• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM: The first look at how John Force is trying to patch together enough sponsorship to keep his four-car NHRA team going comes Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Force has a media event scheduled to announce a primary sponsor for some races next year. He's trying to do what so many NASCAR teams do, combine several different companies for a limited number of primary ID races and, if successful, John won't have to spend his own money to compete the full season.

Monday, September 02, 2013

A DISSATISFYING WEEKEND

Higher personal priorities means I have not had much time for this week's posting. But . . .

I found the traditional and prestigious Labor Day racing weekend to have been very, VERY dissatisfying.

I'll start with ESPN2's Monday presentation of NHRA's Big Go, the Chevy Performance U.S. Nationals. This has, in the past, largely been a "live" presentation so I just could not believe it when the first hour-plus of the show was wasted on pre-taped filler. I expected the show to immediately begin with "live" first-round action. WE WANT TO SEE RACING! Even in Glendora, Calif., it should be obvious (well, wait, this is NHRA) that the TV model is completely outmoded and outright broken. The collapsing TV audience numbers prove it. If the true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then we'll know who really is insane if NHRA and ESPN come back in 2014 with the same format and people. Social media and the immediate nature of Internet news means taped-delayed sports events belong in a 20th century museum. And people changes are needed, too. The concept of keeping pit reporters locked up in a production trailer during qualifying is absolutely one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. They are REPORTERS. They need to be out in the pit lane REPORTING. I don't know how more obvious that could be. Except, of course, for the truly woeful Jamie Howe, who, if she ever asks a MEANINGFUL question, it will be the first. (Gary Scelzi as a guest analyst was great and Paul Page's return for essays and interviews was welcome.)

Get out the broom, NHRA and ESPN management!

I will say the Nationals again proved the completely unpredictable and fascinating nature of nitro drag racing. Just look at who lost in the first round Monday: Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher, the 1-2 Top Fuel qualifiers, and pole winner Matt Hagan and Courtney Force in Funny Car.

Elsewhere: I thought a lot of the driving in Sunday's Baltimore IndyCar event was just terrible, amateur-hour stuff . . . The on-going talk of an international off-season series in IndyCar is astoundingly ridiculous given the political and security and economic realities of the world and shows no learning has been done of open-wheel racing's past such misadventures and the team economics of such. Honestly, Mark Miles, it is simple: Most team sponsors use U.S. marketing budgets. Non-American races thus produce a ZERO (or near-0) ROI. I shake my head that time and effort continues to be wasted on such follies when the needs and problems here at home are so damn obvious . . . Finally, there was the depressing (not amusing, as too many TV heads portrayed it) spectacle of another driver's girlfriend slapping Max Papis (yes, Max is a friend of mine) after the Truck race. If that does not show how standards have declined, well -- Attention, NASCAR: Pull the credential and ban her from race sites for the rest of the season, at a minimum. To call her stupid is too polite.

Yes, dissatisfying.

[ more next Monday . . . ]