List of Indianapolis 500 broadcasters
The Indianapolis 500 has been broadcast by ABC since 1965. It is currently the second-longest-running relationship between a sporting event and television network., surpassed only by CBS Sports' relationship with the Masters Golf Tournament (which began in 1956 and has continued ever since). In 2014, ABC celebrated fifty years televising the 500, not including the years 1961 through 1964 when brief filmed highlights were broadcast the following weekend on Wide World of Sports.
From 1965 to 1970, ABC televised a combination of filmed and/or taped recorded highlights of the race the following Saturday on Wide World of Sports. The 1965 and 1966 presentations were in black-and-white, while all subsequent presentations have been in color. From 1971 to 1985, the Indianapolis 500 was shown on a same-day tape delay basis. Races were edited to a two- or three-hour broadcast, and shown in prime time. Starting in 1986, the race has been shown live in "flag-to-flag" coverage. In the Indianapolis market, as well as other parts of Indiana, the live telecast is blacked out and shown tape delayed to encourage live attendance. For 2016, the race was completely sold out, and as such the local blackout was lifted for that year. Since 2007, the race has been aired in high definition, and has been produced through the ESPN on ABC arrangement.
The current television voice of the Indy 500 is Allen Bestwick, who was named to the role on January 2, 2014. From 2006 to 2013, Marty Reid called the race, but was released on September 29, 2013. Past television anchors include Chris Schenkel, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Jim Lampley, Paul Page, Bob Jenkins, and Todd Harris. Other longtime fixtures of the broadcast include Jack Arute, Sam Posey, Jackie Stewart, Bobby Unser, and Dr. Jerry Punch.
On August 10, 2011, ABC extended their exclusive contract to carry the Indianapolis 500 through 2018. Starting in 2014, the contract also includes live coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix on the road course.
- Starting in 1986, the race was shown live in its entirety. The 1986 race, however, was postponed for six days due to rain.
- Since 2007, live coverage has been produced by ESPN. Also in 2007, Rusty Wallace and Jamie Little worked the 500, but did not cover any other races that season.
- Rupert Boneham once worked as part of the ABC Sports production crew at Indy.
ABC-TV live telecast gallery
Same-day tape delay coverage
- From 1971 to 1985, the Indianapolis 500 was shown on a same-day tape delay basis. Races were edited to a two or three hour broadcast, and shown in prime time. It was also blacked out in the Indianapolis market.
- In 1975, Jim McKay came down with a bad cold the day of the race so Keith Jackson, who had been scheduled to work as a pit reporter that day, was transferred to the broadcast booth to call the lap-by-lap of the race in McKay's place.
- In 1973, Jackie Stewart was scheduled to be the color commentator. The race however, was red flagged on Monday due to the Salt Walther crash, and rain delayed the start until Wednesday. Stewart was unable to stay for the race running on Wednesday since he was due to compete the following weekend as a driver in the Grand Prix of Monaco, so Chris Economaki took his place.
- In 1971 Chris Schenkel was supposed to be the telecast host, but was injured when the pace car crashed coming into the pits at the start of the race.
- In 1971, a young David Letterman, who then worked at ABC's then-Indianapolis affiliate WLWI-TV, was one of the roving turn reporters.
- From 1971 through 1985, the calls at both the start and finish of the race were recorded as those events transpired, but the commentary of the middle of the race was recorded as the edited tape was being broadcast.
Wide World of Sports coverage
- From 1964-1970, the Indianapolis 500 was shown live on closed-circuit television in theatres and other similar venues across the United States. All live closed circuit broadcasts were anchored by Charlie Brockman.
- Race commentary for ABC's Wide World of Sports broadcasts was recorded during post-production. During the actual running of the race, Jim McKay served as a roving reporter, recording interviews in the pits and garage area, which was edited into the broadcast.
Local live coverage
|Year||Network||host||Lap-by-lap announcer||Color commentators||Pit reporters|
|1950||WFBM||Earl Townsend||Earl Townsend||Dick Pittenger||Paul Roberts|
|1949||WFBM||Earl Townsend||Earl Townsend||Dick Pittenger
- The Indianapolis 500 was first broadcast on television from 1949-1950 on WFBM (now WRTV) in Indianapolis. It was done to boost sales of television sets. After 1950, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, fearful that local television coverage would hurt attendance, decided to no longer allow live TV coverage in Indianapolis unless all tickets to the event were sold (this has only happened once, in 2016). Although the rest of the nation can see the Indianapolis 500 live, the ABC telecast is shown in Indianapolis on a same-day tape delay that evening.
ABC carried highlights of time trials beginning in 1961. ABC continued to cover time trials exclusively through the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1987 ESPN began covering portions of time trials. From 1987-2008, time trials was aired over a combination of ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2, in varying levels of air time. From 2009-2013, time trials was aired on Versus/NBCSN. Time trials returned to ABC in 2014-2017.
- "Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC". name. 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- "Marty Reid Fired: ESPN Replaces NASCAR, IndyCar Announcer After Nationwide Gaffe (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- "Indy 500 will remain on ABC into 2018". ESPN.com. 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
- Hall, Andy (2014-03-25). "IndyCar Series Season To Open on ABC from St. Petersburg". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- Indianapolis 500 (2000) home page at Hollywood.com
- The 83rd Indianapolis 500 (1999) home page at Hollywood.com
- Race was scheduled for Sunday May 25, but rain postponed the start until Monday May 26. After 15 laps were completed, rain resumed, and the conclusion of the race was held Tuesday May 27.
- 74th Indianapolis '500,' The (1990) home page at Hollywood.com
- The 73rd Indianapolis '500' (1989) home page at Hollywood.com
- The 72nd Indianapolis '500' (1988) home page at Hollywood.com
- Race was scheduled for Sunday May 25, but rain postponed the race until Monday. On Monday, rain continued, and the race was rescheduled and held Saturday May 31.
- The 70th Indianapolis 500 (1986) home page at Hollywood.com
- 2004 Indianapolis 500 Telecast.
- "TV". The Orlando Sentinel. May 27, 1972. p. 27. Retrieved April 19, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.