SpeedVision, later known simply as SPEED, before completely mutating into the Fox-owned sports channel FS1, always seemed to be staggering on back in the day. Full of potential for maximum joy among the car enthusiast, it never quite realized it. And maybe this commercial can help explain why.
Anyone over the age of 15 or so should have fond memories of SpeedVision. I was a huge fan of TV shows like Victory by Design, which examined old and beautiful race cars. I was also a huge nut for shows like Legends of Motorsport, which also examined old and beautiful race cars.
And those were the two shows I mainly remember.
Sure, my memory is also chock full of staying up late to watch F1 races and WRC, when no one else would, but of the channel's original programming, those are the two that stand out.
Oh, and there was also Motorweek. So there's that. But technically that was licensed from PBS.
And yet, by the early 2000s, Speedvision had morphed into SPEED, and I may be cribbing Travis' analyzation here, but it seemed to be filled more and more with shows of guys screaming variants of "BUT WE JUST GOTTA GET THIS BUILD DONE!"
And so, SPEED was doomed for a premature end. Long live FS1.
But the problem might have gone back all the way to the beginning, when SpeedVision confidently declared "No Pacers, no Gremlins, no Yugos."
They were slow and weird, and who likes slow and weird when you can instead fill 27 hours of programming each day with variants of Hot Rods and Hot Strokers, all hosted by the world's biggest Guy Fieri fans?
(Note: that is a show I think I just made up, based on a strange coagulation of childhood television programming. But I expect all the money in the world when someone actually makes it and turns it into sweet, sweet ca$h. Just saying.)
And that's the thing. Cars like the Gremlin and the Yugo are slow and weird, but that's what also makes them interesting. Sure, a drag race between a Gremlin and a Yugo would be painful to watch, but there are nearly infinite possibilities of what you can do with a $500 cable TV production budget and two of the finest examples of automotive oddballs.
Forget the 27 hours a day of building-and-drag-racing half-hour specials. Why not create an Automotive Olympics of Crap? Have them compete in the Worst Motoring Beauty Pageant Ever. Have a show simply called Watch Us Destroy Yugos in Fun, Innovative, and Vomitacular Ways!
I'd watch that show for hours. Because who doesn't like a little bit of destruction, especially when it's accompanied by non-Soviet-yet-still-big-C-Communist craziness.
But no. Weirdness was excluded. Not allowed. Persona non grata.
And that might've been its biggest problem. Humanity is full of the weird, the dorky, the nerdy, and the people that like to just blow stuff up.
Give me that over 17 plodding car-build shows any day.