The Voices in My Head – Update 2017.
I first wrote about the changes in U.S. Formula One television coverage November 26, 2012 here on my WordPress blog Poetics of Speed. My feelings about the current finale remain similar so it is worth beginning with a re-post of my original thoughts:
“On November 25th the 2012 Formula One Championship concluded and with it the last of F1 broadcasts in the U.S. courtesy of Speed TV. Born on New year’s Day 1996 as Speedvision, the name morphed into Speed Channel and then Speed HD as new owners and technology appeared. As an early subscriber I couldn’t contain my excitement. Here was a 24 hour channel with in depth coverage of Formula One, Sports Car Endurance Racing, Moto GP, the WRC and Paris-Dakar.
Clearly there is a vast difference between attending a race or watching its mediated version. Since I was no longer photographing races first hand Speed’s broadcasts became the most enjoyable alternative. Because my motorsports viewing often occurs at unusual hours I began to wear headphones as a courtesy to my sleeping spouse. As a result, my race watching evolved into a solitary, private activity and the commentators became the voices in my head.
Speed’s principal F1 team of Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett were great companions. In particular I enjoyed Matchett’s technical contributions and his fervent appreciation of Grand Prix racing. I also respected the revered Sam Posey’s poetic essays and was entertained by the current view from pit lane via the excitable Will Buxton and previously, the F1 insider, Peter Windsor.”
Sunday, November 26, 2017 was the last F1 race on NBC Sports with studio commentary by Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett with pit reporting by Will Buxton. Once again the F1 broadcast rights are moving, this time to ESPN. After over forty years in the booth the venerable David Hobbs is retiring, leaving the 2018 team unknown.
I’m a bit concerned about who will be the next set of voices in my head so the choices are critically important. I’m a fan of the excellent Leigh Diffey but my heart would vote for the continuity that Bob Varsha and Steve Matchett would provide. For articulate race driver insight and and broadcasting background I’d nominate either Townsend Bell or Eddie Cheever. I’ve grown fond of Will Buxton’s enthusiasm so I hope he returns but James Allen did an excellent job when he had the opportunity. I’m sure each of you has you own opinion – all equally valid.
Change is inevitable – for example on YouTube we are about to lose new episodes of Matt Farah’s The Smoking Tire. I have no inside information about future F1 commentary and surprises are undoubtably waiting off stage. But for now I offer my sincere thanks to all those past voices in my head. Your collective insight, banter, humor and passion for Formula One will be missed.
Thanks for the company.