IMSA

NBC Sports goes all-in with commentators on Rolex 24 coverage

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STAMFORD, Conn. – January 17, 2019 – Over the course of 24 hours, NBC Sports will utilize 17 of its IMSA, NASCAR, and INDYCAR commentators, analysts and reporters on-site for its inaugural presentation of the 57th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona from Daytona International Speedway starting Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Beginning this season, NBC Sports is the exclusive home of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).

Continuous 24-hour coverage from the iconic Daytona International Speedway will feature a rotating cast of commentators, analysts and reporters, headlined by NBC Sports’ lead IMSA commentating team of play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey, former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger (analyst), and former IMSA GT driver and analyst Calvin Fish (analyst).

“There is no better spectacle in U.S. racing over a 24-hour period than this event with these drivers, who have incredible storylines,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President of Production, NBC Sports. “From the all-female IMSA team to Alex Zanardi racing on U.S. soil again to our very commentators driving in the race, we couldn’t ask for a better way to launch our partnership with IMSA.”

NASCAR legend-turned analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins analyst Steve Letarte and host Krista Voda inside the “Peacock Pit Box,” a state-of-the-art remote studio set designed to bring viewers closer to the action. Built within a traditional pit box frame, the “Peacock Pit Box” will be set up along pit road.

An additional broadcast booth comprised of NASCAR on NBC lead announcer Rick Allen, INDYCAR on NBC analysts Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell, and Brian Till will be featured throughout the weekend. Bell will compete in all rounds of the upcoming IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, while Allmendinger will participate in IMSA’s endurance races. Both will race in the Rolex 24.

NASCAR on NBC reporters Marty Snider, Dave Burns, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman will join INDYCAR on NBC reporters Kevin Lee and Jon Beekhuis to share in pit road duties. In addition, Rutledge Wood will showcase stories around the Daytona International Speedway.

The following is a snapshot of NBC Sports’ on-site commentating coverage from Daytona:

Time (ET) Platform Commentators Pit Crew “Peacock Pit Box”
2 – 5 p.m. NBCSN Diffey, Fish & Allmendinger Snider, Burns & Stavast Voda, Letarte, Earnhardt & Bell
5 – 9 p.m. NBC Sports App Allen, Tracy, Bell & Till Beekhuis, Lee & Parker Voda
9 p.m. – 12 a.m. NBCSN Diffey, Fish, Allmendinger & Till Snider, Burns & Stavast Voda, Letarte & Earnhardt
12 – 3 a.m. NBCSN Allen, Tracy & Till Beekhuis, Lee & Parker N/A
6 – 9 a.m. NBCSN Diffey & Fish Snider & Burns N/A
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. NBCSN Allen, Tracy,  Allmendinger & Bell Beekhuis, Lee & Parker Voda, Letarte & Earnhardt
12 – 3 p.m. NBCSN Diffey, Fish,  Allmendinger & Bell Snider, Burns & Stavast Voda, Letarte & Earnhardt

*Subject to change

Coverage from Daytona begins Thursday, Jan. 24, with a special IMSA preview show, which features a sit-down interview with driver and Paralympian Alex Zanardi, who is scheduled to race in the Rolex 24. In 2001, Zanardi lost both of his legs in an accident at EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Klettwitz, Germany, and has since gone on to win two Paralympic gold medals in Para-cycling, most recently at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Additionally, Earnhardt Jr. recounts racing the 2001 Rolex 24 with his late father, when the two split time driving the No. 3 Corvette C5-R as part of an interview with NBCSports.com lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan. Thursday’s coverage continues with live qualifying from 3-5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Ryan will lead extensive digital coverage throughout the week on MotorSportsTalk, NBCSports.com’s vertical dedicated to open-wheel and sports car racing.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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