Jul 23, 2013, 3:20 PM EST
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.
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.
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.
Dec 13, 2013, 1:00 PM EST
With four Formula One teams preparing to test Pirelli’s 2014 prototype tires next week in Bahrain, all but one of them have confirmed their respective driver rosters for the three-day session. Red Bull reserve driver Sebastian Buemi will handle all three days at the Bahrain International Circuit for the World Champions, while its junior squad,…
Dec 13, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
“More than 50” suitable names reached out to Chip Ganassi for a chance to fill the vacant seat left by Dario Franchitti’s enforced retirement. When all the dominos fell, and the announcement revealed, the confirmation was that Ryan Briscoe would take over the fourth seat at one of IndyCar’s two most successful teams. Meh. A…
Dec 13, 2013, 11:26 AM EST
A few more pieces have fallen into place for IndyCar 2014, with the biggest remaining domino on the market, the fourth Chip Ganassi Racing seat, now filled today with Ryan Briscoe. Here’s what we know since our last update immediately after Fontana: CONFIRMED CARS (21) Chip Ganassi Racing (4 cars, Chevrolet): Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan,…
Dec 13, 2013, 10:50 AM EST
Ryan Briscoe has been confirmed Friday as Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth driver for the 2014 IndyCar season, although not in the No. 10 Target Chevrolet as had been forecast over the last week or so. Coupled with new baby Finley, born a few days ago, it’s been quite a week for Ryan and wife Nicole.…
Dec 13, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The Andretti Sports Marketing group has been selected as official event organizers for the new FIA Formula E Championship’s Miami street race, which will occur on March 14, 2015. Miami will be one of two U.S. races, along with Los Angeles, for the new all-electric open-wheel series. In just the last two years, ASM has…
Dec 13, 2013, 9:51 AM EST
Adrian Sutil has been confirmed as Sauber’s first driver for the 2014 Formula One season. The move marks Sutil’s first switch of teams after six prior seasons (2007-’11, 2013) with the Spyker/Force India operation. “I am determined to do my part in order to have a successful future together with the Sauber F1 Team,” he…
Dec 12, 2013, 8:05 PM EST
We can rule out Alex Tagliani as a potential newcomer to Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2014 IndyCar Series. The French-Canadian driver, who replaced Dario Franchitti in this year’s season finale and tested Ganassi’s No. 10 Chevrolet recently in Florida, has confirmed that he would not be joining the powerhouse outfit. However, Tagliani felt that…
Dec 12, 2013, 7:17 PM EST
Pirelli World Challenge driver Shea Holbrook (pictured) is one of eight female drivers that will receive a grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation. The WSF’s “Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant” is designed to support them through business challenges in their careers. “I’m incredibly honored and thrilled to be a part of the…
Dec 12, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
Mazda Road to Indy competitors Spencer Pigot (Orlando, Fla.) and Neil Alberico (Los Gatos, Calif.) have been chosen as the inaugural representatives for Rising Star Racing, a new organization that plans to provide funding and support for select young drivers as they move up the racing ladder. IndyCar Series veteran Josef Newgarden has also signed…
Dec 12, 2013, 4:24 PM EST
Although reports floated out that Sergio Perez is bringing tens of millions in euros to his seat at Force India, team principal Vijay Mallya rubbished the suggestion that commercial interests are what made the decision to hire the Mexican. “That’s against my basic philosophy,” Mallya stated during Thursday’s press conference announcing Perez to the team’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Two weeks after purchasing the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, NASCAR has announced that 28-year-old Jimmy Small will take over as the track’s new president. Small has worked with NASCAR for the past six seasons, and most recently served as senior manager for team marketing services within the sanctioning body’s Industry Services division. He worked as a…
Dec 12, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
The INDYCAR sanctioning body has announced that IndyCar Series engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda will expand into producing their own aero kits for the Dallara DW12 chassis beginning in the 2015 season. As part of plans announced back in June to increase the sport’s innovations, aero kits are set to be introduced in that season…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
In an updated edition of its 2014 sporting regulations, the FIA confirmed that drivers will now compete for a pole position trophy throughout the Formula One World Championship. Regarding the new award, the regulations state the following: “A trophy will be awarded to the driver who sets the most pole positions during the championship season…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
With Nico Hulkenberg and, as of this morning, Sergio Perez set as the 2014 driver lineup for Force India, both Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil are now looking for new rides. But di Resta in particular has been rumored to possibly leave the Grand Prix circuit altogether for another racing discipline. That said, his…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Rookie-of-the-Year award has been through a rough few years before 2013, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick contended for the title. The previous three winners from 2010 to 2012 – Kevin Conway, Andy Lally and Stephen Leicht – were all stuck with subpar equipment and were basically the only drivers entered…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
As we did for IndyCar, here’s a wrap of my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and my post-season wraps on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. All posts in one place in case you missed any of them. FEATURES Johnson humble, thankful in banquet speech Jay Mohr’s skewering banquet monologue (VIDEO) NASCAR 2014 silly season…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
Over the weekend, Audi released a teaser shot of the new-for-2014, but same-name-for-2014, R18 e-tron quattro that will compete in the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Audi’s official, official reveal with driver lineup will take place next week, as the iconic German manufacturer looks to spread the news out over a long…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
Yesterday, we began our F1 season review with a look back at the biggest stories in the paddock. Now, without further adieu, we’ll follow up with our respective Top 10 driver lists. Tony DiZinno’s Top 10 Drivers 1. Sebastian Vettel: The first half of the year seemed a false dawn. Yeah, Vettel was good, and…
Dec 12, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The winner of the last IndyCar race of the 2013 season, Will Power, has had a bit of time on his hands since the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in October. He made a pit stop into the IndyCar offices in Indianapolis this week, and one of his engagements was participating in IndyCar’s first…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:40 AM EST
Films nominated for Golden Globes tend to have a decent chance of also being nominated for the Academy Awards. So in that sense, it is very good news for Ron Howard’s “Rush,” which received two Golden Globe nominations Thursday morning. “Rush,” which of course captures the drama and battle for the 1976 Formula One World Championship…
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