The world’s largest single-day sporting event returns to its traditional television home on Sunday, May 24, as the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race airs on ABC for the 51st consecutive year.
Continuing a Memorial Day weekend TV tradition that began in 1965, ABC’s telecast of the 99th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing begins with a one-hour pre-race show at 11 a.m. ET with polesitter Scott Dixon leading the field of 33 to the green flag at 12:17 p.m. The race telecast of the premier event of the Verizon IndyCar Series is presented by Firestone.
ESPN’s production of the Indianapolis 500 telecast for ABC is again one of the largest and most complex that ESPN does each year. The production will utilize 85 cameras, including three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race. Four of the 12 will be equipped with dual-path technology, allowing shots from two of the cameras on a car to be used at the same time.
Expanded this year will be usage of five Ultra Hi Motion cameras to enhance views and replays, with the cameras now capable of shots around the entire 2.5-mile track as well as all of pit road. The cameras are capable of producing images up to 20 times slower than live action, allowing viewers to see detail not visible at regular speed.
Viewers of the ABC telecast will have the option of a second screen experience through a choice of live streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen live sports network. ESPN3 will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN, on Indycar.com and the Verizon INDYCAR 15 app.
Allen Bestwick will call the race along with analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, both former Indy 500 competitors. ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak will host the telecast from the Speedway’s iconic Pagoda while pit reporters will be Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch.
ABC’s Indianapolis 500 telecast will be produced under the oversight of ESPN vice president, production, Rich Feinberg. Shawn Murphy will produce the race telecast and Bruce Watson will direct, while Kate Jackson will produce the pre-race show with Chip Dean directing.
The telecast’s opening tease, “Speed, Risk and Danger,” is an anticipatory look at why drivers are willing to risk everything for Indianapolis 500 glory. Among the features that will air during the pre-race show or in ESPN SportsCenter’s Indianapolis 500 coverage:
- ESPN’s Marty Smith has a roundtable discussion with the four Team Penske drivers: Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.
- Looking back at the last four laps of the 2014 race and the thrilling finish between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves through the eyes of the participants and those close to them.
- The son of ’86 Indy winner Bobby Rahal, Graham Rahal is marrying into another famous racing family, the Force Family of drag racing. In a fun take on popular TV commercials, Graham and his bride-to-be, NHRA star Courtney Force, are on “racetothealter.com.”
- ESPN Sport Science goes inside what it takes to be an IndyCar driver and what the driver’s body goes through during a race.
- Marco Andretti: a Perfect “10” – coming from a famous family of racers, Marco Andretti has come close to winning the Indy 500 twice. Could his 10th attempt finally mean victory?
- A Memorial Day feature: The story of Aaronn Fields and the process by which he was returned from the theater of operations and transferred home to Brazil, Ind., as told by his mother, Jackie Pilkin, and Major Jessie Carlton.
- The Pursuit of Speed walks viewers through all of the major milestones in Indy 500 history, starting with the WASP (winner of the inaugural race) and ending with the 2015 car.
- What Indianapolis means to a driver, told from the viewpoint of three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
The relationship between ABC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the longest-running between a network and a sporting event. Weekend coverage of the Masters has aired on CBS since 1956, and golf’s Open Championship has appeared on ABC every year since 1962. In addition, ABC has aired the Little League World Series since 1963.
The Indianapolis 500 on other ESPN Platforms
In addition to the live telecast on ABC, the Indianapolis 500 will receive ESPN multiplatform coverage on the following outlets:
SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship news and information program, will include reports from Indianapolis Motor Speedway before and after the running of the Indianapolis 500. On race morning, several Indy 500 drivers will appear on SportsCenter from Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to the start of ABC’s live telecast at 11 a.m. ET. SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak, who is hosting the telecast of the race on ABC, will have an exclusive interview with the race winner that will run Sunday night as the SportsCenter Sunday Conversation.
ESPN.com will provide surround coverage of the Indy 500 with motorsports writer John Oreovicz joined at IMS by ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee. The site has already been previewing and preparing for the event with news, features and blogs from the Speedway since the track opened for Month of May activities. The ESPN.com staff will cap off the coverage on race day with Racing Live! Indianapolis 500 as the writers, editors and fans interact on every aspect of the race.
espnW.com – On Wednesday before the Indy 500, espnW.com will publish a feature on Simona De Silvestro, one of two women competing in this year’s race. Writer Tony Fabrizio examines her chances in the race and how a good showing at Indy could firmly establish De Silvestro as the top woman in open wheel racing… and could just land her a full-time ride, too. On Thursday, espnW will have a Q&A with Beth Paretta, the principal behind the all-women’s team that will field an entry in the 100th Indy 500 next year with driver Katherine Legge. Last week prior to qualifying, espnW featured team owner and former driver Sarah Fisher.
ESPN3 – Race fans will have the option of a second-screen experience during the Indy 500 telecast with a selection of streaming video from onboard cameras on ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen live sports network. ESPN3 is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The network is currently available to more than 99 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.
ESPN International — In addition to television in the United States on ABC, ESPN also distributes Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts through a combination of ESPN networks and syndication to more than 200 countries and territories and more than 103 million homes. In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world can watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network.
ESPN PLAYER — This year, ESPN Player is bringing fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (excluding the UK, France, Italy and South Africa) live and on-demand coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season as a channel on the digital subscription service. ESPN Player is available on Mac, PC, iPad, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, with high quality streaming on all devices. Information is available at ESPNPlayer.com.
ESPN Classic started helping fans ready for the Indy 500 with airings of classic Indy 500 races throughout the week of the race. The airings began Monday, May 18, and will continue through Friday, May 22.
ESPN on Demand — Available in approximately 45 million television households, ESPN On Demand is offering exclusive Indianapolis 500 content during May. Viewers can dive into the Indy 500 archive On Demand to view highlights from Al Unser Jr.’s wins in ’87 and ’92, Dario Franchitti’s wins in ’10 and ’12, and highlights from Ryan Hunter-Reay’s win in 2014.
ABC Television – ABC-TV’s weekday program The Chew will air a segment on the Indianapolis 500 on Friday, May 22.
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