Today marks the last day of operation of SPEED. The channel that since 1996 has been the home of motor racing in the United States and around the world. Tomorrow, it will be rebranded as Fox Sports 1 shifting towards more than just motor racing.
SPEED has been the go to source for all things racing and all things cars since its inception. It was launched on December 31, 1995 as SpeedVision. Its initial lineup consisted of automobile programming and documentaries of the history of racing. It carried various sporting events from the SCCA’s World Challenge Series to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 1996, SpeedVision became the television home of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in the United States and made Formula 1 a television mainstay in the world’s largest consumer market.
In 2001, Fox Entertainment Group purchased SpeedVision and began turning SPEED into the motor racing network giant it will always be remembered as. SPEED became the home of all things NASCAR.
From Wind Tunnel to Barrett-Jackson to Grand Am to American Le Mans to IndyCar, SPEED had it all. But all empires eventually do fall.
On October 12, 2012, Fox Sports lost the rights to Formula 1 as they were outbid by NBC. SPEED carried its 296th and final F1 race on November 25, 2012.
During that time, rumors began circulating that SPEED was going to be rebranded into an all sports network and that was made true on March 5, 2013 when it was officially announced that SPEED would be rebranded as Fox Sports 1 beginning at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2013. Bob Varsha (host of Barrett-Jackson and longtime race broadcaster) said that the final piece to air on SPEED will be narrated by Sam Posey whose voice launched Speedvision in 1996. After that, SPEED will forever be known as Fox Sports 1.
Forgive me for being unprofessional but I really hope this venture fails and we’ll see a return to SPEED in the near future but I’m not going to bet on it. I truly believe this is a golden opportunity for NBC to turn the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) into the new home of motor racing. It’s already the home of the IZOD IndyCar Series and the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and NBC makes its return to NASCAR in 2015. That’s 3 of the biggest forms of racing people watch in the United States.
But I’m getting off-topic here.
It’s a sad day for racing fans knowing the longtime home for all things racing will now reside in the television graveyard.
RIP SPEED (December 31, 1995-August 17, 2013)