ABC has epic broadcast plans for historic 100th Indianapolis 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – If anyone understands the enormity of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, it’s the people at ABC working on the historic race broadcast.

With a relationship dating to 1965 when the network first aired the Indianapolis 500, ABC has been on hand for more than half of the races. With the epic 100th running Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ABC has gotten into the spirit of the by employing a record 100 cameras for the event.

Billing it as “100 cameras for the 100th,” the ESPN production will include three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 entries competing in the race. Also in use will be four Ultra Hi Motion cameras to enhance views and replays, with the cameras capable of shots around the entire 2.5-mile oval and all of pit road. The cameras are capable of producing images up to 20 times slower than live action, allowing viewers to see detail not visible at regular speed.

“We’ve been pointing to the 100th Indianapolis 500 for a long time and, now that it’s here, we’re more proud than ever to be associated with ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, league sports programming. “Producing this telecast is a labor of love for our team and this will be our biggest year ever.”

The camera count includes aerial cameras in a blimp and helicopter and four robotic cameras with overhead views of the pits. Sound will be captured by 287 microphones, including 235 positioned around the racetrack and 26 mounted in race cars. Some 200 people will be part of the production. 

Allen Bestwick is the lead announcer for ABC’s Verizon IndyCar Series broadcasts, with 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever and two-time runner-up Scott Goodyear the seasoned analysts. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch. ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Lindsay Czarniak will host the pre-race show that begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.

Goodyear said the start of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” still gets his motor running.

“It was always a natural high as a driver coming down to take the green flag,” he said. “Now in television, the neat thing I still get is the goosebumps going through the body. I’m glad that Allen as the play-by-play guy takes care of (calling) the cars coming around (Turns) 3 and 4 and leading up to the start, because I am entrenched in what’s going on.

“When they take the green, everybody’s standing, you can feel the cars rumble down the frontstretch and you can feel it in your body. I get the tingles every time we do the start and this is the 15th year I’m doing it. It will happen again (Sunday).”

In addition to the traditional ABC network broadcast, the race will stream live on WatchESPN for the first time and viewers will have the option of a second-screen experience through a choice of live streaming video from onboard cameras on ESPN3, which will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN.

The focus of the motorsports world will be on Indianapolis on Sunday as usual, but more so with the historic 100th running. Goodyear believes the increased attention will pay dividends for the Verizon IndyCar Series as a whole.

“More people are going to see it this year, so for us, I am excited about it,” he said. “That’s the nice thing about having more eyeballs and more spectators here. I think more people are going to see what a fantastic product we have had here for many, many years.”

“SportsCenter” has joined the celebration by airing segments from Indianapolis Motor Speedway since Thursday, including a three-hour edition today. “SportsCenter” will telecast a pair of one-hour programs on race morning from Pagoda Plaza inside the track from 8-9 a.m. and 10-11 a.m. ET.

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