Kenny Mayne renews acquaintances while working on NASCAR feature that celebrates fans, drivers

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For Kenny Mayne, the weekend of October 5-6 was like going back in time. Specifically, to 1995. Mayne was at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, to shoot a feature that will air on ESPN’s telecast of the Nov. 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (see brief excerpt above). But the trip also represented a return for the SportsCenter anchor to a sport he once covered regularly as the original host of the former ESPN2 program rpm2night.

“It was really easy getting back with [NASCAR],” said Mayne while at the speedway. “Not that going around to other sports is that foreign to me, but coming back and knowing a lot of people, and just being able to walk right up to [NASCAR drivers] Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton, it was just like old home week.”

The piece Mayne and ESPN feature producer Steve Buckheit shot in Kansas City, a tribute to the passion of NASCAR fans, is the first of multiple features he’ll do on various subjects as part of his new contract with ESPN. He also has returned to the SportsCenter anchor chair for the first time since 2006 and will host a number of SCs from ESPN’s Los Angeles studios.

“I’m doing something a lot different than I have been for years, where I was doing Wider World of Sports, and traveling all over in flip flops and doing my pretend football stories, and some horse races and a little [ESPN The] Magazine,” he said.

Mayne said the NASCAR feature was the idea of Kate Jackson, ESPN coordinating producer for motorsports, whom Mayne previously worked with on other sports at ESPN. In addition to airing on NASCAR Countdown prior to the Texas race, the piece also will appear across other ESPN platforms.

“In short, the assignment was to celebrate why fans love the drivers and why drivers love the fans loving them,” Mayne said. “Basically, the connection between the fans and the drivers is kind of unique from a lot of sports in that, like, I grew up in Seattle so I’m a Seahawks fan, but as far as me picking a NASCAR favorite, I don’t have to choose any particular guy for the territory I’m from, I just pick the one that I identify with. And the same for the fans out here.”

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