NASCAR Sprint Cup at Darlington Has NBC Sports Going Retro
This weekend, NBC Sports will hustle back in time to the days of disco, bellbottoms, and the pet rock. During its broadcast of NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing from Darlington Raceway, the Peacock plans to celebrate the look, sound, and style of the 1970s: the decade of NASCAR legends Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, and Bobby Allison.
“I think a lot of times we all wax nostalgic about things that happen, but here’s an opportunity to educate fans, too,” says analyst Kyle Petty, whose father Richard dominated the sport in the 1970s. “When you see that 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse painted up like the old Holman & Moody 17, when you see the 16 car painted up like Tiny Lund and that kid that’s just been a fan since 2000 says, ‘Who was Tiny Lund?,’ It’s an opportunity to educate fans to the history of the sport — and grow them as a fan.”
Special features throughout Labor Day Weekend will include retro on-air graphics, including the vintage “living-color” NBC peacock and logos; throwback paint schemes and video highlights; legendary broadcasters like Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett; and plenty of ’70s attire. Squier will present a personal essay about the particularly storied history of South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway.
“It is so unique, so different. It wasn’t intended that way, but that’s how it came out,” says Squier. “By the ’70s, there was no question that Darlington had unequivocally proven that it was the game-changer, and [the essay] talks about the personalities of the ’70s who did just exactly that.”
From a production standpoint, producer Jeff Behnke has spent nearly two months prepping for the throwback weekend. Because many of the items that viewers will see will happen in postproduction, Behnke’s job at Darlington, for the most part, will be “business as usual.”
“I think one of the things that is going to be great for the viewers this weekend is all of the retro paint schemes that so many of the drivers and the teams are going to be a part of,” says Behnke. “I believe there’s over 30 cars that are participating in that, so we’re showing photos, we’re showing video, all kinds of things from the retro paint schemes that the drivers are doing to help push that forward.
“From a workflow standpoint,” he continues, “we’re in good shape and excited about providing the new look — the new old look — for one weekend.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing from Darlington airs on NBC in primetime on Sunday Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. ET; it’s NBC’s first Sprint Cup race since July’s race at Daytona International Speedway. On Saturday, NBC presents XFINITY Series Racing from Darlington at 3 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra will stream coverage.
Throughout the weekend, NBC Sports’ lead announce team Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte, and Rick Allen will call the race action; pre- and post-race festivities from Darlington will be handled by host Krista Voda alongside analysts Petty and Dale Jarrett. Marty Snider, Mike Massaro, Kelli Stavast, and Dave Burns will contribute reports from pit road. In addition, NBCSports.com lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan and features reporter Rutledge Wood plan to contribute to both NBC’s and NBCSN’s coverage Friday through Sunday.