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NASCAR Las Vegas Awards postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, December 08, 2009

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Jimmie Johnson in front of landmark Vegas sign
Getty Images for NASCAR
With all due respects to the fine citizens of New York, moving this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards banquet to Las Vegas was a smart call. With that move came improvements in the weather, amenities and, according to 2009 champion Jimmie Johnson, a more relaxed atmosphere. With that thought in mind let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to Champion's week and all of the fun events during the stay in Las Vegas. Those events included the victory lap in the downtown area, the roast of our four time champion and the gala awards show itself. But the one thing that made these events so special was the fact that many of them were fan interactive including the lucky 300 fans who actually got to attend the banquet itself. I personally found the actual awards part of the evening, presented by the SPEED Channel, a little tedious at times. But overall the good outweighed the bad regarding moving the banquet to Las Vegas

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But that leads to a WHAT'S-UP regarding the to alleged live television coverage of the awards banquet as promoted by the SPEED Channel. It now appears that a major portion of the show was actually sent to our homes via video tape.

This revelation surfaced December 6th and was the result of the efforts of John Daly the publisher of a marvelous Internet site known as "The Daly Planet." It seems that a major portion of the awards banquet was actually pre recorded but was represented as being live. According to "The Daly Planet" the culprit that let this large cat out of the bag was the telephone phenomenon known as "Twitter."

For example: the television broadcast began with Jeff Hammond and Steve Byrnes sharing some NASCAR themed patter and introducing what seemed like a lot of video highlights from the 2009 season. What the fans watching television didn't realize was the fact that the awards show had already started and was being video taped. Inside the banquet room a rather large contingent of attendees were on their cell phones sending "Twitter" messages to anyone and everyone commenting on the festivities at the exact time we were watching video highlights at home.

That leads to a THUMBS-UP to Mr. Daly, and "The Daly Planet" for their tireless efforts to force the NASCAR television networks to, as the kids say, "keep it real."

Along these same lines a WHAT'S-UP goes to Hammond and Byrnes for their awkward effort to do the Academy Awards red carpet commentary on the frocks worn by the array of NASCAR ladies as they entered the room. It was noticed that they had a little trouble pronouncing some of the names of the dress designers. They probably need to stick to what they do best and leave the red carpet "who are you wearing" question to Joan and Melissa Rivers.

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During the NASCAR champion's week there were also very funny comments worthy of THUMBS-UPS.

The first goes to daytime talk show host Bonnie Hunt who, last Wednesday, had Jimmie Johnson on as a special guest. Referencing the current personal problems of Tiger Woods, Hunt asked Johnson "has your wife ever chased you out of the house with a golf club?" Clearly caught off guard by the question, Johnson recovered nicely, laughed and replied "I can honestly say I've never made her that mad."

Also making this week's commentary watch was Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin who, during Friday night's awards banquet said "I'd like to thank Sprint for those hot girls who stand in victory lane each week nodding their heads like they actually know what's going on." That could also be perceived as a WHAT'S-UP if you're a Sprint or NASCAR executive.

Hamlin also gets a second THUMBS-UP from that same speech. In the process of thanking an associate sponsor for the use of their sunglasses he quipped: "I could have used a pair of those glasses at the Homestead Miami race. The sun was in my eyes and that's how I ran into Brad." The crowd howled at the remark but one can't help but wonder if NASCAR was thinking WHAT'S-UP at the mention of the Denny Hamlin-Brad Keselowski feud during the awards banquet.

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The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes out to the National Motorsports Press Association, NMPS, who recently announced that their prestigious 2009 Myers Brothers Award will be presented to Barney Hall of the Motor Racing Network, MRN. This honor will be presented to Hall in the form of a life time achievement award for his many years of broadcasting NASCAR racing.

As a youngster growing up in my native South Carolina I spent many happy weekends listening to Hall and the MRN. This is a well deserved award.

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