Broadcasting Dream Team

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Last fall, the heads of Fox Broadcasting and NBC had an opportunity of a lifetime. They, for the first time in the modern history of NASCAR television broadcasting, had a chance to create an on-air dream team.

Certainly, it wasn't as easy as it seems. Folks were tied up in contracts. There were all sorts of behind-the-scenes stuff that needed to be dealt with. And, of course, there was competition among the players.

Contractual and competition issues aside, these people had a chance to pick from the very best in NASCAR television broadcasting.

As everyone knows, Fox and NBC split the talent, and left some behind at the networks losing the rights to air NASCAR races.

That said, it doesn't mean we can't create a television dream team. And before starting, this is no slight to those who don't make the cut, there's just only so much room on the team and a wealth of great people.

So here goes…

In the booth high atop the raceway, we want three men. The concept of using two has been toyed with from time to time, although the three-man booth works well, providing room for a play-by-play guy and two analysts.

Doing play-by-play I want Mike Joy, who this season will be working for Fox. Year after year, Joy has proven his worth for CBS and TNN. He's a Northeasterner who has occasionally raced and has his hands in the local scene.

As the color commentator, I want Darrell Waltrip. Sure, he's new to the booth, but I'd like someone who can lift the spirits when the race gets boring. Waltrip also knows the cars, and more important, he knows the history of the sport. He's worked race telecasts before and has always been a delightful addition to the show.

For the third man, it's a toss-up between Buddy Baker and Benny Parsons, with the nod going to Parsons. Parsons is a past Winston Cup champion who knows well the rigors of winning and losing. Likewise, he's really made a second career out of broadcasting.

The younger drivers look up to Benny, while the veterans respect him. Finally, he appears to have told the truth throughout the years and not pulled punches.

As for Baker, we're not going to take him out of the picture altogether. Taking a page out of the Chris Economacki playbook, we're going to send Baker into the pits.

When televised racing was in its infancy, Economacki worked the pits like a bulldog. With a corded microphone in hand, Economacki would jump over the pit wall during stops and interview the drivers as pit crew members scurried about.

Those days are clearly over, but it would be good to have someone down there, a character of sorts, to ask questions and have a bit of fun. And when he's not out on the track, Baker could work in a tent, providing statistics, much the way Rick Benjamin did during TBS telecasts.

Now for the real pit reporters:

For starters, let's pull ESPN's Marlo Klain out of the CART world and back into Winston Cup. Having a woman on the field, while at times is shocking to listeners, is still a breath of fresh air.

I'm fairly confident that like other sports, the Winston Cup world isn't yet ready to have a woman in the main broadcasting booth, but on the field is just fine.

Now, before you start bellyaching, it's got nothing to do with liking men or women better, it's simply jarring to the ear when hearing a woman broadcaster in a role that's traditionally held by men. Like the recipe for barbecue at Talladega, some things shouldn't be messed with.

Elsewhere on pit road, I want Bill Weber, who will work for NBC next season, I want John Kernan to come out from behind the "RPM2 Night" anchor booth and go back in the field.

And rounding out the team, let's convince Kyle Petty to retire and work in broadcasting. He's done pit reporting from time to time, and he might just be the ticket to lure younger viewers to the set. He's different, for sure, and outspoken. That's just what the sport needs.

Now that's a dream team.

If you have questions, comments or ideas you'd like to send to Richard Huff, you may do so at RichmHuff@cs.com

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2001

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