ESPN History

Today in ESPN history: Celebrating NASCAR and NFL anniversaries

Bob Jenkins and Larry Nuber called many races for ESPN in the 1980s. (ESPN)

On Nov. 8, 1981, ESPN televised its first live NASCAR race. Mike Joy and Larry Nuber called the action for the Atlanta Journal 500 from the Atlanta International Raceway.

Among those competing for the $239,910 purse were Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison, who were engaged in a close battle for the NASCAR Winston Cup title in the penultimate race of the season. Neil Bonnett won the memorable race and Waltrip went on to win his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

On this same date in 1987, ESPN televised its first ever National Football League regular-season game when the then Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosted the New England Patriots.

Weekly guest analysts were featured during the 1987-88 season. Larry Csonka, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame that summer, joined Roy Firestone and Mike Patrick in the booth for this match-up.

ESPN employed the use of a “Super Slo-Mo” camera and replay machine for its regular season NFL telecasts, one of 10 cameras used for NFL coverage; we now use 30 and employ multiple “Super Slo-Mo” cameras.

Roy Firestone, Mike Patrick and guest analyst Larry Csonka are pictured in the booth at Giants Stadium.
(Jim Turner/ESPN)
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