Speed feels need for HD

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Speed, the top sports network about all things racing (if it has an engine and moves quickly) is joining the HD race, officially, during the Daytona 500. “The time is right from both an equipment and affiliate standpoint,”
says Rick Miner, Speed SVP, production and network operations. The
Rolex 24, a 24-hour race that will be held at the Daytona Speedway on
Jan. 26 and 27, will mark the first race to be produced in HD.

Today the network has a limited HD feed via DirecTV that is upconverted standard definition content. But it has been laying the groundwork for the move by shooting a number of programs in HD for more than a year, building an HD programming library.

Now, however, with the help of a rebuilt NEP Supershooter 26 and a new master control facility in Fox Sports Los Angeles facility, racing fans will have a chance to see Speed programming in full HD glory.

The NEP truck will be used to deliver all at-the-track programming while Speed will tap into the Fox and Turner Sports infrastructures for on-track coverage of time trials and other pre-race weekend events. When ESPN takes over the Nextel Cup series races Speed will make use of the HD cameras for on-track coverage but it will not use ESPN’s production facilities.

That sort of cooperation will ease the technical and operational burden on Speed. “The compound cooperation has been phenomenal and NASCAR Images has been managing the situation extremely well,” adds Miner.

A new playout facility for Speed is also being built at the Fox Sports facility in Los Angeles. Speed will center cut the HD programming stream for 4:3 viewers and, when necessary, letterbox programming.