The Nashville Grand Prix comes to Music City with a sound of its own

NTT IndyCar Series race poses singular challenges for audio people

Nashville is the site of this weekend’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, the second-biggest race of the NTT IndyCar Series season, with 28 cars competing on a 2.17-mile track in the city’s downtown core. Produced by IMS Productions, Sunday’s show (5:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) will deploy a small army working out of three mobile IMS units with plenty of audio firepower to capture that IndyCar roar.

With 2,000 barriers and fence panels in 12 ft. sections, the course crosses the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Cumberland River and circles the Nissan Stadium, where 1,200 linear feet of 18-foot-wide concrete boxes have been constructed and a pit lane repaved in the parking lot. The race is scheduled for 80 laps, during which the competitors will cover 173.6 miles on a temporary street circuit of 11 turns.

The Music City Grand Prix covers 173.6 miles in 80 laps on a street circuit – and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The event is booked by concerts on Friday and Saturday – featuring Jamey johnson, Vince Neil, Tyler farr, and other artists – and a post-race “Grand Ole Prix” show on Sunday with Alan jackson, Justin moore, Riley Green, Danielle Bradbery, and Callista clark. It is expected to be the largest sporting event to take place in the city outside of a conventional sports venue since the 2019 NFL Draft there. This three-day event brought together 600,000 people.

For the Music City Grand Prix, IMS Productions, which also produces the Indianapolis 500 race, rode in IMS HD-5 mobile units. To capture this familiar sound, around 60 microphones are deployed, including 15 Audio-Technica AT-4027 stereo shotguns mounted on cameras, two Sennheiser 416 short shotguns on each of the eight robo / POV cameras, three stereo condenser microphones ShureVP88s (for the “roar” effect), four AT-4029 stereo shotguns for crowd mixing, and three or four Sennheiser MEG 66 super-cardioid shotguns daisy-chained over seven of the 11 rounds to capture the downshift sound that approach. In addition, 11 of the 28 cars in the race will be equipped with cameras and microphones, remotely controlled by BSI, which provides on-site wireless infrastructure for the race.

The Bridge over the Cumberland River

It will be a unique race, but if you ask everyone the most unique you tend to get a very consistent answer.

“The bridge”, says A1 Mike Pape, who has mixed numerous Indy 500, NASCAR and IMSA races over the past 30 years, dating back to the former Saturday night thunder races on ESPN.

“This bridge”, says Rob sweeney, the race audio submixer, which traces microphone locations around the course with a keen-eared A2 team.

“The bridge”, says SGI Director, Operations, Ken ferguson.

“The bridge”, adds BSI RF EIC Miles denton.

Down-mixer Rob Sweeney sums up the bridge challenge: “It’s the fastest part of the track, and that’s where the cars go both ways, plus it’s really compact.

“This Bridge” is the 1660-foot-long, 102-foot-wide Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, which normally accommodates about 17,000 cars per day, but on Sunday 28 cars will hit nearly 200 mph. In both ways. Simultaneously. Capturing this sound will cause a very loud bunny to come out of a very thin hat.

“I’ve never done an IndyCar on a bridge like this on a modern circuit,” says Ferguson. “It’s hard to put a camera there, so we use robotic cameras on it. The race fence builder worked with us, making custom cuts in the fence panels for the cameras.

Seven Sony P1 robotic cameras using Talon robotic systems are being deployed, along with four Sony HDC-4300 super-slo-mo cameras, one P-4300 robotics with super-slo-mo capability, and seven Panasonic HC-X1500 POV cameras. – all of which are available for broadcast and use of live events. In addition, 12 Sony 2500 controlled cameras and four portable cameras (including one boom mounted) are dedicated to NBC Sports production. And there is a helicopter mounted camera.

Denton describes the bridge as “unique” on Grand Prix courses. His team had to lay fiber down the length of the span for on-board RF transmission infrastructure while the bridge was still in use by daily commuters. It was closed Thursday to prepare for testing.

Pope also marvels at the bridge, but acknowledges that in some ways the race could be just another car race once it shows up on her 144-entry Calrec Apollo console aboard the HD-5 unit. A. The faders for the wireless radio channels of 11 riders are arranged on a central section of the board, with other sources around them: Announcement Booth Talents, RF Talent Packs, Graphic Sound Effects, crowd, EVS readings. And, of course, the sound effects channels of the Calrec Artemis desk of the Sweeney submixer on a 5.1 fader are right at your fingertips. Pope’s particular challenges, however, include learning the distinct acoustic signatures of this racetrack, which weaves its way through the glass-and-stone offices and high-rise hotels that have overtaken much of this downtown area. of Nashville in recent years.

A1 Mike Pope’s particular challenge in mixing the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was the distinct acoustic signatures of a course among glass and stone skyscrapers.

“We have the same kind of [acoustical considerations] with the pagoda at Indy, ”he notes, referring to the architectural icon of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Especially last year, with no one in the stands.”

Plus, Pope says, the engine sounds are much higher-pitched than on Indianapolis or NASCAR tracks. They’re closer to where the human voice is, around 1K, making it harder to capture under certain circumstances. “It’s very different from NASCAR, where the [dominant] the frequencies are much lower and more omni.

Audio enters the production enclosure through an array of eight Calrec Hydra boxes and CCU plus Dante inputs for additional mics like downshifts and is shared between the downmix and downmix.

In addition, there is a radio mixing console, a Calrec Brio driven by Pat Sellers mixer, which Pope says will have 1.5 seconds to decide whether a particular snippet of the pilot’s dialog may warrant inclusion in the broadcast. EIC HD5 Steve dixon Note the large Evertz system under the truck, where the main EQX video router interfaces with an EMX audio router, capable of handling MADI, analog and AES audio.

The Sweeney submixer has a long way to go and would spend most pre-race races looking for the highlights for picking up effects. Cornering is especially important because of the vast contrasts in timbre and SPL as the cars downshift on approach and upshift as they accelerate out of a corner.

“We start by looking at a map of the course and then assign microphones based on that,” he explains. “For example, Turn 1 will probably have a big downshift, so we’re going to start with three or four microphones on it, daisy chaining ME66s 100, 200, and 300 feet ahead of it. But, as the riders get used to the course and the turns during practice, they downshift more and more later, so we’ll adjust the mic positioning accordingly. A2s will be there to listen. Their ears are the best way to determine where the mics are going.

Then there is this bridge.

“It’s the fastest part of the track, and that’s where the cars go both ways, plus it’s really compact.” Sweeney concisely lays out the main challenges. “We’ve never had this before. This is going to be interesting. “

This is the first Grand Prix at Music City, but it will apparently not be the last. The group that owns the event has signed a three-year agreement that guarantees options for an additional two years and the potential for additional opportunities thereafter.

“Our goal is to make this part of Music City, Nashville’s calendar for years to come, just like they did in Long Beach. [CA] and St. Petersburg [FL], ” Chris Parker, President of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix told NBC affiliate WSMV Nashville, citing an expected annual economic impact of between $ 23 million and $ 35 million. “We are here for three years initially. We expect to be here for 15, 20, 30 years or more.

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