Today is known as the greatest day in motorsports, with the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 and the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco.
NBC Sports auto racing announcer Leigh Diffey and analyst David Hobbs were asked last week if a TV viewer were to watch every lap of all three races, would that indicate a die-hard fan or someone who needs professional help.
“They’d clearly not be married,” said Diffey. “Not for long, anyway,” Hobbs added.
So at the risk of causing marital rifts, here is a quick guide to what’s on the dial today.
The Grand Prix of Monaco, which except for a few off years has been run since 1929, kicks things off at 7:30 a.m. on NBC.
“The thing about Monaco is obviously like the Indy 500 or like the Daytona 500 – this is the race they all want to win,” Hobbs said on a conference call last week. “Half of them live here,” in Monaco, “of course because it’s a low taxation zone. But of course the track has been the same since the 1920s. It really has changed very, very little in all that time.”
Coverage of the Indy 500 begins at 11 a.m. on ABC. Allen Bestwick, a familiar face from ESPN’s NASCAR coverage, is the lead announcer today, becoming the 10th person to call the race on ABC. The legendary Jim McKay, Chris Schenkel and Keith Jackson were among his predecessors.
“One of the things that sparked my fascination with broadcasting was that appointment viewing of the Sunday night primetime broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 with Jim McKay behind the microphone,” Bestwick said. “It’s one of those things that attracted me and inspired me to get into the business and to think that I’m going to have the opportunity to sit in that chair … is mind-blowing.”
Fox has coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 at 6 p.m. from Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip lead the Fox broadcast team covering NASCAR’s longest race, along with Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond. Waltrip holds the record as a driver with five victories in the Coca-Cola 600.
Coincidentally, Waltrip and Hammond on Saturday both attended the weddings of their daughters, and both will be back in Charlotte for tonight’s race.
Hammond is Waltrip’s former crew chief. Neither man knew about the wedding plans of the other until recently.
“We had no idea they were getting married on the same day,” Waltrip told FoxSports.com. “Who would have thought that out of the 365 days a year, our daughters would have chosen the same one?”
• NBC’s 27 hours of tennis coverage from the French Open gets started at noon today. Ted Robinson will anchor NBC’s coverage, alongside analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. It will be interesting to hear what McEnroe has to say during matches played by Andy Murray. Murray ditched his former coach Ivan Lendl and McEnroe has expressed an interest in becoming Murray’s new coach.
• Charlie Sheen will join Barry Larkin and Karl Ravech on “Baseball Tonight,” live from Cincinnati, where the Reds host the Cardinals tonight on Sunday Night Baseball. Sheen will be on the pregame show that starts at 7 p.m. The actor played Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in two “Major League” movies and also appeared in the film “Eight Men Out,” about the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
• Adrian Wojnarowski, the 1991 St. Bonaventure graduate who writes about the NBA for Yahoo Sports, has joined Fox Sports 1 as an “NBA insider.” He will continue writing for Yahoo also.
• We’re going to miss Charles Barkley when he’s gone. The TNT basketball broadcaster told ESPN Radio last week that he wants to become an NBA general manager as his next career step.
• “I think people know I wanna be a GM and I’m going to be a GM,” Barkley told the Waddle & Silvy show. “You know, I got two years left on my television deal and I told TNT that I’m probably gonna let it go after two years. Not that I don’t love my job, I got the best job, I just think 17 years is long enough to do anything, to be honest with you. … I love TNT, love working with Ernie, Kenny and Shaq. I don’t have a Plan B, I wanna be a GM, I’ve made that perfectly clear.”