Racing is a worldwide venture. With series all over the globe, from World Endurance Championship racing, all the way down to Saturday night short track racing, the sport spans the entirety of Earth.
With that in mind and with so many people interested in such a wide variety of motorsport disciplines, how does one get the opportunity to watch them when many can’t afford to travel the globe to following their favorite series?
Television. Television drives budgets in some of the bigger series, and some series only get a small piece of the pie, but the one thing it all has in common is delivering the action to the fan.
Yesterday, we lost North America’s best channel for this delivery. In my own experience, I ran across Speed 2003 and ever since that point it was my go-to place for motorsports news on television.
Speed was started in 1996, and initially launched as Speedvision, by television visionary Roger L. Werner, Jr., along with E. Roger Williams, Nickolas Rhodes and Robert Scanlon. After almost half a dozen years of great programming, things like the Barrett-Jackson auctions and Dream Car Garage, Fox decided to buy up a third of the company. Only months after the company got involved in Speedvision, they purchased majority rights to the channel.
This allowed Fox, who that same year scored the rights to the first half of the then Winston Cup Series, and Busch series. Because of this, Speedvision became an outlet for the conglomerate to supplement its NASCAR coverage.
In 2002, Fox rebranded the channel as Speed Channel. Gaining the rights to the entire NASCAR Craftsman errrr, Camping World Truck Series was a huge success for the channel, giving a series struggling with semi-regular ESPN coverage a serious following.
Rolex Sports Car Series, American Le Mans Series, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula One, V8 Supercars…all these racing series called Speed home.
Football, Baseball, and even Soccer will take precedent over the auto-related content the channel knew. There will still be a handful of NASCAR races and all the programs surrounding that series, as well the channel will cover the United SportsCar Racing series, but the losses simply do not give any comfort to the loss.
Today, I say goodbye to Speed. It wasn’t a friend who I could go for lunch with, or even have an argument with. It was my entertainment and source of news over dinners and weekends of racing. I had parties at my house where the primary entertainment was broadcast by Speed. I am no hater of sport, but I simple don’t care about soccer or baseball.
I am going to be researching how to get my hands on Motors TV, the English equivalent of Speed. They cover much of the same stuff, and then some.
I feel for all those in the same position as me. I don’t know what the future holds for a dedicated racing/autos channel, but I know the environment is now open for someone to make a killing. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.