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When was the INDY 500 first televised?

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  • When was the INDY 500 first televised?

    I got an old issue of Speed Age which is asking this question in column called Track Facts by Bob Russo. So does anyone know or want to take a guess? I wasn't alive at the time the answer says it happened, so I'm relying on Speed Age to be correct. The issue also has an interesting article called "Will USAC Kill off Amateur Racing?" It's an interview with Duane Carter regarding road racing and the SCCA. And a review of two races on the Champion Trail, Milwaukee and Langhorne.

  • #2
    1947
    "Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate."

    2018 Indianapolis 500 photo gallery

    2018 Long Beach Grand Prix photo gallery

    2017 Indianapolis 500 photo gallery

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    • #3
      http://www.geocities.com/johnsonindy...500/imstv.html

      1949: WFBM-TV Channel 6 of Indianapolis debuted on air by showing a documentary about the Indy 500, then the entire race live to about 3,000 local households. The station utilized three cameras located along the mainstrech.
      1950: WFBM-TV returned to cover the race for a second time. The race was ended early due to rain. The station would return in subsequent years, but only for reporting, not necessarily for flag-to-flag coverage.

      1964-1970: The race was shown on closed-circuit television in various theatres and venues across the nation.

      1965-1970: The race was recorded, edited, and televised on "ABC's Wide World of Sports" on a Saturday about two weeks following the race.

      1971-1985: The race was recorded, edited, and televised same-day-tape in prime-time on ABC. Early telecasts ranged from two hours, to two and a half hours. By the late 1970s the broadcasts were typically two hours and ten minutes. The first ten minutes was a live on-air introduction, along with the footage of the singing of "Back Home Again in Indiana." By 1981, the broadcast was lengthend to three hours. After the race was over, a live post-race wrap up segment would feature the commentators sitting in front of the illuminated scoring plyon backdropped to the night-time sky.

      1986: The entire race was televised live flag-to-flag on netowork television for the first time. ABC signed the deal in August of 1985. When ABC signed on to the landmark telecast, they were met with rain. The race had to be postponed until the following Saturday. ABC officials decided to pre-empt any previous programming, and showed the entire race live. It has been carried live nationwide on ABC every year since.

      2004: ABC celebrated its 40th year of televising the Indianapolis 500. The start of the race was delayed by rain, then another delay halted the race shortley thereafter. ABC stayed on-air all afternoon, and the race was eventually resumed. After 7 PM Eastern, over eight hours into the broadcast, the race was officially ended when it began to rain a third time. ABC set a record for its marathon Indy coverage, broadcasting for 8 hours and 22 minutes.
      Doctorindy.com

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      • #4
        Wow you guys are too good! According to Speed Age October 1958 "The 500 was televised live in 1949, but only in the Indianapolis area." "Since then, film clips of the race are shown but not until the race is over."

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        • #5
          I remember that first closed circuit broadcast in 1964. I went to it at the Island Gardens in West Hempstead, Long Island. I barely got comfortable before the McDonald-Sachs tragedy unfolded. It was a terrible day for the racing community.
          Dwight Clock

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          • #6
            I remember it being televised but ironically I never saw it until I could get back to Chicago (from the race) to see it...

            It was before the recorder, ... had to drive fast...
            Sometimes I didn't want to see what was on TV (Sachs-McDonald) ... got pictures from J...
            Was there in 73... Have a photo of the cloud...
            I like the jumbotrons now...
            ZOOOM
            "Doc, just set them fingers sose I can hold the wheel"
            James Hurtubise, June, 1964

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            • #7
              Docindy your site is amazing.

              To offer a clarification--I'm almost certain that the first year of the 3 hr tape-delay broadcast was 1980. I remember as a kid watching JR putting a whuppin' on the field and looking up at the clock and being pleasantly surprised that it was 10:15 (CDT) with no end in sight! Anyone else know for sure?
              "Thank God for the fortune to be here, to be an American."--Alan Kulwicki, 11/15/92

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dalz
                Docindy your site is amazing.

                To offer a clarification--I'm almost certain that the first year of the 3 hr tape-delay broadcast was 1980. I remember as a kid watching JR putting a whuppin' on the field and looking up at the clock and being pleasantly surprised that it was 10:15 (CDT) with no end in sight! Anyone else know for sure?
                I have a tape of that race, and it's a two-hour broadcast. I'm 99.9% sure. I'll check though.
                Doctorindy.com

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                • #9
                  Actually, 1980 was indeed the first three hour broadcast. Of course it is possible to have just two hours of race action and an hour of commercials/filler features for that broadcast!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Eric Paddon
                    Actually, 1980 was indeed the first three hour broadcast. Of course it is possible to have just two hours of race action and an hour of commercials/filler features for that broadcast!
                    I guess maybe it was, I'll take you word on it. I'll have to dig out the tape.

                    Anway, those were awful. We'd see about 20 laps of action, then they decide to do a ten minute feature about A.J.'s horse ranch. Come back, and about 75 laps have passed. Then we go visit Josele Garza's family in Mexico.

                    The worst may have been Jackie Stewart's hot wheel cars that he used to describe "push" and "loose." He also did a lame five minute bit explaining the PACER light board system (a confusing system at the time) which left the viewers even more confused at the end

                    Chris Economacki did a real silly one about the noses on the cars. Which made no sense at all. It didn't even explain anything.
                    Doctorindy.com

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                    • #11
                      I just remember how slow the week went following the race. We'd listen to it on the radio and the days leading up to ABC's taped version seemed like months.
                      ...---...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Doctorindy
                        Chris Economacki did a real silly one about the noses on the cars. Which made no sense at all. It didn't even explain anything.
                        Ah yes. 1982. "The Wildcat has, you might call it a screwdriver nose. The PC 10....a needle nose. And the March....well, a W.C. Fields bulbous nose. And the way the PC 10 has been running, it stands to figure that next year, all the Indianapolis cars may well have.....needle noses."

                        ABC was still bringing a 1960s Wide World Of Sports approach to doing the Indy 500 long past the point where that was an acceptable way to broadcast an auto race.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Eric Paddon
                          a W.C. Fields bulbous nose.
                          Haha, that's it

                          1982 also featured the pathetic "Special Updates from Jackie Stewart" in "ABC Race Central." Looked more like a cheap Nightline set. It was so staged that you knew they taped those either way before or way after the race was over. Jackie's "analysis" of Mears's and Johncock's final pit stops (which incidently served more as a momentum killer leading into the final laps) was obvious at best.

                          Those "Special Updates" were beaten only by TBS's NASCAR broadcasts a few years later, where Dave Despain (or whoever) would update us on the "Sears DieHard Hard Charger" points standings (huh? ) from STP Race Central.
                          Doctorindy.com

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                          • #14
                            Yeah, those "Race Central" things were really a lame attempt by ABC to have Jackie do something after they decided they didn't want him as chief analyst any longer, and given how you can make a strong case that the whole flap over Bobby Unser's passing under the yellow business the previous year was feuled a good deal by Jackie's overhyping it in the delayed broadcast, it's not surprising ABC had him demoted.

                            The ESPN Classic "Big Ticket" replay of the 81 Indy 500 is a rare case where I think it's more essential to have the replay than the original version because it is quite illuminating to hear Bobby rip ABC for their approach to the broadcast (especially how Bobby blasts ABC for their charge that he wasn't available to take part in the live portion of the telecast that night).

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                            • #15
                              News flash: I consulted the local library's newspaper microfilm and looked up the May 25th, 1980 TV listings. Sure enough, 8:00-11:00 pm CDT: Indianapolis 500. Local news one hr. late, at 11:00. Whaddya know, not every day you can correct the dean of web Indy trivia!

                              It's all good. Again great site bro.
                              "Thank God for the fortune to be here, to be an American."--Alan Kulwicki, 11/15/92

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