It’s been a long offseason for fans of the Verizon IndyCar Series, but the wait it almost over. The 2016 season will launch Sunday, March 13, with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) in one of auto racing’s most picturesque settings.
ABC will have a live telecast of the event with pre-race at 12:30 p.m. ET and the green flag at 12:52 p.m. The telecast also will be streaming live on WatchESPN.
The 110-lap race will be run on a 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary racing circuit that includes St. Petersburg city streets as well as part of an adjacent airport. The blue waters of Tampa Bay provide a scenic backdrop for parts of the circuit.
For the telecast, lead announcer Allen Bestwick will be joined in the booth for analysis by former series drivers Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, with Goodyear starting his 15th season as an analyst and Cheever his ninth. The coverage team at St. Petersburg also will include pit reporters Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch.
ESPN will produce telecasts of four additional Verizon IndyCar Series races this season on ABC, including the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 and two days of Indy 500 qualifications May 21-22. ABC also will televise the race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 14 and two races from Detroit’s Belle Isle circuit June 4-5.
The Verizon IndyCar Series races on ABC will have an all-new graphics look and a new design for the scoring ticker than runs across the top of the screen during the race.
The telecast from St. Petersburg will mark the debut of an upgraded and revised version of the popular “Side-by-Side" feature, used in IndyCar Series telecasts since first introduced by ESPN in 2005. During national commercial breaks, a split screen format showing the advertisement on one side and racing action on the other allows viewers to not miss anything that might happen on the track during the break. The new version will have a larger box for the race view and a scoring ticker across the top rather than on the side of the screen. The ticker can cycle through five positions at a time, allowing production to show the entire running order rather than only the top five as on the previous version.
In addition to television in the United States on ABC, ESPN also distributes Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts through a combination of ESPN networks and syndication to more than 198 countries and 103 million homes. In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world can watch live via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network.
And again this year, ESPN Player will bring fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (excluding the UK, France, Italy and South Africa) live and on-demand coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season as a channel on the digital subscription service. Subscribers will also be able to take advantage of ESPN Player's on-demand service to watch all the qualifying action before tuning in to watch the resulting race live. ESPN Player is available on Mac, PC, iPad and Samsung Smart TVs, with high quality streaming on all devices. Information is available at ESPNPlayer.com.