NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Waltrip Finds His Voice, But the Camera Falters at the Finish at Martinsville

While most of Martinsville was a misty mess of rain, clouds, and fog, my TV signal was coming through crystal clear. During a week filled with near misses, here’s a look at some things during the past week of TV coverage that were spot on — as well as some criticisms of what missed the mark.

Confidentially, SPEED Excels While ESPN’s Chemistry Needs Work

Probably the best thing about racing television coverage over the Easter weekend, in my humble opinion, was the introduction of “NASCAR Confidential” by SPEED on Sunday evening. This was a fresh look at the 2008 Daytona 500, with some insights from some interesting people, including legendary photographer Warren T. Taylor. Taylor hasn’t missed a Great American Race, and he’s one of the truly unique characters in the sport that’s come up through the years. For my part, I also enjoyed Jay Howard’s explanation of the pre-race show presentation. Anybody who has ever helped try to choreograph a pre-event show from anywhere, including the local track level, has to have wondered what it must be like in a situation like that.

Driven to the Past: The Days of Side Windows, Quarter Glass & Wing Vents

I mentioned in the TV column a week or so back that the last time I was on a pit crew, we had side windows, quarter glass, and wing vents. That led to a phone call asking “When were you on a pit crew?” Well, this is really driven to the past, because the last time I was pressed into service by somebody who needed help was in 1985. I’ll admit that we didn’t have all those things then, but until then it had been at least 15 years prior since I’d done it.

Missing DW’s Voice… Seriously, A Missed Question to Kevin Harvick & Missing a Mystery Caution

From SPEED’s pre-race show, I appreciated the explanation of bump stops on the shock absorbers, as well as the various shims that could be used. Also, the debate between Kyle Petty and Bootie Barker about bumpstops on “Trading Paint” was pretty interesting; giving technical expertise in terms the general public can understand is never a bad thing. The funniest moment in the TV coverage at Bristol came in Friday evening’s “Trackside” program on Speed. DW asked Juan Pablo Montoya how you say “boogity” in Spanish, and Montoya replied, “I don’t even know how to say it in English.”

Driven to the Past: When Darrell Waltrip was the 1 Missing a Part

Had one of those moments on Friday when you suddenly remember something that happened 20 or 30 years ago, and connect it with what was just said. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds were talking about the fact that chrome wheels aren’t allowed in NASCAR competition, with DW explaining that his brother’s wheels had a powder coating and weren’t really chrome. He added the next day that Michael planned to use gold wheels for the 50th anniversary Daytona 500.

Settling the Gopher Cam Debate & the NASCAR TV Weekend That Was

However, since there’s more coverage now than we can wrap our hands around these days, I do have some thoughts to start what will become a roundup around the NASCAR TV circuit each Tuesday. My main displeasure with FOX as of late isn’t with the talent, or even the barrage of sponsors; instead, it’s their personnel’s contention they brought us the new invention of “Gopher Cam” (with the cartoon mascot now being called “Digger.”)

Driven to the Past: John Potts

I grew up in Louisville, Ky., and my father and mother started taking me to what they called the “hardtop” races at the Jeffersonville (Ind.) Sportsdrome when I was 10 years old – in 1949. I was hooked from the start. Those hardtops were mostly 1939 and ’40 Fords and Mercurys, with an occasional ’39 Hudson tossed in, and the racing was fantastic.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from