With 36 autos on the racetrack at any given time, it’s impossible for hosts and analysts to keep track of – and comment on – all the information in play at any given moment. As a result, broadcast networks like Fox Sports employ teams of producers, associates, and data analysts to compile as much information as possible, as quickly as possible, and convert them into graphics packages that enhance the viewing experience for home audiences.
“Growing up, sports was a big passion of mine,” says Jonathan Biles, a broadcast associate for Fox Sports. Biles works with a team that produces graphics on the fly during NASCAR races.
Biles majored in sports journalism at the University of Alabama, where he wrote about his college football team for online publications before obtaining an internship at Fox Sports, which is where he got his first taste of working in television production.
“Watching the race, we’re following what the announcers are talking about, statistical trends during the race,” says Biles. “We use the information given to us by Racing Insights – they really provide the stats for our production crew to use.”
“We provide all the quirky, off-the-top-of-the-head tidbits that add a little bit of pizzazz to their show,” says Jimmy Hicks, vice president of Racing Insights, a company contracted with Fox Sports to provide historical statistics and live data for motorsports. Although it may seem like sports announcers have an encyclopedic knowledge of facts and figures, it’s actually companies like Racing Insights that are supplying them with information in real time.
To get his foot in the door of the motorsports industry, Hicks earned a degree in marketing and then began interning for NASCAR’s Timing and Scoring, where he learned the rules of how all the point systems work.