The FOX Sports production team departed for Homestead on Wednesday night immediately following the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 in Ridgeway, Va.
The 15-hour drive ahead of race weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, including the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday (3:30 p.m., FOX), was part of another quick turnaround in NASCAR’s return to racing.
“This is the most difficult turnaround from Martinsville to Miami, for sure,” said Michael Davies, senior vice president, technical and field operations at FOX Sports.
NASCAR returned to racing on May 17 and held five cup races in a 14-day span over three states: South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. There have also been races in Georgia and Virginia since.
“It’s been a challenge,” Davies said. “Normally we’re used to close turnarounds and it’s no big deal, but in the COVID-era with making sure we turn things around quickly is a little bit harder.
I basically budget 50 to 100 percent more time to get things ready than I would normally do. It’s tough.”
The production team has been determined to put together a quality product for viewers while also making sure they are staying safe in practicing social distancing.
“In a lot of ways you kind of have to unwind 10, 20, 30 years of experience among a lot of the camera people and people who work on these shows because you have to do everything differently and that has been the challenge for us--making sure we’re keeping everybody safe,” Davies said.
Davies has been pleased with the results.
“I’ve been surprised how quickly we got into a groove,” Davies said.
Constant discussion with other networks involved with other sports has been helpful in sharing information.
“What’s cool about it is there’s no competition between networks and different
companies,” Davies said. “We’re all sharing a lot of information together. For
instance, CBS had the PGA Tour, the UFC has been going on and even professional bullfighting is happening and we’re all talking. We have a call every week where we have 100 people on to talk about what we’ve learned. There’s a tremendous sense of pride with our people who are out there and being able to contribute to the wider goal of returning. Not only is there a sense of pride, but every single network holds a big dose of responsibility in making sure we do this properly and keep these people working on these shows safe.”
The schedule changes in 2020, before the pandemic, with the Homestead race
moving to the earlier portion of the season instead of the final race has given FOX coverage of the race.
“We’ve been dying to get to Homestead because we haven’t ways been an NBC race,” Davies said. “It’s something new for FOX. This is a big race for us. It’s a great track and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”