Indy 500: NBC Sports Is Back in Full Force at The Speedway, Adds Peacock-Exclusive Pre-Race Show
120+ cameras will cover the 107th edition of the iconic race
NBC Sports is pulling out all the stops at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for its coverage of the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. More than 120 cameras will be deployed to cover the race itself on NBC, and an exclusive two-hour pre-race show will stream on Peacock at 9 a.m. and a 1½-hour pre-race show simulcast on NBC at 11 a.m.
“The race itself is obviously one of a kind,” says NBC Sports producer Rene Hatelid, who will be at the front bench for the third consecutive year. “But it’s all the pomp and circumstance leading up to the start that makes this different from any other race of the year. The bagpipers walking out, the jet flyovers — the entire scene is just amazing. We want our pictures to make everybody watching wish they were there in person. We’ve been planning with the track as far back as November of last year to make sure we have everything covered for all the pre-race ceremonies. It’s going to be a very special day.”
Pre-Race Coverage: Peacock Spreads Its Wings in Lead-Up to the Green Flag
In all, NBC Sports Group will deliver seven hours of live race-day programming from IMS as part of more than 60 hours of total IndyCar coverage during May. NBC and Peacock have been covering all practice, qualifying, and warm-up sessions since May 16, and Peacock will provide exclusive coverage of Carb Day, the Indy 500 Parade, and Victory Celebration during race weekend. It all culminates this Sunday with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in front of 300,000 fans in the stands and millions more watching at home on NBC and Peacock.
The additional 9:00-11:00 a.m. programming on Peacock will allow NBC Sports to showcase the Peacock Pit Box (which is outfitted with two robotic cameras and a mini jib), the Snake Pit, and the overall build-up of excitement leading into the event. Host Mike Tirico and studio analyst and former IndyCar driver Danica Patrick will be on hand at the Peacock Pit Box, and motorsports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR analyst Steve Letarte will be reporting from Snake Pit and throughout IMS.
“We pride ourselves on moving all our [on-air talent] around throughout the event and finding interesting new locations to go live from,” says Hatelid. “If you were to show up at any point in time, we want to make sure we’re exactly where the action is at that moment. We’ll have Danica and Mike bringing in a rolling group of guests in the Pit Box and Junior and Steve moving all around. We’re just making sure we are where the action is happening.”
120+ Cameras: In-Car Cams, Drones, Specialty Jibs, and More
In terms of cameras, the Indy 500 is always among the biggest — if not the biggest — live production on the annual sports calendar. This year’s complement of 120+ cameras scattered across IMS includes 60 in-car cameras across 15 cars, both a heavy lift and a small drone from Beverly Hills Aerial, two Steadicams, an 80-ft. StradaCrane jib, a TechnoCrane, two standard jibs, eight roving RF handhelds, eight super-slo-mo cameras (including an ultra-high-speed start/finish line-cam from Fletcher), and 10 panning robos from IMS Productions (IMSP).
“The two drones were a big hit last year,” notes Hatelid. “We’re excited to have them back again. Nearly half the field has onboard cameras this year, which is pretty impressive. But it all comes down to the way that our director Sean Owens uses them, and the pictures he’s able to create are amazing.”
As it does every year, NBC Sports is working closely with IMS Productions, sharing production resources and facilities. IMSP trucks HD-5, B1, C1, Ops 1, Net Ops, and TX- 4 will be in the compound. NBC also has Lyon 18 serving its pre-race coverage and in-race EVS and Spotter needs. Two BSI units provide RF support in the compound, along with BSI Blue in the infield. Four office trailers are on hand for production support, and all power is provided by Cat Entertainment Services’ 500-kW twin-pack generators as well as a 100-kW tow pack.
“The Speedway has also been an amazing partner,” says NBC Sports Tech Manager Matt Hogencamp, “[and] the most vital partner with NBC for this event is IMSP.”
He describes IMSP President Kevin Sublette; Director, Broadcast Operations, Ken Ferguson, and Technical Managers Wright Hugus and Alex Milton as “the dream team. They do IndyCar week in and week out at an amazing level. Their sense of teamwork and dedication to a quality production is unmatched. Their engineering team, lead by [Director, Engineering,] Jason King and [Supervising Engineer/EIC] Steve Dixon, is the definition of professionalism.”
In the booth, play-by-play caller Leigh Diffey and analyst Townsend Bell will be calling their fifth consecutive Indy 500 and commentator James Hinchcliffe his second. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Dave Burns, and Dillon Welch will serve as pit reporters, and Tirico, Patrick, Earnhardt Jr., and Letarte will contribute to the broadcast throughout the race.
“Everyone put their heart and soul into these past couple of weeks leading up to the race,” says Hatelid. “The team that we have put together is hands down the best in the business in my opinion. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with them. I know how much they care, and we all look forward to what happens on Sunday because it truly is The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”