This is the sound of me banging my head against the wall after reading these lines from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and thank you to the gracious readers who forwarded this to me).
ABC will pull Rusty Wallace off his NASCAR broadcasting gig to put him back in the booth at Indy this May, he told the Journal Sentinel.Actually Russell, it would mean a lot to most people if you would just decline this offer. Really. I mean, you seem like a nice guy so please do us a favor and attend the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte instead. I’m guessing you could probably get comp’d, but if need be we could all pull together and buy you and your lovely wife some tix. Just say the word, man.
"It doesn't mean a lot to most people, but to me it's really important as a driver an now as a broadcaster that I can say, 'You know what? I got to call the IRL, I got call the Indy 500, I got to call the Chase for the championship, I got to call basically all of NASCAR and I got to come back and call the Indy 500 again.'"
Since I’m planning on attending the 91st Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing person I won’t have to listen to Old No. 2’s incessant “I tell you what” babble about the “flying cats” at the
This isn’t to say Old No. 2 is a bad auto racing commentator, as I’ve said before I think he’ll be a fine NASCAR commentator. He’s personable, energetic and knowledgeable about stock cars. Put him in the booth for an IndyCar race and he’s still personable, energetic and knowledgeable about stock cars. My issue is he has no point of reference to offer as a commentator, and he knows a good deal less about IndyCars and their history than most of the people watching. Quite simply, I don’t care about Champ Cars or Formula cars or especially stock cars during an IndyCar race. Either speak of IndyCar racing or forever hold your peace.
I mean is it too much to want a commentator to tell me something I didn’t know about the cars actually racing? All Rusty offered last season was repeated comparisons to tin tops, which is something I NEVER thought of while watching an IndyCar race. Color me a snob, but it appeared as if he was functioning as an amateur translator for NASCAR fans who don’t speak Indy. (And like all bad translators he had a tendency to speak too loudly.)
So for me having Old No. 2 in the booth was really annoying. I didn’t think he offered much of a positive contribution last season, and I don’t think he will this year – if only for a single race. But despite my opinion (I know, no one asked) he’ll be there in May and the only alternative for fans not in attendance is to dial into the radio broadcast with Mike King, Davey Hamilton and their band of merry men.
Of course radio involves a different level of dialogue than television, which reminds me of a great quote. Years ago the Arizona State basketball (and football) games were broadcast on radio by a guy named Tom Dillon. One day the TV crew was unable to make it to some long-since forgotten hoops matchup and Dillon was asked to simulcast on both radio and TV. Dillon started off the broadcast by declaring the circumstances to both audiences before admitting “…if it seems to those of you watching on TV that I’m talking too much, I probably am.”
Who knows - maybe Rusty's appearance means Dr. Punch and Big Jamie Little will also be back for Indy. Regardless, I have a feeling a lot of race fans will be imbibing extra rounds of Patron Tequila or Canadian Club around Memorial Day.