ESPN’s traveling production for NASCAR is one of the largest in all of televised sports, with a dozen or more tractor-trailer rigs carrying equipment track-to-track every week from February to November. Everything needed to televise races must be set up, torn down and moved each week.
This week, the convoy of rigs traveled from Phoenix to Homestead, Fla., site of the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season on Sunday. ESPN’s live telecast begins at 1 p.m. ET.
Not even the best announcers, producers and directors can make good television if their equipment isn’t there and ESPN’s Remote Operations team carries the responsibility of setup, teardown and transportation.
“It comes together by having a really good core crew of people that I get an opportunity to work with,” said ESPN Senior Operations Producer Ronica Hardway. “We get into a routine. We’re very fortunate because it’s the same people, we have the same crew from week to week, which is very, very important and helpful, and it would almost be impossible to do what we do in the timespan we have without having the people that really know what they’re doing.
“We all kind of have our roles on setup and knockdown, dealing with packing up the equipment, dealing with paperwork for payroll, and we just get into a mode with that,” she said. “The setup is that we’re very, very fortunate with the partners that we work with that it’s such a cohesive relationship for all the bits and pieces to get done. The other thing that gives us a little bit of comfort and ease is that we go to the same venues every year and almost in the same exact order, and that is very helpful in itself.”
With all of that togetherness for some 40 weekends a year, the team has become very close-knit.
“We have a really good crew and it’s like a family,” Hardway said. “The fact that we work a lot of shows and we’re on the road so many weeks, having people that you actually enjoy being around and doing things with is the best part of this series.
“We really do try as a group to find pockets that we can actually do things outside of TV,” she said. “Last year and this year we went as a group and we paintballed, or went bowling. We’re just trying to do things as a group like you would at home and do some stuff that’s not about work.”