Monday, September 07, 2009


Grand-Am's test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Legit tryout for a possible race or simply a PR return-of-favor for the 2007 IRL practice at Daytona. (See my Feb. 6, 2007 blog.) Could sports car run Indy? We'll ask one of the testers, Scott Pruett (left), on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters on . . . Three of the four most important stories of the weekend were business related: Kenny Bernstein found a sponsor, Don Prudhomme lost his and will be out of racing without a new one or an investor, and Danica Patrick apparently will start to cash-in on NASCAR, while still cashing-in on IRL, with a limited stock car development schedule . . . Fascinating to observe how different organizations spend their PR dollars. Bruton Smith's group spent wisely and flew a group of Charlotte-area media to Indy Saturday for a day of B-roll and interviews at the U.S. Nationals. Others choose to eliminate media guides . . . ESPN2's 600-frames-a-second camera is awesome for drag racing, especially matched with Mike Dunn's ace commentary. Overall, though, TV's U.S. Nationals hype was a bit too ripe, particularly Dave Rieff's shouting . . . I'm surprised Jerry Archambeault isn't all-over the ESPN2 announcers for talking about drivers being "amped-up" at Full Throttle series races.

Ratings for NHRA-on ESPN2 are down over 20 percent this season. Here's an example of a true show-killer from Monday's final eliminations at Indy: Funny Car teammates Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson were the last pair in the first round. We saw the two on the line. Then, in order: A replay, commercials, a taped intro, a network promo, a taped roundtable feature, Jeg Coughlin Jr. interview, commercials, another shot of Tasca-Wilkerson on the line, Ashley Force Hood interview, engine change in the John Force pits, network promo, Spencer Massey interview, Massey first-round replay, Track-tionary feature, Matt Hagan interview, points review graphic, Dave Rieff voicer. Only then, almost 19 minutes later, did we see Tasca beat Wilkerson!

Oh, yes, I have some thoughts on the PR ramifications of the Force-Pedregon controversy at the U.S. Nationals. Come back here next week for those.

Racing expert Brad Daugherty told us Sunday night on ESPN that leader Juan Pablo Montoya was "checking out" from the field, only Kevin Harvick passed Montoya moments later . . . It would have been good for NASCAR, and its promoted story-line of a Labor Day weekend race back in the South, if Richard Petty had been prominently positioned for TV in victory lane with Atlanta winner Kasey Kahne . . . Dave Despain returned from his biking vacation to host Wind Tunnel with a long and insightful interview with John Force. It reminded me of the amazing and emotional 90 minutes I spent with John in his motorhome and pit area at Firebird Raceway, January 2008, his first time back on-track after his accident . . . I'm not into predictions, but I'll make a professional forecast. In the run-up to Diane Sawyer's debut as anchor of ABC News, network publicists will limit her interviews and stress Sawyer's hefty journalistic background and achievements. This, as opposed to CBS' overwhelming and failed hype for Katie Couric, which didn't shy away from Couric's celebrity and star power . . . Here's something I've noticed a lot more of this year: The only phone calls from some publicists come when they want to COMPLAIN about something. I'm pretty sick of it. One recently ringed me with a bit of unhappiness about something someone else said on TRR, but admitted he hadn't actually listened to the show . . . Stew Reamer, who died just over a week ago, was one of the first to awaken my interest in Business of Racing issues via his Racing Promotion Monthly newsletter. In recent years, Stew wrote a column for National Speed Sport News.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:

September 9 -- Newsmaker: Scott Pruett. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley, Mark Armijo.

September 16 -- Newsmaker: Lee White. Panelists: Matt Yocum, Peter De Lorenzo.

September 23 -- Newsmaker: Jeg Coughlin Jr. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Mike Kerchner, Jeff Burk.

September 30 -- Newsmaker: John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet). Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram.

[ Scott Pruett news nuggest Thursday. . . ]