Allen Bestwick, anchor for ESPN’s NASCAR coverage, is taking on some new duties.
Bestwick, who joined ESPN in 2007, has agreed to a multi-year contract to remain with the network after ESPN’s contract to televise live NASCAR racing concludes at the end of the 2014 season. He will call play-by-play on college football telecasts for ESPN, a variety of collegiate sports on the upcoming SEC Network, and on ESPN interactive television productions of golf and tennis beginning in 2015. And in 2014, the versatile veteran is adding IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500 to his schedule.
Bestwick will be on the call as ESPN televises the opening race of the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series season at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday at noon ET. In the Front & Center podcast above, Bestwick discusses his background as a broadcaster, the role that a hockey legend played in his life, working his first Indy 500 and the process for making the decision to remain with ESPN. Some highlights from the conversation:
On his early influences:
I grew up in Rhode Island and a kid growing up in the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s around Boston had to follow the Boston Bruins, and Fred Cusick – who was the broadcaster for the Bruins – was certainly an inspiration and a role model for me. The class and the elegance that he went about doing what he did always reflected back on my thoughts when I got into the broadcasting business.
On calling the Indianapolis 500:
One of the things that sparked my fascination with broadcasting was that appointment viewing of the Sunday night primetime broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 with [former ABC anchor] Jim McKay behind the microphone. It’s one of those things that attracted me and inspired me to get into the business and to think that I’m going to have the opportunity to sit in that chair – that chair – this coming May is mind-blowing.
On the decision-making process:
ESPN has become home for me. I love the company. I’m a big watcher of ESPN products on television and I enjoy being part of the group and I’m really grateful to be part of the group going forward. It’s a very exciting time for me.