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Pocono Broadcast Review and One Fan's Opinion

by Larry Staton,
June 10, 2003

I'm Baaaaack. Can you believe it? The SpeedCouch and The CouchPotato did it again. They ran off to Winchester, Indiana to watch the Hooter's Cup race and left me the keys to the WEB site again. I told you that their sanity was starting to come under scrutiny. The rain for the past two weekends, at Charlotte and then at Dover, has probably water logged their brains. Well on to the race. Now before I get into this real deep, I must admit that due to the thunderstorm that decided to swirl around my house Sunday I missed pieces and parts of the race. Still haven't figured out how to get an umbrella to work over that dish. The duct tape held up, but the umbrella didn't.

So I get the enviable task of getting to shoot my mouth off without having to give a complete run down of the race. I'll leave that to Cheryl as you loyal readers have already figured out. However, I must admit the boys at FOX did a better job on this race than they have in some time. I think it has to do with D.W. taking my advice and getting the boys some good down home cooking, and cutting back on his intake of Moon Pies and RC Cola.

In the pre-race show D.W., Jeff Hammond, and Chris Myers did a pretty good job of splainin' the problems that the teams face setting up a car for the track at Pocono. Dealing with everything from D.W.'s explanation of his term, roval, to the gear selection and its effect on the motor and drive train. I could have lived without the trip to the Hotel though. Chris, you and Jeff need to fire the guys who think they're comedy writers. It was nice that you took the time to show some of the local scenery, but leave the comedy to the pros.

At the start of the race, they still had a problem with going through the qualifying order, but I guess that's one they'll have to work on during their time off. I'm sorry guys, but I really do think you owe the teams that qualified out of the top ten a little more consideration. Drop the dumb comedy routines and spend a little more time on driver and team introductions at the start.

We actually got to see the cars start this race vs. some guy's arm waving a flag, but that may have more to do with the size of the track and the fact that the field coming to the green is unlike any of the other tracks the series visits. The camera showing the cars getting four and five wide coming into turn one is rather breathtaking. Makes you want to pucker up and help your favorite driver with the braking and getting through the turn.

They did an excellent job of covering the two major wrecks at the beginning of the race involving Schrader and Jarrett, but I still feel they need to work on resetting the field after pit stops. I did notice that the use of the Fox Trax was down and that the usage was better controlled. I've never really had a problem with the concept of the Fox Trax, but it always seemed to me it was used more as a toy, than as a tool.

As the race progressed, we were given some good insights as to how some of the cars were running and the problems the other ones were having. This can be attributed to the lack of cautions and the fact that Pocono is such a long track. The increased lap times give the announcers more time to delve into the strategies and the problems facing the teams as the race progresses without having to make quick, short decisions and remarks. Next week at Michigan will tell the tale.

Now I get to get on my soap box again. Boy I bet you just can't wait for that, can you???

The other night, after the Pocono race, I started surfing the dish in hopes of finding something worthy of my attention. Since my wife had taken off with my daughter to spend some, if not all, of my weekly stipend, I was deserted and left to my own amusements. That's when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an old stack of various publications dealing with stock car racing, which in turn caused me to reflect.

Since the start of the Fox/NBC deal with NASCAR, I have been critical of how both networks have handled the broadcasts. The question I started asking myself was: is some of this just due to the fact that NASCAR was changing, or was it that I felt an old tried and true friend had been abandoned and discarded?

Being a long time fan of the sport has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that you can look back and do a lot of comparing. At the same time this can be a disadvantage. This same insight that allows you to compare also forces you to remember. If you've been a fan as long as I have, you can remember NO TV coverage and when you were lucky to pick it up on the radio. Most of the information you received was from publications of some sort, and heaven help you if you thought the results of a race would be in your local paper, unless you lived in the Carolinas. You will also remember way back in 1979, the first ever broadcast of the Daytona 500, when Chris Economaki and Jackie Stewart were screaming as Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough decided to settle their differences on the back stretch.

So in just 24 years, we have gone from black and white tape delayed coverage, to the present live color broadcasts, which include all of the graphics and technological toys the networks are so fond of playing with. So the question still remains, has the coverage gotten better? That's where the comparisons come in.

Back in the old days, the drivers and races where allowed to speak for themselves. Today the networks assume you're not knowledgeable enough to follow the race and understand what's going on. Thus all of the junk that fills your screen instead of the race cars. That's the announcer's job, to keep you abreast of the action. So FOX, pay attention. Allow the announcers to be just that, announcers. Let them keep me abreast of the action and get the silliness off my screen so I can see the race.

Well, there's my fifty cents. Keep a racin' and be safe.

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