Fox Sports Studio Team Parks in Old Victory Lane for a Stunning Backdrop

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The collapsible set was created in partnership with Filmwerks

For the first sold-out Daytona 500 since the pre-pandemic era, it’s fitting that fans watching at home can witness the raucous crowd in the stands. Although the race broadcast will show the crowds in many ways, Fox Sports’ remote studio team built a set on location in one of the best spots at Daytona International Speedway: the former victory lane positioned just in front of the start/finish line.
“A lot of this crew was working on their first NASCAR event last year,” said Rob Mikulicka, Director, Remote Studio Operations, Fox Sports“but a packed house with fans is what makes this race special. The excitement is going to be on a whole different level this year.

Safety in mind: COVID-19 protocols keep the entire lobby away

Sunday’s race will see significantly more fans than last year, but the studio setup will be in the same location as last year. Previously, the broadcaster emphasized fan interaction, placing the pre-race desk among the fans in the lobby. After the pandemic, Mikulicka and his team met with the folks at NASCAR from late December 2020 to early January 2021 to come up with a more COVID-friendly approach.

Located in the old victory lane, Fox Sports’ on-site studio offers a view of the start/finish line.

The best answer we came up with was to move the on-air talent away from the crowds and into a more controlled environment adjacent to the Chevrolet Fan Experience building. This prime spot ensures great views of the teams on pit road, fans enjoying their time in the stands and a close-up of the checkered racing line, where the race will start and end, but it doesn’t get in the way customers using the Chevrolet building.

“We had a few site visits to take measurements a month and a half before the race,” says Mikulicka. “We wanted to make sure our office roof wouldn’t interfere with the view of Chevrolet customers and VIPs. We took a bunch of notes from last year, but we didn’t have as much planning this year.

Without any margin for error, the team used the same studio set deployed two weeks ago at the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Not only was it a hit in NASCAR’s first preseason race, but the setup felt familiar and capable of shrinking in size. Featuring mechanical arms developed by Filmwerks, the compact set can be lifted and folded down at any time.

Bottom: The operations team works under the set

At a glance, the physical whole reflects the NASCAR on Fox brand: blue floor, steel beams and proper lighting (designed by Jeffry Gregson of Airtime Lighting). This set reaches a height of 6 feet from the ground to the main deck, and that decision was intentional. Since Game Creek Video’s Encore mobile unit handles the run and pre-run, the truck isn’t able to comfortably accommodate broadcast and studio crews. To compensate for the lack of space, the core of the studio operations team will operate under the set in these 6 feet. difference. Launched at the Los Angeles Clash, it requires small holes to be drilled on the main deck to allow cables to pass through and enough space to place equipment out of sight.

Fox Sports’ Amy Burns in the 6ft. working area under the stage of the studio set

“We basically built a remote control room for our audio mixers and tech leads with video routers and high-brightness monitors like you would normally see in a truck,” explains Amy Burns, Remote Studio Operations Manager, Fox Sports. “Our back house [crew and hardware] is now under the house.

The studio and mini production complex are built on functionality, but they also focus on providing a safe working environment. Since the Great American Race is located in Central Florida, the unpredictable weather is a roll of the dice. For example, the last two races were postponed to the following Monday due to bad weather.

To keep the pre-race and post-race shows on track, the physical set is equipped with the necessary features to withstand heavy rain. A pitched roof extending a foot beyond the attached water runoff to go behind the structure, and waterproof curtains keep out rain from any direction along the curved canopy. To protect against severe thunderstorms or lightning, the crew fitted the roof with several 10-footers. poles that can catch lightning strikes, harness and filter energy away from the set, and prevent power outages. And the set can withstand winds of over 80 mph, but, with great caution, the set would be dismantled in winds approaching 35 mph.

Mechanical arms can raise and lower the studio roof.

“[Fox Sports VP, Remote Studio Operations, Rod Conti] worked with Filmwerks to tweak the design a bit,” Mikulicka adds. “Last year was the first time we had to close the set due to dangerous winds. A few panels on the roof started to come off, so we screwed them down and have done so at every show since. last year’s Daytona 500.

Complete Team Effort: Fox Sports and NASCAR Create a Remarkable On-Site Presence

Mikulicka and Burns are two of the main figures in this on-site project, but other people have made this activation a reality. also participated Artistic Director Johnny Cho; Technical Directors Mike Vaughn and Cory Scott; Technical Producers Daniel James, George Grill, Pete Chalverus, Clyde Taylorand Marc Alsmeyer; and Production Manager Karin Fasing.

On the NASCAR side, the broadcaster relied on the help of Vice President, Operations and Technical Production, Steve Stum; Managing Director, Broadcasting, Ben Baker; Senior Director, Broadcasting, Lauren Hill; Director, Track Communications, Russell Branham; Senior Manager, Technical Operations, Mark Hull; Compound Technical Director Wayne Nelson; and Bill Papadopoulos, Resort Operations Manager and Jamie Wolfe.

Above all, says Mikulicka, the execution of a large-scale effort like this is led by Conti: “His vision is the glue that binds us all together. We have great relationships with the people we work with, and it all starts with him.


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