Speed to Launch NASCAR ‘Idol'

Auto racing cable network Speed is borrowing from its broadcast brethren and launching a talent show for NASCAR fans. Fast Track to Fame will debut on March 1 at 9 p.m. ET and feature a 10-episode, grassroots talent search taped at stops along the NASCAR schedule.

The show also marks the first offering from Stars Avenue Productions.

Speed is also owned by Fox’s parent company, News Corp. It is the first major development announced since Fox Sports chairman David Hill expanded his role at News Corp.

The show will be hosted by Michael Waltrip, a renowned NASCAR owner and driver. His brother, Darrell, is part of Fox Sports’ NASCAR announcing team.

“I love talent shows,” Michael Waltrip says. “I went to Hunter [Nickell, Speed’s president] and told him he should air a NASCAR talent show. He thought it was a great idea, and next thing you know, we’re doing it. I know there’s a lot of hidden talent in NASCAR Nation, and we’re going to find it and have a blast while we do.”

Fox/FSN on-air talent Charissa Thompson will co-host the 60-minute show with Waltrip. Fast Track will feature not just wannabe singers, but also acts such as comedians and dancers.

The show will tape from late February until May. Speed plans on airing each episode as many as six times after its Monday-night original.

According to Fox Sports, acts will be solicited through local media at NASCAR stops, and when selected, they will perform over the weekend in front of three yet-tobe- determined judges. The winners from the first eight shows will meet in a semi-final competition, and then two finalists will battle in the finale.

The show is produced in conjunction with FiveBinks Inc. David Hill and George Greenberg from Fox Sports/Stars Avenue, and Michael Binkow and Joe Revello from FiveBinks serve as co-executive producers.