As the Indianapolis 500 prepares to leave ABC, its only home for the past 54 years, for new partner NBC next season, The Associated Press asked those who will produce the telecast for their memories:
“I remember back when I was a features reporter, and I remember standing on the grid. My dad was with me. And I remember the anthem and the flyover and it was everything, and I looked up at my dad and we both had tears in our eyes. That was pretty awesome. You sort of nod at each other. And I’ve tried really hard not to think about it, and stay present in the moment and be really grateful to cover this Indy 500 and share all these memories. But I think when it’s over there’s going to be a lot of tears.” — Kate Jackson, who will produce the race for ABC for the fourth time on Sunday.
“There are so many wonderful moments but the Al Unser Jr.-Emerson Fittipadli run where they touch at the end of the race (in 1989) stands out. We did a really good job because I decided to just shut the hell up. The story was visually in front of you, and I’d just occasionally say, ‘There’s 20 laps to go,’ and I’d back out of it. The story was there. There were two cars, one of them was going to win the Indy 500, and I think we created better drama doing it that way.” — Paul Page, who has served as lap-by-lap broadcaster on ABC television and radio.
“The thing that I’ll be bittersweet about the most, if anything, the team we have — it’s a very big crew but it’s a very tight-knit team. A lot of these people have been working this event for many, many years. There’s people that have been involved since the ’70s, and they’re all passionate about the event. They all do other things all year, but all these people come together this one week.” — Allen Bestwick, who will handle lap-by-lap duties for the fifth time.
“Going through the tunnel at 5:45 on race morning, and the prerace with taps and ‘Back Home Again,’ it’s about as solemn and reverent and emotional as you can get. It’s emotional overload, because you see the drivers the last few minutes before they get into the car. They’re so focused. And they know at these speeds and this racetrack, anything can happen. This day could change their lives one way or another. And if you win this race, your life is changed forever. There’s nothing like that.” — Jerry Punch, who will work his 27th race for ABC on Sunday.