NHRA will enter the 2013 season with a new anchor on its ESPN telecasts and a fresh approach to the television coverage of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opens Feb. 14-17, with the 53rd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Dave Rieff, who has been a pit reporter since ESPN began its NHRA coverage in 2001 and a staple of NHRA television for 17 years, will move into the anchor announcer position for the 2013 season, replacing longtime anchor Paul Page. In addition to hosting coverage of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Rieff will continue his lead role on the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series telecasts.
Joining Rieff in calling the action from the booth will be former NHRA racer Mike Dunn, who is beginning his 12th year with ESPN as a color analyst for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Gary Gerould will return as a pit reporter at all 24 events. Veteran announcer John Kernan, who joined the NHRA telecast team in 2007, will split pit reporter and trackside duties with Jamie Howe. Howe has served as a pit reporter for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series telecasts since 2011 and this year she will increase her presence in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series telecasts.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series viewers can also anticipate a fresh approach to the telecasts in 2013. ESPN and NHRA say they will work together to provide programs will capture more of the drama of NHRA, showcase the stars of the sport, and incorporate new format changes to both the qualifying and race day telecasts.
ESPN will look to deliver more stories and analysis on the strategy of the sport, a stronger focus on head-to-head matchups and more technical pieces. The stars of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing will be showcased with all-access wired segments, features on the drivers and the development of power rankings in the categories. ESPN and NHRA also will work to make more use of social media platforms during the telecasts.
In all, ESPN will dedicate more than 110 hours of original programming to the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the world's quickest, fastest and most intense motorsport, on a same-day basis.
NHRA and ESPN will experiment with live coverage of qualifying and finals during the year. The first weekend to feature live racing action is the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals from Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, April 27-28. The final session of qualifying will air live on Saturday, April 27, from 3-5 p.m. (ET). In addition, NHRA and ESPN will telecast live on Sunday, joining the racing action beginning with the semifinals in the professional categories. The Sunday telecast will be begin at 2 p.m. (ET) on April 28.
The NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Aug. 28-Sept. 2, will again feature 11 hours of wall-to-wall coverage including complete coverage of final eliminations on Monday, Sept. 2, from noon to 6 p.m. ET.
All telecasts will air in high definition on ESPN2HD or ESPNHD. ESPN2/ESP2NHD and ESPN/ESPNHD are available in nearly 100 million households nationwide. The telecasts will feature competition from all four classes in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle.