• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SIMONA SAYS

Simona De Silvestro, the impressive Izod IndyCar Series rookie, was the Newsmaker guest on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. Jim Pedley and John Oreovicz joined me for the journalists' roundtable and Lee Spencer was on to review Talladega.


Use this link to listen to the show:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=45878

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

May 5 -- Newsmakers: Kenny and Brandon Bernstein. Panelists: Dave Rieff, Susan Wade.

May 12 -- Newsmaker: Arie Luyendyk. Panelists: Mark Armijo, Dave (The King) Wilson.

[ more next week . . . ]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

THE TALK of TALLADEGA

Talladega always means a lot of talk. And there certainly was plenty of media-related talk before Sunday's annual Sprint Cup crashfest.

Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart haven't seemed too happy with the NASCAR press corps this season. Even before the Daytona 500, Harvick was pegged as a Big Story, because his contract with Richard Childress Racing ends after the season. So, there's been plenty of writing and broadcasting about Harvick's future plans -- especially with loss of his sponsor and then win in Alabama. At 'Dega, he was asked about a shot he took at the media on Twitter:

"If you guys are going to -- most of you are this way -- you line it up with credible backing to your quotes, your sources and your people. If you’re going to quote a source, quote their name. Otherwise, if they’re too chicken to give you their name, don’t put their quote in the paper. It’s that simple. Anonymous sources are crap. If you want real sources go talk to real people.”

Later in his media avail, Harvick was asked where he got his journalism degree.

"I don’t have a journalism degree; I have a common-sense degree. I’m not going to go any further than that."

Yes, Kevin is Kevin, but I've been a bit surprised at his on-going approach, especially considering wife DeLana's PR background. As for unnamed sources, this is always going to be a point-of-contention between newsmakers and those who cover them. I would just point out Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate changed journalism -- for better or worse -- forever. There's no going back.

To be honest, what bothers me a ton more is how many people are so accepting of what is posted on Twitter -- no editor, no filter, no fact checker.

Meanwhile, a line of questioning at 'Dega was what drivers feel when they come to the fast and daunting superspeedway. It was phrased as what drivers think when they arrive at the track and go through the tunnel. I have the impression Stewart, after one year of cooling-his-jets to see what he had to do as a car owner to please sponsors, now feels less restricted. So, in his media gathering, Tony answered thusly:

“I drove across the cross-over on the backstretch, so I didn’t go through the tunnel. It’s just another tunnel. I don’t know how many racetracks you go to each year, but there’s a lot of tunnels and a lot of cross-overs. Most the time by the time we get here it’s dark, so all you want to do is get in there and go to sleep. The good thing is that we could take everybody in the media center and put them in cars here and everybody could drive well on this track."

Elsewhere, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found out about the downside of Twitter, when he was asked to respond to a posting from none other than Darrell Waltrip that Junior will drive a No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet in the Daytona Nationwide race.

"DW sort of blew the lid off of it on Twitter nonetheless but . . . so that kind of ruined our announcement, but we will put together and we will have an announcement real soon, and explain what that whole program is all about and how it came about and what is going down with it. And it’s unfortunate that DW uncovered that and the way it went down because we didn’t want to have to announce it like this so we will do it when we had it originally planned and that is all I can tell you about it.”

FAST LINES: A giant thumbs-down to ESPN for allowing Nicole Briscoe to take the lead in covering the Shell Pennzoil-to-Penske Racing story on last Wednesday's NASCAR Now. Especially the swiss-cheese hole interview with team president Tim Cindric. The questions/follow-ups that SHOULD have been asked were obvious -- as is her massive conflict-of-interest -- Cindric is her husband's boss! BAD DEAL! . . . ESPN's presentation of the NFL Draft certainly was historic -- not only because it was the event's first time in Prime Time. It will forever be remembered for the complete marginalization of Tom Jackson, one of five talking heads on the overcrowded set. While Jon Gruden dominated the chat -- even answering questions directed to other panelists (and the ex-coach couldn't find one single draft choice he didn't like) -- and Steve Young was a close second, Jackson just sat there hour-after-hour and barely got in more than an occasional sentence. By Friday night's second and third rounds, Jackson had obviously given up, pretty much sitting silent. I wonder what Rush Limbaugh was thinking? . . . Good luck to very helpful Phoenix International Raceway PR assistant Griffin Hickman, now with ARCA.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley. Plus, Lee Spencer.

May 5 -- Newsmakers: Kenny and Brandon Bernstein. Panelists: Dave Rieff, Susan Wade.

May 12 -- Newsmaker: Arie Luyendyk. Panelists: Mark Armijo, Dave (The King) Wilson.

[ Simona news nugget Thursday . . . ]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PATRICK LONG -- A GOOD GUEST

Patrick Long, the Porsche factory sports car driver and winner last weekend at Long Beach, was the Newsmaker guest on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. Larry Edsall and Jonathan Ingram were on the journalists' roundtable and then Matt Yocum previewed Talladega.


Use this link to listen to the entire show:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=45343



Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley. Plus, Lee Spencer.

May 5 -- Newsmakers: Kenny and Brandon Bernstein. Panelists: Dave Rieff, Susan Wade.

May 12 -- Newsmaker: Arie Luyendyk. Panelists: Mark Armijo, Dave (The King) Wilson.

[ more next week . . . ]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NHRA BEATS THE 'PROS'

Regular readers know I take most of my theories about PR and the media from the world of politics. So, it's likely not a surprise to you that the best political story of the weekend took me to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals

CompetitionPlus.com (I write the monthly "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column) -- Bobby Bennett, Jon Asher and Stan Creekmore -- have led the pack in reporting on the politics and the controversy over four-wide racing as contested the other week in Concord, N.C. I won't repeat all the details here -- go to CompetitionPlus.com for that -- but the PRO organization (representing the racers) voted overwhelmingly after that event not to do any more Full Throttle points competitions using the four-wide format. Reasons listed included safety, confusion, diminishment of sponsor ID (wider ESPN2 camera shots made it more difficult to see corporate names) and -- I loved this one -- "a circus-like atmosphere."

As Jon Asher reported, PRO's line-in-the-sand started washing away last Friday, with backtracking like a nitro car stuck in reverse gear. After a meeting between PRO and NHRA officials Saturday morning, NHRA President Tom Compton came into the media center to announce the Four-Wide Nationals will return in 2011. As a points event, not an exhibition. Compton said improvements will be made to the format to make it more understandable for fans and media (I watched the whole thing on ESPN2 and, must admit, I was confused any number of times), better for sponsors, and more workable on the starting line for the drivers.

Bruton Smith, said to be watching it rain at Texas Motor Speedway, wasn't in attendance. Compton said he had reviewed the decision with Smith. But I also learned that local fan reaction in the Vegas vicinity was not in favor of four-wide at The Strip, so the talked-about job of adding two lanes in Las is much-less-likely to happen. Compton said Charlotte will be the only four-wide event in 2011.

Let's be honest -- NHRA ain't exactly NASCAR when it comes to political horsepower. But the Glendora Group sure came out looking like a PR winner in what was clearly a PR fiasco for PRO.

That's obvious. However, I want to give this entire saga a good, long, hard think, and will have a lot more in my May CP.com column.

P.S. -- John Force, Las Vegas winner, after going zip in 2009. According to PR ace Dave Densmore (Jim Chapman PR Award winner), it was only the third time Force has ever won after qualifying outside the top eight (11th). Also -- Force has made the finals in 37.7 percent of all career Funny Car races he's entered, and won 23.5 percent of all events entered (129 wins in 548 races.) (!!!)

John: Driver of the Year? Comeback Driver of the Year? Story of the Year? Or all of the above? Is fourth driver-returned-to-tuner Mike Neff Man of the Year?



Could someone please explain to me how it's possible to be a NASCAR team "PR" person but never come into the media center to talk to the media?

That was my experience -- AGAIN -- the other week at Phoenix International Raceway. Mark Armijo and I combined to produce more coverage in the Arizona Republic than anyone else in the state. Among those I never heard one word from during my three days at PIR (I was the only reporter in the media center covering the West series event) were reps for: Jimmie Johnson/Lowe's, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Penske Racing, Team Red Bull and not a single -- not one -- Nationwide series team person.

How is that possible?

There were others who knew how to E-mail but apparently believed we waited until Tuesday or Wednesday to start thinking about what stories to write. Hint: That's way too late! I also have no tolerance for those too "busy" to bother to find out who actually will be on-site, and lazily send E "pitches" to the sports director or editor. Hey, ladies and gentlemen, it would take you all of five minutes to get actual NAMES. How's this for an idea: Pick up the phone and call the track PR director. Or ask NASCAR who in Arizona has media hard cards.

I know, that would take a huge amount of thought and effort . . .

It's beyond ridiculous. Are you paying attention, team owners and sponsor managers?

Obviously, not!


Make of this what you will:
http://www.examiner.com/x-20938-NASCAR-Examiner~y2010m4d18-Why-Danica-Patrick-doesnt-suck-even-when-the-media-covering-her-does


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 21 -- Newsmaker: Patrick Long (Long Beach winner!). Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Matt Yocum.

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley. Plus, Lee Spencer.

May 5 -- Newsmakers: Kenny and Brandon Bernstein. Panelists: Dave Rieff, Susan Wade.

May 12 -- Newsmaker: Arie Luyendyk. Panelists: Mark Armijo, Dave (The King) Wilson.

[ Patrick Long news nugget Thursday . . . ]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MELANIE TROXEL INTERVIEW

Melanie Troxel was the Newsmaker guest on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. A winner in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, Melanie is on a partial schedule this year in the In-N-Out Burger Dodge Charger and will be on the track this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. John Sturbin and Bobby Bennett joined me for the roundtable and then Peter De Lorenzo and I talked about the state of automakers' involvement in motorsports.

What does Melanie think about the four-wide controversy? Having the resources to compete against John Force and Don Schumacher? What team bonding outing has she scheduled in Las Vegas?


Use this link to listen to the show:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=45238




Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 21 -- Newsmaker: Patrick Long. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Matt Yocum.

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley. Plus, Lee Spencer.

May 5 -- Newsmakers: Kenny and Brandon Bernstein. Panelists: Dave Rieff, Susan Wade.

May 12 -- Newsmaker: Arie Luyendyk. Panelists: Mark Armijo, Dave (The King) Wilson.

[ more next Monday . . . ]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

WHY DIDN'T GIBBS PULL HAMLIN?

It was a long weekend covering the NASCAR happenings at Phoenix International Raceway for the Arizona Republic and doing a special edition of The Race Reporters live from PIR on Saturday. To me, Denny Hamlin was the big story, racing days after surgery to repair a torn ACL. I don't understand why Joe Gibbs didn't step-up and tell Hamlin to get out of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota when the car lost two laps changing a battery. Gibbs told me he didn't consider it. Hamlin told me he did it to gain respect within his team. Didn't he have that already?

Hope you enjoy some of my stories:

Sunday: Why didn't Gibbs pull Hamlin?
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/10/20100410nascar-denny-hamlin-joe-gibbs.html

Sunday Notebook (PIR likely to keep two Cup dates, etc.):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/10/20100410nascar-sprint-cup-phoenix-races.html

Saturday Q&A with Kurt Busch:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/09/20100409nascar-pir-kurt-busch.html

Saturday Notebook (Denny Hamlin, new PIR sponsor, etc.):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/09/20100409nascar-denny-hamlin-knee.html

Kyle Busch Wins Nationwide race:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/09/20100409nascar-nationwide-kyle-busch-phoenix.html

Friday Notebook (Jeff Gordon, West series race):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/08/20100408jimmie-johnson-foundation-100-eric-holmes.html


Here's a link to my new April "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column on CompetitionPlus.com. It's about the communications crisis in drag racing:
http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/editorials/13798-drags-dollars-a-sense-of-crisis-management-and-communication


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 14 -- Newsmaker: Melanie Troxel. Panelists: John Sturbin, Bobby Bennett. Plus, Peter De Lorenzo.

April 21 -- Newsmaker: Patrick Long. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Matt Yocum.

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley.

[ Melanie Troxel news note Thursday . . . ]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

FUN WITH MAX & SATURDAY SHOW REMINDER

REMINDER (Part 1): PowerUpChannel.com will have four hours of exclusive live programming from Phoenix International Raceway Saturday, April 10, starting at 3 p.m. EDT (noon Pacific), leading up to the Subway Fresh Fit 600k NASCAR Sprint Cup event.


I'll host a special one-hour edition of The Race Reporters Saturday, April 10, live from PIR, starting at 4 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. Pacific. Guests will include media covering the PIR weekend.


Popular Max Papis was the Newsmaker guest on Wednesday's The Race Reporters. He's driving the Geico Toyota in Sprint Cup and the Camping World Truck Series. Dave Kallmann and Kenny Bruce joined me for the journalists roundtable. LISTEN! It's Fun! Max wants to try dirt track and Top Fuel racing!

http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=45237

REMINDER (Part 2): Mark Armijo and I will have PIR coverage all this week in the Arizona Republic. I'll have notebooks starting Thursday. Look for my Q&A with Kurt Busch on Saturday. If you're not in Arizona, find our stories at http://azcentral.com/ . Here's a link to my Thursday notebook:

http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/07/20100407nascar-bumping-rules.html


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)


April 14 -- Newsmaker: Melanie Troxel. Panelists: John Sturbin, Bobby Bennett. Plus, Peter De Lorenzo.

April 21 -- Newsmaker: Patrick Long. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Matt Yocum.

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley.

[ more next week . . . ]

Sunday, April 04, 2010

IT's PIR WEEK for ME

REMINDER (Part 1): PowerUpChannel.com will have four hours of exclusive live programming from Phoenix International Raceway Saturday, April 10, starting at 3 p.m. EDT (noon Pacific), leading up to the Subway Fresh Fit 600k NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

I'll host a special one-hour edition of The Race Reporters Saturday, April 10, live from PIR, starting at 4 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. Pacific. Guests will include media covering the PIR weekend. (Regular show schedule guests listed at end.)

REMINDER (Part 2): Mark Armijo and I will have PIR coverage all this week in the Arizona Republic. Link below is to my Sunday story on the many changes fans, drivers and teams will experience this weekend. I'll have notebooks starting this Thursday. Look for my Q&A with Kurt Busch on Saturday. If you're not in Arizona, find our stories at http://azcentral.com/ .


http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/04/03/20100403nascar-sprint-cup-subway-fresh-fit-600-changes.html



FAST LINES: Good luck to Steve Shunck, new IndyCar Series VP-PR . . . As someone who grew up a Jimmy Clark-Colin Chapman-Lotus fan, and who had the thrill of spending a day at Ketteringham Hall on assignment for Budweiser researching Lotus' planned 1985 CART program, I could not disapprove more of the paint design and graphics on Takuma Sato's KV Racing Indy Car. It's nothing more than a smoke-and-mirrors attempt to link to a proud heritage, because there is absolutely ZERO true connection to the legendary Lotus racing effort. As far as I'm concerned, it's a disservice to the memories of Clark and Chapman . . . It's Masters week, so let me include a golf thought here. As I've written before, I don't play, but follow the industry. Under the category of more-is-NOT-better, file Golf Channel's 19th Hole show. I've watched for a few years. It used to be a fun, informative, fast paced, sometimes controversial 30 minutes on Wednesday nights. Now, it's been expanded to one hour, and completely junked-up with crap and gimmicks and panelists so-full-of-themselves they could easily transition to Around the Horn. I, for one, have stopped watching . . . And, I've stopped reading "news" from organizations that either have nothing better to do -- or are so desperate for attention -- they send out stupid April Fools Day releases. Pathetic and beyond ridiculous -- and an unprofessional waste of our time!


Bob Pockrass, the hardest-working man in any NASCAR media center, said it absolutely right in SceneDaily.com last week. Read this:
http://www.scenedaily.com/blogs/bobpockrass/Texas_publicity_stunt_went_too_far.html


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 7 -- Newsmaker: Max Papis. Panelists: Kenny Bruce, Dave Kallmann.

April 14 -- Newsmaker: Melanie Troxel. Panelists: John Sturbin, Bobby Bennett. Plus, Peter De Lorenzo.

April 21 -- Newsmaker: Patrick Long. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Matt Yocum.

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley.

[ Max Papis news note Thursday . . . ]