:::::: Editorials ::::::

MICHAEL KNIGHT: HOW ESPN LOSING NASCAR COULD AFFECT NHRA

mikehead2

ESPN will not have the rights to any NASCAR programming starting in 2015 and how that might affect NHRA will be worth watching.

It could be a positive: The loss of Sprint Cup and Nationwide series races, qualifying and practice sessions could mean increased opportunities for live drag racing coverage. NHRA and ESPN experimented with “live” earlier this season at the SpringNationals. There’s a growing consensus within the industry that the social media instant-information revolution has rendered NHRA’s traditional same-day delayed format outmoded.

It could be a negative: ESPN, having lost Sprint Cup which attracts the largest TV audience of any U.S. racing series, could de-emphasize overall motorsports coverage. With NASCAR gone, Formula One now on NBC Sports Network and the Izod IndyCar series contractually bound to NBCSN to 2018 (ABC televised the Indianapolis 500 and five other races this year), NHRA could be left as a programming oddity at ESPN. The only major auto racing series currently without an announced TV home in the near term is the United SportsCar Series. That’s what the Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series will be called when they merge next year. That tour is expected to include only 10-to-12 races, however, including the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: LOTS OF POSITIVES TO GO AROUND

mikehead2

I asked Tom Compton if he wanted to take a victory lap.

“No. It's about a lot of people,” NHRA’s president answered.

But June 16-23 was a good -- very good -- week for the sanction. So, in a business where the leader deserves to take credit for the positives and is going to take blame for the negatives, it was fair enough for Compton to take his due.

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: CHANGE CAN BE GOOD

mikehead2

I was talking to one of my Business of Racing sources who is connected to Wall St. the way Don Schumacher is the drag strip. As it was mid-May, and this fellow has family ties to Indiana, some Indianapolis 500 discussion was as natural as guys wanting to have their picture taken with Courtney Force.

My briefcase-carrying contact had briefly met Mark Miles, who is not only the new CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Izod IndyCar series, but all of the business enterprises owned by the Hulman-George family. Miles is the fourth different series leader in as many years, and that management instability is one reason the Speedway and the series face so many challenges to regain lost media coverage, TV audience, ticket buyers and corporate support.

“Stable leadership is essential in business,” my friend said. “Uncertainty makes people nervous, unsure, very cautious. Especially when they are considering a seven or eight figure sponsorship. It makes them tend to back away.”

 

 

 

 

BOBBY BENNETT: IT’S TIME FOR A DIVORCE

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Is the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series flirting with disaster for a better future with 50 minute turnarounds for live television broadcasts?

Until this year, 75-minute turnarounds have been the norm for the last decade or so, and while the time limit was a challenge at first, teams adapted. Even though they were rushed at times after sustaining major damage in a previous run, they managed to do so in a reasonably safe manner. Impending weather often crunched the time to 60 minutes, a challenging and accepted proposition, was on the ragged edge of doable.

Fifty minute turnarounds have been attained already this year, however observing the process reveals potential danger lurks in the most routine of procedures. While none of these endangerments have become realities after just two events doesn’t mean reality isn’t waiting for the most inopportune time to attack.

You can only play with fire so many times before you get burned.

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: WILL SOME EVERY TRULY UNDERSTAND JOURNALISTIC FREEDOM?

mikehead2

I gave a Big Time NHRA team owner a home-made chocolate chip cookie a few years ago.

He was up in the media room watching final eliminations. It had been a bad day. “You look like you could use this,” I said, politely, extending my cookie tin toward him.

I hope he remembers. Because, now, I’m going to give him -- and a lot of others in the drag racing industry -- something else: Strong, blunt and very sincere advice.

It’s time people in the NHRA pit area man-up and accept legitimate criticism as not an evil, but something that can be appropriate, valid and, yes, necessary.

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: WHAT LIVE TV MEANS TO DRAG RACING

mikehead2

I’ve wanted it. You’ve wanted it. Now we’ve got it.

Live NHRA Mello Yello series drag racing on ESPN2. The Great Experiment starts with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, near Houston. The final qualifying session will be presented as-it-happens Saturday, April 27, from 3-5 p.m. EDT. On Sunday, the pro class semifinals will go at 2 p.m.

I’ll admit it: I’m a little nervous.

All of us who care about the growth and success of the straight-line sport probably should be. Sure, there’s been live TV racing before (and, other than the U.S. Nationals, it’s not guaranteed there will be more if the Spring Nationals don’t go well), but not in such a calculated way. And, certainly, not with the stakes this high.

The positives are obvious: Try to increase the audience. Honestly, that’s the only reason to even give this a go. In the age of Twitter and other instant communications tools, expecting the public to accept delayed information about anything is as unrealistic as a driver asking Don Schumacher for a $10 million salary.

 

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: ARE DRAG RACERS NICER THAN NASCAR DRIVERS?

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Well, now, who doesn't like an old-fashioned fight with a few haymakers flying around? And it's always entertaining when somebody pops off and says something others might want to say and don't have the guts to do it.

But it's a whole new ballgame when it's fisticuffs in the fast lane, as with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 aftermath at Fontana, Calif., featuring -- in this corner -- heavyweight Tony Stewart and -- in the opposite corner -- lightweight Joey Logano.

Hey-hey-hey -- don't send in any letters defending Logano. Even FOX TV analyst Darrell Waltrip advertised that all Logano will do when he's in fight-or-flight mode is stomp his foot and start tweeting tough messages on the social medium Twitter. That clearly doesn't have as much sting as a right cross from an angry Smoke, who might as well have saved his energy in last Sunday's instance by running over, waving his arms, and yelling, "Boo!"

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: SEE HOW SILLY THIS LOOKS?

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M E M O
TO:  ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Associated Press, The Sporting News, USA Today, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, Jim Rome, AOL, Yahoo, MSN
 
FROM: Susan Wade
 
RE: Ron Capps winning the NHRA's Arizona Nationals

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: WHY DRAG RACING FANS OUGHT TO BE MAD

mikehead2

Drag racing fans should be mad as hell and they shouldn’t take it anymore.

I’m sure you know why.

Danica!

DANICA!!

More accurately: The fawning, sweet-as-maple syrup and sometimes TMZesque media coverage of Danica Patrick, her historic Daytona 500 pole position and her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

 

 

 

BOBBY BENNETT: WE NEED TO RETHINK 50-MINUTE TURNAROUNDS

0730-03697

Is the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series flirting with disaster for a better future with 50 minute turnarounds for live television broadcasts?

Until this year, 75-minute turnarounds have been the norm for the last decade or so, and while the time limit was a challenge at first, teams adapted. Even though they were rushed at times after sustaining major damage in a previous run, they managed to do so in a reasonably safe manner. Impending weather often crunched the time to 60 minutes, a challenging and accepted proposition, was on the ragged edge of doable.

Fifty minute turnarounds have been attained already this year, however observing the process reveals potential danger lurks in the most routine of procedures. While none of these endangerments have become realities after just two events doesn’t mean reality isn’t waiting for the most inopportune time to attack.

You can only play with fire so many times before you get burned.

 

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