NASCAR AMERICA — Pictured: Rutledge Wood, Feature Reporter, NASCAR on NBC — (Photo by: Grant Halverson/NBC Sports)

NASCAR on NBC viewers got familiar with Rutledge Wood last year. Wood reported on the sport’s tracks, unique locations and their fans. And with Wood waiting for the second season of NASCAR on NBC to begin in June, what better than to have him cover the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May? That’s right, the host of the U.S. version of Top Gear and Lost in Transmission will be seen in and around Churchill Downs taking his act to horse racing.

Wood says he looking forward to covering the Derby this year, “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about doing. For so many years, I’ve been traveling with NASCAR and been at a racetrack when that was going on. And since (NBC’s NASCAR) races don’t start until July, they said ‘Would you like to go to the Kentucky Derby and really dig in and check it out,” and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, yes! What do I need to know?’ And they said “You are going to need to dress up a bit.'”

So it means that Wood will be required to be in a suit, something that his fans will be shocked to see. “I thought to myself, ‘This is going to be fun.’ I am not classically one of the guys in a suit at anything I go to so this will be a real fun change of pace.”

Wood’s assignment at Churchill Downs will be to take viewers into areas that most have never explored, “My plan is to dig in and I want to find out about the people that are there, I want to find out more about the jockeys. There are so many cool stories about owners and horses and names.”

And he notes that are some similarities between NASCAR and horse racing such as family ownership, “That’s one of those angles to me that is so fascinating, Sometimes you see the families that have been in the sport for thirty, forty years and this is always what they’ve done, raise these incredible horses just for this one purpose, to go out and do this thing. And other times you see the guys who’ve sold his company and this is a dream he had and we have those exact same parallels in NASCAR.”

In addition to reporting features on NBC’s coverage, Wood will be on the red carpet interviewing celebrities on Facebook Live during the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 6 and the Derby on Saturday, May 7.

He’ll join NBC’s usual cast of characters in Louisville including Bob Costas, Tom Hammond, Randy Moss, Donna Brothers, Eddie Olczyk, Mike Battaglia, Tara Lipinksi, Johnny Weir and others when coverage of Derby Week begins next Wednesday, May 4 on NBCSN.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.