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Volume 26 No. 7
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Weekend Plans With NBC Sports VP/NASCAR Production Jeff Behnke

Behnke (far left) and his family enjoy life outdoors and often watch Tennessee football games together
Photo: NBC Sports

NBC Sports VP/NASCAR Production JEFF BEHNKE on Thursday made the trek from Charlotte to New York for a race-filled weekend culminating with Sunday's Monster Energy Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. He caught up with THE DAILY shortly after touching down to share how NBC's team preps for three days of coverage, what makes this weekend different from a broadcast perspective and how he spends his free time away from the track. 

TAKES A VILLAGE: Our week starts on Tuesday with planning calls for the entire week. That’s everything from production planning, announcing meetings, technical and engineering planning, budget reviews and touching base with teams on anything different we might be doing on a given weekend. Then a lot of the engineering and technical group folks are already traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday to get all of our mobile units set up. Then on Thursday our production team hits the road and we basically review our master document, which is a roadmap for the 200-plus people that travel with our group. We get on site and make sure everyone knows the hourly plan for the next four days. Then Friday-Sunday we’re on the air. It’s an army of people that gets transported and moved each week. The setup is almost the size of the Super Bowl, and it moves for 20 straight weeks. A lot of people call it "The Traveling Circus."

WORK TO BE DONE: We typically try to have a team dinner on at least one of the nights over the weekend with different production folks. But typically on Saturday night everyone does their own thing. By that point everyone is ready to have a little bit of peace and quiet. We’re always pushing to Sunday. So there’s not a whole lot of time to do something other than go to a dinner, get a workout in, those kinds of things just because the days are so long. I’ll get home from a work trip, my wife will ask me how was the weekend and I’ll say "I went to the airport, went to the track and went to the hotel." Rinse and repeat.

PLAN OF ATTACK: Watkins Glen is one of our favorite stops, probably because it’s so different. It’s a true road course, and the atmosphere is exactly what all die-hard NASCAR fans remember. A little bit of traffic to get there, but once you’re on-site it’s worth every bit of it. Then the racing itself is unlike any other we have all year, so there’s a lot of people that get amped up. This weekend for the second year we’re doing a "radio style" broadcast where we’ll have our announcers at different locations around the track. We’re going to have MIKE BAGLEY from SiriusXM Radio who will be in an area called “The Esses.” We’ll have DALE EARNHARDT JR. in an area called “The Carousel,” and then we’ll also have JEFF BURTON in Turn 6.

IN THE MEANTIME: I’m a Tennessee native, born in St. Louis but grew up in Memphis and now living in Charlotte. Our entire family is a rabid Univ. of Tennessee fan club. Our kids went to college there and my wife BEKAH is from Knoxville. We have season-tickets to UT football, which I rarely make but my family is at all the games. When it comes to hobbies I’ve done a lot of crazy one-off adventures through the years, from jumping off cliffs in Hawaii to mechanical bull-riding and skeet shooting in the Smoky Mountains and swimming in rock quarries on our family farm in Missouri. I like different outdoorsy type of things. Currently I’m also into boxing, that’s my release when I get back home. Going to a gym and just letting some of the adrenaline flow.

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