FOX’s NASCAR Coverage Is Bad For Fans

Have you watched a NASCAR race on FOX and been incredible infuriated/angry at the quality of the broadcast? Welcome to the club, take a seat and vent with me for a moment. FOX has had NASCAR coverage since 2001, with roughly the same hosts, presenters, pit reporters and commentary for that time. On the Jeff Gluck podcast, he and Jordan Bianchi kind of talked about the coverage and how bad it was. I thought I’d expand on it.

Same Cast, Every Year

When FOX NASCAR debuted in 2001 it was a breath of fresh air into the sport and a ton of money. FOX trotted out Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy to be the color commentary guys. And since that time the same booth has remained, move McReynolds to the truck to talk about technical stuff, insert Jeff Gordon and it’s the same color commentary crew.

In 17 years of hosting NASCAR the turnover rate at FOX is non existent. Dick Berggren and Jeanie Zelasko are the only two that have left the sport. Rick Allen and Krista Voda moved to NBC for their NASCAR coverage. Other than that it’s been the same cast, with the same pit reporters for the most part.

Same Graphics, Same Sayings, Same Schtick

Somehow in 17 years the production of the broadcast hasn’t progressed at all. They are using the same “Crank It Up” graphic they’ve used since 2001 when they were showing races on FX. DW is still saying “boogity boogity boogity” even though it wasn’t cool in 2001 and still isn’t cool today.

Mike Joy still treats viewers like illiterate children. Darrell hasn’t driven a Cup car since 2000. Why is he still on the broadcast telling us how these cars handle and interrupting Gordon? He seriously has no clue how these cars handle. The fans have the same knowledge as how these cars handle as DW.

The production hasn’t gotten any better either, if anything it has regressed. Thankfully they got rid of the digger cam, but instead replaced that with terrible in car camera locations. Viewers are left looking at the top of the drivers head, because that shows so much? Or they place the camera in the car so you can see what the driver sees. Except the camera location is too high and we’re left looking at the dash or top of the windshield. On board cameras are worse today than in the 80’s and it’s mind boggling.

Current Issues

Commercials- We all know these are a necessity when it comes to live sporting events. NASCAR fans though are being bent over race after race in the name of commercials. Some how every other sport doesn’t miss live action but NASCAR fans have to accept that we’ll miss a quarter of the race essentially. Stages were supposed to alleviate commercials during green flag racing, it hasn’t. Actually it may be worse. FOX takes full advantage of the 8 caution laps between stages to show commercials then takes a commercial break every 10 laps like they always have. On Sunday at one point they were back for 45 seconds in stage 3 before another commercial. Figure this out.

Production- Absolute garbage production on FOX the past few years. The producer always avoids actually passing and battles on track for tight shots of the leader running by himself. Races are partially boring because the producer avoids on track battles. They look at them 5 laps later on replay when they could have showed it live. Stop with the tight shots, stop with the overhead shots on every single restart, stop switching to on board cameras in the middle of crucial moments. Show that on replay after.

Commentary- Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip have to go. Joy has no clue what he is talking about. I find myself constantly correcting his “facts” and yelling at him for wrongly identifying cars on track. Waltrip, we all know why he needs to go. The game has passed him by. Jeff Gordon is a breath of fresh air in the booth, his voice isn’t great but he knows what he is talking about. Larry McReynolds is the only other person on the crew that is worth anything because he does actual research.

Fixes

Stop treating viewers like we have no clue what is going on. We don’t need to see the virtual cutaway car every weekend explaining to us how air flow, the draft or brakes work. We all know that. Get younger people calling races and reporting. You want a younger audience, you have to have a younger broadcast crew.

Production wise, fire the producer and get someone who isn’t obsessed with watching a car drive by itself. Not sure why this is still an issue. 360 degree cameras should be on all competitive cars like Indycar has, better camera placement in the car.

I’m sure I’ll write the same blog about NBC later in the year. It’s amazing that NASCAR has allowed their coverage to get this bad. “Ratings are so bad” well yeah, have you tried to watch a race on FOX? It’s god awful.

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