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Sunday, June 27, 2010

PONY UP

I admit it -- I've always been a Mustang fan.

So, I'm one of those who thinks the debut of the iconic Mustang in NASCAR's Nationwide series this Friday night at Daytona is a BIG deal. I'm glad Dodge is bringing in the Challenger model and am sorry Chevrolet couldn't find a way to use the Camaro body style.

Let's be honest: The Nationwide series REALLY needs a boost. If the introduction of the new car, and especially the Mustang and Challenger, can be a step toward a separate identity for NASCAR's No. 2 tour, that would be a good thing.

This also means it's a great time to welcome Jamie Allison, director of Ford North America Motorsports, as the Newsmaker of the Week guest on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters.

The automaker racing bosses are huge decision-makers in the sport, which is one reason I like to feature them on my show. GM's Mark Kent has been on twice. I've also hosted Brian Wolfe, Allison's predecessor, Toyota's Lee White, and others. And it's the reason I'm pumped to have scheduled Dodge President and CEO Ralph Gilles for my July 14 show.


Here's a question that really should be answered in the aftermath of last week's Gen. Stanley McChrystal mess. WHO were the public affairs officers who decided it was a "good idea" to give agenda-driven Rolling Stone that kind of extensive access? I'd like to find out those names and hear their thinking on this subject. Based on this fiasco, sounds to me like they are qualified to handle PR for BP. Or Jamie McMurray's NASCAR team.

This fiasco reminded me of the embarrassing 1993 Sports Illustrated feature on Michael Andretti's Formula One misadventure. Despite Andretti's on-going bad season for McLaren, the Marlboro publicists ignored the circumstances -- and writer Bruce Newman's well-established reputation for stories focused on the negative (Rick Mears later told me this was the reason he quietly declined to cooperate on an article Newman was considering) -- and blindly inhaled deeply of the SI prestige. Newman got his access -- and humiliated Michael's then-wife, Sandy. The CART crowd was gearing up for the Michigan 500 when that issue was published. I remember Carl and Berni Haas reading it in the back of the team motorhome and then stepping outside, Berni saying to me, "You never would have let that story happen," as Carl patted me on the shoulder.


I won a gold and silver medal in the 2009 International Automotive Media Awards, results announced last week. The gold was in the newspaper interview category for the Q&A I did with Jeff Gordon that ran in the Arizona Republic on the Phoenix International Raceway NASCAR weekend. The silver was for Internet commentary -- this blog. In my career, I've now been honored to receive more than 40 awards for journalism, public relations and contributions to motorsports. Very humbling. A most sincere thank you to all who have helped me along this interesting, long and winding road.


The American Media, June 2010: Gretchen Carlson, co-host of Fox & Friends, equated President Obama's decision on Gen. McChrystal to those she has to make as a TV talker. Meanwhile, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski admitted she had been "working with the White House" on oil spill talking points.


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.)

June 30 -- Newsmaker: Jamie Allison (Ford North America Motorsports director). Panelists: Larry Edsall, Lewis Franck. Plus, Jonathan Ingram.

July 7 -- Newsmaker: Jack Beckman. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore.


July 14 -- Newsmaker: Ralph Gilles (Dodge president and CEO). Panelists: Mark Armijo, Jim Pedley. Plus, Larry Edsall.

July 21 -- TBA.

July 28 -- Newsmaker: Joey Saldana. Panelists: Dave Argabright, Mike Kerchner. Plus, Jeff Burk.

[ Jamie Allison news nugget Thursday . . . ]