SPEED Signs Despain to Multiyear Deal
SPEED signed veteran motor sports broadcaster Dave Despain to a new two-year deal, keeping the popular host of the Sunday night program Wind Tunnel on the team through 2010.
“Very few people can step from one motor sports discipline to another with the ease and proficiency that Dave manages on a weekly basis,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “Dave has worked hard to become one of the true icons in racing and SPEED is privileged to have him continue as part of our team.”
Closing in on 450 episodes of his popular fan-participation show Wind Tunnel, Despain has interviewed everyone who is anyone in the world of racing. Three-time NASCAR champ Darrell Waltrip has made the most guest appearances (9), followed by Jeff Gordon (7), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7), Funny Car king John Force (6) and open-wheel veteran Paul Tracy (6). Longtime motor sports writer Robin Miller has enjoyed the most co-hosting appearances at 13.
"I love the fact that the voices on Wind Tunnel cover the entire racing spectrum; from the fans in the stands, to the folks watching on TV, to the big time stars putting on the show to the movers and shakers who make it all happen,” Despain said. “We stick our noses into every nook and cranny of racing and always seem to find something interesting."
The Wind Tunnel format has proven popular in the garage area, as many of the players tune in on Sunday evenings to get their fix.
“Dave is a hardcore racer and that’s why I like to watch his show,” said 2007 Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick. “He isn’t shy about giving his opinions, even if they aren’t popular, and I like a guy who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks.”
Drag racing legend Don “the Snake” Prudhomme agrees, saying: “(Dave) certainly doesn’t sugarcoat anything. It’s refreshing to watch a show that isn't afraid to tackle the problems facing all the different racers and sanctioning bodies. Despain's knowledge of motor sports stretches across all forms of racing.”
“What can you say that hasn’t already been said about Dave Despain?” said U.S. Army NHRA Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher. “The guy flat out knows racing, whatever form it is. He’s a complete professional. Needless to say, I always enjoy being a guest on Wind Tunnel. The interviews are more like conversations than a typical Q&A, which clearly puts one at ease. I’m happy that Dave is continuing on with SPEED.”
Aware of the economic challenges facing all of motor sports in 2009, Despain feels confident that there will be plenty of reasons to smile on Sunday evenings.
“This will be a tough year for a lot of people in the racing world,” Despain said. “We're not going to hide from that reality, but we'll also do our best to find something good to talk about and to remind ourselves why we fell in love with racing in the first place."
Wind Tunnel opens its 2009 season Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.
SPEEDtv.com will upgrade its Wind Tunnel interactive destination, adding streaming Web content that will extend the show 15-30 minutes to allow Dave to answer more viewer mail and phone calls. Additional stats, photos, editorial content and video, including exclusive Dave Take 2 clips, show archives and “best of” clips also will be available.