"Racing is perhaps the only sport where talent guarantees you nothing." That's how four-time Trans-Am champion Tommy Kendall introduces the new Speed TV series, Setup. He could just as well have been talking about any of the other racing "reality" shows that have preceded it. Setup is what Forza or Bullrun could have been: a straightforward examination of ten teams facing the pressure of winning a spot on the show and then working to tweak, fund and race their own Pontiac Solstice GXP, avoiding elimination through the end of the season. Think of it as a sort of America's Next Top Model for racers. The first episode aired Wednesday night and introduced us to the contestants and a few others who missed the cut. Pretty compelling stories throughout the group, and the producers wisely let the action unfold through watching and listening to the contestants..

Kendall hosts the reality series along with model/actress/racer/track rat Ashley Van Dyke. Tommy brings some star power and straight-shooting narrative, while Ashley adds much more than her pretty face, teaching the racers that winning isn't just about the driving. In the first show she brought potential sponsors into the garage to meet with drivers. And she helped us see which of the drivers could see the bigger picture and who was a spoiled little punk. Favorites and villains are already pretty obvious (we swear we wanted someone to slap some sense into that Ryan). While the premier focused mainly on driver introductions and the initial car setup, the series will also take us to the track as the racers try to earn their keep racing around Willow Springs. Over the course of the show, the ten drivers and their teams will be fighting for more than just bragging rights. The last racer standing gets $100,000, as well as a shot at a Pontiac factory ride in next year's 24 Hours of Daytona. The show airs Wednesday nights at 8 PM Eastern on Speed.

[Source: Speed TV]