posted April 20, 2001 08:05 AM
NEW DIRT LATE MODEL TELEVISION “PILOT” TO BE PRODUCED
CANTON,OH --- Producers have begun work on a new television “pilot” devoted to dirt Late Model racing exclusively. Going under the working name DIRT AMERICA Television, the pilot will go into active production later this summer and fall and will be a magazine-formatted program devoted to the wide spectrum of dirt Late Model racing.
The pilot episode will spotlight a wide variety of dirt Late Model drivers and teams, race tracks, sanctioning organizations and will serve as an introduction to the world of dirt Late Model racing.
“We’re hoping a national cable network will eventually purchase the completed production and televise it on a regular basis,” stated Doc Lehman, tabbed as the Executive Producer of the project. “We are currently assembling a group of auto racing and broadcasting professionals, many who are familiar to the followers of dirt Late Model racing, and they will be working on this project doing the on-camera work. We have commitments from several ‘name’ announcers and broadcasters, all thorough professionals, who will be participating in the production. After a couple meetings this coming week, we’ll announce the slate of on-camera hosts and reporters who will be contributing to the program. No one will be disappointed with whom will be doing the on-camera interviews, reporting and hosting.”
Producers are also in the process of lining up professional camerapersons, graphic artists and others who will be vital to the production.
The project has been simmering for over a year and picked up steam late last fall. The one-hour “pilot” will feature racing highlights, driver interviews, profiles of race teams, racetracks and sanctioning groups. Teams highlighted will fall under the range of touring professionals to various “weekend warriors”.
“We are using the pilot to introduce the national cable networks to the sport of dirt Late Model racing,” stated Lehman, a former associate producer of a television program and former writer and commercial producer for an Ohio television station. “We intend to use the pilot as a ‘primer’ of sorts. As a way to introduce the sport of dirt Late Model racing and show the broad based spectrum the sport represents.”
“On DIRT AMERICA Television’s pilot program, novices will be introduced to drivers and teams that run on a national basis as well as selected ‘weekend warriors’. We want people to learn and understand that dirt Late Model racing is an exciting and viable sport that is presented at race tracks each week all across the country. We also want to impress upon people that there are some terrific racing facilities scattered throughout the country that presents this exciting form of auto racing every week.”
Through calls, letters and proposals throughout the fall and winter months the concept has piqued the interest of a couple cable networks.
“We have been invited by to submit the pilot upon completion for an evaluation and possible sale and air date,” added Lehman. “All aspects of the program and concepts are negotiable with any network, but what our goal is at this time is we hope that DIRT AMERICA Television will eventually lead to six to eight one-hour programs during the 2002 season, or even a half hour, weekly program.”
“We are not set-up to broadcast whole races and that isn’t part of our plan or agenda, although we hope the response from fans and viewers seeing DIRT AMERICA Television will lead to a network taking the plunge and begin broadcasting dirt Late Model events. Whether or not a network picks up our program and runs with it, our main goal is to present a quality, highly professional package that will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this form of motorsports is viable, respected, thrilling and a huge draw.”
“But first and foremost the main focus will be on a quality presentation and package. And we want to keep a younger audience in mind, too. It won’t be MTV, but it won’t be Lawrence Welk either.”
“We are looking at this project as an ‘audition’ of sorts. It will be an audition for the sport of dirt Late Model racing itself and, to be a little self-serving, an audition for the people behind and in front of the cameras. All of us connected with this project feel the time is right for dirt Late Model racing to make a concerted effort to draw national attention to our ‘cause’ via a national television audience. We have to start somewhere and we feel our concept will go a long way in attracting the attention of the different networks to take a long, studied look at this thrilling sport. If nothing else, it will be another step in the direction most in the sport want to proceed to.”
Filming of special segments will commence later this summer and fall during the high profile, season ending special events that dominate the schedules.
Post-production work will be done at a television station near Cleveland, Ohio. A website is also being planned for launch later this summer. Preliminary work on a press kit has commenced.
“Within a week or two we’ll announce our on-camera team,” commented Lehman. “And later this summer we’ll hold a press conference and release a more detailed synopsis of what the ‘pilot’ program will consist of as well as other details. If this ‘pilot’ is sold and broadcast, we are counting on the thousands and thousands of dirt Late Model fans to contact the network and voice their approval and enthusiasm. It is the fans, the consumers, who will make the real difference on whether or not dirt Late Model racing has a place on national television.”
“We need to draw attention and make an impact with the powers that be. Trace Allee, first, and since then the rest of the staff of the UDTRA have stuck the proverbial ‘foot in the door’. We hope our project will help coax the process on. And maybe draw some attention to other television projects being developed by UDTRA, and any others.”
“I am also impressed and very happy with the response we have gotten thus far with this project. Over the past couple months we have contacted several promoters, sanctions and teams and their responses have been nothing short of total enthusiasm. On a corporate level, we have gotten some support, which will be announced at the press conference. And we have gotten unsolicited inquiries from national corporations curious as to what our plans consist of and tentative offers of assistance.”
“The time is now. All active participants of the sport want this and the ones we have opened communications with have expressed support and enthusiasm. With the progress we have made and the support being shown by so many professionals, the national television broadcasters will definitely know what dirt Late Model racing is all about.”
“We just hope it’s all about high ratings! And broadcast time!”