July 30, 2012



ESPN set to take over Sprint Cup coverage

Rich Feinberg, ESPN Vice President for Motorsports Production

By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press

For Rich Feinberg, vice president, Motorsports, Production for ESPN, tomorrow is the day they planned all year for.

Tomorrow kicks off ESPN’s/ABC’s coverage of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series for the rest of the season starting with the Brickyard 400 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a very iconic place for us,” Feinberg said in his office wearing an open collared shirt and pair of jeans. “It’s like returning home for us. We’ve had a 45-year history with them.”

ESPN has its headquarters located on the Bristol/Southington town line and employs over 7,000 people worldwide, with 4,800 alone working in the Bristol mega-complex.

“We average about 150 people working on our Nationwide coverage and well over 200 for the Sprint Cup races, especially at places like Talladega and Indianapolis.”

When asked if ESPN will offer anything new for the viewers for 2012, Feinberg said they are always looking for new and innovative ways of bringing the excitement of NASCAR racing to their viewers.

Manchester, Ct. native Mike Massaro is the host of NASCAR Now and a Pit Reporter for NASCAR race telecasts. Mike got his start as a announcer and PR director at Stafford Motor Speedway.

“We will have all HD (High Definition) cameras in the cars. We will also be utilizing our dual path in car system and the ultra slow motion.” That is something Feinberg is quite proud of.

ESPN, like all networks, must walk the fine line of keeping the loyal race fan entertained while reaching out to the new viewer who may know little or nothing about the sport, and racing is no different.

“That is a two prong approach. We want to service the hardcore fan that are familiar with racing and the drivers, but we also need to do so in a way that it embraces the new fans. It is a very fine balance of making it broad based enough.”

ESPN will again use NASCAR Non-Stop for the Chase using a split screen to show the commercials with the live action. ESPN invented that format for its IndyCar coverage and it was used first time by ESPN last year.

While the Sprint Cup coverage starts with Indy, ESPN has been doing the entire Nationwide series schedule.

“Racing is very important to us. The Nationwide series gives us a chance to build stars so when they make it to Cup, fans know who they are,” said Feinberg, who now lives in Farmington.

But what does it take to get the races in front of millions of race fans worldwide on a weekly basis? ESPN uses 11 Mobile units for race and studio production, 20 miles of video, audio and power cable needed on site at race tracks, anywhere from 60 to 75 HD cameras used by ESPN to televise a NASCAR race, over a 100 microphones both wired and wireless with more than 150 hotel rooms for the more than 225 credentialed ESPN personal.

The signal must then travel 22,600 miles from the race track to the satellite, then 22,000 miles back to ESPN.

ESPN will also have enough power to run a small town.

It is a very complex job but when Feinberg was asked if anything worries him, he said, “There isn’t one but several; you have a tendency to worry about a lot of things. I can’t control the weather and I can’t control whether or not it is a competitive race.

NASCAR Countdown team

“I would love to have a race like at Talladega where they had a record amount of lead changes. You tend to worry about almost everything, even if you have no control of it.”

When asked if weather is a concern what backups are in place, “We always are sure to have plenty of compelling stories with fresh and new content.”

His credentials are quite impressive, as he oversaw the inaugural HD telecast of the “greatest spectacle in Motorsports,” the Indianapolis 500, as well as the introduction of the Tech Garage and the ESPN Pit studio, the two most technologically advanced, state-of-the-art traveling studios used in television.

Feinberg was also an integral part of ESPN’s owned and operated X Games.

Feinberg said he always gets suggestions and comments about their race coverage and welcomes them all.

All of the remaining races expect for Aug. 25 at Bristol, Sept. 8 at Richmond and Oct. 13 at Charlotte will be shown on ESPN. These three races will be shown on the ABC television network.

As the Sprint Cup season turns to the second half, the ESPN family is your home for all of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races and the chase to the championship.


Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Editions" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.


Copyright © 2012 Brian Danko