During my Thursday night Motorweek Live broadcasts I have had the privilege of talking to some great names in NASCAR history. I have also interviewed some newer, younger racers who have bright futures in the sport. But boy, do they have different styles of talking.
Bobby Allison started telling me about the first auto race he ever watched and how he was initially captivated by the sport.
Waddell Wilson spoke about his first job out of high school working at Holman-Moody. One story led into another. That program wound up broadcasting 26 minutes of radio off of only two of my questions.
I had plenty of leftover material from the Allison and Wilson interviews to have them both on the show again. And again. And several times over if they keep up their storytelling pace.
I had no questions prepared for Barry Dodson, as he was a late addition to the show. I didn’t need any questions prepared. Dodson had worked with Tim Richmond at Blue Max Racing in the early 1980s. I asked about Richmond and the stories flowed. I had to cut Dodson short because the show was out of time. He could have talked for hours about Richmond. I wanted to let him.
ESPN recently aired a Richmond documentary. At one point during the film, some footage from a television interview Richmond was giving aired. He stopped talking, lost his train of thought, and his attention was torn away to admire an attractive female walking through the garage area. He was unapologetic and saw the humor in his honest personality.
Richmond was like James Bond. All the men wanted to be him, on the track and off.
Can you picture a Joey Logano or a Martin Truex scoping out a good looking girl on camera and laughing about it? Me neither.
Another aspect race fans have lost was the intimacy of a single reporter with a single microphone that asked a driver for a few words on camera. There was no scheduled press briefing at the back of the team hauler where all the media gathered and the comments are filmed with a horde of microphones surrounding a driver. This particular Richmond interview was just two guys talking. One just happened to be recording.
Marketing and public relations representatives have coached the younger racing generation. My interviews become question, answer, question, and answer. This demographic speaks in sound bites.
Where have the fans gone that are indicated by lower TV ratings? Possibly searching for what they miss.
We need more storytellers and personalities. We need more fun loving bachelors looking at pretty girls. Listening to someone tell first hand stories about inevitable Hall of Fame inductees is priceless.
I don’t look for better and longer talkers to lessen my workload as an interviewer. I look for anecdotal speakers because they are more entertaining. In today’s age of sponsor plugs and prepared statements some candid bench racing would be a breath of fresh air.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
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