This week, the inaugural Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix is taking center stage in the sporting world. After nearly two years of buildup, the race will roll off late Saturday night with live coverage on ESPN, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes.
On-site at the racetrack to service ESPN shoulder programming is a small, hard-working group from various ESPN departments, including operations and production.
“This is one of those projects that it takes a small village ready to dive in and potentially step outside of their traditional role to ensure success,” said Jarrett Baker, manager, Remote Facilities.
“We are limited in the amount of personnel that we can have on-site, and we are working to be as efficient as possible,” he said. “So our operations footprint and technical team is a total of six people.
“When we started with this model, I was taken aback by our entire on-site team – production, leadership, people who wouldn’t normally be involved in setup and knockdown, just jumping in and helping. I think that demonstrates the team we have and how we have each other’s backs.”
The ESPN team, which also includes talent, production personnel, and others, works from cabins in the event’s TV compound. There is also a 12-by-12 set in the Formula 1 paddock, with three robotic cameras controlled from ESPN headquarters.
Ansioso pra etapa da Formula 1 em Las Vegas? 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/0rqa1jySPU
— ESPN Brasil (@ESPNBrasil) November 15, 2023
Among the platforms the team is servicing are SportsCenter, ESPN BET, ESPN Deportes, ESPN International, ABC’s Good Morning America and ABC News.
The Las Vegas event is being conducted on a temporary racing circuit incorporating part of the famous Las Vegas Strip. It’s a learning curve for all involved.
“There aren’t any past events to lean into or any internal reference points for this particular project because we haven’t done it in the past,” said Baker. “So we’re all working together to learn the ropes and to understand the on-site expectations, which are so different from any other property.”
ESPN Vice President, Production, Kate Jackson, agreed.
“The inaugural race at any location can present challenges,” she said. “No matter how much you prepare, there is always something you didn’t plan for. You have to live through a full race weekend to really understand what each individual event will be like.”
Creating a world-class event with the Formula 1 standard of excellence is everything. ESPN’s marketing group has been deeply involved in promotion in advance and on location.
“You take the on-track excellence aside, the appearance of the paddock, the appearance of the TV compound, it’s just incredible,” said Baker. “The expectations are very high, and it takes the entire group to meet those expectations while doing everything that we normally do to tell the stories of the event and serve sports fans.”