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Racing and TV

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  • Racing and TV

    In 1948, KTLA televised the Rose Bowl locally in LA. In 1952, NBC held the first nationally color televised version of the game. The color probably looked like a melted down box of crayons, but, it was obvious that the peacock was here to stay.

    The 1950's have been called the "Golden Age " of TV, and rightfully so if one considers the talent in that era. Milton Berle's show held 65% of the viewing audience, a number never again achieved.

    Boxing, wrestling, baseball, football and even profesional basketball were early arrivals on the tube. True, radio was still strong in sports. Who can forget being allowed to listen to the World Series on the history teacher's radio? However, it was obvious that television was te medium of the future. Everybody got it except Tony Hulman.

    Hulman allowed the 1950 race to be televised locally in 1950, a rain shortened event won by Johnnie Parsons. Never again would live tv be allowed until after Hulman's death.

    I believe that Hulman could see that he would no longer control The 500 if live tv were allowed to enter the Brickyard. Tony didn't need the money, but, I think he needed the control. Never, even in F1 or NASCAR, has one man ruled an event as did Tony Hulman. His right hand man, Harlan Fengler, was the enforcer.

    TV was a threat to Hulman. It could dictate to him when and what would happen. TV does that all the time now in the form of timeouts etc. Hulman couldn't allow that to happen, he would lose control. Therefore, there would be no live TV of The 500. The rest of the sports world passed The Speedway by.

    By the mid seventies, even NASCAR got on board and the 1979 Daytona 500, presented by CBS established the pecking order in American racing.

    By the time The Speedway got on the train in 1986, they were riding in 3rd class. One can argue about the ratings of Indy prior to and post "split", but, I am of the opinion it never ad a chance to compete in a land of made for TV sports such as the Super Bowl, NCAA playoffs et al.

    The need for control by one man, Tony Hulman, relegated open wheel racing to niche sports for the lifetime of many on this board. I'm not sure it will ever gain a spot as a "major" league sports venue. Further, I believe that the 500 has achieved its apex as far as TV is concerned. Not bad, but certainly not a place at the table of giants.

  • #2
    Well the fact that there isn't a housing development at 16th and Georgetown has always placed Anton near the top of my list.
    "Living well is the best revenge"

    George Herbert

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    • #3
      I don't think national TV replaced the Rose Bowl with a housing project...

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      • #4
        "I don't think national TV replaced the Rose Bowl with a housing project..."

        huh?
        "Living well is the best revenge"

        George Herbert

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        • #5
          "Hulman allowed the 1950 race to be televised locally in 1950, a rain shortened event won by Johnnie Parsons. Never again would live tv be allowed until after Hulman's death.

          Never, even in F1 or NASCAR, has one man ruled an event as did Tony Hulman. His right hand man, Harlan Fengler, was the enforcer."


          Actually, the 500 was also live in '49. And, I think his real enforcer was Wilbur Shaw. I don't think Wilbur was too high on the notion. But I've seen video of Shaw being interviewed live during the '49 b'cast.

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          • #6
            I'm gonna have to think about this one. I guess that's what you wanted us to do.
            Thanks,as always for the post HD.I never looked at the open wheel scene from this angle.
            carl s
            Indio, CA
            BTW Eagle mountain mine is cold and sunny as a shareholders heart right now.Ready for summer again
            Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Railbird:
              <STRONG>Well the fact that there isn't a housing development at 16th and Georgetown has always placed Anton near the top of my list.</STRONG>
              No, bird, but isn't there a strip bar on the Northwest corner? Not that that's a bad thing, of course...
              "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Racewriter:
                <STRONG>

                No, bird, but isn't there a strip bar on the Northwest corner? Not that that's a bad thing, of course... </STRONG>
                That's across the street RW.

                Not that I've been in there. A $25 cover is way too steep when you have girls showing their breasts for free out on the road.
                We flipped our finger to the King of England
                Stole our country from the Indians
                With god on our side and guns in our hands
                We took it for our own!

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                • #9
                  Howard, I disagree with you but I can't give you any empirical data as to why. After 75 years of existence they went to live TV only seven years after Daytona. I don't see how that relegated the Indy 500 to a niche event (a presumption that I disagree with BTW).

                  On a slightly different topic...if Harlan Fengler was Tony's "right hand man" where does that leave Joe Clotier?
                  Center Grove Trojans
                  2008 5A Football State Champs
                  2015 6A Football State Champs
                  2011 Track State Champs

                  Center Grove Jr. Trojans
                  2014, 2015 & 2017 IEFA State Champs

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by step33:
                    <STRONG>

                    That's across the street RW.

                    Not that I've been in there. A $25 cover is way too steep when you have girls showing their breasts for free out on the road.</STRONG>
                    $25 COVER????
                    "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice

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                    • #11
                      Howard I think your theory is a bunch of hooey, IMHO!
                      Have a very blessed day!

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                      • #12
                        Actually, Howard has a point here. When I was a kid, I always thought it was bizarre that the biggest race in America wasn't shown live.

                        One thing that one has to keep in mind is that a non-stop sport like auto racing (or soccer, another "niche" sport) isn't well-suited to TV.

                        Tony Hulman did a lot of things right during his reign, but this wasn't one of them.
                        "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson

                        RIP, Dan. You will always be one of my heroes.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by hdolan:
                          <STRONG>

                          The need for control by one man,Bill France , relegated NASCAR Winston Cup racing to niche sports for the lifetime of many on this board. I'm not sure it will ever gain a spot as a "major" league </STRONG>
                          Doesn't look like quite as good of a theory with those substitutions does it?

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                          • #14
                            "if Harlan Fengler was Tony's "right hand man" where does that leave Joe Clotier? "


                            Old Joe was the keeper of the purse after Anton passed until the Grandson took over.

                            His tight fisted policies filled the IMS coffers while letting some things go*..

                            He was one of the last of the old cronies...

                            * I've recently learned that the IMS film library was neglected back in those days to the extent that they lost many classic films before they could be transfered to video or disk. Frustrating.
                            "Living well is the best revenge"

                            George Herbert

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                            • #15
                              Some nice thoughts, howard. I'm not sure if I agree or not, but it's an interesting theory.

                              I remember the feeling of wondering why Indy wasn't on TV also, but it just seemed more special when you didn't get to see it. . . maybe it was just me.
                              "If TF members were given solid gold cars, some would complain about the color." - stnkypete

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