Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. IndyCar Series telecasts elevated to High Definition on ESPN and ABC in 2008
2. Drivers prepare for 2008 season with Indianapolis meeting
3. IndyCar Series drivers weigh in with NFL playoff picks
4. Panther Racing tests Brent Sherman
1. IndyCar Series telecasts elevated to High Definition on ESPN and ABC in 2008: Fans of the IndyCar Series will be treated to a new look for event telecasts in 2008 as ESPN will televise all 16 events of the series in high definition for the first time. ESPN on ABC's coverage of the 2007 Indianapolis 500 was the first IndyCar Series event ever to be televised in HD.
All cameras used in ESPN's IndyCar Series coverage will be HD, including in-car cameras and those used in the pits and for other points of view. Included will be an HD onboard camera that can provide a rotating 360-degree view.
High-definition coverage also will extend to the 16 Indy Pro Series races telecast by ESPN2 in 2008.
"We are extremely pleased to be working in conjunction with ESPN to showcase the speed and excitement of IndyCar Series racing in the clarity and wide-screen format of high definition television," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. "The addition of the 360-degree, onboard camera for the first time in the United States continues the IndyCar Series' role as a leader in innovation and technology while offering our teams added value for their sponsors."
The IndyCar Series will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC in 2008, including seven events on both ESPN2 and ABC and two on ESPN. The networks also will cover Indianapolis 500 qualifying May 10-11 and 17-18.
"The Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series are very important to ESPN and our affiliates," said Bryan Burns, ESPN vice president, strategic business planning and development. "Taking our coverage to the next level with high definition has been a priority for us and the series, and will enhance the breadth of our HD services. We're happy that sports fans will be able to reap the rewards all season."
The new onboard camera is the first of its kind in domestic motorsports and is the next evolution of the previous onboard system used in the series. Broadcast Sports Inc., which developed the system, worked with the league's technical team on wind tunnel simulation and aerodynamic research to ensure the new mount does not affect race car aerodynamics at speeds of more than 220 mph.
IMS Productions, the in-house television production outlet of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is upgrading all of its facilities and equipment and building its own high-definition production truck so that it can shoot, produce and broadcast in high-definition for all of its clients. The transition to HD is being directed by Charlie Morgan, who was named president of IMS Productions in October.
The IndyCar Series season begins Saturday, Mar. 29, at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a prime time telecast on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET. The series concludes at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday, Sept. 7, at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. The 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 airs Sunday, May 25, at noon on ABC.
ABC will televise the Indianapolis 500 for the 44th year and ESPN will celebrate its 13th year of IndyCar Series coverage in 2008. The ESPN alliance dates back to the series' inaugural 1996 event and with ABC's first telecast of the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, a relationship that is the second-longest in sports between a network and sports property. Only CBS and the Masters have been together longer.
In 2008, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD will deliver more than 1,000 live events in high definition including: NFL Monday Night Football, NASCAR, NBA, MLB, college football, the Masters, MLS, MLL, IndyCar Series, NHRA, Winter and Summer X Games and more.
Currently, ESPN HD reaches more than 15 million subscribers and is available to more than 93 million homes and ESPN2 HD reaches approximately 12 million subscribers and is available to more than 79 million homes.
2. Drivers prepare for 2008 season with Indianapolis meeting: IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series drivers descended on Indianapolis this week for meetings in preparation for the 2008 season that begins in seven weeks with an Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 27-28.
Sixty-six drivers passed physical examinations at the Clarian Medical Center at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They also participated in an informational meeting on the morning of Jan. 8.
"It's really refreshing to start a new season, forget most of the things that happened in '07," Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira said. "Everything is new. That's how you want to start a new year, with all of the old experiences, but with new opportunities. That's what really cheers me up."
"It is a bit exciting to do the interviews, get the TV, have the photos taken, do the safety meeting, meet all the other drivers again," said Darren Manning, who will drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Co.-sponsored car for the second year. "It's all kicking back off again.
"Mainly now it's preparation with the team and yourself. You're working out, visiting with the team and meeting with your engineers. You might be making seats and fine-tuning your cockpit arrangement. You might have wanted to do something to your pedals or your steering wheel because once you get into the season you have very little time to tweak what you've got."
3. IndyCar Series drivers weigh in with NFL playoff picks: IndyCar Series drivers will be watching with interest this weekend as the NFL playoffs continue.
Danica Patrick: "The Colts are such a strong team and I think Peyton (Manning) is extremely good and a focused player. I think they have a good chance. The Patriots are going to be tough in the end, but I think the Colts have a good shot."
Ryan Briscoe: "I like the Colts. They're my No. 1, but my girlfriend is from Wisconsin and her family are avid Green Bay Packer fans. It's kind of scary, really. They make me put the green and yellow hat on. But when I moved to America, I moved to Indianapolis, so I'm a Colts fan."
Sarah Fisher: "Well, I always cheer for the Colts. I live here in Indianapolis, so go Peyton (Manning). I'm very disheartened about the college national championship game with Ohio State, because both my parents are Ohio State alumni, and no matter how bad they do, I'm always going to be a Buckeye."
Buddy Rice: "The (Arizona) Cardinals are out. They're the hometown team that you have to cheer for. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with New England, if they can go all the way. It's been quite impressive what they've been able to do so far. I like the playoffs. I like watching that stuff. You can definitely see that the best of the best come out, and they really shine."
Ryan Hunter-Reay: "I want to see the Colts or the Chargers do something, and obviously they're facing each other this weekend, but those are my two teams in this whole thing. I think the Colts have a lot better chance than the Chargers do. They're just from top to bottom a more consistent team."
Marco Andretti: "The Pats."
4. Panther Racing tests Brent Sherman: Former NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Brent Sherman is the latest driver to audition in Panther Racing's Indy Pro Series car.
Sherman, with more than 60 starts in the Busch Series and six in Nextel Cup, tested on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. Last month, prospective drivers Leilani Munter and P.J. Chesson tested with the team at Sebring International Raceway.
Sherman's test was a return to open-wheel cars. He competed for two years in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and, in 2000, tested a Toyota Atlantic car before making the move to the Hooters Pro Cup and ARCA the next season.
"Drivers at this level -- it doesn't matter if it's IndyCar, NASCAR, or wherever -- are professionals," said Sherman, 33. "And everybody is a good driver. But a lot of your success is based on the team, and how good the team is. And, for whatever reason, I never found that perfect situation in NASCAR. I love open-wheel racing, this is where I started my career, and I'm glad to be back."
The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the SpeedJam Indy 300 on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ABC Sports/ ESPN. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.