I just received this Press Release from the IndyCar Series folks, and thought I'd share it for you fans of open-wheel racing. I guess now would be the time to start hounding your cable or satellite company to get Versus if they don't have it yet.
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 - VERSUS, the network that celebrates real competition and the exclusive cable television home of the IndyCar Series, today announced details for extensive additional race programming in 2009, which will accompany the network’s live race telecasts. In total, the network will air more than 130 hours of IndyCar Series coverage throughout the season with a minimum of seven hours each week the network airs a race, the most ever during a race week. The programming will include four hour-long specials in March, additional programming in May surrounding the Indianapolis 500 and three-hour programming blocks on Mondays each race week that will feature flag-to-flag coverage of Firestone Indy Lights events and encores of IndyCar Series races. All IndyCar Series telecasts will be produced and available in HD.
“It’s important to us that racing fans are given more coverage than ever before, and we are very excited about the terrific schedule we put together for the first season of the IndyCar Series on VERSUS,” said Marc Fein, executive vice president of programming, production and business operations for VERSUS. “Ancillary programming to launch the season a month early, coupled with Indy Lights events and encores of IndyCar Series races throughout the season are great complements to the in-depth coverage of our 12 live races.”
VERSUS will kick-off the racing season a month early with four one-hour specials airing each Saturday in March at 2 p.m. ET. The first show on March 7 is titled Danica: Five Years Running and will include highlights of her career—including her 2008 IndyCar Series win—and her thoughts on the upcoming season. The second program, IndyCar Series: Top 10 Closest Finishes on March 14 will feature the top-10 closest finishes in IndyCar Series history, including the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway and the closet finish ever as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The show will also include the last several laps of each race and post-race driver interviews.
On March 21 VERSUS will air IndyCar Series: Crashes and Conflicts which will showcase some of the most memorable incidents and conflicts between drivers and several of the most incredible crashes in recent IndyCar Series history. The network concludes its month of programming on March 28 with IndyCar Series World Tour 2009. This special not only features highlights from each racetrack on the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule, but also showcase highlights from the first street-course race in series history in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2005 and top photo finishes from the site of the 2009 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“IndyCar fans have been asking for significantly more coverage of the sport, and with our new partnership with VERSUS we have responded to our fans in a way that we think they will love,” said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. “With the new VERSUS schedule it will be a weekend of IndyCar programming with qualifying coverage, expanded race day coverage, and race encores. With so many great drivers, teams and sponsors, the time is right for expanded programming.”
The network will air 12 live IndyCar Series events in 2009 beginning with live coverage of the season-opener from St. Petersburg on April 5. Each of VERSUS’ race telecasts will last a minimum of three hours and will include extended pre-race coverage. VERSUS will also air one-hour preview shows at 6 p.m. ET the day before each race which will feature qualification highlights and all of the relevant IndyCar Series stories of that weekend.
VERSUS will present encore presentations of its IndyCar Series races in a two-hour block each Monday following the live Sunday events. The Twin Ring Motegi race and season finale Homestead-Miami event will re-air on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, due to their Friday and Saturday live race dates. The network will also air highlights of 12 Firestone Indy Lights races in weekly hour-long telecasts each Monday after the event takes place. In addition to the re-broadcasts, VERSUS will air two Firestone Indy Lights races live in the 2009 season: the May 22 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Oct. 9 race from Homestead-Miami Speedway. VERSUS will also feature extensive coverage of all qualification days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the Indianapolis 500. The network’s month of May schedule will be announced in mid-March.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.