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Foxifying NASCAR


© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 23, 2001

There was nothing as jarring as the glowing puck in hockey, but Fox clearly put its stamp on its broadcasts of NASCAR in the first half of the Winston Cup season. Here are some of Fox's touches:

MORE NOISE: Fox likes its sports loud and auto racing worked well into that format. The "Crank It Up" feature, where announcers fall silent for a few laps and the roar of the engines rules, often is a welcome relief from the many voices, three in the booth, two in the "Hollywood Hotel" mobile infield studio and several more in the pits.

NEW VOICES: Even if they sometimes tripped over one another, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond brought fresh insights. Waltrip in particular was sharp as the first to realize Dale Earnhardt's crash could be serious and with his subsequent willingness to be critical of NASCAR's handling of the safety issue.

RUNNING ORDER: Some like it, some hate it but the "crawl" across the top of the screen is a Fox innovation. It provides more information than the box in the corner used by other networks, and the audio cue as it cycles to the beginning is useful, but some still don't like losing a big chunk of the screen.

GOING GLOBAL: Fox slowly rolled out the promising "FoxTrax," which uses global positioning satellite to highlight one or more cars on the track and show their comparative positions and speeds.

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