We've all been watching the unfolding, soap opera like, story of NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield. Everyone from NASCAR officials, their teams, the media and the fans have been hanging on to every word as the latest updates were released on a near daily basis. From his initial suspension, last May, by NASCAR for violating their substance abuse policy, all the way up to the announcement that said the Mayfield vs. NASCAR civil suit now has a September 2010 court date, this situation has become overloaded with the extremely dramatic to the extremely absurd. Sadly, it has become "THE" NASCAR story of 2009.
At the beginning of 2009 Jeremy Mayfield was walking with both feet off of the ground. He had just established Jeremy Mayfield Motorsports, purchased a fleet of ready to race Toyota Camrys and even had lined up some sponsor support. Sadly, all of that is gone now. The team's personnel was either laid off or resigned. The initial sponsors are gone and the prospects of new sponsorship packages never materialized. The fleet of cars, along with the team's entire inventory, were recently sold.
From the outside looking in it appears that the sale of the race teams appears to be Mayfield's only current means of financial support. One has to assume that a major portion of the proceeds will be designated to paying what now has to be staggering legal bills. The answer to Mayfield's financial woes may be found in the land of reality television.
HEY BRAVO CHANNEL ARE YOU TRACKING THIS STORY?
Like many cable television networks, the Bravo Channel hit the airwaves with an array of syndicated re runs of older television shows and old movies. But all that while the network executives were developing their own special niche. That concept turned out to be reality television. That special niche also turned out to wildly popular with the viewers.
Over the years the Bravo Channel has treated us to competition programs featuring would be top chefs and super models that was loaded with plenty of drama outside of the kitchen and the runway. They have tittled us with financially affluent housewives, from a number of key cities around the nation, that we just loved to hate but somehow couldn't resist watching them each week. They have even treated us to comedian-actress Kathy Griffin and her tireless efforts to get removed from the "celebrity D list."
Would a reality show based on the current state of Jeremy Mayfield's racing career work on the Bravo Channel? You bet it would. The big bonus here is the fact that Mayfield has been travelling with a personal video crew who has been taping anything and everything he says and does. That means a lot of background video is already in the can.
Can you imagine the audio-video treats we will be served once Bravo installs cameras in the Mayfield home? Can you imagine those special moments outside of the home when Mayfield once again freely discusses anything and everything? Let's face it, the phrase "no comment" doesn't seem to be in Mayfield's vocabulary. His willingness to share his feelings is an attorney's nightmare, a reporter's dream come true and it could very well turn out to be a major hit with American television viewers. Do we dare to dream about the possibility of seeing video footage from inside of the courtroom where the really juicy stuff is going to be presented?
There's no question that Mayfield would score high marks in key television demographic groups. At the still young age of 40, Mayfield is a good looking, and very personable, man. His physical attributes will work very well with the female television demographic. That steel eyed, defiant, look that we see as he adamantly stands up for what he believes is right will likely impress a lot of male viewers. Despite every damaging allegation that we've heard about him over the past two months, it's still virtually impossible not to like him. The truth be known, Jeremy Mayfield is so personable he could probably sell aluminum siding to owners of brick homes.
Once a deal is launched with the Bravo Channel to begin production of this show it's going to need a supporting cast that should begin with:
THE STAND BY YOUR MAN WIFE.
Shana Mayfield has fit that role perfectly. Her public comments on this issue has been few and far between. The comments she has
made have been short and concise as they should be. Every reality television show needs a character who can present a calm voice of reason and support. Mrs. Mayfield would fit this role perfectly.
THE STEP MOTHER
Now we're talking about a reality show character. Every reality show needs that one person who can easily and quickly create hate and discontent the moment they walk into the room. This is someone who hits the front door with the force of a hurricane. Someone who immediately invokes the proverbial weeping and gnashing of teeth just by looking at you.
Bravo Channel meet Lisa Mayfield.
There appears to be no love lost between this woman and her step son. She has already filed an affidavit with NASCAR swearing that she has personally witnessed Mayfield using Methamphetamine at least 30 times with at least one of those times occurring prior to a race. She further alleged that Mayfield had actually cooked the drug himself and, when the drug's ingredients became difficult to obtain, he began making purchases from dealers. She seems to be more than willing to testify, on NASCAR's behalf, at any and all court hearings that may surface.
In turn, with typical ill advised candor, Mayfield's response was both swift and loaded with venom. Mayfield made an appearance on the program "Late Shift" which is aired nationally on Sirius-NASCAR Radio, and called his step mother both "a liar and a whore" and claimed that she took money from NASCAR in exchange for her testimony. He even went so far as to implicate her in the 2007 shooting death of his father and announced plans to file a wrongful death suit against her. At this point in time no suit has been officially filed but Mayfield says he plans to put those judicial wheels in motion before August 15th. It also needs to be pointed out that the 2007 shooting death of Terry Mayfield was officially ruled a suicide.
However the step mother, in recent days, has filed a civil suit accusing Mayfield of slanderous, false and defamatory statements. According to court documents she's seeking $10,000 in compensatory damages along with punitive damages in excess of $10,000.
One has to think that Bravo producers would absolutely insist that Lisa Mayfield be a part of this production. In fact, it's quite likely that her presence would be deemed a deal breaker and the project would be scuttled if she didn't participate. It's even feasible that the show's producers, after the first season, may consider spinning her off into her own reality series. Perhaps they can call the new show "Mama Drama."
Ah yes, the ultimate winners of this long drawn out battle. One of the principals representing Mayfield is attorney Bill Diehl. At first glance, with his portly physique and long white hair resting on his shoulders, Diehl looks like he fell out the back door of a Grateful Dead tour bus. But a wise old saying tells us "don't judge the book by the cover." Diehl is considered by many to be a high profile attorney who has successfully won some high profile cases over the years.
Remember it was Diehl, along with attorney John Buric, who successfully convinced a U.S District Court Judge to overturn NASCAR's suspension of their client. That legal edict lasted a mere matter of days before NASCAR's attorneys presented some compelling arguments that successfully overturned the ruling, reinstating the suspension, by the very same judge.
This proposed reality show will need both of these attorneys to explain the legal vernacular while their client is standing in the back of the room yelling entirely different points of view.
THE LEGAL INTERN
This is the extremely sympathetic character that every reality show needs. This young person will have the daunting job of following Mayfield out of a court hearing while frantically whispering "remember now: the phrase is no comment-no comment- seriously dude no comment."
This young intern will also have to make sure he has his emergency kit with him at all times. That would be a small brief case with only item inside of it: a roll of duct tape for the client's mouth in case he turns into a Jabberwocky again. It's hoped that the emergency procedure will deter such Mayfield classics such as "NASCAR intentionally spiked my last urine sample."
THE CUP MAN
Let's not have a misunderstanding here. We're talking plastic cup and not the Sprint Cup. This is the poor guy who gets to approach Mayfield and ask him for another urine sample. This is the guy who, on a daily basis, has to convince himself that he really likes his job. This is the guy who somehow has to find a way to ignore that extremely uncomfortable feeling of standing next to Mayfield in the bathroom while the latest deposit is being rendered. This is the guy who has to pretend that he's unaware of the camera and audio guys standing in the bath tub who are recording the entire process. Pity this man. There's no way this job pays enough money.
THE RACING MEDIA
Their input is absolutely needed for this reality show. These are the people who have worked tirelessly to provide us with the latest information. Over the years there we have witnessed a select group of NASCAR themed journalists whose hard work has allowed them to rise to the top of their profession and essentially raise the bar for the rest of us. That group includes writers like Ed Hinton , Terry Blount, David Newton, Marty Smith and Jerry Bonkowski. On the electronic media side we need to insure that the microphones belonging to Dave De Spain, from Speed's "Wind Tunnel" program, and Dave Moody, from Sirius-NASCAR radio, are wired for sound so we can enjoy their input.
The producers of this reality show needs to gather these distinguished racing journalists, put them in front of their cameras, give them the command to start their engines and let them run at full speed. (Absolutely no pun intended.)
A REALITY SHOW NEEDS A REALLY CATCHY NAME
My long time racing buddy, "Six Pack Eddie", and I recently spent the course of an entire evening coming with a list of potential names for this reality television show many, of which, were not fit for publication. After a lengthy deliberation we finally decided the name of this show should be "Jeremy Mayfield: Driving The High Line." (Okay, that pun may have been intended.)
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK AFTER A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR
It goes without saying that every television show needs a sponsor to help with the production costs. The ideal sponsor for this project is, without question, a pharmaceutical company who manufactures allergy medicine. After all Mayfield still insists that it was an alleged combination of doctor prescribed and over the counter allergy medication that launched all of this to begin with.
HEY BRAVO BOSSES ARE YOU FEELING THIS?
We also need to remember that Jeremy Mayfield has extensive experience with this type of programming. He was part of the cast of the "NASCAR 360" reality show and he's seemed perfectly comfortable with video cameras in his home recording his every word and action. We already know that Bravo excels in this type of program. Who knows? This could turn out to be a television marriage made in heaven.
NOW IT'S TIME TO GET REALLY SERIOUS.
All of the above is a bit of satire aimed at pinpointing some of the absurdity that seems to frequently come from this legal battle.
There was never any intent to make light of the substance abuse problem in our country. We are all aware of how this plague has wreaked devastation on the lives of both the users and the people who love them.
There was never any intent to make light of NASCAR's new substance abuse policy. They did the right thing by recognizing a need and creating a strict program that will protect the drivers, teams, fans and the integrity of the sport. Granted, there have been some questions and concerns about this new policy. It's perfectly understandable that any radically new program may require some fine tuning. There's no doubt that NASCAR is addressing those issues and will take the appropriate action. From that will come a zero tolerance program that will likely be envied, and possibly copied, by the other major sports.
There was no intent to make fun of the Bravo Channel. I'm actually an avid viewer who has enjoyed their work for quite a long time now.
The circumstantial evidence already aimed at Jeremy Mayfield in the past month alone has many of us wondering if he did or did not use methamphetamine. NASCAR's substance abuse policy has a benevolent clause that allows a driver to enroll in a rehab program which, upon successful completion, could lead to reinstatement in the sport. That offer was quickly turned down by Mayfield who viewed it as an admission of guilt to something he didn't do.
Just like the fictitious character Don Quixote, brandishing his sword at a windmill, it appears that Mayfield may have launched a battle that cannot possibly be won. Sadly, with the exception of some highly paid attorneys, there doesn't seem to be any potential winners here at all.
When the opening arguments for Mayfield vs. NASCAR are presented, again set for September 13, 2010, we will hear reports regarding two failed tests indicating the use of an illegal drug. We will also hear reports regarding independent tests that says this driver is completely clean. A lot of allegations will be raised but a lot of questions will eventually be answered.
In the meantime this is now an issue for the court to decide and it's probably best for us to remember that storied American judicial right that states "innocent until proven guilty."