Fox Broadcasting Company is the latest company to take drastic cost-cutting measures in this uncertain economy. In a surprise announcement during the Daytona 500, Fox revealed that it is replacing long-time commentator and three time NASCAR Cup Champion Darrell Waltrip with Digger the Gopher.
Digger the Gopher made his television debut during the 2008 Daytona 500. He was initially fearful of the cars passing just over his hole, but has since gained confidence. During the Daytona 500 Digger was shown actually placing cameras for Fox.
Digger does not have the racing experience of the legendary Waltrip, but apparently Fox believes that his unique perspective on the races will be a positive addition to the Fox NASCAR broadcasts.
“We’ll be saving so much money that we have to try it,” said a high-ranking Fox employee, who asked to remain anonymous. “Travel costs, food, not to mention his salary. Digger finds his own food, doesn’t need to travel, and he agreed to half of Darrell’s pay. And we think he might actually raise ratings, to boot!”
When asked about his new virtual co-host, Chris Myers said, “Well, Digger is much better-looking than Darrell.” He quickly followed that statement with, “I kid because I care. I wish Darrell the best of luck.”
Waltrip is rumored to be in negotiations with power-house team owner Rick Hendrick to run a full season in 2010 for one last attempt at a fourth championship. Neither party would comment on this rumor.
NASCAR President Mike Helton praised the move to a virtual commentator and added, “Digger the Gopher could be a huge benefit to NASCAR’s bottom line as well. If we could cancel a couple of races and run ‘Digger and Friends’ cartoons instead, we could save the teams millions of dollars.”
Helton is encouraging fans to vote for their least favorite race as NASCAR considers this decision.
(I actually love watching Darrell Waltrip and hope he continues on Fox for many years to come!)