Broadcast team ready for USAC Indiana challenge

For the first time in USAC history, three straight days of national championship racing are targeted for national television coverage. The 50-lap USAC National Sprint Car Series event at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on Wednesday will be shown at 8...

For the first time in USAC history, three straight days of national championship racing are targeted for national television coverage.

The 50-lap USAC National Sprint Car Series event at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on Wednesday will be shown at 8 p.m. June 7, while back-to-back nights of the Weld Racing Silver Crown Series at Indianapolis Raceway Park Thursday night (Hoosier Twin 50s) and the Indiana State Fairgrounds Friday night (Hoosier Hundred) will be telecast at 10 p.m. Friday and at 9 p.m. June 12, respectively. All races can be seen on SpeedChannel.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions will produce all three events in addition to working the Carburetion Day festivities, "500 Festival" Parade, and the Indianapolis 500 and its celebrations.

Producer Tom Fix will double dip between his duties with USAC and the Speedway. Along with pre-planning for the shows, hiring crews, and renting trucks, as well as his duties at the Speedway, Fix will produce all three telecasts.

Trucks going to Anderson and IRP will arrive the day of the race and crews nearing 30 will begin setting up for those events, while the truck going to Anderson will arrive at the State Fairgrounds Thursday morning for Friday's "Hulman Hoosier Hundred". Cabling from the truck will be done first, then setting up the track with cameras will be done next, followed by setting up the announcer's booth with monitors and a camera. Play-by-play announcer Rick Benjamin and analyst Larry Rice will call races at Anderson and IRP from a booth, but will call the race at the State Fairgrounds via monitors in a trailer outside the track. Pit reporter Dave Argabright will call the action from the pits for all three events.

Fix is familiar with all three facilities. Since his days with "Saturday Night Thunder" in the 1980's and 90's, Indianapolis Raceway Park has been the home event.

More than eight cameras will be implemented around the three tracks and in the cars. Fix said he plans to set Anderson and IRP up similarly - at least two in-car camera on two cars, two cameras atop the press boxes, one camera each in turns one and three, an RF camera stationed in the pits and near victory lane, a booth camera, and a speed shot camera, which can be placed at any location and whose purpose is to catch speed. Fix said it will not be decided who gets an in-car camera until the day of the race.

The "Hoosier Hundred", which was shown tape-delay on ABC's Wide World of Sports in the 1960's, will have separate challenges. The facility is without an announcer's booth, and additional cable is required due to the track's length. Fix has rented an office trailer, which will sit next to the truck, for the announcers, and has extra cable for lifts, which will hold the cameras on the outside of turns one and three. A single camera on a 10-foot lift outside of turn four and two cameras in the main walkway of the grandstand on the main straightaway will also be in place. Fix said it took a couple of hours recently to decide how the facility was going to be set up.

Like the other two events, RF, speed shot and in-car cameras will be used. Fix said because the race is on dirt, no decision has been made as of yet to where the in-car cameras will be placed. "We have to decide what to look at," Fix said. "Sometimes it's more difficult on dirt because obviously, dirt's flying, and if the camera's covered with dirt, it's pretty much worthless. The (camera) angles will either work for one lap, not at all, or maybe even the whole race. But odds are, they're going to have dirt on them."

Cabling will not be difficult at Anderson or IRP. IMS Productions installed cabling at IRP a couple of years ago, and because Anderson is a quarter-mile in length, Fix said it should not take long to wire cable from the truck to the cameras and monitors. The cable will go along the catch fence so it is out of the way of fans. Cabling at the State Fairgrounds will be done Thursday while cameras will start setting up Friday.

All three shows will be approached as live-to-tape, although there is no room for error in Thursday's telecast. After being taped, Fix can check any problems until early Friday morning before he sends the show to Charlotte for its Friday showing. Fix has additional time to mend any problems during Wednesday and Friday's shows.

Fix said qualifying, heats, the semi feature and features will all be taped, but the objective is to produce a show with as much racing as possible.

The show at Anderson will be a one-hour program while the other two shows will be two-hour programs. The race at IRP was originally scheduled for May 10, but inclement weather postponed the event to May 22. Fix said adding the race to Carb Day will just make the day a little longer.

"Everybody in our company wears several hats throughout the year, but during the month of May, everybody's wearing even more hats," Fix said. "This is usually a busy week without three USAC races, so it really doubles the workload. That goes for everybody. There's a lot of people who are going to be happy to see June come along."


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