Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain celebrates 10 years
Aside from multiple championships, what do John Force, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have in common?
|Wind Tunnel celebrates 10 years on Speed Channel|
For assorted reasons, they’ve all made Dave Despain’s list of favorite interviews over the last decade of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED, which celebrates its 10th year in 2012.
Despain, who anchors his 535th episode of the popular program Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. ET, credits Force for being the most colorful interview; Gordon as his favorite, and Stewart … well, Stewart for being the most difficult.
“I really didn't have any expectations when we started Wind Tunnel,” Despain reflected. “The show had a very experimental feel in the beginning and I don't think anyone knew quite what to expect. But it caught on very quickly and developed a fan following, which in turn gives the host a nice, secure feeling about the future. There are always doubts -- it’s television after all -- but I've always felt we were filling a niche.”
Wind Tunnel first premiered Feb. 23, 2003, as a half-hour show featuring Chip Ganassi as the first guest. Two weeks later, it expanded to an hour program, where it remains to this day, with in-studio guest Steve Matchett and Miguel Duhamel live from Daytona Bike Week.
After 534 shows, Despain has grown fond of certain guests and a bit circumspect about others despite his penchant for them.
“My most colorful guest and one of my favorites is John Force for the obvious reason --.he makes my job so easy,” reflected Despain, who has covered NASCAR for 40 years. “I only need one question per segment. Toss it out there and it's like lighting the fuse on a five-minute bottle rocket. Sparks fly and there's no stopping him.
"Jeff Gordon is probably my favorite interview because he always gives you something worthwhile,” Despain continued. “He never phones it in. No matter what else might be happening in his life or in his racing world, once he makes the commitment to do the interview, you're guaranteed he's going to show up with something worthwhile to say. It's all very professional but also very entertaining and informative."
On the flip side of the coin, no one has ever accused Stewart of being an easy interview. Despain, however, has learned to find the silver lining in the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion’s interview style.
"Tony Stewart keeps you on your toes for a couple of reasons,” Despain stated. “First is the need to keep track of all your options when he's late for a live interview. Then comes the interview itself. Tony does not suffer fools gladly so it puts pressure on the interviewer to not ask what ‘Smoke’ considers foolish questions. When it comes to racing, I think Tony is a pretty good judge of what constitutes ‘foolish,’ so in the end it's a good thing."
In its first nine seasons, Wind Tunnel has become a Sunday night destination for many in the industry.
“I think the biggest surprise along the way was the extent to which Wind Tunnel caught on in the garage area, among drivers, crews, owners and sponsors,” Despain explained. “Most of those folks are working on Sunday so I'm really impressed that they make time at the end of their racing day to watch us or made the effort to record it and watch it later.”
In addition to 534 episodes of Wind Tunnel, Despain specials have centered on veteran journalist Chris Economaki and a comparison of Gordon and Dale Earnhardt when Gordon tied Earnhardt’s win record.