• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

REMINDERS

This is a good week to follow a little of my own advice: 1) Pay attention to something that might be educational; 2) Don't take anything for granted.

This is Mac Tools U.S. Nationals weekend, NHRA's biggest and most prestigious contest. To repeat what I've written previously, in my opinion, drag racing is an under-covered sport. Why? Because too many media people look down on it as too blue collar. One day at a Powerade Series event would introduce them to the most American of America's motorsports, attention-grabbing raw power, and some of the most interesting personalities in any sport, any where. Say "hi" to John Force and he'll gladly fill your notebook. (Tony Schumacher, shown here, is in a three-way race with Kyle Busch and Scott Dixon for Driver of the Year.)

PR people from IndyCar, NASCAR and road racing could learn a ton by cruising around an NHRA pit area. Especially the ability of any fan to get an autograph from any driver. And, drag racing PR people actually say "YES!" to journalists' requests. Let the record show in two of the last three years, NHRA team/sponsor publicists (Susan Arnold and Dave Densmore) have earned the Jim Chapman Award.

Let me be clear: NHRA -- the organization and the series -- faces many, many challenges. But ESPN2 has extensive coverage of the Nationals, including Monday's finals. Your loss if you don't check it out.
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In the right-hand column I maintain links to a few sites that I am connected with in one way or another. There are other places I visit, enjoy, and use as a resource. I don't want to "assume" you know about them, although I realize that's likely. But, just in case, here are some I want to be sure to commend to you:

Jayski -- The Drudge Report of racing sites, focusing on all-things NASCAR. Like Matt Drudge, Jay Adamczyk is an Internet success story, turning his hobby into a business (now owned by ESPN). I look at it at least once a day:
http://www.jayski.com/

Autoextremist -- Peter De Lorenzo's often-controversial commentaries on the auto and motorsports' industries. Agree or disagree, Peter is frequently on-point, and his weekly offerings come on Wednesday:
http://www.autoextremist.com/

Daly Planet -- Analysis of the TV scene is one of my favorite pursuits. Veteran broadcast executive John Daly has the NASCAR telecasters under his microscope daily:
http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/

Gordon Kirby -- The longtime open-wheel and road racing journalist and author is one of my regular Monday reads:
http://www.gordonkirby.com/

Competition Plus -- Although I'm affiliated with two other drag racing sites, Drag Racing Online and 1320tv (links at right), I check out CP -- mainly to see what my friend Jon Asher has to say. If you have any interest in the straight-line sport, 1320tv, DRO and CP all are musts.
http://www.competitionplus.com/
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BAD PICTURE: SPEED viewers didn't see the ALMS P2 class lead change on the last lap Sunday at Mosport, because the director cut away from the racing to show trite images of waving checkered flags and the usual Audi pit crew celebration. That meant the audience also didn't see the hotly-contested GT2 class finish. ALMS wants us to care about its multi-class format yet TV didn't show three of those winners cross the finish line. (!) It's a basic part of the job for the director to ANTICIPATE the action and cut to the most newsworthy picture. I wonder if any of the network's production executives, or series management, even noticed . . . or (yet another) amateurish Jamie Howe interview, this time with GT1 winner Jan Magnussen.

GOOD IDEA: At a time when meaningful creative thinking is as hard to find as a Thomas Eagleton for Vice President button, thumbs-up to ESPN. Yesterday, post-Olympics, the net placed a full-page ad in USA Today admitting, "For 9 nights, we weren't watching us either."
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DIS-CONNECTED: If you didn't see NASCAR team co-owner Felix Sabates' quotes (courtesy of SceneDaily.com) about the departure of ChevronTexaco as a sponsor, well, I'll post them here without comment:

“Texaco was a great sponsor for a long time, but for the last year they really have been disconnected with the sport. They have focused on other things. We really didn’t get much support from them. The money wasn’t all that great."

“For us, it was a blessing that we can go out and find somebody who can pay us some real money.”

“Texaco was a liability for us because out of loyalty to them, we weren’t aggressively looking to replace them. We kept hoping they maybe would wake up one of these days and decide they need to be in NASCAR. The company, I feel bad for them, they only made $6 billion last quarter."

“The Texaco management is disconnected from racing. All the new people don’t know what a race car looks like.”
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Two reminders:

* If you can, please join me in supporting the NASCAR Foundation's blood donation and bone marrow drive on Thursday, Sept. 11. You can participate at many Cup tracks. I'll do so at Phoenix International Raceway.

* The 39th AARWBA All-America Team ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, will be Saturday, January 10, at the Hilton near the Ontario, Calif. airport. Specific details forthcoming. ESPN will again be a pre-dinner reception co-host. The Jim Chapman Award, for excellence in motorsports PR, will be presented. Go to the AARWBA site (right column) for table/ticket/ad information.

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]