Race Fan Takes Wheel at Speed

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Speed Channel has a new race-fan driver who might ultimately steer a course toward National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing programming.

Hunter Nickell, previously senior vice president and general manager of regional sports network FSN South, has been tapped as executive VP and GM of 64 million-subscriber Speed, Fox Cable Networks Group officials said last week.

Nickell succeeds Jim Liberatore, whose contract with Speed expires at the end of June.

When it comes to cars, Nickell knows whereof he speaks. FSN South has long presented racing fare and a significant amount of original programming. “[Auto fare] has been one of the quality staples of the network for a long time,” Nickell said.

Nickell described himself as “a big race fan” and a sometimes-practitioner on the grassroots level.

As for his pit-stop analysis of Speed’s current position, Nickell said, “For years, the passion for racing was largely in the Southeast and the South. Now, the events, lifestyle shows and derivate programming are becoming more of a fabric around the country. Speed Channel has embraced that growth. The network has good momentum in distribution and its various kinds of programming. My goal is to keep that momentum going.”

As far as Tony Vinciquerra, Fox Cable CEO and Nickell’s boss, is concerned, Speed will be pushing the medal to bolster its lineup of racing competition across various auto and motorcycle circuits, as well as buttressing its roster of news, enthusiast and lifestyle fare such as Unique Whips.

For more on Speed Channel, please see Mike Reynolds’ story on page one of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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