1. SPEED Center
SPEED Center was a studio show hosted by Adam Alexander. Unlike NASCAR Race Hub, SPEED Center focused on motorsports from around the world, not just NASCAR. Panels from the show included names such as Ricky Rudd, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Ray Evernham. There would also be occasional updates from in-studio when other programs came back from a commercial break.
Fox Sports needs to show more support to the hardcore racing fan base SPEED Center caters to. Many fans have moved away from FS1 because they have less motorsports coverage than NBCSN. There are also those who have felt that Fox’s coverage of the races that are still on the channel, such as the 24 Hours of Daytona, have been mediocre at best. Attracting this hardcore fan back to FS1 will provide a stable audience to the station- remember, SPEED was not a failing channel, it was simply renovated into a general sports channel
2. NASCAR Smarts
This one was a game show, usually hosted by John Roberts, and filmed on location at the track that was hosting that weekend’s race. Questions were primarily NASCAR trivia, often with a focus on said track. The format itself was typical fare: two teams of two answered trivia questions in rounds. The final round was usually an active Sprint Cup Series driver giving the teams a question via video, with the answer given via dry erase board.
Sports game shows in general seem like it would be a given in the era of 24/7 sports channels, but that just hasn’t been the case. There’s plenty of history out there. Why not use it?
It should also be fairly cost effective; just have the show at the Fox studios in Charlotte. It really can’t cost that much more to film than an episode of Race Hub. It also doesn’t require an elaborate set; the RaceDay stage served adequately as the setting.
3. NASCAR Performance
A show dedicated to discussing the cars themselves, not the drivers. Hosted by Danielle Trotta, Chad Knaus and Larry McReynolds, a typical episode would consist of looking back at the previous week’s race along with storylines entering the coming week’s race.
For example, if the Sprint Cup Series was headed to a road course, much of the episode would look at how teams were handling fuel mileage. If a track had been repaved since the last time the Cup series had raced there, they may look at tire wear and other possible issues that may occur. Finally, if a rule change was implemented such as when NASCAR replaced the COT wing with a spoiler, much of the episode would be devoted on how it impacts the competition.
It was different from any other show out there in racing. Unless there is a rule change, very seldom are the cars given more focus than the drivers. It was also a pretty good show. Knaus in particular showed just how fantastic he could be as a studio host if he decides to go that route after retirement. Larry McReynolds is also much better in studio than he is in the booth (or booth-next-to-the-booth).
4. NASCAR In A Hurry
Mostly just a recap of practice and qualifying from that week. It was strictly news, showed incidents from practice and analyzed how drivers looked during the Friday sessions and qualifying. Often, it aired right before NASCAR Race Hub.
When was the last time on FOX’s prerace show that they recapped practice and qualifying? Not Race Day, but the actual pre-race show on FOX, or wherever the race was airing that day? Showing people what happened in practice or qualifying would add more to the experience instead of just burying it in Race Day. It doesn’t even need to be a full-blown show. Just have a five-minute segment of FOX’s pre-race show.
5. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Dave Despain talked about racing with guests and took calls from viewers, focusing on all types of motorsports, from NASCAR and IndyCar to USAC midgets. Despain regularly interviewed big name drivers, such as Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, Mario Andretti and more.
Despain is a great host and is probably the closest thing to a modern day Chris Economaki. The racing audience in general is still a very big part of the make-up of FS1. NASCAR Race Hub has always been either the highest rated or one of the highest rated daily shows on the three-year-old TV channel. Shows such as Crowd Goes Wild, Fox Football Daily and America’s Pregame failed and were pulled off the network while Race Hub continues to be a valuable back bone. Bringing back an old SPEED favorite should lead to another solid show for FS1 to build upon, as long they can scoop Despain back up from his current MavTV gig.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).
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