Sunday, June 06, 2010


I have to admit I feel a certain amount of amazement this week.

This Wednesday (7 p.m. EDT) will be the one-year anniversary of my The Race Reporters show on Motorsports' biggest personality, John Force, will be the Newsmaker guest for the second half-hour. John was my very first guest. Continuing that theme, original media panelists Paul Page and Jon Asher will return. And, we'll be joined by a few special surprise guests from around the racing world.

The opportunity to create (I picked the format, title, and even the day and time the show airs) basically fell out of the sky. It was not something I aspired to do. As I have said several times, if it had ended after the original 13-week run, I would have been glad for the experience. It's not my life. The fact that I'm still behind the microphone in the Tempe, Ariz., studio each week (remember, all past programs can be heard on-demand in the TRR archives on the show home page) is a tribute to the high quality of Newsmaker and media guests who have kindly given their time and insights. We're not just NASCAR -- guests from IndyCar, NHRA, sports car racing, World of Outlaws and industry executives -- have been on. Since I pick all the guests and topics, I am most grateful.

Take a look at the Newsmaker roster from the last year: Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Dario Franchitti, Joey Logano, Gil de Ferran, Tony Schumacher, Brad Keselowski, Kenny and Brandon Bernstein, Randy Bernard, Arie Luyendyk, Scott Pruett, Adrian Fernandez, Graham Rahal, Larry Dixon, Ron Capps, Antron Brown, Paul Tracy, Robby Gordon, David Reutimann, Melanie Troxel, Hurley Haywood, Patrick Long, Max Papis, Simona De Silvestro, AJ Allmendinger, Bob Tasca III, Bryan Sperber, Terry Angstadt, Scott Atherton, John Daly and Chris Economaki.

I'll have a special opening commentary Wednesday. But let me say this here: This is a guest-driven, not a host-driven, show. I like to believe that makes a big difference in the current journalist-turned-celebrity environment. Yes, we have fun along the way, but this show is all about solid information, informed opinion, and serious conversation. It gives me hope there is still room for such a program in today's shouting/showbiz media world. As we say in every opening, it's a "good, hard, honest, Constitutionally-protected conversation on the motorsports issues of the day."

On the day before the Indianapolis 500, it was announced that TRR earned first place in the Best Podcast category in the 2009 American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's annual journalism competition.

According to a network news release on that award, “The Race Reporters has consistently been the top rated program on the Power Up Motorsports Channel since its launch one year ago."

Jeff Spenard, president and owner of World Talk Radio, LLC, parent company of the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network, said: "This has been one of the highest performing programs on our entire network and is produced with the quality and professionalism one would expect from a true industry professional such as Michael Knight. I’m sure that this is the first of many awards for the program, and we look forward to several more in our continuing relationship.”

My great thanks to all the guests and, most especially, to YOU, the LISTENERS.

The Great Adventure continues Wednesday with John Force. If you listen, you'll learn.

FAST LINES: First, let me clean-up two errors from last week. What I consider to be completely reliable sources inform me that the people within the ABC/ESPN operation who had previous entertainment-related work activities no longer do so, so this wasn't a distraction from the Indy 500 production . . . Two, the Saturday suites/media parking lot situation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where parking passes were not being honored, was the result of a miscommunication between the Yellow Shirt supervisor and overall operations command. I'm told, after I raised the issue, it was corrected. I accept both explanations and duly correct the record . . . TV people, PLEASE remember this -- The most important on-track activity to follow (and report on immediately) is a CHANGE OF LEAD. Getting locked-in to a format that doesn't allow for a quick cut-back to what is happening up front is about as big a mistake as can be made in race coverage . . . I say Saturday night at Texas was Danica Patrick's best overall IndyCar driving effort (although internal team chemistry might well take another hit because of her chop-job on Tony Kanaan) . . . Leadership test for Brian Barnhart (and Randy Bernard should be overlooking this) -- A proper investigation into the safety crew's response to Simona De Silvestro's crash and fire. Both the response time, and immediate actions on the scene, were unacceptable. Drivers cannot be pulled out of these cars at a sideways angle. Competitors and fans deserve a full report . . . Here's the difference between other umpire mis-judgement calls and what happened last week that cost Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. It was the LAST play of the game. Yes, precedent is important and concern for opening Pandora's Box is legitimate, but Commissioner Bud Selig could have/should have declared a one-time exception and fixed what obviously was ump Jim Joyce's wrong call. Dopey Matt Lauer said on the Today show, "it was a very close call." No, by baseball standards, it was NOT a close call! Nice PR move by GM to give the pitcher a Corvette -- as long as taxpapers ultimately don't pay for it.

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 9 -- One Year Anniversary Show featuring original Newsmaker John Force and first panelists Paul Page and Jon Asher. Plus: Special surprise guests from around the racing world.

June 16 -- TBA.

June 23 -- Newsmaker: Robin Braig (Daytona International Speedway president). Panelists: Dave Rodman, Larry Woody.

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

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

[ John Force & One-Year Anniversary show news notes Thursday . . . ]