SPEED and SPEED.com are scheduled to present 25 hours of live and uninterrupted coverage from this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race at Circuit de la Sarthe, France’s most famous racing circuit. At 8:30 a.m. ET on June 12, SPEED begins coverage from the 78th annual endurance classic with the race’s opening laps. When the network begins to air its NASCAR coverage for the weekend later that day, SPEED.com will kick in with live streaming coverage.
All of this will take place from SPEED's Charlotte studio, a unique way to cover the race. We caught up with Rick Miner, SPEED Senior VP of Production and Network Operations, to talk about the assignment.
Trading Paint: This is an endurance race, it's also an endurance broadcast, how are you covering it?
Rick Miner: It’s all hands on deck from start to finish. We have a relief crew. We have two complete play-by-play and analyst teams that rotate. We have two pit reporters. They will all work three to four hour intervals. If we are following a certain story, we may carryover that particular team.
TP: This is being done from your studio, what went into that decision and do you feel it impacts the viewer?
RM: In these economic times, this is a more cost effective manner. I don't think the viewer loses anything. In fact, I think we do a better show. We use our own graphics and have all of our production values. I do send all of the announcers to Le Mans. They are there for the scrutineering and practice sessions. They are on the ground talking to the teams and the drivers. They are working the storylines, they have the feel for it. Then we fly them back. The reality of a road race is that the play-by-play can’t see the whole track anyway. But I do think it’s important that they get their boots on the ground. But once the race starts, they are in the TV compound (at Le Mans) anyway. We take the world feed just like we would have to do if we were in France.
TP: Talk about Le Mans as an event.
RM: It's amazing. If you are doing a bucket list of motorsports, Le Mans is on it. It takes over the entire town. Part of the course is public roads, you could actually be driving on the course the morning of the race. The entire city is involved in this event. You are dealing with basically a small French town which is consumed by the event. I think that, being from New York, where racing is not in your blood, other than trying to beat everyone to the Lincoln Tunnel, we don’t understand the all encompassing feeling that the entire country is involved in this event. All of Europe, really. This is a lifestyle that people embrace year round. In New York there are 1,000 things that compete for your entertainment dollar. In Le Mans, there is only one. It’s similar to a Mets-Yankees World Series.
TP: You are from New York, how did you get involved in motorsports?
RM: I was a stick and ball guy out of New York. I was born in Manhattan and lived in Brooklyn and Long Island. I've always been a motorcycle guy. I was hired when FOX took over what was Speed Vision. I was a live television guy and that’s what they needed.
TP: You spent time covering the Mets.
RM: I did the Mets on WOR from 1978 to 1998. I also did Rangers hockey. I was fortunate.
TP: I still can’t believe that the Yankees are on channel 9 now.
RM: I know. I’m from that era. The Mets were 9 and the Yankees were 11. It’s strange.
TP: Compare baseball and auto racing.
RM: In the racing world, everyone is part of what’s going on. The guy who drives the bus, the mechanics. The membership extends beyond the driver. The racing world is very inclusive. In baseball, there are players and guys who are not players.