Continuing a Memorial Day weekend tradition that dates back to 1965, ABC will televise the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
The telecast of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” airing on ABC for the 53rd consecutive year, begins with a pre-race show at 11 a.m. ET and then polesitter Scott Dixon will lead the field of 33 to the green flag at 12:17 p.m. The race telecast of the premier event of the Verizon IndyCar Series is presented by Firestone.
Allen Bestwick will call the race, joined in the booth for analysis by former series drivers Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. The announcer team also will include pit reporters Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch. ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak will host the pre-race show from the Speedway’s iconic Pagoda, and SportsCenter reporter Marty Smith will join the pre-race show and take viewers inside some of the activities going on around the track.
ABC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have one of the longest-running active relationships between a network and a sporting event, with the event first airing on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1965.
Visor Cam Goes Live in Telecast
Annually one of ESPN’s largest and most complex television productions, the Indianapolis 500 telecast will include 96 cameras and will mark the first live usage of “Visor Cam,” an innovation introduced on ABC’s IndyCar telecasts earlier this year. A tiny camera mounted to the helmets of drivers Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden, Visor Cam will provide a unique view from the perspective of the driver and a true portrayal of how it feels to be inside the car, allowing fans to see how G forces move the driver’s head and body around and how wind and bumps affect the car. Previously, Visor Cam was only used during practice sessions.
Also for the first time in the Indianapolis 500 telecast, ESPN will enhance the viewing experience for fans with “ESPN Race Strategist,” a predictive analytics innovation introduced earlier this year to bring viewers closer to the strategy that often determines race winners. Designed for ESPN by Pit Rho, a technology company focused on the development of custom, predictive analytics solutions for the motorsports industry, the system supplements the scoring tickers and graphics that race fans are accustomed to with additional information related to race strategy such as tire compound choices and laps on tires, fuel windows and optimal laps for pitting, as well as predictive analysis of positions, lap time falloff and probability of cautions.
Three onboard cameras per car will be in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race while the cars of Rahal and Newgarden will have four each with the addition of Visor Cam. Viewers of the ABC telecast will have the option of a second screen experience through a choice of live streaming video from the onboard cameras on the ESPN app.
In addition to Rahal and Newgarden, drivers carrying onboard cameras during the race will be Dixon, defending 500 winner Alexander Rossi and the cars of Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Gabby Chaves, Fernando Alonso, James Davison, Ed Carpenter and Helio Castroneves. Castroneves will be trying to become only the fourth driver to win the race four times.
The camera count also will include the use of two SSMO (Super Slow Motion) cameras, an aerial camera located in a helicopter and four robotic cameras with overhead views of the pits. The production will be supported by 150 technical crew members and will include 208 microphones, 19 EVS machines, nine mobile units and four uplinks transmitting 17 satellite paths. Some 170,000 feet of fiber cable will connect the equipment.
ESPN’s production of the race telecast will be led by senior coordinating producer Amy Rosenfeld and coordinating producer Kate Jackson, with Jim Gaiero producing and Bruce Watson directing. Jackson will produce the pre-race show with Chip Dean directing.
Features in Indy 500 Coverage
The opening tease for the telecast is INDY 101, an insider’s guide that proves why the Indy 500 is the greatest spectacle in racing, dispelling the myths and shining a light on the skill, endurance, brain power, state of the art engineering and speed that goes into building a champion.
Among the features that will air during the pre-race show or in ESPN SportsCenter’s Indianapolis 500 coverage:
- Tony Kanaan Race Morning All-Access — one of the most popular drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the past 20 years, Kanaan will show what his race morning is like before the Indianapolis 500. For the first time ever before the big race, a driver will allow a camera on him throughout the morning, giving viewers unprecedented access to what a driver goes through before a race.
- Alexander Rossi Looks Back — Winning an IndyCar race is a big deal. Winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the most famous track in all of motorsports, is the ultimate achievement. Alexander Rossi accomplished that as a rookie at the 100th Indianapolis 500. Viewers will see how Rossi overcame insurmountable odds to pull of this nearly impossible feat one year ago.
- Following Fernando Alonso – viewers will go behind the scenes as two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso switches over to race in the Indy 500. Included will be highlights from Alonso’s practice laps and qualifying and a look at the media attention surrounding one of the most decorated drivers in F1 history.
- James Hinchcliffe Undercover –driver James Hinchcliffe went undercover as head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. “Jim” welcomed fans into the museum, enforced museum rules and helped guest get their photo taken in an IndyCar all while expressing his love for all things Indy 500. Fans went from confused to delighted as he revealed himself and stuck around for photos and autographs.
- How Big? How Fast? – Questions of how big and fast the Indianapolis Motor Speedway really is and will be answered in this feature which takes the unique approach of providing visual comparisons between the track and some of the most iconic buildings in the world by placing those structures in the Speedway’s infield, providing context of both size and speed.
The Indianapolis 500 on Other ESPN Platforms
SportsCenter — Editions of SportsCenter Friday-Sunday will carry reports from the Speedway, including segments with anchor Lindsay Czarniak and reporter Marty Smith. After the race, the winner will have an interview with SportsCenter, and Czarniak will have a SportsCenter Sunday Conversation with the winner that will air in the evening editions of the program. Reporter Ryan McGee also will contribute to the SportsCenter coverage from Indy. Also, ESPN’s Julie Foudy will highlight some of the women involved in the Indianapolis 500 for a feature that will air on SportsCenter. James Hinfcliffe, the 2016 Indy 500 polesitter, was scheduled to visit ESPN on Tuesday, May 23, to appear on several editions of SportsCenter and other ESPN platforms.
ESPN.com will have on-site coverage of the Indy 500 with ESPN F1 writer Nate Saunders, motorsports editor K. Lee Davis and ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee. The site has already been previewing and preparing for the event with news and video from the Speedway since the track opened for Month of May activities.
The ESPN App – This year, ABC’s telecast of the Indianapolis 500 also will be streaming live on the ESPN app. Race fans will also have the option of a second-screen experience on the ESPN app during the Indy 500 telecast with a selection of streaming video from onboard cameras. Fourteen drivers in the race will be carrying onboard cameras.
ESPN International — In addition to television in the United States on ABC, ESPN also distributes Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts through a combination of ESPN networks and syndication to more than 170 countries and 100 million homes. In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world can watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network.
ESPN Player — Again this year, ESPN Player is bringing fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (excluding the UK, France and Italy) live and on-demand coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season as a channel on the digital subscription service. ESPN Player is available on Mac, PC, iPad and Samsung Smart TVs, with high quality streaming on all devices. Information is available at ESPNPlayer.com.
ESPN The Magazine — ESPN The Magazine’s newest issue, which went on newsstands May 19, previews the Indianapolis 500. Senior writer Ryan McGee catches up with Alexander Rossi, who has grown into the title forever attached to his name: Indianapolis 500 winner.
ESPN Classic started helping fans ready for the Indy 500 with airings of classic Indy 500 races throughout the week of the race. The airings began Monday, May 22, at 6 a.m. with the 1979 race won by Rick Mears and will continue all day and night through Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m.
ABC Television – ABC’s Good Morning America Weekend will air segments on the Indianapolis 500 with ABC News senior meteorologist Rob Marciano reporting from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on both Saturday and Sunday. The program airs at 8 a.m. ET.