DRO: Was it tough
making a transition from driver to the TV booth?
Do you still stomp your foot down when the green
light comes on the Christmas Tree?
MD: No, I've kind
of gotten past that. It was definitely a transition.
This (television commentator) is a great job,
you couldn't have a better job, but it's still
a job and I never looked at driving a racecar
as a job. Trust me, driving the racecar, even
when I wasn't working on it, towards the end,
when sponsor and promotional ties tied up your
time. I never considered it (driving and working
on racecars) a job. This is a job.
DRO: When you're
doing your work for ESPN does NHRA suggest topics
MD: NHRA is really
pretty much hands off. I mean the two years
that I've been here, I can think of two times
that they came in here and said we need to watch
this deal and usually it's from a safety standpoint,
so they really never came in and said 'You have
to do a show this way, you have to promote this
guy.' They've really given me free rein. I can
pretty much say what I want.
DRO: It seems
like you guys have gone into some of the sport's
personalities, dealing with airing their dirty
laundry in some ways. Was there ever any interest
in dealing with Tom Compton's DUI arrest?
MD: You know,
it came up, but it was never really an issue.
To us, it was never really part of the show,
not what we're trying to do.
DRO: But you weren't
told to stay away from it?
MD: No, we weren't
told. I think it was discussed. You're probably
asking the wrong person. I'll be honest with
you, I never thought of it as being a story
for our show. I mean, it's a story, but I don't
think that it fits into our show. I mean we
don't really deal with dirty laundry. We look
at the rumors and hearsay, and I always try
to get back-up, because I've been in this sport
all my life and the rumors go crazy, and the
Tom Compton thing was no difference.
My opinion on the Tom Compton issue is I haven't
seen the police report and I'm the kind of guy
that wants to see everything in front of me,
so if I'm going to comment on it. . . 'cause
I don't know all the facts. Obviously there
are times you say, well, maybe you didn't have
all your facts; you find out later. But for
the most part I've been able to, and everyone
on the show has been able to back up the rumors
with fact. We don't put it on there until we've
found out whether it's true or not and that's
the same thing as the Tom Compton thing; to
me it didn't really fit in with the show.
Is there anything on the ESPN show that you
would like to do differently than is currently
MD: Well I'm still
learning how TV works and it's been an education
to me. To answer that question, when you're
a driver and you're on the outside looking in,
you ask how come they did that? How come I didn't
get in this shot, I did better than that guy
and that guy got more TV time. Well, now that
I've done it and see how a program is structured
and how you do things and how you're limited
to a certain amount of time and limited by what
amount of programming you have for the week,
then you start to understand that, how you can
and can't do certain things.
I'm still trying to just perfect what I do
and do it better. We do have a team. Sean Murphy
is the producer who is very, very good, and
he is willing to try different things all the
time and he's not afraid to. We do something
new and we look at it and sometimes its terrible
and other things come out and you say, hey,
that's really good. As far as things that I
would like to see, I don't know, the sport is
so hard to cover for TV, to capture what is
live and I think we do as good a job as you