Over the last few weeks, fan criticism has increased about NASCAR broadcast partner, FOX and their delivery of the race product.  If you have been around for any length of time you know this is nothing new as over the years, they have taken their hits from the viewersThe Cup race from World Wide Technology on Sunday apparently has pushed many fans to the brink.

With this latest round it reminded me of back in the pre-Jeff Gluck, pre-Twitter days, when there was a web site that dealt with such things – John Daly’s The Daly Planet aka TDP.  

I believe it’s long gone now, but while it was up and running it was one of my favorite site as long-time member of the motorsports broadcasting business, John Daly, hosted the site and provided interesting perspectives and in-sights into that side of the sport.  If I recall correctly, he had been involved with ESPN in the early days when they covered a variety of series and knew how to bring it to viewers.

John not only provided broadcasting news, insights and stories behind the stories of television contracts and all things broadcasting, his site was a much-needed safety valve of sorts as fans of all experiences could come there and voice their likes and dislikes about this week’s broadcast.  TDP gave fans an outlet to ask questions as to why things were the way they were, and Daly provided straightforward explanations.  The site was a necessary outlet for passionate fans to propose new ideas on how to make the broadcasts better.  When posters were off-target in their criticisms, John would reel them in and provide a different way of looking at things.  If you had a new idea, he could provide credible feedback.  

Most importantly TDP provided fans hope… hope there was a better race broadcast day ahead.  A day when you could actually see a race and know what was going on without having a radio and three computers running in the background or waiting for another program to explain it to you.  A day when you were treated as a knowledgeable fan instead a rookie who didn’t know how many tires are on the car.  A day when you could actually be entertained by the race rather than by the endless booth antics.  

John had no problems calling things the way he saw them or call on his vast knowledge and experience to remind fans how it had been done or show how things could be done.  He was a credible voice for fans who could question the likes of FOX’s David Hill or Darrell Waltrip.

Mine That Bird (Photo from Sports Illustrated)

It was in 2009, eight tumultuous years after FOX got into NASCAR that FOX’s David Hill suddenly and uncharacteristically became interested in what fans thought about his network’s coverage of NASCAR.  TDP gave fans a mechanism to voice our concerns to Mr. Hill and propose improvements.  It was there I took a different approach make my points of the issues I had with his NASCAR by writing what we would see if FOX covered horse races like they cover NASCAR races.  I used the 2009 Kentucky Derby, which had been run earlier that week as the race they covered.  If you recall that was an exciting race where 50-1 long shot gelding Mine That Bird came from last to first to win the “Run for the Roses.”  It was one of the greatest upsets in the 135 years of the Derby.

 Read on to find out what was posted on TDP as what it would be like if FOX had the coverage that day.  It was republished a few years later as an article on Race Fans Forever.com.  

See if anything then looks familiar today?

 I think this pretty much sums things up – Fans tune in expecting the broadcast of a sporting event and FOX tries to entertain and this kinda points out the difference. 

Fifteen years later… some of the names have changed, but overall, it’s not that much different.  Please enjoy this fun piece entitled-


I realize that Richmond and the Kentucky Derby are two vastly different events, but based on FOX’s past NASCAR performance this is what it would look like if FOX had done the Derby…

 The “Call to the Post” would have been replaced with the song, “Let’s Go Racin’ Boys” 

 The start of the race would have been missed . . . they’ed be at commercial.

 “And they’re off” would have been replaced with “Boogity, boogity, boogity” 

 The wide angle out of the starting gate shot, which shows all the initial fight for position would have been shown instead by Digger cam. 

FOX would immediately go to replay of all the bumping between horses out of the gate. Larry Mac would attribute it to aero push and immediately show a horsey graphic (with Digger as jockey) and Draft Tracker to explain the term “push.” 

DW would have chimed in with “Rubbin’s, racing” and that the sanctioning body has been working hard on the problem and it should be eliminated by next year’s “Run for the Roses” with the unveiling of the new HOT – “Horse of Tomorrow.” An ugly nag, handles like a Clydesdale (no offense to Clydesdales), hard to ride and their racing sucks, but they are safe and if racing is to continue this is what we have to go with. 

Tight focus on the pre-race predetermined broadcast favorites would be the norm… if and when any actual racing was shown. There is nothing like showing closeup after closeup of a galloping thoroughbred’s flaring nostrils to show you just how the race is developing. 

DW would compliment the favorites on their setup as they can hold it down on the yellow line… I mean rail and reminiscence about the last time he raced on dirt…”I was racing for PB Crowell back then…” 

 As the round the first turn, the broadcast turns to Jeff Hammond, who would go to the “Farm Bureau cut-away horse and jockey” and explain “now this is a saddle”

Halfway down the backstretch the “If the race ended now” graphic would appear, followed by a “Wolverine” movie trailer.

 The scoring crawler changes to show the interval behind the leader… of course that was based on the scoring loop at the end of the frontstretch.

As they enter the far turn, its two horses on the screen, the only two horses who have been shown since they entered turn two… never mind they are mired in the pack and not making a move… they were the production favorites. 

Behind a screenful of graphics and out of view from the tight shots Mine That Bird’s phenomenal weaving drive from last to first begins. Of course, without HOTPASS ($10 per race) you’d never know it. 

The traditional “and here they come” call down the home stretch is drowned out by the AFLAC trivia question. The race is only a little over two minutes long and FOX must get that in. 

That would have been followed by DW’s eerie silence. Unable to find NAPA or Toyota logos on any of the 19 riders’ silks and knowing that Mikey is just too darn big to get on one of those steeds, he’s left speechless. 

As they are coming to the line, it is nothing but nostrils until Larry Mac screams “Where did he come from” and FOX is forced to cut from the tight shot of their favorites to show Mine That Bird crossing the finish line ahead of the field. How he got there . . . who knows?  It’s clearly obvious this finish wasn’t in the production script.  

The photo finish for second place or beyond would not have been shown, but we would get a live closeup of all the members on MTB’s crew jumping up and down (except for the trainer, Chip Woolley, Jr… he was on crutches). 

Any showing of the little gelding’s incredible race would have been totally inadvertent, and his pass of the favorites for the win would have just been a flash in the background. 

The scoring crawler would have shown Mine That Bird last until after he crossed the line because that’s the position he was in at the last scoring loop. Never mind that the information is totally irrelevant and outdated and who cares that it blocks too much screen and the motion detracts from the action shown, when shown… it’s just a really neat graphic. 

The jockey’s emotional display during the cool-down… ah, we’d already have gone to commercial. 

Forget aerial shots and isolation cameras supporting the post-race analysis of the win, it would have been done instead by Digger cam. It’s your fault if you can’t tell the horses by their hooves.

Trophy presentation ceremony is long since passed when FOX returns from its 17 commercial block before signing off the air. No time for interviews or replays, we have “Simpson” reruns to go to.

In the broadcast crew’s parting shots, we’d hear Mike Joy remark how great a race it was, Larry Mac comment that it was all setup that lead to the win and DW . . . well, he knew the little horse was going to do it all along. 

As the credits roll, it’s on to Baltimore and the Preakness . . . with Digger in the bottom left, wearing his own blanket of roses.

And FOX wonders why the ratings keep going down.

That was 2009 and now eight years later really little has changed and a lot has changed.  TDP as we know and loved is now gone.  John closed the site and can now be found on Twitter commenting on racing as well as a wide variety of non-racing topics.  It was a great loss to this fan and I’m sure many others when he made his decision to shut the site down as another means to be heard was gone.  

Lesser changes include David Hill and Digger are now gone, but their impacts continue. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t stumble across a disgruntled fan continuing to call out the pesky rodent as one of the reasons they no longer watch racing at the frequency before FOX entered the race broadcast scene.  Larry Mac is no longer the third in the booth, replaced by Jeff Gordon.  Jeff Hammond has seemingly dropped off the radar, replaced by Waltrip the younger.  Use of the Turn Cam has been cut down significantly and the shilling by the booth has seemed to back off a notch or two.  

Beyond that, not much has changed as far as I can see.  The Race is still secondary to Booth entertainment and for whatever reason there seems to still be difficulties for FOX to smoothly present the Race as it unfolds.  Today’s race coverage has only slightly improved over the description written above.

In closing I have a mixture of emotions on this subject.  I am sad that over eight years the much needed changes, many posted on TDP by new and experienced viewers alike have not taken place; disappointed that coverage can’t be the best it could be; frustrated that trying to watch a race can be so difficult and many Race Days it’s easier to turn it off than to keep it on; embarrassed to admit that MUTE and CLOSED CAPTIONING are becoming the most used buttons on my remote followed by channel change and OFF; defiant in refusing to use outside “aids” or sources to make the Broadcast understandable-if you can’t cover the race with all the technology you have available… and hopefully that improvement is coming and coming soon.

 Most of all, I’m thankful, thankful that NASCAR on FOX only covers car racing and does not do the  Kentucky Derby.

Now it’s 2024. It’s 15 years since that original post on TDP in 2009 and 7 since it was made into an article for Race Fans Forever.com. There have been a few more changes as DW has been put out to pasture, Jeff Hammond is on SIRIUSXM and America’s Crew Chief is still part of the broadcast but it has been determined the is more valuable back at Charlotte. Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick are the new DW and Larry Mac. The crawler has been replaced with a leaderboard and FOX now displays a race tracker graphic that allows the viewer to get a feel of the frequency of cautions at a glance.  

But the more things change the more they stay the same.  Mike Joy still anchors the booth and herds the cats, Bowyer and Harvick. The production still struggles, between too tight of shots, missed action that only gets seen on replay, errors in the graphics, the show going into MRN mode-telling you about something going on that there is no way you are ever going to see it, the overpowering need to fill an apparent quota of shots of kids in the stands, and their signature “FOX Half-Pass for the Lead” (show something elsewhere and then cut away when the car passing the leader gets up to the door).  Combine that with the banter there is little flow to the broadcast and makes it darn difficult to follow the race and even more difficult to enjoy.

All that said, the FOX portion ends on Sunday at Sonoma and we can put that half of the season to rest.  When they return in 2025 it will be a new TV deal.  The booth will be back intact but I seriously doubt we’ll see any improvement in their portion of the coverage. Fans have been asking for it since 2009 and it hasn’t been heard yet… but one can hope.

But maybe that will change.  I sure hope so. TV is such a vital tool to grow the sport that NASCAR should expect FOX to bring an A-Game effort every week to deliver a Top Shelf production.  They have only had 23 years to get it polished up.

 That said, the major improvement may be that FOX will have a shorter broadcast season next year.  Hopefully, the new broadcast partners can give us better coverage than we have gotten in the past for their  five races.

We can only hope.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance.  

Photo Credit (cover): Logan Riely/Getty Images


  1. Hi David, this is a very good read. I know exactly where you are coming from. The quickest way to lose interest in a tv covered race is to have a broadcast that does not flow. We see things happening that they are not talking about. They seem to have private conversations in the booth that we can’t seem to recognize. Meanwhile, we are seeing things on tv that we wish they would talk about.
    I do hope the 2nd half of the season will be better. And, I think a lot of other people are hoping the same.
    Thank you, David, for expressing other’s feelings and thoughts so well.

    1. Thanks Vivian!

      Hope folks have fun with it. Things shouldn’t be this difficult. They are the senior broadcast partner.

      Hope the second half is better. Bar has been set pretty low.

      Thanks again!

  2. Can’t agree more David. Watching a race on Fox isn’t that much different the fingernails on a chalkboard. Yeah, I know that some people don’t have any concept of chalkboards lol.. I could listen to Mike Joy call a race all day. Harvick sounds like he’s getting the hang of it pretty quickly. Then there’s Boyer. Suddenly the fingernails on chalkboards aren’t; that bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not his voice, as it’s a lot better than Buton & Jr’s almost chipmunk sounding voices, when the get excited about something. No, it’s his absolute (apparently) requirement to contradict EVERYTHING that the other 2 says.

    I’m surprised the Harvick hasn’t punched him out yet on air! But I’m still hopeful. It sure makes one reminisce, about the times when we were able to listen to Ned Jarrett, Buddy Baker and Neil Bonnett call a race. No matter bad a race went for my favorite driver, I never felt like throwing something at the TV. I’ve heard/read others say that they turn down the volume on the TV, and listen to MRN. Unfortunately MRN has lost some of their shine too. They too have a Boyer/Waltrip in the Godfather.

    Fox has changed1 thing for the good. They now take the time to show a graphic on screen, showing the radio transmissions between the drivers/crews. Before they simply played it. Most times it’s really hard to understand it. Now, I have nearly 40 years of being around lots of jet engines running, and being on 2 way comms with pilots, all thanks to being an Air Force crew chief. I’ve called races as a crew chief & spotter, and driving my modified as a driver. Unbelievably my hearing is still really good, according to my ENT doctor. But for some reason, I always had trouble deciphering what they were saying when they would play the comms. So for that it’s better. But that’s hardly a reason to listen to 3+ hours of the walking, talking contradiction to anything anyone else says.

    Here’s the main reason that I’m surprised that Harvick hasn’t punched out Boyer yet. Boyer talks like he’s the he wrote the book on how to drive this next gen car, and he’s never raced it! It must be that “little man” mentality.

    1. Ron, I’m with you on Bowyer. Harvick has to have the patience of Job. I’m not sure what his issue is but the trying to be lead dog, contradicting and picking at Harvick gets tiresome. And you’re right about acting like he wrote the GEN 7 book. Amazing how much a few laps around Bowman Gray can teach a fella.

      The worst thing to come out of the Indy rain delay was it put FOX head to head with NBC and the difference was staggering.

      Thanks again

  3. You said it all about the Daly Planet. Such a wonderful place to visit. JD made you feel like an insider and the diverse variety of commenters made you feel like you were not alone when you saw something that was “less than.” Even got a few TV personalities hot enough under the collar to post now and again. brings back a lot of good memories from the last few years of my modern fandom.

    1. Tim,
      Thanks for your comments. You got It right about JD, TDP and the community there. There was nothing like it. It was a major disappointment when it went away, followed by NASCAR’s slimy takedown of Andrew Maness’ NASCARNOMICS.
      You summed it up best when you said you felt like you weren’t alone when you saw something that was “less than”. That made things tolerable. It’s a shame there is nothing like it now becasue the need is still there.

      Thanks again for sharing.

      Hopefully the second half will be better.

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