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Jim Williams: D.C. native Lindsay Czarniak set to host coverage of Indianapolis 500

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Sports,Jim Williams

Sunday is the single biggest motorsports day in broadcast television history. NBC has the Grand Prix of Monaco at 7 a.m., coverage of the Indianapolis 500 starts at 11 a.m. on ABC and the nightcap at 6 p.m. will be the Coca Cola 600 from Charlotte on Fox. That means over 18 hours of live Formula 1, IndyCar and NASCAR action, making the Memorial Day weekend must-see TV for motorsports fans.

Lindsay Czarniak will be the first woman to ever host the Indianapolis 500, an exciting fact not lost on the local girl who established her broadcasting skills working under legendary NBC4 sports anchor George Michael. She did NASCAR reporting and hosting for TNT then worked at the Olympics for NBC.

Czarniak made the move to ESPN in 2011, where her star is rising fast. I spoke with her Wednesday about what being part of ABC's Indianapolis 500 team means to her.

Chris Schenkel, Jim McKay and Brent Musburger are all former hosts of the Indy 500. Now it is your turn. What are your thoughts?

Czarniak » "I don't mean to downplay me being the first woman to host the Indianapolis 500, because that is huge. However, to know that I will be hosting such an iconic American event like the 500 and following those amazing broadcasters you mentioned is humbling as well as a true honor."

What is it that makes Indy so special?

Czarniak » "It is all about history and tradition. Non-race fans will tune into the Indy 500 because it is such a part of the Memorial Day weekend. There is color, pageantry and best of all, there is speed. Great race names like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Johnny and Bobby Unser are some of the many names that fans are always talking about here in Indianapolis. This event has so many great stories and colorful charters that we could be on the air for 24 hours and still have interesting things to talk about."

What about the coverage?

Czarniak » "We will have over 80 cameras covering this race and my fellow broadcasters Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever in the booth. The pit reporters Rick DeBruhl, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch will have all the storylines covered."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.

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