Years ago, reporter Dave Rieff was standing outside the pit of NHRA Top Fuel driver Mike Dunn, hoping to get an on-camera interview with one of drag racing’s biggest stars of the time.
Rieff was friends with Dunn’s PR representative and rumors were circulating that Dunn’s team was having sponsorship woes. The PR rep told Dunn, “You might want to get out here. You’re probably going to work with him one day.”
Those were very prophetic words, because that’s exactly what happened. Dunn, without a ride, joined ESPN as an analyst and found a new home. He’s now about to begin his 12th season with the network.
But this year Dunn will have a new anchor seated next to him in the booth: Rieff.
After 17 years as a pit reporter, Rieff will be the lead announcer this year for ESPN’s coverage of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The season gets underway Feb. 14-17 in Pomona, Calif., and ESPN2 and ESPN3 will air qualifying and eliminations action during the weekend.
And calling the action will be Rieff and Dunn.
“It’s very neat to take somebody I always regarded very highly as a driver and now he’s a very instrumental part of our programs,” Rieff said.
Rieff has become well-known to drag racing fans for his work on ESPN and during his time in the sport, he’s been learning about calling the action from some of the best.
“I’ve been very lucky during the 17 years I’ve been involved with the NHRA to be around many of the greats of the sport, both television personalities and public address announcers,” said Rieff. “People like Dave McClelland, Steve Evans, Bob Frey, Marty Reid and Paul Page.
“Little did I know all those years ago I’d end up getting to know these great people and would be able to work with them and glean as much knowledge as I could,” he said. “I’m very grateful for this new opportunity and hope to be able to take the best of the best from each of these men and bring it to the forefront.”