STUDIO: A&E Home Video
MSRP: $24.95
RATING: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 286 minutes
• Interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• 3 Doors Down music video

The Pitch

Travel back to the grainy age, umm, golden age of racing with everyone’s favorite living Earnhardt.

The Humans

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bud Lindeman

The Nutshell

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Car and Track was the television source for racing. It was pretty much the only source. This weekly half-hour show introduced many Americans to the world of driving in various circular shapes. Bud Lindeman and his television crew would cover all the major races, and even some obscure races. If it was competitive and it involved horsepower, he was there. Now these old programs have been unearthed, given the pop-up video treatment, and given spiffy introductions from Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The Lowdown

First things first, Back in the Day is a treasure-trove for the racing enthusiast. It’s a chance to revisit some classic races featuring some of the best drivers in the history of the sport. For anyone who hates or is indifferent to the NASCAR scene, it’s tedious and atrocious. As someone who has little knowledge of the history of racing, I was disappointed with what the show had to offer.

What do you mean we’re out of tires? How much did this robotic Coke dispensing arm cost us?

Back in the Day is merely a glossed up version of Car and Track from the 1960’s and 1970’s. For the most part, each episode features one entire race condensed down into 20 minutes. Somehow, it’s still boring. There is very little in the way of actual history. I was hoping for more of a documentary style show, seeing as how I don’t know much about racing. Not much was learned from watching all the episodes. Familiarity with many of the drivers only occurred through repetition. Instead of an educational show, there are lame pop-up facts that don’t do much to complement the racing.

The pop-ups could have been a good way to present racing facts and history. However, most of the facts are only about the time period of the race. Watching the World 600 from 1972 will educate the viewer on The Godfather, but not so much on that particular year in racing. These tidbits are completely misused. The intention was to hold the interest of the non-racing fan, but they should just be catered to the hardcore enthusiasts. The non-racing fan won’t be picking this disc up on a whim.

Fuck you oil crisis!

All of the pop-ups make annoying little noises. Sometimes, Earnhardt will suddenly pop-up with the help of robotic noises. For a minute, I got excited thinking I was about to watch a Fox NFL broadcast. He gives a canned response that is recycled through many of the episodes and then quickly disappears. The attempts at cleverness bring more groans than laughs. Any word that can be used as a transition to a pop-up is utilized. At one point, Lindeman mentions the Ford car leading the race. This naturally causes a pop-up about the two failed assassination attempts of Gerald Ford.

Earnhardt Jr. does a nice job of hosting. He is charismatic and it’s obvious how important he finds the history of racing. The show could have used more from him. If there is a second season, it would be wise to have him conduct some interviews, or maybe leave his property. All of the opening bits were shot on Earnhardt’s property. The guy has his own old west saloon, so it’s easy to see why he wouldn’t want to leave. Give him more to do, because he is a pretty good on-screen talent.

As the season progresses, the episodes get a little more tolerable. A car wax commercial featuring Cale Yarbrough was a nice added bonus. One episode encompasses an entire year of racing. This was the most entertaining of the bunch. It included some obscure races, even the infamous Mint 400 featured in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Living the dream.

The Package

The Car and Track episodes are vintage. With that comes plenty of grainy and damaged video. It’s never mentioned if the footage has been restored at all, but it doesn’t appear to have been improved. The audio isn’t bad. There is only a slight contrast between the old and new footage audio.

An interview with Earnhardt Jr. is included in the special features. Earnhardt has a real love for the history of racing. It’s easy to buy into his enthusiasm during the interview. Too bad the show itself can’t seem to focus in on that enthusiasm. Some bloopers and behind the scenes moments are cut between the interview segments. There is also a 3 Doors Down music video, which should excite no one.

Missing from the special features is any real information about how Car and Track first began. It would be interesting to know more about Bud Lindeman and what it took to produce the show.

Nice shootin’ Tex.

3 out of 10