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2024 Daytona 500: FOX Sports Extends Onsite Studio Presence for Added Fan Engagement

16/02/2024

2024 Daytona 500: FOX Sports Extends Onsite Studio Presence for Added Fan Engagement Off-desk barbecue segment, louder PA system to attract more spectators By Kristian Hern ndez, Senior Editor

Friday, February 16, 2024 - 11:02 am

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NASCAR's biggest fans descend on Daytona International Speedway (DIS) to enjoy the warm weather, the fast cars, and the season's biggest race of the year: the Daytona 500. With attendance increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic, FOX Sports' remote-studio-operations team has made a concerted effort to enhance its onsite presence. This year in Daytona Beach, FL, the broadcaster is leveraging the surrounding space around the Chevrolet building to make its trackside footprint a lot bigger.

For the first time, we'll be going away from the desk for a segment, says Rob Mikulicka, director, remote studio operations, FOX Sports. We have all of this real estate, so we want to get the most out of it.

More Energy, Louder Noise: Enhanced PA, Corporate Synergy Create Immersive Experience Last year, FOX Sports altered its audio, amplifying the sound with a new PA system. This year, the production will deploy the system used by Big Noon Kickoff - the broadcaster's marquee college-football studio show - which features custom speaker towers for a larger reach and a heftier sound.

Fox Sports' Rob Mikulicka on the Daytona 500 set at Daytona International Speedway

Besides enhanced audio, the biggest change is the introduction of an off-desk activation integrating talent from the broadcaster's other programming. We Are Family is a game show hosted by comedian/actor Anthony Anderson and featuring his mother, Doris Bowman, and three unknown singers along with a celebrity relative. To promote the show in its first season, as well as Anderson's AC Barbecue brand with fellow comedian Cedric The Entertainer, a segment of the pre-race show will be dedicated to an onsite barbecue presentation.

We'll be doing a walkthrough on Saturday before the race on Sunday, says Mikulicka. It should be something that's new and fun. We'll be having some of the drivers out there with [talent] Chris [Meyers], Jamie McMurray, Clint [Boyer], and Kevin [Harvick].

The off-set segment is enabled by a partnership with the Chevrolet operations team. Working closely with Jack Morton Worldwide VP/Senior Account Director Kelli Sheffler, whose portfolio includes Chevrolet Motorsports, Mikulicka and his team gained access to additional space in the auto manufacturer's building in the infield. The expansion process began in November, and the teams' partnership is continuing through the weekend.

Our partners at Chevrolet have been awesome to work with, Mikulicka adds. They have clients and events [at the building] during setup, so we do our best to stay out of each other's way while also complementing each other.

For instance, the Chevrolet building came in handy to promote FOX Sports' involvement in NASCAR's 75th anniversary last year with a custom logo on the exterior.

Building Momentum: Success of Big Noon Kickoff Influences Other Onsite Setups The broadcaster's pre-race coverage also will be tapping into the success of Big Noon Kickoff. As a guide for onsite studios, the college-football show's playbook is being replicated at other sports events, including this weekend in the Sunshine State. Garnering attention to the set and creating buzz is the goal.

Big Noon Kickoff has been becoming our standard of how we want to do a lot of these [onsite sets], says Mikulicka. It doesn't work everywhere, like our Field of Dreams games with a cornfield, but we always get a crowd behind [our desk] in Daytona. We want to encourage that crowd, so we're going to be handing out some swag, like T-shirts and hats, to feed their excitement.

Fox Sports expanded its presence at the Daytona 500 with additional space in the infield.

The first two hours on FS1 (11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET) will be a Home Run Production via a production team located at the broadcaster's NASCAR studios in Charlotte, NC. For the 1:00-2:30 p.m. slot, the main crew on FOX will take over, with sweeping crowd views captured by a jib camera and shots from handhelds amid the fans.

Inclement Weather Forecast: Possible Rain on Race Day Poses Challenges Customary for Florida, the race is subject to rain on Sunday. The production and operations have a backup plan if the race is postponed to Monday, but, if the broadcaster stays on-air despite stormy weather, the Filmwerks-created set can withstand heavy winds and rain up to a certain point. In the case of intense weather too dangerous to work in - generally, winds above 35 mph - the studio team in Charlotte or the announce team of Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, Bower, and Harvick up in the booth will be ready to go if the Daytona-based team has to close up shop.

We ran into that [issue] a couple of years ago, says Mikulicka. We were holding back the rain curtain, and it was blowing around like a sail. The structure itself can withstand a lot stronger winds than 35 mph, but we want our staff to operate under safe conditions.

Recently, the remote-studio-operations team had to deal with inclement weather at the 2024 Clash at the Coliseum. It was scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 4, but NASCAR decided to push the race up to Saturday, Feb. 3 before the atmospheric river was forecast to hit California. The set was situated in the 1923 Club at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a space that has no roof or protection from the elements.

We had an alternate location that was under a roof right next to the [primary] set, says Mikulicka. We realized [the original set] wasn't going to work with 60-mph winds [on Sunday]. When we got the information that NASCAR was going to move the ra
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/02/16/2024-daytona-500-fox-sports-ext...
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