Tuned In

We get a lot of emails from readers here at RacingOne. Questions, comments, complaints and praise - they're all in the old inbox pretty much every day. And we appreciate it and thank you for it.

One of the most passionate topics among our emailers is the subject of racing on television. At the top of the list is how NASCAR's network partners - FOX and NBC - cover the sport. And in all honesty, judging by the recent spat of messages, fans are less than enamored with the product that FOX is producing these days.

Too many commercial breaks, missing action, cameras in the wrong places, hokey promotional and production features and inane commentary are just a few of the greatest hits fans have pointed out this year.

But let's leave that story for another time.

The other big television story readers have expressed concern over regards SPEED Channel, the 24-hour motorsports network. Since the network evolved from its original version called "SpeedVision," nothing on television has infuriated and aggravated racing fans more than the new SPEED, or so the emails would lead you to believe.

The original intention of the network was to be a complete portal to the entire world of racing. But just as NASCAR has dominated the motorsports' universe, so has it taken over most of SPEED's airwaves.

Now that's not necessarily a bad thing. SPEED Channel is a business and if you're going to succeed in a motorsports' business, there had better be a big helping of NASCAR on your plate.

What gets most readers upset is the kind of coverage the network has chosen to provide. For every live qualifying and practice session there's an "Inside NEXTEL Cup" or "NASCAR Nation," two shows which again, judging by the response we get here at RacingOne, leave fans less than thrilled.

**Editor's Note: After this column was written, news came that Krista Voda, one of the "NASCAR Nation" hosts, and a solid reporter, is leaving the show for a new gig in Pittsburgh. She will possibly be replaced by former Playboy centerfold Leeann Tweeden, who wouldn't know a restrictor plate from a G-string. Great move, why not put poor Ralph Sheheen out of his misery and replace him with Tom Arnold and really make this the "Worst Racing Sports Show, Period."

The variety of other racing action on the network has also changed over the last few years, with the majority of non-NASCAR events, tape-delayed races, some several days or weeks old. Once you know who won, it's not very compelling to watch a sporting event on television.

The final component to SPEED Channel's programming variation is the network's original productions, which range from what was once the best show on the network - "Wind Tunnel" - since ruined when it was changed from a nightly one-hour call-in/interview show to a bloated once-a-week Sunday night extravanganza - to "enthusiast" shows such as "Unique Whips" and "Build or Bust." These two examples, obviously trying to ape the "Orange County Chopper" phenomenon, are tiresome at best.

Column space prevents me from discussing readers' comments regarding "Speed Freaks" and "On the Edge," since this is a family-friendly website.

Now comes word that Jim Libatore, the man who really built SPEED Channel as it evolved from its previous incarnation, is leaving the network over the much-dreaded "philosophical differences." A tough break for a man who, by all accounts, had a vision for the network which was distorted by ownership and management pressures.

So as a service to the new head honcho, whomever he or she may be, lets give SPEED Channel an idea of just what would make an interesting and watchable motorsports' television network. We'll play network program director (without the six figure salary) and build the perfect TV racing beast.

Send me your ideas, show concepts and coverage suggestions and next week, we'll put it together and let SPEED know the best way to proceed. Send your e-mails to Pete@RacingOne, next week we'll publish the best-of-the-best in a RacingOne column and send it to the guys in charge at SPEED.

Who knows, maybe a television network will finally listen to its viewers.

Or we can be saddled with more episodes of "Infield Hot Pass."

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2005

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