Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Pet Peeve

OK, a word of warning: this basic post will seem to keep reappearing about once a month, maybe more, with a few words changed, but I assure you that I'll actually type it fresh every time.

TV race coverage sucks. This is just an overall impression, not a hard and fast rule. There are a few commentary teams that are actually pretty good (NBC's fall NASCAR team of Bestwick, Parsons, Fallenback, Webber, etc.) and one or two that are excellent (Speed's F1 guys; Varsha, Hobbs, Matchett and Windsor all know their place and all bring things to the table; more on that at a later time). Any team with Tommy Kendall is guaranteed to fall in one of those two categories. On the other hand, the rest of the open wheel guys categorically suck. This weekend's IRL race at Motegi was bad in the booth and in the production truck.

First, the opening 10 minute intro is replayed in leiu of actually watching the first 16 laps. Wha? This from a race that is under 10 hour tape delay? Next, 5 laps of racing (including the day's one and only on-track pass for the lead that nobody in the booth noticed for a solid 10-15 seconds, even though all the cameras were looking right at it) followed by a yellow and a subsequent round of pitstops. Apparently. Never saw them. That's OK. Stops aren't all that exciting, especially in a race where one guy leads 183 out of 200 laps. I'll leave out the rest of my complaints, but it seemed like there were roughly 1428 laps of caution, mainly because the ones that actually did happen were filled with Rusty Wallace's insistence on referring to "racecars" as "hot rods." Enough, already. Just horrendous.

Racing, specifically open wheel racing, will never be a major sport in the US until someone figures out how to handle it with proper production and insightful commentary. NASCAR is showing how that works (even though I despise the FOX booth crew; Boogity this, DW), as is Speed with their F1 coverage, so why should it be so difficult to follow the example? Maybe we should kick all racing off the networks, give it all to Speed, and lock Varsha (whom I couldn't stand from '92 to about '98, now he's one of the best in the business), Hobbs and Matchett in a room every weekend and make them do color for everything.

Unfortunately, tomorrow's F1 race is on CBS (Top of the mornin', Derek! Tell us what understeer is again!), so I'll probably be writing this all over again in about 16 hours. See you then.

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