Sunday, May 25, 2008
Special: Indy 500 Live TV Forum Is Open
The day is here and the Indy 500 TV programming is set to kick-off.
It will be ESPN2 up first at 11AM Eastern Time with one hour of pre-race programming. Then, ABC will take-over at Noon with another pre-race show and then the event itself.
This is traditionally one of the toughest programs for the ESPN crew that normally handles the IRL races to produce. First of all, Indy has their own in-house TV production company just like NASCAR. IMS Productions will handle the manpower and staff the equipment at the Speedway.
This has led to things being a bit off-balance on the TV side. For those fans who remember the pre-race programming from last year, nothing more needs to be said. This year the pre-race show will no doubt be a little better coordinated.
ABC likes to have a show host for big events, and once again TV viewers will be dealing with Brent Musburger. Although Musburger is clearly a lover of stick-and-ball sports, he has come to understand the Indy 500 quite well.
This fact may come as a surprise to NASCAR fans, who dealt with a clearly out-of-place Musburger in 2007. ESPN has not yet announced if Musburger will return to the ABC Sprint Cup package later this season.
Luckily, the telecast has Marty Reid in the play-by-play position. While he does not have the dramatic flair of a Paul Page or the pipes of a Bob Jenkins, what Reid does have among all types of racing fans is credibility. Beginning with his off-road days and the old SCORE Series, Reid has also been involved in ESPN's NHRA coverage, is the voice of the IRL and fills-in on NASCAR events as needed.
Last season, Reid was involved in the infamous NASCAR Busch Series race from TN where ESPN actually pulled the live broadcast off all the ESPN Networks as the track chaplain was delivering the opening invocation. Once again, college football and NASCAR proved they do not mix. The point being, Reid has dealt with his share of challenges in live racing on TV.
What has IRL fans buzzing and may well get new fans talking is the hilarious combination of personalities alongside of Reid in the Indy 500 booth. Scott Goodyear's reputation as a wholesome and all-around good guy is just as solid as Eddie Cheever's reputation as a guy who is so difficult to deal with he could upset Gandhi.
Both have solid open-wheel experience, but their differences in style and personality make the combination work quite well. Reid may have to spend some of his time calling the race and some of his time playing referee when things get intense. Finally, the ESPN/ABC group may have hit on an effective team of announcers in the booth.
Most fans know TV veteran Jack Arute and ESPN reporter Vince Welch. Those two will play a key role at Indy by handling the pit road stories. Both of these personalities have a lot of experience, and could wind-up being called-on if serious issues arise from on-track incidents. Let us hope that is not the case.
Borrowed from ESPN's NASCAR coverage will be Jamie Little to fill the third pit road role. Little has a tendency to get a bit loud and a bit intense at times when neither is needed. This season, she has done a great job of defining her on-air personality on the NASCAR trail. As a former IRL TV veteran, Little should have no problem fitting-in at this event.
Squarely on the pit road hot-seat is young Brienne Pedigo. Now heading into her second Indy 500, this daughter of Panther Racing's owner has been working hard to gain credibility with the audience. She cut her TV teeth on the USAC broadcasts on the Outdoor Channel and still has some work to do on her TV skills. Now, with a full field and lots of good racing teams, this Indy 500 will provide her some good content to develop as stories during the event.
The Daly Planet forum is open for your comments. To add your TV-related comments on the Indy 500 television day, just click on the COMMENTS button below. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page.
We appreciate you taking the time to stop by and help us with this first Indy 500 live forum.