Indianapolis 500 WFBM-TV Broadcasts (lost racing footage; 1949-1950)
It is often thought by auto racing fans that the first television broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 was in 1965 when ABC aired highlights on their Wide World of Sports program. However, the first broadcast was actually 16 years earlier by WFBM-TV (now WRTV) in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.
Broadcasts[edit | edit source]
In 1949, WFBM-TV began to broadcast in Indianapolis. Their first broadcast was a documentary about the Indianapolis 500 titled Crucible of Speed. The documentary was followed by a live broadcast of the 1949 Indianapolis 500. There were three cameras placed along the main straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Former radio announcer Earl Townsend, Jr. served as the lead announcer, Dick Pittenger and Paul Roberts served as color commentators and Robert Robbins was the pit reporter.
The 1950 race was broadcast also with the same announcing team, with the exception of Robbins, who was replaced by Roberts as a pit reporter.
Each year, the broadcast reached about 3,000 households. Speedway officials decided to stop the broadcasts because they feared that they would reduce attendance. It should be noted that even after ABC began broadcasting the race, they did not air it live until 1986 and there was a local blackout that was maintained until 2016.
Preservation[edit | edit source]
No footage of the race from either race has surfaced. Since they were living, they were not recorded by the station, like most live broadcasts of the time. Additionally, viewers would have had no way of recording the race from their television, making these broadcasts lost forever.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Video[edit | edit source]
See Also (Early Sports Television Media)[edit | edit source]
- 1931 Epsom Derby (lost televised footage of horse racing event; 1931)
- 1934 Philo T. Farnsworth broadcasts (lost early television demonstrations; 1934)
- 1936 Summer Olympics (lost television coverage of Berlin Games; 1936)
- 1937 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1937)
- 1937 International Imperial Trophy Race (lost footage of motor race; 1937)
- 1937 Wimbledon Championships (partially found footage of tennis tournament; 1937)
- 1938 Ashes Series (partially found footage of international test cricket match; 1938)
- 1938 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1938)
- 1938 Pennsylvania Quakers football season (lost early televised college football games; 1938)
- 1939 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1939)
- 1953 British Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One race; 1953)
- 1960 Daytona Races (lost CBS and NBC televised footage of NASCAR prelude events to Daytona 500; 1960)
- Arsenal vs Arsenal Reserves (lost footage of early BBC televised football match; 1937)
- Brooklyn Dodgers 2-5 6-1 Cincinnati Reds (lost footage of MLB doubleheader; 1939)
- Brooklyn Dodgers 23-14 Philadelphia Eagles (lost footage of NFL game; 1939)
- Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling (lost early BBC televised professional wrestling matches; 1938-1939; 1946-1947)
- Columbia Lions 1-2 Princeton Tigers (partially found footage of college baseball game; 1939)
- Darts and Shove Ha'penny (lost early BBC televised darts matches; 1936-1939)
- England 0-1 Scotland (partially found international football match; 1938)
- England 16-21 Scotland (partially found footage of rugby match; 1938)
- Fordham Rams 34-7 Waynesburg Yellow Jackets (lost footage of college football game; 1939)
- The Boat Race 1938 (partially found footage of rowing race; 1938)
See Also (IndyCar Media)[edit | edit source]
- 1981 Pocono 500 (lost televised footage of IndyCar race; 1981)
- Indianapolis 500 MCA closed-circuit broadcasts (partially lost racing footage; 1964-1970)
External Links[edit | edit source]
- Indianapolis Star article describing the test broadcast and what the actual broadcast would be like. Retrieved 14 Mar '17