The Chamberlain Chronicles: Long Beach

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2009 | 4 comments »
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Perhaps it was the the fact that there wasn't an N-Word race on Sunday. Perhaps there is something to the legacy of the "Grand Prix of Long Beach". Perhaps this Helio guy can pull a few more viewers by suddenly appearing in a race. Whatever the reason, this weekend IndyCar ratings got seriously bumped from .28 to .52, which if my handy-dandy calculator doesn't fail me is nearly DOUBLE the number of viewers for the race in St Pete.

Hang on a second while I bust out my kazoo. *PHWEEEEEEEEE!*

As you may recall, my own disappointment at that point-two-something number prompted me to recruit a friend who didn't watch the IndyCar series, so I will personally accept responsibility for at least one of those new 200,000+ households added this week. I'm sure the next time I see him (and by "next" I mean "first") Tony George will most assuredly give me a great big hug for my singular contribution to the increased viewership. Or not.

Anyhow, here's the first report from my buddy Chamberlain, IndyCar newbie.

First of all you asked which drivers I had heard of, so the answer is: Dario, Scott Sharp, Tony Kanaan, Danica, Paul Tracy (who wasn't in the race but was interviewed), Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves, those were the ones that stood out. In other words, anyone who has done something at Indy at some point.

I thought the opening graphics were atrocious with the Transformers turning into animals racing theme. It was totally unoriginal, in my opinion. They could have done so much different with that. If they are going to go Transformers, how about some shots of Megan Fox, at the very least? Kidding there, but seriously.

I was disappointed by the lack of originality and then they went to it a second time right before the green flag. It was a green flag which never seemed to be coming. I timed it from the beginning to when the order was given to "start your engines" and it took them 46:20. Fifteen to twenty minutes of pre-race stuff is OK, but they went way over the the limit. I was bored before they even got to the start, even though they did provide some good information, it just lasted FOREVER. I thought the recap of the St. Pete race was very well-done, but they need to cut that opening down a lot.

The race itself was...OK. I'm trying to be nice here since you're the My Name Is IRL guy and all, but not much happened. It was fine, really. That one turn - I think it was Turn 11 - was the most interesting where everyone slowed down and some passes were attempted.

The broadcast team of Bob Jenkins, Robbie Buhl and Jan Beekhuis were solid throughout the day, although I thought that Buhl added very little to the broadcast. I liked Beekhuis' piece about brake bias and how the drivers are able to control the force of the brakes from front to back from the cockpit. Conversely, Buhl threw it to the pit reporters early in the race and asked for information, but the reporters did not have what he was looking for. That should not happen. Whether it was a producer or director or Buhl misunderstanding what was coming up, it looked and sounded bad. Overall, however, I thought the coverage of the pit stops was good.

I assume that not every sponsor allowed VERSUS to use the split-screen for commercial breaks, because VERSUS got very unlucky quite a few times. They missed the first full-course yellow during a commercial, they missed several other key parts of the race during intermissions. They also missed a five-car pileup while they were doing an interview with the first driver knocked out of the race during Lap 24.

I liked the interview with Ashley Judd following Dario's win and she displayed good knowledge saying she was nervous until she realized "Target-Chip Ganassi racing wins in these situations" or something to that effect. The camera angles and race coverage itself was fine with good use of on-car cameras and they had good shots of some of the incidents from the on-car angles.

Editor's note: it's practically his first IndyCar race, people, so remember that Ashley is still a novelty. I'm going to put the over-under on races before the feedback changes for Mrs Franchitti is around two and a half.

Stay tuned for next week's report when Chamberlain gets to watch some three-wide action at Kansas Speedway. I'll be sure to ask him his thoughts on Danica Patrick's commecials, Dan Wheldon's dental work, and Tony Kanaan's hair experiment. In the meantime, here's our way of showing him some appreciation for watching.


  1. 16th&Georgetown // April 21, 2009 11:58 PM  

    After the last couple years of ESPN coverage, I never thought I'd here someone complaining about to much pre-race stuff. But I see where he's coming from. Personally I would rather see them transfer 20 minutes from the pre-race and add it onto the post-race.

    But I won't get to picky, the 3 hour time block is fine with me.

  2. pressdog // April 22, 2009 4:20 AM  

    Everyone who wanted MORE pre-race show should be happy as pigs in slop with VERSUS because it's a festival of pre-race packages, for sure. A bit much for me, personally, but then again I'm all about the race, not so much The Hair Bet, which has now gotten more air than the entire back half of the field in 2008. But I and everyone else can always just tune in later and skip the pre race if we want.

  3. reddcarr // April 22, 2009 4:30 AM  

    as for the race itself--"not much happened."

    I've assumed that I just wasn't sophisticated enough to appreciate the nuances of street racing.

    but maybe it's because not much happens.

    (and yeah, I know, it'd be better if the cars were better.)

  4. SandWedge // April 22, 2009 4:45 PM  

    I can see where the pre-race complaint comes from. I think one very simple solution is for VERSUS to mark the first 30 minutes as a "Pre-Race show" in the TV guide so people know that when they turn it on that early in the broadcast they understand that there will be extensive pre-race coverage