LeMans highlights SPEED’s next two weeks

The 79th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours – the world’s most prestigious endurance race – highlights a diverse lineup of motor sports disciplines to be featured on SPEED the second weekend of June. Uninterrupted live, multi-platform race coverage from Circuit de la Sarthe starts June 11 at 8:30 a.m. ET/5:30 a.m. PT.

SPEED and SPEED.com are lining up 25 hours of fully produced, flag-to-flag high-definition coverage from this historic endurance event. With 18 hours on the linear network and seven hours slated for SPEED.com, lead sports car voice Leigh Diffey and former racer Brian Till are handling the play-by-play. Scott Pruett, the three-time and defending Grand Am Series Daytona Prototype champion, joins former sports car shoes Dorsey Schroeder and Calvin Fish for color commentary. Justin Bell, Jamie Howe, Andrew Marriott and Greg Creamer are rotating pit road and paddock area duties to communicate the latest storylines.

Le Mans is the centerpiece of an extensive lineup.

“The coolest racing throughout the world can be seen on the network that weekend," SPEED President Hunter Nickell said.

The programming is a massive undertaking for SPEED production and operations. With both control rooms at capacity to manage Formula One, MotoGP and SPEED Center, a full remote television compound unit is being brought in to handle Le Mans, treating on-site production as the network would an off-site race presentation. Five separate feeds – timing & scoring, ACO’s race cut world feed, full-time on-board cameras, dedicated pit cameras and a dedicated framing shot – originate from France and are first beamed to Geneva’s Eurovision. They receive and re-transmit that stream to Charlotte, which is then sent on to Los Angeles for distribution.

“Once the signals get to Charlotte, we insert our graphics, generate replays, historic footage and the visual enhancements that have always defined our race day presentations," said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP of Production & Network Operations. “Now imagine us conducting similar operations for Formula One and MotoGP all in the same timeframe. For instance, we’re also putting together our full, regular broadcast for F1 – a race seen live on FOX that Sunday (June 12) – as well as a full MotoGP presentation. It’s one of the busiest race weekends we undertake throughout the year."

What’s on Tap…

A special episode of Dave Despain: On Assignment, which premieres Thursday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT, readies the weekend with an in-depth look at legendary American sports car racer and builder Carroll Shelby. His unique vision and talent devised the Ford GT-40, a race car that toppled mighty Ferrari at Le Mans, launching a career that imagined some of the world’s most sought after road-going vehicles. On Friday night June 10, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes to Texas Motor Speedway at 9 p.m. ET, a show preceded by NCWTS Setup at 8:30 p.m. ET.

But that’s just the beginning. Immediately following the dramatic start to Le Mans on Saturday morning (June 10) and subsequent coverage switch to SPEED.com, the linear network heads live to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying from Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. at 11:30 a.m. ET. SPEED then transitions to Formula One qualifying from the Canadian Grand Prix at 2 p.m. ET, rejoining Le Mans at 3:30 p.m. ET to capture the race’s sunset hours.

At 8 p.m. ET, on-track action from Pocono heats back up as the ARCA Racing Series battles it out, while the two-wheeled set gets in on the action at 10 p.m. ET as the AMA Pro Motocross event rolls off from High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, Pa.

Starting at 11 p.m. ET, SPEED takes the audience to Le Mans for more than 10 hours of nonstop coverage of night into day and the dramatic conclusion on Sunday morning (June 12).

A special edition of SPEED Center at 9:30 am ET wraps up Le Mans, the previous day’s activities and primes the pump for NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot live from the SPEED Stage at 10 a.m. ET. Host John Roberts, Kyle Petty, Kenny Wallace, Hermie Sadler and Wendy Venturini provide the latest news heading into the Pocono 500.

SPEED then heads in a whole different direction, as the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series from Batesville (Ark.) Speedway leads into four hours of motorcycle racing starting with the British Grand Prix Moto 2 (1 p.m. ET) and the MotoGP World Championship (2 p.m. ET) from Silverstone. Then two races from the FIM World Superbike Championship (San Marino) are on tap starting at 3 p.m. ET, while the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge from Watkins Glen International at 5 p.m. ET rounds out the on-track coverage.

Wrapping up the weekend is SPEED Center at 7 p.m. ET, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8 p.m. ET and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9 p.m. ET.

Online at Le Mans…

Along with live streaming from the race, SPEED.com is lining up a host of features to tell the story of this year’s Le Mans with on-site coverage, news, notes and photography starting Sunday, June 5 with scrutineering and pre-race festivities.

SPEED.com has once again partnered with Audi to provide exclusive content, including a detailed look at the new diesel-inspired R18 TDI LMP entry through the eyes of two-time Le Mans winner and factory driver Allan McNish, while the manufacturer design and engineering teams explain the ins and outs of its radical footprint. SPEED.com also goes behind the scenes of the Audi versus Peugeot rivalry, which has dominated the race’s upfront landscape since 2007.

In addition, a daily video blog focusing on the Le Mans effort of Level 5 Racing – one of the two teams competing for the ILMC global sports car championship – as they attempt to qualify for the sport’s biggest race. Another video blog is focusing on SPEED personality and two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, whom is making his Le Mans debut with MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman in a Ferrari 430 campaigned by AF Corse.

SPEED Racing Feast

June 9 to 12, 2011 (All Times Eastern; Schedule Subject To Change)
*Denotes Live Broadcast

Thursday, June 9
Dave Despain On Assignment: The Shelby Legend 8 p.m.

Friday, June 10
NASCAR Live (Pocono (Pa.) Int’l Raceway) Noon*
NASCAR Sprint Car Series (Pocono (Pa.) Int’l Raceway) 12:30 p.m.*
Formula One Practice (Montreal) 2:00 p.m.*
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice 3:30 p.m.*
NASCAR Live 5:00 p.m.*
Trackside (Pocono (Pa.) Int’l Raceway) 7:00 p.m.
SPEED Center 8:00 p.m.*
NCWTS Setup (Texas Motor Speedway) 8:30 p.m.*
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Texas Motor Speedway) 9:00 p.m.*

Saturday, June 11
Le Mans 24 Hours: The Start (Circuit de la Sarthe) 8:30 a.m.*
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying 11:30 a.m.*
Le Mans 24 Hours (SPEED.com Live Streaming) 11:30 a.m.*
Formula One Qualifying 2:00 p.m.
Le Mans 24 Hours: Evening 3:30 p.m.*
ARCA Racing Series (Pocono Int’l Raceway) 8:00 p.m.
Le Mans 24 Hours (SPEED.com Live Streaming) 8:00 p.m.*
AMA Pro Motocross (High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, Pa.) 10:00 p.m.
Le Mans 24 Hours: Night into Day 11:00 p.m.*

Sunday, June 12
Le Mans 24 Hours: The Finish 6:00 a.m.*
SPEED Center 9:30 a.m.*
NASCAR RaceDay Built by Home Depot (Pocono Int’l Raceway) 10:00 a.m.*
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Batesville (Ark.) Speedway) Noon
Moto2 (Silverstone, England) 1:00 p.m.
MotoGP World Championship (Silverstone, England) 2:00 p.m.
FIM World Superbike (San Marino – Race 1) 3:00 p.m.
FIM World Superbike (San Marino – Race 2) 4:00 p.m.
Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (Watkins Glen Int’l) 5:00 p.m.
SPEED Center 7:00 p.m.*
NASCAR Victory Lane (Pocono Int’l Raceway) 8:00 p.m.
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain 9:00 p.m.*

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