List of Indianapolis 500 broadcasters

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The ABC-TV Sports broadcasting complex at the 1993 Indianapolis 500.

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,[1] surpassed only by CBS Sports' relationship with the Masters Tournament (since 1956). In 2014, ABC celebrated fifty years televising the Indianapolis 500, not including 1961 through 1964 when reports and highlights of time trials were aired on ABC's Wide World of Sports.[2][3][4][5]

From 1965 to 1970, ABC televised a combination of filmed and/or taped recorded highlights of the race the following weekend 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] Starting in 2014, the contract also includes live coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix on the road course.[9]

In 2019, the Indianapolis 500 will move to NBC, as part of a new three-year contract that unifies the IndyCar Series' television rights with NBC Sports (the parent division of IndyCar's current cable partner NBCSN), and replaces the separate package of five races broadcast by ABC. The Indianapolis 500 will be one of eight races televised by NBC as part of the new deal, which will end ABC's 54-year tenure as broadcaster of the event.[10][11][12] WTHR will be the local broadcaster of the race under this contract; the existing blackout policy is expected to continue.[13]

Live coverage[edit]

ABC Sports television camera mounted along the outside wall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 2005 Indianapolis 500.
ABC Sports Skycam at the 2008 Indianapolis 500.
Brent Musburger and Rusty Wallace prepare to report from the ABC-TV pre-race stage at the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Jack Arute of ABC Sports in the garage area at the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Dr. Jerry Punch of ABC Sports in the garage area at the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
IMS Productions / ABC-TV broadcasting compound at the 2016 Indianapolis 500.
ABC-TV reporters Jamie Little (middle) and Jerry Punch (right) at the 2010 Indianapolis 500
ABC television booth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This booth was used by the ABC commentators from 1987 to 2003, and was later demolished after the 2015 race.
Year Network Host Lap-by-lap
announcer
Color
commentator
Pit reporters
2019 NBC Mike Tirico Rick Allen Paul Tracy
Townsend Bell
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Robin Miller
Katie Hargitt
Jon Beekhuis
Kevin Lee
Marty Snider
2018 ABC Nicole Briscoe Allen Bestwick Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Jon Beekhuis
Rick DeBruhl
2017 ABC Lindsay Czarniak Allen Bestwick Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Jon Beekhuis
Rick DeBruhl
Marty Smith
2016 ABC Lindsay Czarniak Allen Bestwick Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Jon Beekhuis
Rick DeBruhl
2015 ABC Lindsay Czarniak Allen Bestwick Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Jon Beekhuis
Rick DeBruhl
2014 ABC Lindsay Czarniak Allen Bestwick Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
Rick DeBruhl
2013 ABC Lindsay Czarniak Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
Rick DeBruhl
2012 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
Rick DeBruhl
2011 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
Rick DeBruhl
2010 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
Rick DeBruhl
2009 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jack Arute
Vince Welch
Brienne Pedigo
Jamie Little
2008 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Eddie Cheever
Jack Arute
Vince Welch
Brienne Pedigo
Jamie Little
2007 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Rusty Wallace
Jack Arute
Vince Welch
Brienne Pedigo
Jamie Little
2006 ABC Brent Musburger Marty Reid Scott Goodyear
Rusty Wallace
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
2005 ABC Brent Musburger Todd Harris Scott Goodyear Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Jamie Little
Penn Holderness
2004 ABC Terry Gannon Paul Page Scott Goodyear
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
Vince Welch
Todd Harris
Jamie Little
2003 ABC Bob Jenkins Paul Page Scott Goodyear Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
Vince Welch
2002 ABC Bob Jenkins Paul Page Scott Goodyear Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
Vince Welch
2001 ABC Al Michaels Bob Jenkins Larry Rice
Jason Priestley
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Leslie Gudel
2000[14] ABC Al Michaels Bob Jenkins Tom Sneva
Arie Luyendyk
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Vince Welch
Leslie Gudel
1999[15] ABC Al Michaels Bob Jenkins Tom Sneva Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
Jon Beekhuis
1998 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Tom Sneva Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1997[16] ABC Paul Page Paul Page Danny Sullivan
Bobby Unser
Tom Sneva
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1996 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Danny Sullivan
Bobby Unser
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1995 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1994 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Danny Sullivan
Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1993 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1992 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1991 ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1990[17] ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
1989[18] ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Jerry Punch
Brian Hammons
1988[19] ABC Paul Page Paul Page Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Brian Hammons
1987 ABC Jim McKay Jim Lampley Bobby Unser
Sam Posey
Jack Arute
Al Trautwig
Jerry Gappens
1986[20][21] ABC Jim McKay Jim Lampley Sam Posey Jack Arute
Al Trautwig
Larry Nuber
Donna de Varona
  • 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.[22]

ABC-TV live telecast gallery[edit]

Same-day tape delay coverage[edit]

From 1971 to 1985, the Indianapolis 500 was shown on a same-day tape delay basis. Races were edited down to a between two and three hour broadcast, and shown in prime time. It was also blacked out in the Indianapolis market until a later date. The broadcasts would typically open with the rendition of "Back Home Again in Indiana", and the starting command, but no other pre-race ceremonies. In addition, the broadcast was supplemented with some pre-recorded, in-depth featurettes, aired during down times. Later telecasts included live introductions at the top and bottom of the broadcast, with the closing segment sometimes an interview with the race winner, which by that time, had been revealed to the viewers. During this period, the announcers' commentary at both the start and finish of the race were recorded as those events transpired. However, the commentary of the middle parts of the race was semi-scripted, and recorded in post-production, and edited into the broadcast as it was being aired.

Year Network Host Lap-by-lap announcer Color commentators Pit reporters
1985 ABC Jim McKay Jim McKay Sam Posey Jack Arute
Jim Lampley
Bill Flemming
1984 ABC Jackie Stewart Jim McKay Sam Posey Jack Arute
Larry Nuber
Bill Flemming
Ray Gandolf
1983 ABC Jackie Stewart Jim McKay Sam Posey Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
Jim Lampley
Anne Simon
1982 ABC Jackie Stewart Jim McKay Sam Posey Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
Jack Whitaker
Clyde Lee
1981 ABC Dave Diles Jim McKay Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
Sam Posey
1980 ABC Chris Schenkel
Dave Diles
Jim McKay Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Sam Posey
1979 ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Dave Diles
1978 ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
1977 ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
1976[23] ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Sam Posey Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
1975 ABC Chris Schenkel Keith Jackson Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Sam Posey
1974 ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Sam Posey Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
1973 ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Jackie Stewart
Chris Economaki*
Dave Diles
Don Hein
1972[24] ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
1971 ABC Chris Schenkel Jim McKay
Jackie Stewart Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
Keith Jackson
David Letterman
  • 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.

Wide World of Sports & closed-circuit coverage[edit]

Race commentary for ABC's Wide World of Sports broadcasts was recorded during post-production. During the actual running of the race, anchor Jim McKay occasionally served as a roving reporter, recording interviews in the pits and garage area, which was later edited into the broadcast. In some years the broadcast also included highlights of time trials. From 1964-1970, the Indianapolis 500 was shown live on closed-circuit television in theaters and other similar venues across the United States. All live closed circuit broadcasts were anchored by Charlie Brockman.

Local live coverage[edit]

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. At the time, there was consideration for the race to be broadcast nationally by 1951 or 1952, possibly through a network syndication arrangement originating through WFBM.[25][26] After two years, however, the Speedway management decided to eliminate live television coverage, fearful that live local television coverage would hurt gate attendance. Likewise, the cost to expand the broadcast nationally was considered prohibitive.[26] For 1951, WFBM-TV was permitted to televise time trials live, but not the race itself.[27][28] In future years, local live coverage of time trials would continue in various forms, but the race itself was to be blacked out in the Indianapolis area. Only once (2016), would the local blackout be lifted on race day.

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
Paul Roberts
Robert Robbins

Time trials and practice[edit]

ABC carried highlights of time trials for the first time in 1961.[2] 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 2014-2018.

In 1993, ESPN began covering daily practice session, with a wrap-up show each afternoon. The "Indy Live Daily Reports" continued through 2006, and in some years were packaged as part of RPM 2Night or SportsCenter. Since 2009, Carb Day has been aired by Versus/NBCSN. Live streaming of practice began in 2001. Streaming providers have included: Indy500.com official site (2001, 2004), Yahoo! (2002-2003 & 2006), WhiteBoxPC/NeuLion (2009), YouTube (2010-present).

Footnotes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC". ESPN Media Zone. May 23, 2011. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Feck, Luke (May 27, 1961). "Men And Machines Race The Clock". The Cincinnati Enquirer. p. 10. Retrieved March 16, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ "Week's Programs Sunday May 20". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 20, 1962. p. 234. Retrieved March 25, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ "TV Programs". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 18, 1963. p. 16. Retrieved March 25, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ "TV Programs". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 15, 1964. p. 48. Retrieved March 25, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Cavin, Curt (May 25, 2016). "IMS blackout lifted after Indy 500 sellout". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  7. ^ Yoder, Matt (September 30, 2013). "ESPN fires racing announcer Marty Reid". AwfulAnnouncing.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  8. ^ "Indy 500 will remain on ABC into 2018". ESPN. August 10, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Hall, Andy (March 25, 2014). "IndyCar Series Season To Open on ABC from St. Petersburg" (Press release). ESPN. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "INDYCAR SIGNS MULTIYEAR MEDIA RIGHTS PACKAGE WITH NBC SPORTS GROUP". IndyCar Series. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  11. ^ Ayello, Jim (March 21, 2018). "The Indy 500 will soon have a new TV network". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  12. ^ Steinberg, Brian (March 21, 2018). "NBC Sports Grabs Indianapolis 500 Rights From ABC After 54 Years". Variety. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  13. ^ Ayello, Jim (March 21, 2018). "How IndyCar-NBC deal will affect local Indy 500 blackout". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Indianapolis 500 (2000) home page at Hollywood.com
  15. ^ The 83rd Indianapolis 500 (1999) home page at Hollywood.com
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 74th Indianapolis '500,' The (1990) home page at Hollywood.com
  18. ^ The 73rd Indianapolis '500' (1989) home page at Hollywood.com
  19. ^ The 72nd Indianapolis '500' (1988) home page at Hollywood.com
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ The 70th Indianapolis 500 (1986) home page at Hollywood.com
  22. ^ 2004 Indianapolis 500 Telecast.
  23. ^ Holliman, Ray (May 30, 1976). "Indy 500 'comes alive' on ABC". St. Petersburg Times. p. 35. Retrieved December 29, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  24. ^ "TV". The Orlando Sentinel. May 27, 1972. p. 27. Retrieved April 19, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  25. ^ "WFBM-TV to Cover '500' Mile-by-Mile". The Indianapolis Star. May 29, 1950. p. 11. Retrieved March 16, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  26. ^ a b Cochran, Polly (May 30, 1952). "Everyone In Reach of Radio Will Have 'Ticket' To Race". The Indianapolis Star. p. 42. Retrieved March 7, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  27. ^ "TV Will Show '500' Time Trials". The Indianapolis Star. May 6, 1951. p. 6. Retrieved March 14, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  28. ^ Hynes, Beatrice (May 30, 1951). "WIBC To Radio Speedway Race". The Indianapolis Star. p. 36. Retrieved March 14, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read

Works cited[edit]