PRESS CONTROVERSY: Apparently after the victory by Trevor Bayne at Daytona, the members of the press in the press box cheered. As a result, one reporter was fired. From around 1995 to 2000, I had press credentials and covered all of the Talladega races and a couple of Bristol races. You were expected to not ask the drivers for their autograph (I actually had to decline Dale Earnhardt’s autograph one time at Talladega) and generally behave in a somewhat professional manner. I never personally witnessed any cheering in the press box, but I’m sure the reporters who had money in the pool were rooting for their driver so they could win a few bucks.
On reflection, it’s a wonder that any racing reporting is “balanced”. Winston provided free cigarettes in the press box and they routinely gave away other items. When they announced the No Bull 5 events, each reporter got a nice cap. I have a long sleeve Winston sweatshirt, and a very nice Winston Gore-Tex rain jacket. Slim Jims were freely available in the media center as were other sponsors’ products. You could walk to any transporter and they generally had some of their sponsor’s products available.
And while the reporters were sitting in the infield media center before race day eating and smoking, each drivers PR person was delivering press releases so the reporters wouldn’t actually have to, you know, go out and talk to the drivers. A few of the old school reporters would go in search of stories, but most of those post-race and post-qualifying driver quotes you read come from those press releases. The drivers are taken to the infield media center after qualifying and to the press box after winning a race for a question and answer session, and those answers are typed up by the track’s PR person for use by all reporters.
I guess what I’m saying is that reporters covering racing are not quite like reporters covering news events. Maybe they were in the old days, but the modern day race reporter can barely be bothered to get off his butt and go seek out a story. Of course, there are exceptions, but I think for the most part race reporters could probably do their jobs from their own home.
YOU GOT TO KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM: If I hear one more gambling cliche from the broadcast booth, I’m going to explode. It’s just as bad when they come to Nashville with the music cliches (actually, NASCAR hasn’t had a race in Nashville in over 10 years; they call the super speedway located in Gladeville “Nashville Superspeedway”; I just hope the city is getting some licensing fees for that).
THE ANTHEM, AGAIN: I guess the singer of the National Anthem before the Cup race did a good job, but if I didn’t know the words already, I’m not sure I would have understood her. Again, the Anthem is not a “showcase” song. Just sing it like it was written.
WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING: The Cup Series has a tie for first between Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. Neither driver has won a race. Of the three drivers who have won Cup races, only one is in the top 12 in points. A Grand National regular has yet to win a race in that series so no one with points in that series has a win. The same is true for the Truck Series.
DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION: Robbie Gordon is on “probation”, supposedly for an altercation he had in the garage area with Kevin Conway. Seems that Gordon provided Conway (and his sponsor) with a car to drive last year, and has the gall to expect them to pay for it. And Conway has the gall to expect to be paid for winning “rookie of the year” while he was driving for Gordon. Lawsuits abound. I’m not sure what the deal is with Conway; he seems to have a sponsor in his pocket and can buy rides coming and going, but not enough talent to get the job done.
TV RATINGS: So the TV ratings for the Cup races this year are up over last year. Not sure why that is, unless it’s the “Bayne Effect”. Ratings rose after Dale Earnhardt’s death, probably because people wanted to see who would get killed next. Maybe the “Bayne Effect” is people tuning in to see what unknown driver will win next. I suspect that once they see that racing at the other tracks is not like racing at Daytona, the interest will fade. If they were putting on good races, the grandstands would be fuller.
BEST FINISH BY A WOMAN: So, I completely missed the Las Vegas Grand National race, so I missed Danica!’s 4th place finish. I guess some people are saying she got the finish based on better gas mileage. I have mixed feelings about “gas mileage” races, but I guess since everyone has to go by the same rules, it doesn’t matter if you get the finish by passing a ton of cars on the track or passing them while they’re in the pits.