Monaco GP highlights 50+ hours of NBC/NBCSN coverage on “Biggest Day in Motorsports”

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NBC Sports Group will present more than 50 hours of motorsports coverage this week leading into the “Biggest Day in Motorsports”, highlighted by NBC’s live presentation of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group’s F1 team of play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey, analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, and F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton will call the action on-site from Monte Carlo.

NBC Sports Group’s extensive motorsports coverage this week spans Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, AMA Motocross, Global Rallycross and new original programming, culminating with NBC’s live coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix.

MONACO GRAND PRIX

NBCSN will kick off NBC Sports Group’s live coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix with Practice 2 on Thursday morning at 8 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ET.

Diffey, Hobbs, Matchett and Buxton will be on-site for practice, qualifying, and Grand Prix coverage, which begins Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBC.

In addition, NBC Sports Live Extra will present exclusive live streaming coverage of Practice 1 on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET, and Practice 3 on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET.

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THE PREMIERES OF “/DRIVE” AND “OFF THE GRID”

As part of the lead up to Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, NBCSN presents the television premieres of /DRIVE on NBC Sports and Off The Grid this Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET following live coverage of Monaco Grand Prix qualifying.

/DRIVE on NBC Sports: Monaco is the first of 10 episodes that will air on NBCSN this year. The premiere follows hosts Chris Harris, Matt Farah and Mike Spinelli on an adventure across Europe to Monaco in three Formula 1-inspired supercars from F1 constructors Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz AMG and McLaren, as they discover the glitz, glamour and prestige surrounding the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix.

NBC Sports’ original series Off The Grid, hosted by F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton and NBC Sports Group F1 producer Jason Swales, premieres at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN. The series gives F1 enthusiasts an inside look at the culture that surrounds the sport, both on and off the track.

This week’s episode examines the culture surrounding the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, featuring interviews with Force India driver, Nico Hulkenberg and American GP2 drivers Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly.

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“COUNTDOWN TO MONACO” PRESENTED BY CARFAX

Leading into the “Biggest Day in Motorsports”, NBCSN will present the “Countdown to Monaco” Presented by CarFax, highlighted by the North American television debut of the Formula 1 documentary titled “1” at 8 p.m. ET, which examines the history of the sport and drivers that risked their lives to change Formula 1 forever.

NBCSN’s “Countdown to Monaco” kicks off this Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. ET with an encore presentation of qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, followed by the Indy 500 Festival Parade at 5 p.m. ET.

Encore presentations of /DRIVE on NBC Sports: Monaco and Off The Grid: Barcelona will air after “1”, followed by GP2 Race 2 from Monaco at 11:30 p.m. ET, and AMA Motocross coverage from Glen Helen Raceway at 1 a.m. ET.

AMA Motocross coverage can be seen live digitally on NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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NASCAR AMERICA: INTERVIEWS WITH DANICA PATRICK AND KURT BUSCH; NASCAR HALL OF FAME ANALYSIS

NBCSN will air special editions of NASCAR America this week leading into the “Biggest Day in Motorsports,” including a recap special of Wednesday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction announcements, as well as a live NASCAR America Motorsports Special on Friday that features interviews and reports from Monaco, Indianapolis, California and Charlotte.

  • Tuesday, May 20th @ 5:00 p.m. ETNASCAR America connects with the man of the week, Kurt Busch, amid preparations for Sunday’s bid to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Kelli Stavast sits down with NASCAR’s magnetic Danica Patrick to discuss her impressions of Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch as he prepares for “The Double.” IndyCar’s Marco Andretti also joins to discuss Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
  • Wednesday, May 21st @ 5:00 p.m. ET – NBCSN offers a live special surrounding the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction announcements, complete with discussion and analysis of the next class of honorees.
  • Thursday, May 22nd @ 5:00 p.m. ETNASCAR America introduces “Burton’s Garage,” a new production studio location in Concord, N.C., alongside many of the sport’s racing teams. NASCAR America analyst Jeff Burton connects with host Rick Allen to break down the latest story lines and developments.
  • Friday, May 23rd @ 4:00 p.m. ET – NBCSN presents a live, 90-minute “NASCAR America Motorsports Special” heading into what could be the most action packed race weekend of the year. Host Rick Allen, analyst Kyle Petty, reporters Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast deliver the latest developments and connect live with reports from Monaco, Indianapolis and Charlotte. Highlights include a feature on last year’s Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, as well as an interview with NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, currently the only driver ever to finish the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.  In addition AMA Motocross star James Stewart joins from Glen Helen Raceway in California, site of this weekend’s AMA Motocross event.

KURT BUSCH: 36

NBC Sports announced today that it will present an all-access look into the intense preparation, 200+ MPH competition and extreme logistics surrounding Kurt Busch’s upcoming attempt to win IndyCar’s famed Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

The 30-minute special, featuring in-depth interviews, on-track footage, team communications and a seat right next to Busch throughout his races against drivers from two elite series, pulsating travel conditions and the limits of his own endurance, will debut on Sunday, June 8, at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

A 60-minute “director’s cut” of KURT BUSCH: 36 will air the following day, Monday, June 9, at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 CARB DAY

NBCSN, the cable home of IndyCar, will provide six hours of Indianapolis 500 Carb Day coverage, beginning Friday at 11 a.m. ET. In addition, NBCSN will air a live presentation of the Indy Lights Freedom 100 race at noon ET on Friday. Indy 500 coverage concludes on Saturday with the Indy 500 Festival Parade at 5 p.m. ET.

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RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS – BARBADOS

In addition to F1, IndyCar, NASCAR America, and AMA Motocross coverage, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season begins this Saturday on NBC at 1 p.m. ET with their event from the Top Gear Festival in Barbados. Saturday’s race is the first of nine Red Bull Global Rallycross races on NBC this season.

Additional race locations this year include New York, Washington D.C., Daytona, Detroit, Charlotte, Los Angeles Seattle, and the season finale in Las Vegas in November. Red Bull Global Rallycross features some of the world’s premier rallycross drivers, including Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed.

Veteran motorsports play-by-play announcer Tes Sewell will call the action on Saturday, joined by motorsports analyst Townsend Bell.

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S WEEK-LONG COVERAGE OF THE “BIGGEST DAY IN MOTORSPORTS”

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INDYCAR’S contract at Laguna Seca not affected by new track management

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INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports.com that INDYCAR’s season-ending race at WeatherTech Raceway in Monterey, California is not in any type of jeopardy after Monterey County officials sought a new management company for the Laguna Seca facility.

After 62 years of continuous management of the Laguna Seca Raceway, the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) was advised via email by County of Monterey Assistant County Administrative Officer (ACAO) Dewayne Woods last month. The email said, “…the County is now in negotiations with another proposer for management services at Laguna Seca Recreational Area.”

At a November 19 Board of Supervisor’s meeting, a proposal centered on Monterey County’s direct management of the Raceway and Recreation Area.  The Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to have a management group led by Monterey businessman John Narigi take over for SCRAMP.

The NTT IndyCar Series returned to Laguna Seca in September for the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. It was the first time IndyCar had competed at Laguna Seca since September 12, 2004 after it had been a regular on the CART schedule from 1983 to 2004.

NBC Sports.com asked Miles if the new management group would impact the multi-year contract at the picturesque road course near Monterey, California.

“I’m happy to answer that,” Miles told NBC Sports.com. “We have following the situation closely for several months. At this point, we don’t have any concerns. Our sanctioning agreement is with the county and not was not with SCRAMP. The county is excited about the event and looking forward to the next edition in 2020.

“The county has appointed a new management team for the operation of the facility. There is plenty of work to do on their part and on our part to make sure they understand the requirements for the event and to make sure they execute well.

“The event is certainly going on. The financial underpinnings and the contractual obligations are between us and the county. They think they have selected the best possible management team and we look forward to working with them.”

Miles said INDYCAR vice president of promoter and media partner relations Stephen Starks has been working directly with the new management group at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

“The agreement is between us and the county and the county is absolutely comitted and excited about the future, they have appointed a new management team at Laguna Seca, and we look forward to working with them,” Miles said.

INDYCAR officials believe the series return to Laguna Seca was very successful in terms of promotion and spectator turnout.

“We were really pleased,” Miles said. “I think we under-estimated how outstanding it is both for the race and for the venue and the region. I thought it was better than we expected but it bodes well for the future.

“We’re going to be looking at how to take better advantage of it in the promotion of the series.

“There is plenty of room for growth and they will find ways to manage that from a traffic perspective,” Miles said. “We thought it was a great success. We think it can be even bigger. We have the commitment of the county and look forward to working with the new management team.”

Miles and INDYCAR are optimistic of continued success at WeatherTech Raceway with new management. However, the decision to end a 62-year relationship with SCRAMP was a surprise.

“This news comes as a surprise to the SCRAMP organization,” said Tim McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and SCRAMP, who took over the position in June 2018. “We were starting to make real progress on getting the facility and the raceway operations turned around and poised for the future, but it appears at this time we may not have the opportunity to see these plans through.”

SCRAMP believed the Monterey County Board of Supervisors denied the chance for it to continue with its plan.

“As the existing facility operator, we were stunned by the fact that we were not provided the opportunity to discuss our proposal with the ACAO,” McGrane said. “The entire process has been unconventional, ranging from the bypassing of the County’s usual Request For Proposal (RFP) process, the announcement in mid-October requesting proposals from any interested parties with only two weeks’ notice, and complaints that SCRAMP had not met deadlines to submit a proposal when in fact a submission date had been agreed upon in May, and subsequently met, has been challenging.

“We have been in this position before with the County administration, but we, our fans, racing series and teams, do have to look at the possibility of the era of SCRAMP operating Laguna Seca Raceway coming to an end.”

In 2015, Monterey County began private talks with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) who, after a careful review of the operational parameters of the facility, determined not to submit a formal proposal for management of the track. In 2016, the Monterey County Administrators Office entered into negotiations with another group to replace SCRAMP for 2017 but were unable to agree to terms that were mutually acceptable. The County then reverted back to a three-year agreement with SCRAMP to continue running Laguna Seca.

According to a statement from SCRAMP, in 2018, the SCRAMP-run Laguna Seca Raceway attracted 263,888 attendees and generated $84.4 million in direct spending generated by event attendees over 26 days of the seven major events. 2019 saw SCRAMP orchestrate the long-awaited and highly successful return of IndyCars to Laguna Seca, with a larger than anticipated spectator count for the weekend.

2019 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

“We’ve delivered an extensive, forward-looking proposal to the County for a new, long-term 20-year management and operating agreement that incorporates solid plans for revenue generation and expense reduction, expansion of the use of existing facilities, and development of Laguna Seca into a world-class destination,” said CEO McGrane. “We are building the right team, both paid staff and volunteers, with extensive motorsports experience, institutional knowledge, and the dedication to lead this important Monterey County asset into a successful future. We hope we still have the opportunity to present our plans directly to the County Board of Supervisors and we would be proud to continue SCRAMP’s 62-year stewardship of Laguna Seca on behalf of Monterey County.”

The Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, a 501(c)4 not-for-profit, was formed in 1957 by local business owners and civic leaders. SCRAMP’s goal was to raise the funds needed to construct a permanent motor racing circuit to maintain the tradition of sports car racing on the Monterey Peninsula which had begun in 1950 in the Del Monte Forest at Pebble Beach. SCRAMP is comprised of a Board of Governors, Race and Events Committees, and hundreds of loyal volunteers who donate thousands of hours each year to ensure the successful operation of events here.

The SCRAMP organization acquired leased land from the US Army at Fort Ord on August 7, 1957, and the now-legendary track, built with funds raised by SCRAMP, held its first race, the 8th Annual Pebble Beach at Laguna Seca SCCA National Championship Sports Car Road Races, on November 9 & 10, 1957. In 1974 the site was transferred from the Army to Monterey County, who together with SCRAMP, have managed the facility through this year.

SCRAMP’s current three-year management and operating agreement with Monterey County ends on December 31, 2019. SCRAMP currently employs a full-time professional staff of just over 40 team members.

INDYCAR, itself, is about to have an ownership change as racing and business icon Roger Penske and the Penske Corporation completes its acquisition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500, INDYCAR and IMS Productions sometime after January 1. Miles and the INDYCAR staff as well as the staffs at IMS and IMS Productions will be retained.

Miles will become CEO of Penske Entertainment and will continue his duties that he currently has. Since the sale was announced on November 4, Miles and key officials have met with Penske and his top officials on a weekly basis.

“It’s been great,” Miles said. “We are covering tons of ground. Roger and his team are all about adding value.

“It’s a very focused effort that is making great progress.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500