Senior operations producer veered off legal track and wound up on fast track with NASCAR

Ronica Hardway (Andy Hall/ESPN)
Ronica Hardway (Andy Hall/ESPN)

Ronica Hardway had no intention of making television her career. But like many who work in the industry, her involvement happened by chance.

Hardway is a senior operations producer for ESPN Remote Operations, working on ESPN’s NASCAR and IndyCar coverage. But 13 years ago, she had a different path mapped out.

“I had just graduated law school and was waiting for my bar results,” Hardway said. “My brother was working for ABC on Monday Night Football. They were coming to Foxboro and he asked if I wanted to work a few days.”

She worked as a runner for ABC’s production team at that December game in 2000. Since she was still in limbo about her bar exam, she traveled to Miami in early 2001 and worked an NFL Wild Card playoff game, then the Super Bowl in Tampa.

She quickly realized she enjoyed the work and that good fortune had smiled on her.

“I just kind of fell into this,” she said. “You pass the bar and then you have to get admitted by the state that you passed the bar in and sometimes that takes more time than the actual testing. So in-between while I was waiting, I figured hey I’ll just kick around so I started working on a few shows and (13 years later) here I am.”

Hardway jokingly describes her job as a cross between a wedding planner, a mediator and maybe a personal assistant.

“I do logistics,” she said. “And I deal with many people on a daily basis, be it the crew members who might have travel issues, work issues, paycheck issues, family issues – they have stuff going on here, we’re not a bubble. Then I deal with the vendors, and the track and NASCAR Media Group, so it’s a balance of getting all of the behind the scenes stuff put together, the logistic aspect of it.”

She has done some volunteer legal work and keeps her attorney status current. Her training even comes in handy while working with the dozens of people on the ESPN crew on race weekends.

“I have a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is mediation, arbitration,” she said. “So I think that plays well and helps me in just talking with different people because we have people from all walks of life here.”

ESPN will televise the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. ET.

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