NBC poised to bring unprecedented Indy 500

NBC will broadcast "the greatest spectacle in racing" with Sunday's Indianapolis 500. This year's race, like many other sporting events, will be held without fans, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sports

August 20, 2020 - 8:52 AM

In this file photo, Matheus Leist of Brazil, driver of the #4 A.J Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet in the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Ind.. Photo by TNS FILE PHOTO

Everything was new to Mike Tirico when he walked past the famed pagoda that dominates the front stretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, assumed his broadcast perch high above pit lane and proceeded to host his first Indy 500.

Now, all that was new has given way to unprecedented.

One year after NBC assumed the rights from longtime broadcaster ABC, the network is preparing to bring one of the iconic events in sports to a potentially record-setting television audience Sunday. The reasons are many, but the biggest are these: There remain far fewer live events than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the 300,000 fans that turn out each year will be there in person, and the event itself still stirs a certain sense of Americana among race fans.

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