Renowned motor racing broadcaster Dave Despain has signed a two-year contract with MAVTV American Real to host the network’s five live events, beginning with the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire on Jan. 18, and a series of 30-minute, one-on-one programs interviewing drivers and other personalities from across the diverse American racing landscape. The 67-year old Despain was attracted to joining the burgeoning independent network owned by Forrest Lucas by the opportunity to return to working at the racetrack and hosting the “Dave Despain Show.”
“I’m really excited to get back to the grass roots of racing,” Despain said. “And I’m also excited about being able to do a series of long-form interviews, the majority of which will feature the legends of grass roots racing. We’ll try to mix it up and have an interesting variety of personalities from all over the racing world.
“I’ve watched Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil emerging as a power in the racing world over a long span of time and was very interested in how they’ve used racing to promote their products. It was obvious to me it was part marketing genius and part passion. When I interviewed Forrest on ‘Wind Tunnel,’ he verbalized a world I’m very interested in, a passion for racing which I share. As far as MAVTV, just because it’s TV and I’m in the TV business, I was following what they were doing.
“When Lucas bought MAVTV, I thought maybe it would be a good place to be somewhere down the road,” Despain added. “Did I want to retire or do another deal that was interesting, fun and exciting? MAVTV offered me an opportunity to kind of get back to where I started.
“People assume that if you’re in the racing scene, you’re at the track all the time. In reality, doing a Sunday night studio race show, you’re not ever at the racetrack. I missed that. There’s nothing like being face-to-face with a person. I like hosting a lot. It plays into what I consider my strength, being able to place an event in a larger picture context. There are stories I’m anxious to tell.”
MAVTV American Real President Bob Patison, also the Executive Vice President of Lucas Oil, found the perfect fit for the network’s racing expansion.
“We brought in an icon,” Patison said. “Dave is probably the best known face and voice in motor racing on television.”
The Chili Bowl is an indoor event for midget race cars with about 275 entries in Tulsa, Okla.The network will also broadcast live the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series’ East Bay Late Model Nationals from Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 15, the Show Me 100 (Late Models) from Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., on May 24, the Late Model Nationals from Knoxville, Iowa, on Sept. 27,the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup (Short Course Off Road) from Lake Elsinore, Calif., on Oct. 18 and many more live events.
Despain has been broadcasting motor racing for 40 years. He’s worked for ABC, CBS, ESPN and SPEED.