ESPN Rolls Out New Tech for Indy 500 Coverage

INDIANAPOLIS AND BRISTOL CONN.--ESPN is introducing several new video technologies to enhance its coverage of the 101st Indianapolis 500 from the brickyard, Sunday, May 27. Produced by ESPN, the race will air on ABC for the 48th consecutive year, with the green flag set for 12:12 p.m., EST.

ESPN will deploy more than 80 cameras to televise the race--the premier event to what is now referred to as the “IZOD IndyCar Series”--including four onboard HD cameras per car in at least nine of the 33 cars competing in the race. ESPN will also make use of dual-path technology for the first time in an IndyCar Series telecast, permitting views from two onboard cameras on the same car at the same time. 

“On the new DW12 chassis, we've been able to work with Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IZOD IndyCar Series and the chassis developers to install four cameras on every car,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports production. “If we achieve our goal of 12 cars, that would be 48 onboard cameras, which is a first in terms of volume for us. Additionally, for the first time, all the cars that have systems will offer our viewers driver shots which we've not been able to do in many, many years.”

Feinberg added that ESPN will also return to Indianapolis with its “Batcam,” a camera that provides unique views running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch and can move at more than 80 mph. “We can use it for beauty shots, crowd shots… we can also use it for coverage as the cars are coming down the frontstretch headed towards turn one,” Feinberg said. “It’s an exciting shot, unique to that racetrack, and offers some glorious views of the pageantry of the Indianapolis 500.”

Views and replays will be enhanced by the first Indianapolis 500 use of ultra hi-motion cameras that shoot at a frame rate of 1000 fps, and located in the short chutes at each end of the 2.5 mile track as well as at the fourth turn and exit. “This should offer some compelling views for our fans and viewers in ultra slow-motion of key moments in the race and on the track,” Feinberg said. “We’ve never used those before as well.”

In another Indy 500 first, viewers of the ABC telecast will be able to choose live streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3, ESPN’s multiscreen live sports network. ESPN3 will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN and on to fans who receive their Internet or video subscription from an affiliated provider. Viewers will be able to choose which driver’s onboard cameras they want to watch from among the available cars. ESPN3 will also have replays of the ABC telecast following the event. 

“We think onboard pictures are something that is compelling for viewers, especially in a telecast like the Indy 500, where we believe more people are watching that race than normally watch other open-wheel competitions,” Feinberg said. 

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.