• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

STAY TUNED

The only thing race fans enjoy talking about more than racing is how TV covers racing.

That's what we'll do Wednesday on The Race Reporters, 7 p.m. EDT, on PowerUpChannel.com. (Listen by clicking the show home page logo in the right-hand column.)

John Daly, whose The Daly Planet site (http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/) is the most influential voice analyzing motorsports on the tube, will be my Newsmaker guest. As Ed Hinton is to many NASCAR fans, or Robin Miller to open-wheel fans, or Gordon Kirby, Dave Argabright, Peter De Lorenzo or Jon Asher to others, that's what John's column is within the industry. I know it is to me.

The most important thing is John brings much credibility and experience to his postings. In brief, a quarter-century in TV production, including time at ESPN, Prime Network and Sunbelt Video. I don't always agree with his viewpoint, but I respect it a ton.

John and I will discuss the hot-button TV issues one-on-one. Honestly, I expect this to be a candid and important conversation.

Bob Margolis and Jonathan Ingram will do the journalists' roundtable. We'll wrap with NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer, who made the finals at Charlotte on the Geico Suzuki.

FAST LINES: I have been saying for some time that the most insidious trend in motorsports is driver business managers making media relations decisions, which they are not qualified to do. Here's proof -- Danica Patrick recently admitted her IMG agent advised her not to do interviews or news conferences until resolution of her 2010 contract situation. This trend is to be resisted, at EVERY turn, by PR pros and journalists . . . Reports are Patrick has a three-year contract extension with what is now Andretti Green Racing. I would not be making any big bets there will even be an IRL series in three years, at least as we now know it . . . ALMS is another series traveling a far-more fragile path than most realize. Only nine races on the 2010 schedule (St. Pete gone). Based on my experience, I consider 12 the absolute minimum for any sort of legitimate corporate marketing/publicity ROI. At Road Atlanta, ALMS President Scott Atherton said U.S. TV viewership has remained virtually flat. “In this era, flat is the new up,” he announced. Running Petit Le Mans the same weekend as the Tour Championship (and FedEx Cup finale) in the same market sure didn't help anyone, from a coverage standpoint . . . SPEED didn't label Saturday night's Las Vegas Truck race as being 350 kilometers. I'll say it again: The American public does not think event distances are in the metric system. A "350" is assumed by the public to mean MILES. Is it really too much to ask for everyone involved in such gimmicks to at least honestly label them as such? . . . Some very important people would be smart to note that ING, Renault's primary Formula One sponsor, removed its ID when the FIA sanctioned the team for ordering one of its drivers to crash in a race last year to help his teammate win . . . I don't play golf, but follow that industry, because there are many parallels to auto racing. Here's another reason why I consider the LPGA to be headed down the same road as CART -- An American player hasn't won on that tour since MAY, when Cristie Kerr got the trophy at the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill, in Williamsburg, Va. (FYI -- Anheuser-Busch, under new ownership, just dropped its sponsorship of that successful tournament.) And a USAer hasn't been LPGA Player of the Year since 1994; that was Beth Daniel. (Of course, Annika Sorenstam was PofY eight times in that span.) IRL, please take note . . . The bottom sure has fallen out of hard-liquor sponsorships in NASCAR, after a lot of lobbying efforts to get Daytona Beach to OK the category. The Jack Daniels (Richard Childress Racing) and Jim Beam (Robby Gordon) money will dry-up at season's end. Replacements? Since the proposed Richard Petty Motorsports-Yates Racing combo would eliminate two entries, and Roush Fenway is required by rule to cut one, Cup car counts in 2010 again loom as an issue . . . Add this to last week's list of what egoist sports talk radio show hosts think listeners care about -- What expensive steakhouse they went to for dinner.

The American Media: September 25, 2009 -- John Gambadoro, Sports 620 KTAR (an ESPN affiliate), Phoenix. "To go to a NASCAR race, I'd rather shoot myself." As for the drivers, ". . . if you want to call them athletes." Why didn't Danica go to NASCAR? "Maybe it's (she's) too much of a gimmick for them." (Ever heard of the Chase, John?) The Indianapolis 500? "Shoot me now before I have to watch that stinkin' race."

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

October 21 -- Antron Brown. Panelists: Bobby Bennett, Corinne Economaki.

[ John Daly news nuggest Thursday . . . ]