NBC, MRN Bring New Perspectives to NASCAR With Multiple Announce Locations at Watkins Glen

Talent will call the action from four vantage points on the historic road course

NBC Sports Group and Motor Racing Network will offer a new perspective in NASCAR coverage tomorrow — or, more accurately, several new perspectives. The two will combine to produce NBCSN’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race coverage from Watkins Glen International with announce locations at four points throughout the 2.45-mile road course in Watkins Glen, NY.

NASCAR on NBC race announcer Leigh Diffey and chief analyst Steve Letarte will call the race from NBCSN’s traditional broadcast booth above the start/finish line; MRN announcer Mike Bagley and NBC analysts Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman will contribute to the race telecast from their respective locations around the track.

NBC will have 52 cameras, plus hard cameras installed on the track, to cover the Watkins Glen International.

“We have 34 different announce positions this week, which include multiple announce booths, our pre- and post-race stages, victory lane, and now the three additional announcers around the track,” says NBC Sports Technical Manager Eric Thomas. “In all, that provides a pretty big sandbox for the production team to play in. With three additional vantage points, there are more announcers to manage out on the track and more announcers to share their thoughts about the on-track action. It is about making sure that all the important things they have to say get on-air at the right time.”

Bagley will be stationed in “The Esses” along the track and will report as the cars make their way through the preliminary turns. Kligerman will catch the cars next, in the “The Carousel,” and Burton will add perspective as the cars maneuver through “Turn Six.” Although the different vantage points will allow NBCSN to comprehensively cover all the action on the course, the setup creates new challenges for the technical team. In addition, NASCAR on NBC pit reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, and Dave Burns will serve their customary race-day roles from pit road.

“The technical challenge is actually getting the signals to and from the three additional locations around the track,” says Thomas. “They need microphones, IFBs, talkbacks, and monitors. So we need to get fiber there as well as equipment necessary to transfer the signals back and forth. Then, there is the logistical issue of physically getting the announcers and the equipment up into the platform. Our team has done a great job planning for this. We knew we were going to do this a couple weeks ago, so we had time to plan.”

No additional cameras will be added to the production’s 52-camera complement to cover the locations. Instead, NBC will use hard cameras already stationed around the track to cover them. In addition, NBC will deploy a helicopter to show where the announcers are in relation to the track.

“The helicopter will be able to show what corners [each reporter is] covering and what straightaways they can see,” says Thomas. “I think it is going to be very visually appealing to show it from the helicopter. In all, we will be using 52 cameras to cover the races this weekend.”

The multiple-vantage-point production also adds to the audio crew’s workload, but Thomas says that A1 Dennis Ryan and his team have excelled at planning for the production. NBC also added personnel to tend the equipment that will be needed in the field.

Game Creek Video’s Peacock One A, B, C, and D units will serve as the hub of NBC Sports’ production in Watkins Glen this weekend, as they do throughout NBC’s NASCAR season.

“The final road course of the season is the perfect location for this unique presentation,” says Jeff Behnke, VP, NASCAR Production, NBC Sports Group. “The four-point perspective, with our veteran road-course specialist Leigh Diffey behind the mic, will add a compelling element and fresh viewpoint to the telecast.”