USA Today Sports has published an inspiring interview with the longest-standing national network trio in sports TV History. Read on to find out what gives Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip, and Mike Joy such tremendous staying power.
We’re honest with each other. We don’t always just sing “Kumbaya.”
(Gluck) Only the Monday Night Football team of Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford (11 seasons) has approached the tenure of Fox’s NASCAR team. What’s the key to longevity?
Joy: It’s about trust. If I say something wrong, Larry will correct me during commercial, and then I’ll come back and make a correction. He won’t just do the, “Jane, you ignorant slut” thing (from Saturday Night Live). We don’t hang each other out to dry.
McReynolds: We’re honest with each other. We don’t always just sing “Kumbaya.”
Joy: It is like a marriage: If I give (Waltrip) a cross look, he’ll pout for the next two segments and then we’ll talk about it. And at the end of the day, before we leave the booth, we say, “How was that?” We always do a quick debrief, and if there are any issues, we leave them there. And every week, we look forward to going to work and we look forward to who we work with.
Waltrip: You couldn’t have three bigger egos compressed into a little tiny booth – the bunker, we call it in Phoenix – but still, we respect each other. Because I know (Joy) is the best at what he does, and the same with (McReynolds). We have our area of expertise.
McReynolds: You talk about our egos, and it’s enough stacked up that it would ooze out the cracks of this motorcoach. But I think at the end of the day, the biggest chunk of our ego says, “Let’s just have a good broadcast.” Because if we do that, then all of our egos are going to grow even more. I don’t think we’ve ever lost that philosophy. We respect each other’s space, we respect what each other brings to the party, we don’t try to overwhelm one another.
Waltrip: If we do have a difference, we don’t have it on Sunday. Sometimes you have differences with your crew chief and your team, but you always resolve those before you get to the track.
McReynolds: Trust is a big word, but I think there’s a lot of other things. I think it’s give and take, it’s communication. I tell my kids all the time: “Remember, communication is listening, too.”
Joy: … the last thing I think of before I put the headset on is one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “I never learned anything when I was talking.”
We respect each other’s space, we respect what each other brings to the party, we don’t try to overwhelm one another.
(Gluck) The trio’s first Cup broadcast was the 2001 Daytona 500, which saw both a victory from Waltrip’s younger brother, Michael, and the death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.
McReynolds: We went up there for that first practice session 14 years ago scared to death – I know I was. But it didn’t take long. I related it to some of the drivers I’d worked with. I remember with Davey Allison at a Darlington test, I went, “This is going to work. It’s here.” And I think that’s the way it was with each of us initially.
Joy: We each went into this believing in ourselves and we each came out of that first weekend, which was really trial by fire, believing in each other and knowing we could, together, make this much bigger than either of us could on our own or with other people.
Waltrip: The confidence I had was (Joy), because he’s a TV guy. He knew all the lingo. Larry and I were like, “What the hell are they talking about?”
McReynolds: (Joy) guided us through the most trying thing that a broadcast can go through in any capacity, and that was the fact a man was killed in our first broadcast.
Waltrip: We had a good leader, just like a good race team.
Joy: The priorities are to inform, entertain and the big mantra from (former FOX Sports chairman) David Hill when we started was “Explain why.”
(Joy) guided us through the most trying thing that a broadcast can go through in any capacity
BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY
(Gluck) Waltrip and his famous phrase – recited at the beginning of races – will always be linked. But even the Hall of Famer sometimes wonders if he should keep saying it.
Waltrip: I spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. (on Feb 5) in front of 4,000 people. There were 150 countries represented and dignitaries from all over the world. When I stood up, somebody hollered: out, “Boogity, boogity, boogity!”
Joy: We can’t go anywhere without hearing it.
Waltrip: Dinner last night!
Waltrip: And sometimes I say, “Gosh, it’s kind of ridiculous. I don’t know whether I should do that or not.” But then I think about not doing it, I have moms and dads send me notes that say, “The first word my kid could ever say was, ‘Boogity.'” You know?
McReynolds: Dogs howling at the TV…
Waltrip: Yeah, people going, “I turn it down when that comes on!” It is what it is. But it does make you feel good people recognize us by our voices. I can be in a store in one aisle shopping, talking to somebody and somebody from another aisle will come over and say, “I thought that was you. I recognized your voice.”
Joy: You know it’s bad when somebody says, “If you ever decide to rob a bank, bring a note.”
I tell my kids all the time: “Remember, communication is listening, too.”
HOW LONG CAN THEY GO?
(Gluck) Shanks told USA TODAY Sports the trio could stay together “Until we have to get the paddles out.” But how much longer can they keep going?
Waltrip: Until you get up there and you can’t remember who is in which car. Somebody said the other day, “Well, you haven’t been in a car for 10 years.” I said, “I don’t have to. I raced here. I raced at every one of these tracks. I drove cars when they were as fast as these cars and harder to drive. I drove them when they’d kill you. I know what it feels like to bump into something. I know all that.” The names change; the tracks are in the same zip code. As long as we stay up on the rules and rule changes – and we have meetings with NASCAR – I know more about the sport today than I ever knew. So I guess you do it until somebody says, “Why don’t you go home?”
Joy: You look at other sports and you look at the lifespan of other commentators. Play-by-play people tend to have a longer lifespan than analysts, only because there are always people coming out of a sport that want to be analysts. Some of them are pretty good and some of them aren’t. But … I think you’d go a long way before you’d came close with any three people of equaling what a group could do for the sport like this group.
Waltrip: All the sudden Jeff Gordon decides to retire and people are saying, “Well, what’s he going to do?” Well, he’s going to do some Xfinity races for us this year and he might want to do some TV. We don’t know. He doesn’t know, I don’t think. Chad Knaus and other crew chiefs, they’re going to see what these guys are doing and say, “Hey, that’s a cool gig.” Somebody is always wanting to take your place. I don’t care whether you’re in TV or in the newspaper business or in that race car. Somebody always thinks, “I’d like to do that.” So it’s like when I drove: I do the best I can and until my boss calls me up and says, “We want to make a change,” you just keep digging.
McReynolds: And I’m in the same boat. The only thing I’ve requested is when that time comes, don’t just drop the bomb on me. Have some conversations with me.
Waltrip: Some people might say, “Maybe you ought to try something different.” Well, why would we? Coaches make me so angry. They’re winning a game and all the sudden they try to do something different. It’s just like the Super Bowl. You’ve got a running back that can carry the whole damn team into the end zone and you decide to throw it because they’re expecting Marshawn (Lynch) to carry the ball. No, that would be just how we could win the game, but let’s throw it instead. And that’s the way a lot of people are: They think, “Well maybe we need a change.” As long as it’s working, you leave it alone. Let it roll.
Perhaps Jeff Gluck sums it up best with, “When you get to that Mt. Rushmore status, it’s ‘What have you done for the sport?’ ” Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said. “Have you transformed the sport itself, its popularity, generated new fans, created a new way of broadcasting the sport? And this group falls into that category. I think they are The Beatles of NASCAR broadcasting, in the sense they created entirely new music.”
Gluck, Jeff (2015, February 16th). Fox Sports trio still leading NASCAR Field. USA Today Sports. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2015/02/16/darrell-waltrip-mike-joy-larry-mcreynolds-fox-sports-nascar-booth/23522849/