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Volume 25 No. 45
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Weekend Plans: ESPN's Andy Hall Says Farewell To The Indy 500

Hall said it will be tough to say goodbye to the Indy 500 if this is ABC's last year with the race
Photo: ANDY HALL

ESPN Dir of Communications ANDY HALL has been a mainstay in the coverage of the Indianapolis 500 for many years. This weekend he’ll look to make sure things go smoothly for what could be the last time the race is run on ABC, which has broadcast it every year since ’65 but will see its rights deal end this year. Hall caught up with THE DAILY  and dished on his longtime association with the race, how early things get going on race day and what it means if this does turn out to be ABC’s final lap with the premier event.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK: A lot of what I do for the 500 is done in advance, but once I get there there’s still people that come to me for some interviews and I have to make sure those happen and I get them together at the right time. I also spend a lot of time just going around and seeing folks. I’m a believer in face-to-face contact when you’re at an event. I like to go around and talk to people, especially if I don’t see them all the time. I traveled up here Thursday, and I’ll be here through the end of the race Sunday. Friday is a day where we’ll have a production meeting that lasts a couple hours. It involves directors, announcers, pretty much everyone involved in the telecast. I sit in on that because it gives me a good sense of what Sunday is going to look like -- things I can look out for. With this being our 54th telecast from here and the last one in the current contract, I went back and researched a lot of historical notes over the years and I’ve also been working with a couple writers on some retrospective pieces. A lot of that information has been handy. Friday I'll also manage media availability with our analysts SCOTT GOODYEAR and EDDIE CHEEVER. Then I have a couple of dinners I go to while I’m here -- one with ESPN and another with other business associates throughout the years. I'll also be plenty busy on social throughout the weekend.

EARLY START: On race day all of the ESPN people come in around 5:30am or so. That morning we’ll pile in the caravan from our hotel. I’ll spend the morning preparing and working on other things because by then a lot of what I do is already taken care of. But I also will keep an eye on the broadcasts. Sometimes they like to bring our people on day-of and I help coordinate and make sure that happens. We’re also doing “SportsCenter” stuff from the track. We come on the air at 11:00am and everyone gets in position for an hour-and-a-half before that so the morning really goes by pretty quickly. Then once the race starts I try to keep an eye on the telecast, monitor what’s happening and knock on wood that nothing goes terribly wrong technically. I’ll stay till it’s all over and we’re off the air to make sure everything goes okay. If there is an issue, I need to be prepared to answer questions about it. When it's all said and done I’ll fly out early Monday morning and hope to have time to grill a burger once I’m home and relax a little.

THE LONG GOODBYE? I’ve worked in motorsports for around 35 years. I’ve been to this race many times, and to me it’s one of the greatest events there is. There’s a magic to it that’s hard to describe. There’s all the pageantry on race morning, plus just having so many people in one place. It’s just a great event. It’s been tough on a lot of us who’ve been involved with it for a long time, that this is our last one for now. You never say never but it’s definitely ripped the heart out of a lot of people on our crew who have a special devotion to this race.

Know of someone you’d like to see featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot an email to tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com.