NEW NHRA ON FOX PRODUCER UNDERSTANDS THE MONUMENTAL CHALLENGE AHEAD
Steve Reintjes understands what is expected of him. He must hit the ground running as the newest producer of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing on FoxSports.
For many watching, there's no period of adjustment, no mulligans or excuses.
Reintjes is expected to perform on a level established by his predecessors, dating back to the old days when Diamond P Sports produced a syndicated hour-long broadcast delivered to drag racing's hungry masses.
This pressure comes not from his new employer, the National Hot Rod Association, which moved their television production in-house two years ago. This is the edict handed down by the hundreds of thousands of NHRA fans who tune in for the television broadcasts of 24 events annually.
Emmy Award-winning television producer Reintjes not only embraces the high standards, he welcomes the challenges.
"I think for us, and for me particularly, the challenge is bringing a balance as to what can we do that’s going to serve the hardcore historic viewer who’s been there for a long time," Reintjes said. I have people, relatives, that have been drag racing fans for forever.
"I think it’s, part of it is coming up with elements that are going to embrace the history. We’re doing a couple of things online now on NHRA.com and on Facebook with the Flashback Friday elements. Those have been really cool. I think you’ll probably see some of those work their way into the show one way or another this year.
"The goal is to bring balance [between old and new], and we want to assure that, as well as entertaining new eyeballs joining for the first time."
Reintjes understands embracing drag racing's colorful and entertaining past and meshing it with today's natural diversity, and entertaining value can make for a bright future.
"I think it’s still really, really important that we’re pushing the diversity of the sport to try and hook and engage the new viewer as well," Reintjes confirmed.
Reintjes is no newcomer when it comes to the NHRA's television program as he was part of the final team which worked the show under the ESPN broadcast. At the time of the transition over to Fox, Reintjes admitted he was trying to explore his future in the industry.
"I think at that point, in my career, I was at a point at ESPN where I was still trying to get a gauge of the upward mobility and kind of the opportunities that were there," Reintjes explained. "I felt at the time the potential for this day was there. One of the impressions left for me from 2015 was just how energetic and how remarkable this sport was, and candidly, how challenging it is to produce these shows.
"I just had a great experience in 2015, and it kind of stuck with me over the last couple years. Obviously, when this opportunity came about, you know, I knew that it was the right time."
Producing a television show in today's instant gratification age requires the ability to be fluid and make the right decisions on the fly.
"I think the biggest challenge is with producing an NHRA show, in general, is really the live to tape aspect, and the aspects when we’re condensing an eight, nine hour day on the track into three hours of the show," Reintjes explained. "So for me, the challenging part, and the part that was really rewarding for me, in the last go-round, and will be this time, is to really bridge what we have on tape and do it in a way that’s, continuity-wise makes sense in coming out to the live show.
"That is unique with the sport. And I will say that it’s one of the most challenging sports I’ve ever produced. I think the beauty in it is that, you know, the conditions can change in a moment’s notice, there are things on the track that can happen in a moment’s notice, that really change the framework and how you produce the show. So being able to adjust on the fly, at the moment, and move directions at a moment’s notice, really it’s the exciting part of producing an event to me.
"I have no problem saying that this is one of the tougher sports to produce from that aspect, and that’s really a big draw for me."
Reintjes has a clear opinion of what will be deemed as a success.
"I think for me it’s continuing to build the team aspect within the whole production team, and if we’re able to bring, a sense of balance to the productions that are not only beneficial to the NHRA, but also to the viewer and those viewing in with our FOX partnership, that’s success for me," Reintjes said. "Bringing balance to the broadcast and also at the same time, building a positive momentum of where the NHRA’s going from a team building aspect. I have no doubt that we’re going to make a good run at that this year."