from a neutral standpoint.
“That’s important to be able to do that as well, but you always – certainly, when I was on the racetrack and now when I’m kind of in front of the camera, always try to keep an eye on him as much as possible while also trying to do my job of covering the entire race.”