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Daniel Blair- TV Commentator for the Monster Energy Supercross Series

TV Commentator for the Monster Energy Supercross Series, Daniel Blair, gives us all the details on how he got his start in television, what goes into preparing for a live broadcast, and how his band Main Event Moto (also the name of his podcast!) was a huge influence on him and his career.

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Pit Pass Moto is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson, Producer Leah Longbrake and Audio Engineer Eric Koltnow.

This transcript is AI generated and may contain errors.
[00:00:15.290] - Dave Sulecki

Welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest in motorcycling and brings the biggest names in motorcycle racing right to you. I'm Dave Sulecki.

[00:00:24.220] - Dale Spangler

I'm Dale Spangler, and this week's guest is television commentator for the Monster Energy Supercross Series, Daniel Blair. Moto America is the official sponsor of Pit Pass Moto. Moto America, home of the AMA Superbike and North America's Premier motorcycle road racing series, is thrilled to announce that it will partner with Daytona International Speedway to host one of the world's most prestigious races, the Daytona 200, during the week of March 10 to the 12th, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The 80th running of the Daytona 200 will feature increased competition for more manufacturers and an international contingent of racers coming over to battle with America's best for the $175,000 in prize money. That's up for grabs.

[00:01:12.330] - Dave Sulecki

In addition to the Daytona 200, the Moto America weekend at Daytona International Speedway will be the opening round of the 2022 Mission Moto America King of the Baggers Championship, marking the first time Baggers will race the high banks of a Super Speedway with speeds expected to exceed 116 mph and also the first round of the Twins Cup Championship. Joining the baggers in Twins Cup will be the ever popular Roland Sands Super Hooligan National Championship. All three classes will run two races during the Daytona 200 weekend. Tickets are on sale now at Daytona International speedway.com or by calling 1800 Pit Shop. Race highlights from round five of AMA Monster Energy Supercross at Glendale, Arizona. This is the first round of the Triple Crown series, which adds some excitement, another level to Supercross. And it was also the first round in football Stadium, which really kind of changed the track layout. But I'll tell you, the racing on the track, as it has been these first four rounds leading up to this event has just been crazy. Just insane amount of talent out there and a lot of parody. But we do have our first time two race winner, and that is Eli Thomas, who for some reason learned how to get a good start, took two whole shots in the Triple Crown races and just ran well and ran up front all night.

[00:02:36.610] - Dave Sulecki

What do you think, Dale?

[00:02:37.620] - Dale Spangler

Yeah, it was definitely the Eli Tomac Show, for sure. I don't know what happened. He got starts, like you said, Dave, something that usually doesn't happen for Tow Mac. And he just ran up front all night. Used consistent finishes to take the Triple Crown overall, which, as we noticed, inconsistency was the name of the game for some of his other competitors that were contenders in the Championship. Chase Sexton and Jason Anderson both were contenders for the overall, but both had a bad finish, Sexton finishing 11th and May 1, Anderson 12th in May 2, so that relegated them to third and fourth. But the big news, Malcolm Stewart second place overall on his husk of Varna. Wow. Malcolm just is super impressive right now.

[00:03:18.610] - Dave Sulecki

Dave in 250 action, 250 Super Cross West. We have a new winner in that event because of the Triple Crown. I think Hunter Lawrence showed that consistency going two one, two to win the overall on the evening where Christian Craig just had that one bad motor. He got into it with Vince Freeze in the sand section. Basically got taken out. There's some talk that Vince may face some penalties for that. There's a lot of stuff on the message boards about it. But be that as it may, Kristen Craig taking second with a one for one. So he looked solid when he was up front and he really fought his way through.

[00:03:52.010] - Dale Spangler

Yeah. I think nonetheless it was still the Christian Craig show. I mean, if it wasn't for that bad second race, I say bad, but he still finished fourth coming through the pack. But his one four one gave him second overall. Hunter Lawrence consistency gives him the win, but he won by 14 seconds in that first Moto and 6 seconds in the last. So I think it's going to be tough for the rest of the rest of the riders in that west series to get up to the same speed as Christian Craig.

[00:04:18.250] - Dave Sulecki

I don't want to say it's over yet. Watch Hunter Lawrence. He's only eight points back after these five rounds, so it could come down to the last few. But I think you're right. Christian Craig is on a level, so everybody's got to try to meet it.

[00:04:41.830] - Dale Spangler

This week's industry spotlight focuses on the recent announcement that former MotoGP racer and Dakar competitor Danilo Petrucci is headed to the United States to race the Moto America Series. Petrucci recently signed with the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York team to compete in the 2022 Moto America Superbike Championship. The two time MotoGP race winner and 2022 Daar stage winner will make his US Superbike Racing debut on board. Ducati's Pane Jolly V Four SBK machine built to factory specifications by Ducati Corsa in Italy universally popular, Petrucci will relocate to the United States to be close to the team's base in Pennsylvania. Undoubtedly, his presence in the American Series will be a huge hit with the many passionate Moto America and Ducati motorcycle fans across the United States.

[00:05:59.270] - Dave Sulecki

This week. Our moment in Moto history of Supercross Triple Crown events. This exciting format was added to Supercross for the 2018 season and after running uninterrupted for up to 2020, was then derailed during the short and 2020 season due to COVID race cancellations. It's now back in the new season. The Triple Crown events replace regular qualifying races with time qualifying to establish 18 riders for the night show and only the final four riders arriving via the Last Chance qualifier format. Once the field is set, there are three full motives shortened to ten minutes for the 250 class and twelve minutes for the 450 class plus one lap scoring is simplified to one point per position, one point for first, two for second, and so on. So the lowest score on the evening is the overall winner of the event, so consistency can pay off. But also racer has had one bad motto can still recover a decent overall score. What do racers get from this new format? Three chances to win and the sprint time of a shortened mode that increases the sense of urgency. This is high risk, high reward racing that pays off for any racers that are strong starters.

[00:07:11.040] - Dave Sulecki

What do fans get from this new format? All of the top racers on the track at the same time for three motos, and the sprint format provides a lot of barbanging and great action. Since racers have a short amount of time to make their moves, it is great to see the series try new ideas to enhance the racing and also to engage the fans in a way that keeps everyone glued to the action.

[00:07:31.760] - Dale Spangler

The format is fantastic for fans, but as a racer, I would imagine it's a bit more stressful and nerve wracking. Also, the Triple Crown format certainly provides nail biting racing action where starts are a must with the shorter races and consistency is the key to winning the overall for the night. Daniel Blair, welcome to Pit Pass Moto. First of all, Congrats to you on your new gig alongside Ricky Carmichael and the TV announcement booth at Monster Energy Supercross. Man, how's it going today?

[00:08:09.780] - Daniel Blair

Thanks, man. It's going great. Pumped to be with you guys. And yeah, it's been such a fun start. I mean, obviously heavy responsibilities. It's not easy up there, but it's kind of a dream come true. So it's been a fun couple of weeks. Yeah.

[00:08:22.340] - Dale Spangler

So speaking about that, you start as a commentator. So I believe you started back in around 2015 for Fox Sports doing Arena Cross, and then you started doing Race Day Live. You've done. You've been a trackside color analyst, and now in the booth long Ricky Carmichael. You just have to be just ecstatic with how your career path has gone so far as a television commentator.

[00:08:46.510] - Daniel Blair

It's been awesome. I'm super grateful. Gosh, it goes back to that first audition that I did for Arena Cross. They called me in and asked if I wanted to do it. And I was like, are you kidding? I couldn't even believe they called me. And then the crazy part is there was already a lot of ex Super Cross Champions that had auditioned. I didn't know that at the time. So I went in pretty optimistic thinking, oh, this is cool. I could be a TV guy, did the audition, found out all these ex Champions were there, and I'm like, oh, well, this ain't going to happen. So I was pretty defeated before I even got the official word. And once I got the gig, it was like, off to the races and it's been a fun path since then and to be in that seat now, I never envisioned it. And now that I'm there, it looks like such a nice path. But gosh, it never felt that way. I didn't really see it all coming the whole way, so just super enthusiastic and grateful again to be a little kid. Started racing when I was five years old and to be there now, it's really hard to explain, to be honest.

[00:09:42.230] - Dave Sulecki

Well, kudos to you, Daniel, and your team. I mean, you make it sound easy and I'm sure it's not. There's no question. And I'm kind of curious in your path, you did a lot of work from the floor, where it was kind of a different type of commentating than what you're doing now. The play by play, which as I understand it, what was that like? And how do you kind of prepare yourself differently from what you used to used to do before to what you do now?

[00:10:04.200] - Daniel Blair

Yeah, that's a good question. When I first got called in to do the floor, it was a one off deal. And it's crazy how this all ties in. It's absolutely insane. But it was Salt Lake, I think 2017, they said, hey, we want to put you on the floor just for one race to see how it goes. And it was Salt Lake City second to last round. I was super unbelievably nervous because it was live television and it was television race Day live was again a stream show. So it was different and it went pretty well. And they said, yeah, good job. Next year we're going to give you more. And then the next year I got all of them. So it's like this little pattern of here's one, here's a couple here's more. And I really tried to master that role. And the key to being good on the floor is just to notice little things and just add you just want to throw a little bit of an ad here there because I got a different view and they have a lot of responsibilities in the boot that they can't see everything. So my job is to just pick apart those things and get it in.

[00:11:00.790] - Daniel Blair

So I spent a couple of years really mastering that. And then it became, I don't want to say easy because you're right, it's never easy, but it became pretty routine and I understood the role. And then last year, Salt Lake City second to last round, they said, hey, we want to have do one. And it was completely different reason. Todd Harris had been double booked on something, so there was no way to pull it off. I had to kind of do it for him, but it was the same vibe. I didn't necessarily know what to do, how to do it. I had some instincts and I had some research, but it ended up being good. And then this year, a couple more and then. I mean, my whole fingers crossed that it leads to a full time gig someday. I'd love that. But the prep is completely different because now you're not injecting little things. I mean, you're more steering the entire broadcast in and out of breaks, in and out of segments. The responsibilities are so much more and again, just like with the floor stuff. The first one was nerve wracking. I'm starting to get my groove now.

[00:11:56.230] - Daniel Blair

It's starting to feel a little bit more routine. And I think by Minneapolis, that'll be my fourth one and my final one for the year. I think I'll have the routine, figured out, the role, figured out the responsibilities, and then from there, I mean, I'll go back to my other spot. So it's a little bit of bouncing back and forth as far as how you do the job. And that's kind of hard because you got to be different people on different nights, but it's all starting to make sense. And that's a good feeling because sometimes you feel a little lost on the broadcast, and I'm starting to really know where to go with everything. And it definitely feels better than it did a year ago.

[00:12:28.820] - Dale Spangler

What goes into I'm curious to know your preparation throughout the week before a weekend. Are you studying stats? Are you calling up talking to riders, walking through the pits in the morning, the day of the race? Just trying to get those inside little tidbits of knowledge that you're able to drop during the broadcast. Tell us a little bit about that process.

[00:12:49.860] - Daniel Blair

Yeah, it's actually to me it's the most fun part is the research and putting all together, because if we're just going to say the top ten riders, I think we all have a basic idea of what the top story is with that rider coming into that race, like Toma coming into the next race. I think the topic, it's pretty fair to say he's won two in a row. He's extending his points lead. It's starting to look like he's got it all together. So that's easy. But then it's going like a layer or two deeper and kind of getting into. Okay, why is that his story? Why is that the narrative with him right now and try to find either a stat to back it up. We got Clinton Fowler. He is absolutely incredible. He's doing our stats this year. I just send him text all day, every day and just be like, hey, what's this stat? And mostly that's just to support an idea and support a story. So, yeah, it's constant. It doesn't really stop during the week. There's no set time. When you research, you're kind of doing it all week long. But then for me, the final, like, the final prep is when I go through all my notes and I put it all down on paper.

[00:13:50.160] - Daniel Blair

And that is Saturday at the races, about mid morning or so, I take all my notes, and I just make kind of like a cheat sheet of the things that I think matter. The crazy part is once the racing is going, I don't look at the notes, but for me to put it down on paper, I feel like that's the final piece for me to make it cemented in my head and remember later, because for me, when I hand write something down, I remember it way more than if I put it in my notes or if I voice memo myself. So it's just collecting everything all week. And then on Saturday, picking and choosing the things that I think are the most important, write them down and then just hope they're upstairs when the time comes to say it. And so far it's been okay.

[00:14:29.980] - Dave Sulecki

So that makes me wonder. Daniel, I know you're a retired racer. Let's say retired. I'm going to put that in your quotes because we all say that. But you know, a lot of these racers personally, on a personal level, you're friends with them, which probably ultimately contributes to the broadcast and your take on things. But you kind of have to prevent yourself from kind of sharing the stories on air is on a buddy level, the bro down level. How do you avoid that when you're in the booth and you're trying to present it in a different way?

[00:14:59.320] - Daniel Blair

That is so hard. That is the hardest part. If you didn't need the riders for information, I think you could kind of be a little looser and just drop the things that you're thinking or what you feel. But I guess the problem is, and it's a good problem is we're all kind of close. Like, I can walk up to Chase Sexton and Cooper Webb and these guys Austin Forkner and just be like, what's up? How are you? What's going on? And they're pretty open. They give me the majority of the information that I need, and then it's just my responsibility to craft it in a way that's presentable and not TMZ, because, for example, it's obvious that it's a tough environment at KTM right now, trying to figure out this new motorcycle. It's one thing to know that's going on and then being able to kind of process that information and make it presentable without a covering for them because they're my buddies or B blowing them out because maybe the fans would want you to blow them out more. So it's just finding that perfect balance of that information and what to do with it, and then realize that I got to talk to them next week, too.

[00:16:04.130] - Daniel Blair

So it's hard, but I actually get called out for this just a little bit. I'm actually a little harsher on my friends than I am on the riders that I'm not. And I know that sounds crazy, but for Ken Rockson and Eli Tomac, I'm not very close with them. They're very cordial. So they'll give me information and I feel like I have to be very balanced with them. Where Cooper Web or Jet Lawrence or some of these riders that I'm way closer with? I actually do hit them a little harder and I think it's on accident, but I'm trying to make sure people don't think that there's favoritism. They end up getting it worse for me a little bit because I'm trying to prove like, hey, just because we're buddies, I'm not going to bail them out of something. So I feel like I do it pretty well and I ride that line pretty tight. But at the same time, I think I'm a little harsher with the people I'm closest with just to make sure the audience knows I'm not kissing up to my buddy. But it is hard to your question, it is probably the hardest part of this whole game for Ricky and myself is to take the information we have and make it presentable without really shaking up the nest too much.

[00:17:08.400] - Daniel Blair

Because again, we are privileged to some information. But unless it's concrete and unless it's very polished and ready to put out, we've got to be a little protective and not cross that line. So it is very hard.

[00:17:21.710] - Dale Spangler

Got to walk the tightrope a little bit. On occasion it sounds like a little bit.

[00:17:26.210] - Daniel Blair

Yeah. Gosh, I was listening today actually to Steve Mathis'racer X review show, and they were talking about how this isn't Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith where they can just blow the athlete out and never have to see them. We see these guys every Thursday or Friday at the airport, at the rental car. It's such a tight community that you've really got to do the job right. And I think that's the balance and the line we're trying to find and I think we do it okay. I don't feel like there's much pushback on the way we handle that situation.

[00:17:57.950] - Dale Spangler

No, I think you guys really handle it well. So I have another question in kind of a different direction. So some people may not know that you played in a band called Bane Event Moto, which I believe is also your podcast name. Tell us a little bit about that. And do you think music is something that influenced you going into the television commentating?

[00:18:16.690] - Daniel Blair

That's another good question. And yeah, there's a couple of chapters of my life that have obviously been different at one time. Actually, at two different times, being in a band was a priority for me and my brother. My brother is the musician. He's the talent. I was the singer in the band. But I got to give credit to my brother. He was the driving force behind all that. Those chapters of my life definitely helped now because being on stage and singing, I mean, singing is scary because every note you're off or every time you mess up Kyle, you feel like for me, I always felt so bad if my voice wasn't on par or if I was off a little bit that night. And it's really a self conscious position, and I was able to get over that. And getting over that really has made the TV stuff a lot easier because I'm not singing to a crowd or singing to an audience. I'm actually just speaking to a camera. And I tell myself that every time before I go on errors, I just remember it's just you and the camera. But those years in the band and having to get over that not stage fright, but just the fear of sucking in front of people.

[00:19:19.970] - Daniel Blair

And I mean, it being right there in their face, that definitely helped me now as far as not being so self conscious and so nervous. A huge chapter in my life that definitely paid off. It was never meant to. That wasn't part of the design. But I think that mixed with the racing career and the knowledge I have just from being a racer, you put those two together, and it really has helped me move along in this career without as many speed bumps as you might think, because I don't get as nervous. This is actually easier for me than both the racing and the music. So I think those just sharpened me up. And I tell people this all the time. Racing and singing in a band was like my College. That was my education that led me to my job now. And I didn't go to broadcasting school. I've never gone to TV. I've never done anything like that before. So the racing and the music was my schooling that allowed this to become something that I succeed at. Dead on. You're 100% right. It was a huge role in kind of crafting who I am now.

[00:20:22.200] - Dave Sulecki

I think it comes across, Daniel, it's the emotion that you carry from your music carries over to the broadcast. And I think you get a lot of buy in from the audience, and they love it. So it's a great way to sell that. And I got to put you on the spot because I think you've talked about this before, and I'm going to be listening very carefully to future broadcasts. Do you plan to drop any more lyrics at the end of your talk?

[00:20:45.470] - Daniel Blair

Yeah, I'm trying to. I've got a couple. I've got one that's a sneaky one. It's in my back pocket. I don't want to reveal because you guys have to guess, but I got a joke going on my podcast. We kind of love, but kind of make fun of the band Creed. It's like this kind of love hate thing we have with Creed. It's just an ongoing joke. And my producer and all the fans in the podcast want me to get with arms wide open in the broadcast and I'm ready for it. The day Christian Craig heads to the podium and gives Page a big hug. It's coming out. It's in the Chamber. So that one's coming, but then I got another one that it's a little sneaky one that you guys are going to have to all catch for yourself. I can't give that one away.

[00:21:24.030] - Dale Spangler

Well, we're looking forward to looking for that in the next few broadcasts, for sure. So one more question before we let you go here, Daniel. What's been some of the biggest surprises for you in the 2022 Supercross Series so far and your thoughts on the Triple Crown format?

[00:21:41.650] - Daniel Blair

I mean, I love the Triple Crown. I'll start there. I'm a big fan of the format. You hear the writers talk about how much they don't like it. I tend to agree, I think from a writing perspective, because I never did one. But if I was doing one, I don't know if I would have liked it that much. But from a fan perspective and from a commentating perspective, it's unbelievable. It's just you get to see all the stars all night long, and it's easier to call the racing because you're talking about the stars of the sport. Of course, in my notes, I have more information on those riders than I have on anybody. So it makes commentating a lot more fun and a little easier. I'd say as far as surprises in the season, I mean, I've got two, one in a positive and one in a negative. On the positive side, I can't believe how good Malcolm Stewart, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac are riding. Five races into a Championship while they're on new teams, new personnel, new bikes, I felt like it would take them a little bit and for them to be so impressive so early, I'm a little shocked by it and happily shocked because they've been so fun to watch.

[00:22:47.650] - Daniel Blair

On the flip side, I just can't understand what's going on with Web and Rocks. And I mean, coming into the series, you're thinking we're going to get a rematch, right? Then you go to Anaheim one and they go one, two. And I'm like, oh, well, I guess it's the Web, Rocks and show again. Here we go. And since that night, this is harsh, but I'll say it they've been terrible and I really don't know exactly what it is. I have an idea of both. They're not giving up enough information for me to make a hard stance, but I'm really shocked. The two best guys from last year are non factors, really, and the writers who all made the changes and you would expect me to time have it. That's where I'm at right now. And I think obviously over the next month, little things are going to change and it's going to get better for some, worse for some, it will all earn itself out. But five rounds in, I'm shocked at who's at the top, and I'm shocked at who is off the map.

[00:23:36.930] - Dale Spangler

Well, Daniel, I really appreciate your time today. I couldn't agree with you more, though. On the triple Crown format. I think it's definitely from a racer's perspective, I can imagine it's probably not their favorite. There's definitely more opportunities for mistakes to happen, things like that. But from a fan's perspective, I think it's been fantastic. So I would agree with you on that. So, Daniel, really appreciate your time today. Where can people go to find you online and find your podcast?

[00:24:06.410] - Daniel Blair

Instagram is the only social media I have. I kind of deleted all the rest. I honestly don't like social media that much. So Instagram, I'm on there. And then the podcast, we actually moved the whole show to Patreon. So it's actually a private show now. So if you want to catch that, you can go to Patreon.com maineventmoto. And we're doing like three to four shows a week now. So it's it's pretty cool. Some of them are live stream video. Then, of course, we have our regular podcast. We do every Sunday. But you can go there if you want to check it out and you want some extra content. I mean, if I'm being honest, there's a lot of good podcasts out there. There's so much Moto information. I'm not telling everyone to come on over. They're going to get anything special. We do our own thing, give our own unique style and take the sport. So if you're looking for a little extra, come on over. But otherwise, there's so much good content right now. I think the sports in such a good position from a media perspective and of course, from content, it's just if you're a diehard, it's unlimited now and I think that's great.

[00:24:58.880] - Daniel Blair

If you want to hear a little more and different style, come on over. But otherwise, Saturday nights, that's the most important night. Just stay on the TV and let's watch this thing unfold. It's been fun to start again.

[00:25:08.530] - Dale Spangler

We appreciate your time, Daniel, and keep up the great work in the booth and look forward to seeing you this next weekend. Thanks a lot again. I appreciate it.

[00:25:17.230] - Daniel Blair

Thank you, guys. Thank you so much. And yeah, mid late season. Give me a call. We'll do it again. I love chatting with you guys.

[00:25:36.010] - Dale Spangler

Thanks again to our guests for being with us today and thank you for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. If you have a moment, please rate and review our show. We'd really appreciate it. Make sure you're also following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and visit pitpassmoto.com where you can check out our blog and our brand new store where you can get your Pitpass Moto swag.

[00:26:02.990] - Dave Sulecki

This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson, producer Leah Longbrake and audio engineer Eric Koltnow. I'm Dave Sulecki.

[00:26:13.220] - Dale Spangler

And I'm Dale Spangler. See you next week on Pit Pass Moto.

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The Team

Dave Sulecki

Host
Dave Sulecki is a 37 year industry veteran, and a lifetime motorcycle rider, racer, builder, restorer, and enthusiast.

Dale Spangler

Host
Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, former racer, and powersports industry marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.

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