For the first time in 54 years the Indianapolis 500 will air on a new television network. On Sunday the 103rd running will be broadcast on NBC and host Mike Tirico says he is honored to be a part of "a great American sporting event." The broadcast will include former Indy 500 driver Danica Patrick and NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will also be driving the pace car for the race.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Tirico said the NBC team is going into the broadcast with great excitement.
"The people at ESPN and ABC, who I worked with for 25 years, did this event in a great way for a very long time and without their 54 years of dedication and love of the event and the sport, I don’t think it would be where it is now," said Tirico. "But it’s like anything, if you come into a new house, you rearrange the furniture, sometimes you bring in some new furniture and you try to make it look better than ever and I think that’s what we’re going to try to do."
Tirico says they look to bring a similar level of storytelling that fans would see with the Olympics.
"This is very similar. These are a lot of athletes that, on a broad scale, America doesn’t know, doesn’t see. Tell their story. Make you care about them and then cover the competition as well as possible. Hopefully we can add a little bit of the larger than life that comes with 300,000 people and something that’s a century old and make it something you care for."
Patrick says she is happy to be a part of a panel that brings a diverse set of perspectives to the race.
"Mike has a ton a sports experience, so drawing those parallels between other sports and then, for me, having that very recent experience of last year being in the 500 but of course a deeper history back in the mid-2000s of being at this race and then to bring in Dale, which is the NASCAR perspective," said Patrick. "I think that NBC’s done a good job of bringing people in that know what they’re doing as well as new fresh talent all over the board from behind the camera to in front of the camera that’s going to make it something new."
(Pictured Left to Right): Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, Mike Tirico, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Tracy, & Danica Patrick