Behind The Scenes

ESPN, Katie producers collaborate on Patrick, Couric’s high-speed meeting

Katie Couric always has wanted to go for a fast lap in a race car and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick granted the ABC News journalist the opportunity recently at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The two then sat for an in-depth interview that went beyond Patrick’s transition from Indycar racing to stock cars. Couric also asked Patrick about how people perceive her as a person and the possible sexism she might face on a daily basis at the racetrack.

The interview airs during NASCAR Countdown prior to the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis on Saturday, July 28, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.

“We have a great interview with Katie and Danica together and it was revealing, friendly and intimate,” said Kate Jackson, ESPN coordinating producer, motorsports.

“I think the viewers are going to be really excited to see it.”

The interview and video from Couric’s laps around the 2.5-mile track in a second seat in Patrick’s No. 7 Chevrolet came about after Couric’s new program, Katie, contacted NASCAR to arrange for Patrick and Couric to get together. Portions of what was shot at Indianapolis will appear in the program when it debuts this fall.

But NASCAR also brought the opportunity to ESPN to get some unique content, and Jackson and the ESPN Event Production group, which covers NASCAR racing every week, brought some technical experience and expertise to the shoot.

“We just reached out to the producer of Katie’s group and talked about what they were trying to accomplish and what we wanted to accomplish and we were able to share resources and partner through this whole one block of time to get everybody everything that they needed,” Jackson said.

In addition to preparing a research packet on Patrick that Couric tweaked to her own style and used for the interview, ESPN also helped with the technology for in-car cameras and for capturing radio conversation between Patrick and Couric while they were on the track.

“They were great partners,” Jackson said. “They were really into it and they really trusted us and kind of let us lead the way which was great.”

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick with ABC News journalist Katie Couric (IMS Photo/Jim Haines)
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