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The 'best seats in the house' for the Indy 500

The IndyCar Radio Network crew has access to the best seats around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to bring their magic to the airwaves.
Credit: WTHR
The Turn 1 grandstands were empty as the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 took place on the track below.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Its unmatched sights and sounds make the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a magical place.   

The first Indianapolis 500 race broadcast on television was in 1949, but that was only for a local audience. Race fans around the globe had to rely on the radio broadcast to be their eyes and ears through 1964. But even then, there were many live TV broadcast restrictions and local blackouts of the race through the years, keeping the tradition of listening to the radio broadcast alive. 

Because of that, the IndyCar Radio Network crew has access to the best seats in the house to bring that magic to the airwaves.   

Live Doppler 13's Lindsey Monroe asked Mark Jaynes, the current anchor and chief announcer for the radio network, what he thinks is the best place around the track from which to broadcast. 

“I think the premier position has always been Turn 1," Jaynes said. "I think it carries a tremendous amount of relevance on the starts and restarts, and it's very, very important to get that right.”

Credit: WTHR/Scott Graber
A view of turn 1 with no fans on race morning Aug. 23, 2020.

The Turn 1 broadcasting spot is located in the middle of the grandstands. It requires tricky maneuvering to get down a tiny staircase to a reach the small basket that homes announcer Nick Yeoman, who takes the responsibility for calling those green flag moments.  

“It’s really cool to see them come out of Turn 4 going 70 miles per hour, and by the time they get here, they’re going 210," Yeoman said from the basket. "So the guys that are really aggressive - they’ll make it two wide. They’ll make it three wide. It gets crazy. My voice goes up a couple octaves.”  

Yeoman hands the broadcast off to Turn 2 announcer Michael Young. He describes what its like to paint the picture to listeners as big incidents take place. 

“So, when we have an incident, let’s say we had the incident last year when Alex Palou hit the wall – Nick was able to call it, and I was able to finish the rest of the call because when he hit in Turn 1, the car actually slid down almost to the entrance of Turn 2," Young said. "And it is an interesting thing calling play-by-play here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You almost have to use your peripheral vision because you want to keep an eye on the leaders. But all the action is happening behind the leaders, so you really have to keep your eyes open and, usually, it’s the sound that will get your attention before the visual.”

Down the back straightaway, the broadcast is tossed to Jake Query in Turn 3, which made me wonder if the proximity to the Snake Pit served as a distraction.  

“That’s a great question," said Query of Lindsey's query. "That’s a really good question because it’s right across from me, and there’s all kinds of EDM shows and techno lights and smoke going off. You know, a lot of people asked me last year when there were no fans here what it was like, and in reality, once the race starts, it’s the same to me because you’re concentrated on what’s going on on the track. And while I love having all the fans here and the concert and all that, you’ve got a job to do.”  

 And that job wouldn’t get done without teammate Chris Denari, who brings the show full-oval in Turn 4.  

“One of the neatest things is having that final call on lap 200 (in Turn 4). When they’re coming out of the short chute and it's close, and you’ve got to make the call, the right way to set it up for Mark Jaynes to set it up on who’s going to win the race.”