From the creator of the glowing hockey puck and Scooter, the animated baseball, comes the fresh hell that is Digger, the cartoon NASCAR gopher.
Apparently deserving of a NEW YORK TIMES profile, Digger is all the rage among the car-racing-kiddie set. Offering analysis, merchandising possibilities, and soon his own animated show, he’s just one more reason for those of us who are confused and resentful of NASCAR’s popularity to laugh. You say you haven’t been properly introduced to the little furry bastard?
Digger came to life before the Daytona 500 last year. [Chairman of Fox Sports Television Group David] Hill wanted an animated accompaniment to Fox’s introduction of tiny cameras embedded in Nascar’s asphalt tracks. And it came to pass that a burrowing rodent emerged from under the ground when Fox cut to the low-angle view of cars coming out of Turn 2 at 185 miles an hour. “He pops up, screams and goes out of sight,” Hill said. “I voiced him and he says, ‘AHHHHHHH!’ “
Yeah, that’s pretty much the idea. But 700,000 people were interested enough to offer names for the critter, and naturally a line of merchandise followed. But now comes the TV show, and the Digger phenomenon is about to become far too big. And by far too big, I mean that I’ve now heard of him; he’s out of control.
Hill’s Life of Digger is now expanding beyond cameo spots in the corner of the Fox screen to six two-minute episodes during Fox’s prerace program in the 2009 season. Digger lives comfortably beneath the Talladega Superspeedway in an apartment filled with Nascar mementoes and a widescreen TV.
“I think of Digger as a Michael J. Fox type,” Hill wrote in a three-page plot-and-character description of his animated gopher village world, where the star has dug holes to reach various areas at the track.
Digger’s life is rounded out with, among others, a girlfriend, Annie, (named for Hill’s daughter) and an archenemy, Lumpy Wheels, a badger security officer (inspired by Humpy Wheeler, the former president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, with a personality like Barney Fife’s).
Shoot me now.