A New Concept in Broadcasting
Action at a Must See event...
Action at a Must See event is hot and heavy, like here at Anderson as Ron Koehler spins in front of Jim Swain. Photo by David Sink
In 2008, Jim formed Must See Racing. Initially, the organization didn't involve car ownership or sanctioning races. Instead, the goal of Must See Racing was to provide internet coverage through a website, www.mustseeracing.com, of some of the more notable short track races that many out-of-town fans couldn't attend. It turned out to be a boom for race fans living anywhere in the world. Not only could they view the races, but Hanks made sure that he delivered all aspects of the event including special coverage of the drivers, crew chiefs, and car owners. He even provided in-car photography, allowing fans to follow the race from the driver's perspective. He achieved all of it using a total of six different cameras to provide the coverage.
He explained, "The coverage was filmed and edited for viewing the following day."
There were three races covered in 2008, including The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway during Florida Speedweeks, and both the Midget 400 and Little 500 events at Anderson, Indiana.
Back in 2008, you had to first join the organization by going to the website and answering a few questions. "Initially, it was pay-for-view programming that was necessary to pay for the production costs, but now it is completely free," he said.
A packed pit area at Salem...
A packed pit area at Salem is evidence that Hanks and his Must See crew are doing something right. Photo by David Sink
Once you had purchased the coverage, it was yours to view as many times as you wanted. Hanks added that in 2008 a number of the DVDs were donated to the military for troop viewing in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I felt it was the right thing to do," he explained.
But there was more that year. "Comcast Indiana saw and liked the Little 500 and Midget 400 coverage and we struck a deal so that [Comcast] could show it on its cable channels," he said. The success of those broadcasts would allow Hanks to continue to grow the series.
In 2009, Hanks decided to get into the promoting business and schedule winged pavement Sprint races on his own. Winged pavement cars are not exactly plentiful in number so Hanks came up with a plan to work with two existing paved winged groups (AVSS and the HOSS). In cooperation, the three organizations would co-sanction five races with Hanks providing coverage on television.
Hanks performed a bit of magic with Comcast of Michigan and Comcast SportsNet Chicago negotiating cable and satellite race coverage in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana going to more than 9 million households. With access to more potential race fans than either series had ever seen, all Hanks had to do was ensure his broadcasts would be first quality.
Dave Argabright interviews...
Dave Argabright interviews driver Aaron Pierce. Innovative internet television coverage that has led to conventional cable coverage has been a major factor in the rapid rise of Must See Racing. Photo by David Sink
A huge addition to the presentations was a pair of outstanding announcers, in award-winning Dave Argabright, and former IndyCar/Sprint Car driver and hall of famer, Tom Bigelow. The combination of Argabright and Bigelow proved to be just what the broadcasts needed to capture the fascination of race fans from around the country.
Hanks-the Series Owner
With strong television ratings and demand from tracks wanting more races for the 2010 season, Hanks took the big plunge and formed his own series, again using the same Winged Pavement Sprint Cars. "I thought if I founded and managed the Must See Racing Xtreme Sprints Series, I would have more control of the quality of the events, competition, entertainment value for the race fans, and the television production operations," he explained.
"For this season, I had about 35 race teams plus the Hoosier Outlaw Sprint Series co-sanctions all of the events. HOSS owners Tony and Debbie Swanson are reliable and great working partners. We coordinated their stand-alone HOSS events and the Must See events to allow the racers and fans the opportunity to see all of the events."