At some point over the past decade, the NASCAR media landscape got a little too polished and sensitive until Door Bumper Clear and Dirty Mo Media turned it upside down.
In what feels like a different universe in comparison, the broadcast partners at the time portrayed NASCAR in the 2000s as something akin to rock ‘n roll and never hesitated to present its stars as the outspoken outlaws of a sport descended from bootleggers.
It was the golden age in hindsight.
There was so much content on The SPEED Channel between NASCAR Performance, Trackside Live, Race Day, Inside Nextel Cup, Inside Busch Series and my personal favorite – Pit Bull. Over time, the presentation reflected its acceptance by Fortune 500 board rooms and the stars were generally sterilized a bit as a result.
There were exceptions like Kevin Harvick and Dale Jr., of course, but the sport became less rock n’ roll and more pop in that it was homogenized, pasteurized and sanitized for your entertainment.
We all would like the sport to be more popular, more mainstream like it was during those halcyon days, but a obvious benefit of NASCAR returning to closer to the cult and niche status is that its outlaw personality is shining like it hasn’t in a very long time.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for polish but racing stock cars in the United States has always inherently been the grizzled, gritty and gruff alternative to IndyCar and Sports Cars. NASCAR is starting to embrace its rock n’ roll again, drawing definite parallels to the 1980s when the discipline was on the upswing and created stars with personality like Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Tim Richmond, Terry Labonte and Ricky Rudd.
I personally believe the sport is a decade away from reaching another peak, even if it’s one that doesn’t entirely resemble the previous boom period of the early 2000s. This is a personality driven sport and gosh does NASCAR have them in droves between Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, Corey Lajoie, Ryan Preece and Alex Bowman.
Those guys strike me as way more relatable and complementary to the 1980s bunch than those who thrived in the heyday at the turn of the century.
An entertaining NASCAR show that covers all the topics
I write all of this to say that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and business manager Mike Davis are doing tremendous business right now in spotlighting the authentic sensibilities of the modern NASCAR through Dirty Mo Media podcasting empire.
Door, Bumper, Clear made stars of three opinionated spotters in TJ Majors, Freddie Kraft and Brett Griffin, all the while creating a show that wasn’t afraid to tackle the tough topics of the week across all three national tours in ways the official broadcasting partners just can’t nowadays.
Following that lead, Earnhardt and Davis have enjoyed spirited debates and engaged in truly authentic conversations about the past and present while speaking on the Dale Jr. Download.
Again, this is not a slight towards the officially licensed content, but Dirty Mo is filling a void in honest NASCAR conversation in a way that feels reminiscent of the culture created by the SPEED channel lineup in the early to mid-2000s.
So, it was very rewarding to be asked this week to guest co-host Door Bumper Clear alongside Brett, Freddie and TJ to talk about the season to date, my work at Sportsnaut and running a pavement short track media company in Short Track Scene.
These were my favorite kind of shows to consume as a kid and it’s the kind of content I want to create myself over a decade working in the sport now into my 30s.
What was it like?
Anyone that has listened to the podcast or watched its television version over the years on NBC Sports or DirtVision knows that routine but its exactly like you would expect. Upon walking through the door, there is someone capturing pictures and video of the guest host, which makes you feel like a million dollars.
I’m not that big of a deal, remotely, but the VIP treatment provided me some confidence that I belonged on that stage and had a message worth bouncing off the guys and presenter Casey Boat as well.
Total professionals, everyone involved.
As a lot of people noted from the pictures I shared, the studio is built into a garage in the Mooresville, North Carolina industry district, which really feels on brand when you think about it. Race fans seemed surprised by the pull of the curtain, and I hope I didn’t offend anyone at Dirty Mo by showing how modest the space is but that’s part of the charm.
When watching a local news broadcast, everyone assumes that these are produced out of something that resembles cable news but it’s much closer to the Dirty Mo Media digs than the CNN center. The space is decorated in motorsports paraphernalia across multiple disciplines and really sets you in the mood to talk about cars going in circles.
The show is super formulaic so nothing catches you off guard if you are regular listener and I personally really enjoyed the banter with Brett, Freddie and TJ. It helps obviously that I’ve known these guys for a decade but it was nice having the time to catch up and just talk racing because there typically isn’t enough time for that on race weekends given how busy everyone is.
The show’s producer, Andrew Kurland, does a great job keeping everything organized alongside Boat, who largely steers the ship from segment-to-segment while on the air. The show notes are meticulously detailed but they never felt so rigid that we couldn’t riff and improvise if a certain topic called for it.
Full circle, back to how I introduced this piece, conversations on Door Bumper Clear are reflective of everything I loved in my childhood about NASCAR media. It was honest, authentic and not afraid to be polarizing or occasionally offensive.
They keep it real and I only hope that I added something in terms of my analysis, background or experience to those listening this week. You can download this week’s Door Bumper Clear here.
Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.