Behind The Scenes

ICYMI: The week on Front Row; PLUS: Producing Indy 500 telecast means homecoming for Murphy

Shawn Murphy doing conducting an interview with Evansville, Ind., ABC-TV affiliate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Andy Hall/ESPN)
Shawn Murphy conducting an interview with Evansville, Ind., ABC-TV affiliate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Andy Hall/ESPN)

The first time he went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Shawn Murphy was seated in a stroller.

On Sunday, Murphy will be back at the iconic racetrack but this time he’ll be on the hot seat.

Murphy, a senior coordinating producer for ESPN, will be in the producer’s chair for ABC’s Sunday telecast of the Indianapolis 500. After the pre-race show at 11 a.m. ET, the race’s green flag flies at 12:15 p.m. and Murphy is off to the races for the next three hours.

Shawn Murphy works inside a production truck. (Andy Hall/ESPN)
Shawn Murphy has gone from sitting in a stroller at the Indy 500 to the lead chair in the ESPN production truck. (Andy Hall/ESPN)

But for Murphy, who grew up in Indianapolis, the Indy 500 is a homecoming, a family tradition and a labor of joy.

His mother pushed him around in that stroller at the track when he was an infant but in 1975, the 500 fell on his fifth birthday and he attended the race for the first time.

“The night before, my parents told me my birthday present was to go to the race the next day,” said Murphy, who joined ESPN fulltime in 1992 and works out of the ESPN Regional Television (ERT) office in Charlotte, N.C. “It was the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.”

Thus began a family tradition of attending the 500. From 1980 through 2001, Murphy never missed a race. His family started with tickets at the end of the backstretch then gradually upgraded to better seats and they still hold annual tickets.

Two years ago, Murphy was able to extend the family tradition by taking his oldest son to the race. His boy was 5, just as his father had been when he attended the first time. And this year, his other son is attending for the first time, also at the age of 5.

“I guess there’s something about being 5 in our family,” he said. “It means you go to your first 500.”

Despite not being able to sit with his youngest son in the family’s grandstand seats, Murphy is honored to be producing the telecast of the race he grew up watching.

“I’m just passionate about the Indianapolis 500 and so getting to combine a passion of joy and childhood memories with my work profession is a pretty awesome experience,” he said. “It’s one that I’m pretty fortunate and blessed to have.”

ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row

• In a time lapse video, see hours of changes on the Bristol, Conn. SportsCenter set in less than a minute.

Pardon the Interruption’s assistant director Bonnie Berko shares some of the favorite pieces she’s bought, collected and curated for the PTI set in Washington, D.C. over the past 12 years.

SportsCenter reporter Shelley Smith was in Oklahoma City neighborhoods devastated by Monday’s tornado. Smith and producer Shari Greenberg were with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant as he toured the area. She shared some thoughts on the visit with Front Row.

• For the fifth year, ESPN Stats & Information’s Jeremy Mills will make another another bid at college baseball Bracketology perfection. He spoke with Front Row about how it all started, the projecting process and more.

Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week

• From Grantland: Rembert Explains the ’90s: The Saved by the Bell Graduation Finale

• From Rick Reilly: My top 20 NFL coaches

• From espnW’s Melissa Isaacson: Serena has nothing to prove at French Open

• Enjoy an array of photos in this gallery from ESPN Images

Andy Hall contributed to this post

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