Friday, 11:45 p.m.
NEW YORK CITY -- A few final thoughts and comments from NASCAR Champions Week in New York City.
--I'll write more about this in my Sunday column for the Observer, but I didn't think this year's Nextel Cup awards ceremony was terrible. In fact, I thought it had several really nice moments.
The drivers' speeches were still pretty much lifeless, but it's hard to thank everybody you need to thank and get in anything resembling humor or real emotion in the time they're allotted.
I am all for the idea of shortening the proceedings, and for the second straight year they got it all in in under 3 1/2 hours. But in streamlining things they've cut into the time spent on the champion and his team. I think that's wrong.
There's no way the championship crew chief's speech should be part of the Thursday luncheon and not the Friday ceremony itself, for instance. And I still say the crew members from the winning team should have seats right down front, on the floor, instead of way up in the third balcony.
--Before David Spade tried to tell jokes at the ceremony, nobody had died this year in Nextel Cup. Here's how bad it was. Tom Brokaw, the former NBC News anchorman, did a very moving tribute to the late Bill France Jr. and other people in NASCAR who had died in the past year and HE was funnier doing that than Spade was.
--Speaking of Spade, you reckon it was a coincidence that a sizable portion of one of his routines consisted of jokes about Las Vegas? That's where Bruton Smith -- and others within the sport -- say they'd like to see the champions celebration moved to.
--I thought Dr. Jerry Punch did a nice job as host. He kept things moving and didn't needlessly inject himself into the proceedings.
--Kelly Clarkson has sold 11 million records. For the sake of the customers who bought them, I hope she sounded better on each of them than she did in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria Friday night.
--No, I didn't get into the presidential suite this week. Jimmie Johnson said that might happen in the wee hours of Saturday morning near the end of the post-banquet champion's party, but I wasn't there when the party started, much less when it ended. I had to come write a story and file this blog. Plus, I'm old.
--One of the best things that happens to a Cup Series champion is he gets from Goodyear that is a 1/12th scale model of his race car made in 24-karat gold. It's a stunning trophy, done in remarkable detail. Goodyear hosts a reception before the banquet begins and the car is on display there. Every driver looks at it and sees some little thing reproduced inside the cockpit that only he'd notice. It's just a remarkable piece.
--A couple of NASCAR's public relations representatives spent much of their week in New York City chewing out people in the media over stories they've written or done recently, complaining about the media being too negative about the sport. What NASCAR ought to be worried about is how fewer and fewer media outlets are not only no longer sending people to New York to cover the banquet, they're cutting out their NASCAR beats all together and letting wire services provide what lesser coverage they're allocating to the sport.
--Is it possible to have a chapped face? I know it's a cliche but the way the winds blow down in these canyons between the buildings up here it seems like you're always walking uphill and into the wind, especially when it's blowing cold.
--The Rockerfeller Center Christmas tree seems to have a preponderance of blue lights on it this year. I don't know if that's by design or not. It's just an observation. I've walked past it six or eight times since they lit it up Wednesday night and that's the first thing that hit me.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Friday, 11:45 p.m.