From the Marbles - NASCAR

Buried in Michael Hiestand's TV coverage column in USA Today this week was a little nugget that many NASCAR fans may overlook:

Bill Weber is now performing as a magician.

"It's a passion I hope to turn into a profession," Weber told Hiestand. "I hope to continue sports announcing, but this is something I've wanted to do for a long time." 

Yes, that's the same Bill Weber who was the play-by-play announcer for TNT (and before that, NBC) until he suddenly disappeared from TNT's coverage before the summer race at New Hampshire. (And no, that wasn't part of his new act.)

Allegedly, Weber was in a "loud and public confrontation" at his hotel. And that wasn't Weber's first incident at New Hampshire, where in 2006 he apparently decided to play bodyguard to the stars.

Pardon the pun, but Weber never really found magic in the booth in his time as the main announcer for TNT and NBC's coverage. Weber always felt too serious during his telecasts, and when he tried to be lighthearted, it didn't seem authentic. Like Jerry Punch, Weber was much more suited to being on pit road during a race telecast.

Ralph Sheheen took over for Weber at New Hampshire and finished out the rest of TNT's summer schedule. While there hasn't been an official announcement identifying TNT's play by play announcer for the 2010 season, Sheheen is a favorite to keep the job. 

Weber's future broadcasting motorsports is iffy. TNT didn't renew Weber's contract, and his opportunities at NBC could be few given that NBC's motorsports coverage has been minuscule since its NASCAR contract expired.

But that's probably good news for NASCAR fans looking for a magician for their kid's next birthday party, because how often do you get the chance to bring in a former Sprint Cup announcer to pretend to cut you in half?

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