ABC/ESPN announce Champ Car team

UPDATE #2 Added photo of Jon Beekhuis and Rick Benjamin below.

03/08/07 The Champ Car World Series treks through new television territory in 2007, but the viewers will have a seasoned crew guiding the tour as it circles the globe in pursuit of the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup.

Veteran broadcasters Rick Benjamin and Jon Beekhuis will head the Champ Car broadcast team for 2007, backed by a strong pit-road crew featuring Bill Stephens and Cameron Steele with Michelle Beisner returning to take viewers behind the scenes of a Champ Car weekend. The crew will be in place for each of the ABC/ESPN Champ Car events as well as the races on CBS Sports in 2007.

Benjamin returns for his fourth consecutive season as the broadcast host, calling upon his deep knowledge of motorsports to keep viewers up to date on everything that takes place during the race. He will be joined by former Champ Car driver Jon Beekhuis, who moves into the analyst role after serving as the lead pit reporter for the last two seasons. Beekhuis, who has 16 years of Champ Car broadcast experience under his belt, competed for four seasons in Champ Cars before moving behind the microphone.

"I'm honored to be returning to the booth for Champ Car again this season.," Benjamin said. “This will be my fourth year calling the action for North America's leading open-wheel racing series, and I couldn't be more excited. The new venues, new cars, drivers and teams, and new television partners in ESPN's family of networks add up to a landmark year for the Champ Car World Series. We'll see some incredible racing in Champ Car and the Champ Car Atlantics as well, and I'm looking forward to helping our fans everywhere enjoy all the excitement of these great series."

“If I hadn’t been a driver I would have loved to have been a race engineer," said Beekhuis. “I’m fascinated not only with what happens behind the wheel, but by what happens behind the scenes with the technical guys. With new drivers, cars, gearboxes and standing starts for 2007, there will be plenty to talk about! Of course I wouldn’t be doing this if it were not for ABC/ESPN giving me a shot 16 years ago, so I’m looking forward to working again with my friends from the network. Their philosophy is ‘fact not fluff’ – which should be right up my alley!"

Stephens and Steele return for another season of pit reporting of the Champ Car World Series, Stephens working the open-wheel side of the sport after many years in drag racing, while Steele comes to reporting after a number of years in off-road racing. The duo will bring the fans an inside look at pit-road strategy while Beisner will bring series and event reporting to the broadcast, letting viewers see what happens away from the track on a Champ Car weekend. Champ Car PR

03/08/07 Rick Benjamin, a longtime veteran of motorsports television, and former driving champion Jon Beekhuis will be in the booth as coverage of the Champ Car World Series returns to ESPN in 2007. The renewed relationship will begin with the April 22 Champ Car race at Houston’s Reliant Park street circuit.

Beekhuis, who has been a pit reporter for most of his 16-year television career, will move into the booth as analyst this year with Benjamin, play-by-play announcer for Champ Car’s TV coverage the past three years. Bill Stephens and Cameron Steele will report from the pits and Michelle Beisner will be a feature reporter on the telecasts.

Benjamin is one of the most versatile auto racing announcers on television, having called the action for more than a dozen forms of motorsports for ESPN, SPEED, WTBS and TNN, as well as on MRN Radio. Beekhuis, the 1988 Indy Lights driving champion and a competitor in Champ Car for four seasons, started his television career as a pit reporter on ESPN’s Champ Car coverage in 1991.

Stephens also has a past association with ESPN, having covered NHRA drag racing on television and for ESPN Radio and Steele, an active and successful off-road racer, joined the Champ Car TV team last year. Beisner has worked as a reporter for the NFL Network, Fox Sports Net and Rocky Mountain Sports in addition to her Champ Car television work last year.

Thirteen events of the international open-wheel racing series are scheduled to be televised on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPN on ABC in 2007, with the networks exclusively airing the series in 2008.

The networks have a long history with Champ Car that began in 1981 when the first race ever aired live on ESPN was a Champ Car event from Milwaukee won by Mike Mosley. Series events appeared on the networks through the 2001 season. Many of the great moments in the history of the series were seen live on ESPN and ABC including Alex Zanardi’s 1997 win in Cleveland where he introduced the world to victory doughnuts and Mario Andretti’s final Champ Car win at Phoenix in 1993. ESPN PR

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