Skip to content

NBC and NASCAR made memories in last stint, with new ones to come

Jul 23, 2013, 3:20 PM EST

DaleJr_Daytona_getty Getty Images

MotorSportsTalk’s two U.S.-based writers, Tony DiZinno and Chris Estrada, take a look back on NBC’s last stint featuring NASCAR Sprint Cup races from 1999 through 2006. In both instances, these were formative years of their racing fandom.

Tony DiZinno:

For 2013, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network became your official home of open-wheel racing with the acquisition of Formula One to go along with IndyCar coverage.

Now, we can amend that to say, it’s your official home of almost all racing.

In 2015, NASCAR will be back on NBC. The re-acquisition of North America’s number one form of motorsports brings together all three major motorsports championships under one roof. And it has the potential to reignite memories from NBC’s last stint with NASCAR, from 1999 through 2006.

Besides his role on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams is one of NASCAR’s most dedicated fans. He opened the coverage at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1999, a race won by a then-unheralded rookie out of Indiana named Tony Stewart.

In 2001, we were treated to one of NASCAR’s most emotional victories, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway – the first Cup race at the track since he lost his father in that year’s Daytona 500.

The 2004 season featured two dramatic moments to open and close the year on NBC. Earnhardt Jr. took his first, and thus far only, Daytona 500 win on February 15, six years to the day after Dale Sr. won his only ‘500. It was also the first high-definition race aired in Cup history.

To finish off the season, Kurt Busch edged Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin to capture the first title in the Chase for the Nextel Cup era. Busch beat Johnson by eight points after a thrilling battle at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, in a race won by Greg Biffle.

All the moments were captured by an announce team that included Allen Bestwick, and later Bill Weber, calling every lap. But it was the late Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach Jr. who did it for me. “BP” and Wally’s banter was a nice counter-balance to the lap-by-lap coverage, and their analysis added valuable insights for viewers.

Having started watching racing in the late 1990s, I’d seen “BP” on the old ESPN Wide World of Sports coverage and when he joined the NBC crew when they took over the coverage, I was thrilled. It’s a shame he won’t be around for this newest incarnation, but I’m optimistic we’ll see a number of familiar faces returning to the broadcasts.

Chris Estrada:

For myself, the return of NASCAR to NBC is almost like going back in time to my formative years as a motorsports fan. I’ve learned to follow the series from a proper, objective standpoint in recent years, but when NBC had the rights from 1999-2006, I was still at the point where I had my favorites.

Above all of them was Dale Earnhardt – the Intimidator, the Man in Black, the man that got me hooked on this sport. I was 14 years old when we lost him in the 2001 Daytona 500, and I was crushed. So when the series returned to Daytona that summer, I (along with many others, I’m sure) was pulling so badly for his son.

I will never forget that race and the call from NBC’s Allen Bestwick that brought him home: “It’s going to be Dale Earnhardt Jr.! Using lessons learned from his father to go from sixth to first and score the victory in the Pepsi 400!” And then, the late, great and dearly missed Benny Parsons, chiming in with what we were all thinking: “Yes! Yes!”

That, along with seeing Earnhardt Jr. and then-teammate Michael Waltrip (who finished second that night) embrace afterwards on top of the latter’s car, was cathartic for me and the rest of the sport’s faithful. Junior had delivered one of the sport’s greatest wins, and Waltrip, who had won the aforementioned ‘500’ that February, got to have the celebration he richly deserved.

We all know life goes on through good times and bad times, but we needed to see that affirmed before our eyes. And it was. That wasn’t the only memorable moment we saw during NASCAR’s recent run on NBC, of course (see my colleague’s thoughts above). But it’s probably the one most fans remember fondly.

I’m willing to bet we’ll see a few more of them upon NASCAR’s return to NBC in a year and a half.

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 17 Kyle Larson

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:57 PM EST

    (David Becker/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kyle Larson had a tremendous rookie season in 2014. If he was that good this season, imagine how much better he’ll be next season and seasons to come.

  2. Felipe Nasr goes with 12 for his F1 car number

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    Felipe Nasr’s No. 12 rounds out the F1 grid number choices for 2015.

  3. Vergne joins Ferrari as a test driver

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Previews Getty Images

    Jean-Eric Vergne signs with Ferrari as a test and development driver, which means a bunch of simulator work.

  4. RC Enerson confirmed for Indy Lights with Schmidt Peterson

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:17 AM EST

    IndyLights

    RC Enerson moves up from USF2000 to Indy Lights.

  5. NASCAR: Kid Rock to perform pre-race show at 2015 Daytona 500

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    2014 Louder Than Life Festival - Day 2 Getty Images

    Multiplatinum artist to rock out before 2015 running of the Great American Race.

  6. NASCAR Canadian Tire Series 2015 schedule released

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:51 PM EST

    Canadian tire series logo

    It lasts only four months, but there’ll be lots of action on the schedule for the 2015 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

  7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to do a little pre-Christmas dirt tracking Saturday in Illinois

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:26 PM EST

    (Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be slinging some pre-Christmas dirt this Saturday in an all-star sprint car race in DuQuoin, Ill.

  8. Kurt Busch sponsor supports him ‘110 percent’ in dispute with ex-girlfriend

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:50 PM EST

    (Jerry Markland/Getty Images) Getty Images

    One of Kurt Busch’s sponsors has joined team owner Gene Haas in backing the driver in his ongoing dispute with ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.

  9. Have a good laugh: Check out NASCAR America’s 2014 blooper reel (video)

    Dec 18, 2014, 6:31 PM EST

    NASCAR America

    Want to have a good laugh or two? Check out all of the bloopers and behind-the-scenes fun from NASCAR America over this past year.

  10. NASCAR suspends Camping World Truck Series crew member

    Dec 18, 2014, 6:18 PM EST

    nascar logo 2014

    NASCAR announced that a Camping World Truck Series crew member has been suspended for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

  11. WATCH: Race of Champions at 7 p.m. ET kicks off motors evening on NBCSN

    Dec 18, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    ROA_Twitter_Promo

    RoC, Mecum, and two F1 “Road To:” specials make for motors block on NBCSN tonight starting at 7 p.m. ET.

  12. IndyCar champ Will Power’s hidden talent — breakdancing

    Dec 18, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

    penske file power montoya 2014

    Will Power is a closet breakdancer? Who knew? Find out in the latest edition of The Penske Files.

  13. Sauber’s new C34 chassis has passed crash test

    Dec 18, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil Getty Images

    Sauber’s 2015 car is the second to pass crash test.

  14. Ganassi’s IndyCar, NASCAR stars set for another Rolex 24

    Dec 18, 2014, 3:28 PM EST

    PruettCOTAWin Getty Images

    No Franchitti in 2015 as CGR announces Rolex 24 lineup.

  15. Team Penske drivers will head to Super Bowl with Verizon

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Pagenaud AP

    Penske’s newest star to head to NFL’s biggest game.

  16. Top NASCAR stories of 2014: No. 13 – Chase Elliott wins final Nationwide Series championship at record age

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    (Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    In less than one year, Chase Elliott went from the driver of a start-up team to the youngest champion in NASCAR history.

  17. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 16 Aric Almirola

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Oral-B USA 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Almirola broke into the Chase for the Sprint Cup with a rain-shortened win at Daytona in the summer.

  18. F1: Hamilton, Alonso engineers on the move

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    Alonso and Hamilton were teammates at McLaren back in 2007 (© Getty Images) Getty Images

    The engineer market is busy in F1, as well.

Video from NASCAR America

NASCAR America's 2014 blooper reel
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. A. Self (1949)
  2. D. Suarez (1702)
  3. M. Tifft (1677)
  4. C. Coughlin (1670)
  5. J. Boston (1615)
  1. K. Busch (1539)
  2. K. Busch (1429)
  3. B. Vickers (1405)
  4. D. Armstrong (1076)
  5. K. Larson (955)