REPLICA PRODUCTIONS, SCCA ANNOUNCE AIRDATES FOR FIRST THREE ESPN2 RALLIES; "THE DEUCE" TO AIR ALL SEVEN 1998 MICHELIN PRO RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- May 6 -- The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has announced airdates...
REPLICA PRODUCTIONS, SCCA ANNOUNCE AIRDATES FOR FIRST THREE ESPN2 RALLIES;
"THE DEUCE" TO AIR ALL SEVEN 1998 MICHELIN PRO RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- May 6 -- The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has announced airdates for the first three 1998 Michelin PRO Rally Championship events to be produced by Replica Productions on ESPN2.
ESPN2, which has taken on most of the all-sports network's auto racing coverage, has signed a deal with Replica Productions, of Cambridge, Mass., to broadcast all seven National PRO Rally events. The programs will be half-hour broadcasts airing three weeks after each event, with veteran race broadcaster Marty Reid and former rally champion John Buffum providing the commentary (schedule follows - the remaining dates will be announced this summer).
Kurt Spitzner, SCCA's director of marketing for Rally/Solo, sees the television package as a sign that PRO Rally has been recognized by racing enthusiasts as an exciting sport.
"The efforts of our organizers and competitors, along with series sponsor Michelin and Replica Productions' Doug Plumer, have brought a European-based form of racing out of the shadows in the U.S., and both national and local sponsors are climbing on board," said Spitzner, noting that several organizers have obtained event sponsors to help defray the costs of putting on a rally. As an example, Subaru of America's Western Region is sponsoring the upcoming Rim of the World PRO Rally broadcasts in May and June.
Doug Plumer, the executive producer for Replica Productions, which has been creating PRO Rally shows since 1995, sees the sport as a made-for-TV product, with 24 - 36 hours of racing distilling into an action-packed half-hour of entertainment.
In a PRO Rally, each team consists of a driver and a co-driver (or navigator), and the exact course is kept secret until just before the event - different from World Rally, where practice is allowed. The cars start at one-minute intervals and race against the clock over stages of closed National or state forest roads which range in length from three to 25 miles. At many events, 10 - 20 racing stages mean 18 straight hours of racing with only occaisional breaks for service. The teams achieving the fast combined times wins. Most PRO rally events include night stages, making it necessary for competitors to adjust their driving style. At many events, speeds of more than 120 miles-per-hour can be reached on long straight-aways.
The 1998 Michelin PRO Rally Championship consists of eight events, is sponsored by Michelin Tire Corporation and sanctioned by the SCCA. PRO Rally information, as well as scores, updates, membership, or other SCCA material can be found on the SCCA web site at <www.scca.com/amateur/prorally>.