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As a former rally driver and the current TV producer of the CARS series, here is the best advice I have for drivers wanting to get on TV as it is currently produced in North America.

1. Drive Fast. If your car won?t go really fast, at least be spectacular. Patrick Richard has never competed in a rally where he wasn?t included in the TV show even before he became a factory driver. His driving was (and is) over the top and TV producers and rally fans love to watch. I?ve seen P1 Justies driven so flamboyantly that we just have to include them in our shows. On the other hand, class winners are often successful due to thoughtful, well-paced and conservative performances. I?m not giving advice on how to win, just how to get on TV.

2. If you must crash, please do so on camera. If you see the backside of banners at the side of the course, there?s a good bet that a camera position is coming up. Some drivers take that as a cautionary note. ?This must be a gotcha, better slow down.? My guys may have cruised through the rest of the stage but they are flat out on the edge of control in front of the cameras. Andrew Havas is a classic adherent to this principle. No one can always drive that way, but the camera loves him.

3. Don?t feel shunned if you don?t get interviewed. We probably wouldn?t use it anyway. We probably only air 10% of all the time we waste of the top drivers at service. Truth is you don?t know what is significant until the event is over and the scores are in. If you think I?m missing a story line during the event, please draw it to my attention. Sometimes it works and I?ll gratefully hustle over and do an interview or more likely we?ll look for illustrative footage to make your point in editing.

4 Public Relations. Don?t whine - inform. The Canadian teams are getting pretty good at this and our shows are improving because of it. Instead of post-broadcast complaints about lack of coverage, give me your timely inside perspective on what happened. I don?t want a press release telling me who won and what the weather was like and absolutely don?t need a photograph - just a few lines of hardcore insight that will make my announcers sound more intelligent. ?We probably lost 30-45 seconds by driving out 3kms on a right front flat.? That sort of thing. Canadian P3 driver Steve Walkington always writes sends a report ?the View from P3? a few days after each CARS rally and his insight invariably forms the outline of how we report that class on TV.

5. In-Car cameras. Don?t wait for the TV crew to put a camera in your car. Until you?re regularly cracking the top five overall, it?s not going to happen. Buy a good two-piece camera/recorder unit, mount it properly and tie it into your intercom system. At worst you?ll get a good souvenir. At best, when you get some great footage, offer it to the producer. Similarly, if a fan shows you an awesome shot of your car and you can get a copy to the production company within a day or two of the rally, you stand a good chance of being included. Another tip: Don?t make us plough though 4 hours of stages to find the bit where you almost nearly spun. Cue the tap to the big incident.

ONLY FACTORY TEAMS GET IN THE SHOWS. I have never produced rally for SCCA, but I?ve done lots of racing for them and I never received instructions about who to put in and who to leave out. Same deal in Canada. Subaru Canada and Yokohama have been our excellent sponsors for many years and have never even hinted that I shouldn?t say Pirelli or Volkswagen. The top teams get the lion?s share of exposure not because they pay but because they ARE the top teams. They?ve got the best drivers in the fastest cars and generally put on the best show.

Please accept apologies if this all sounds patronizing. That is not my intention. I?m a passionate fan of the sport and truly believe that you?re all heroes. During my career as a driver, I was never more than a midfield runner. While it always seemed very fast to me in the car, as a TV director, I can be objective enough to know that I was one of those guys I never put in the show.
 

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Dirt surfer
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Thanks Lawrence--

Your clear insight into what makes rally work on TV is exactly why the TV2Go coverage of CARS events is so darn entertaining

Racers here in the US who listen to your advice and then drive as flambouyantly as they can, as fast as they can, as close to the cameras as they can (and who choose to crash conveniently in front of said cameras) will find their visibility improves dramatically.

I DO have one minor quibble with you though...we conveniently crashed our WRX right in front of one of your camera guys at Defi this year (well, not exactly crashed, we just understeered into the raspberry bushes) and did not get on the show. Then we went off at Tall Pines with nobody in sight. Next time we will try to plan our wrecks a bit more effectively!

Especially appreciate your advice about updating producers with from-the-cockpit insights right after the event. It's hard to work the PR angles too much.

Cheers

Dave G
LDR Co-Pilote
lastditchracing.net

"...Embrace loose gravel, beware big trees..."
 

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Lawrence - First off I want to thank you for your great coverage of Rally in Canada - so Thank You!

I have been a Rally fan for years - have gone to all the Western Canadian events - have every event that has been shown on TV in Canada on tape - and am now in the process of building a car for next year.

Your work is first rate and I appreciate it. The coverage of Tall Pines was the best yet - I really liked the Drive / Co Driver comments between stages.

Hopefully I will be able to do something spectacular for you next season.

Thanks
Warren
 

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I get on speed channel by being 6 foot 6 and wear a bright orange marshal vest:D
 

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So crashes and spins are now planned in advance. What next, points for style and a cheque in the mail to cover the damage? (tongue in cheek)!
 

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Start Flat 30k Finish
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Lawrence,

I am going to take your advice and build an on-board setup into the new car, that way I can prove that I *do* drive like that all the time!!!

See you in Quebec!
 

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don't cut
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>So crashes and spins are now planned in advance. What next,
>points for style and a cheque in the mail to cover the
>damage? (tongue in cheek)!
Yep, it's called Drifting (equally facitious)
 

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Oh Andrew - we all know that you drive like that all the time. FWIW we even know that you drive/behave the same way at my girlfriend's party in Manhattan.

Jodi says "hi" BTW.

ACP
Flirting with the laws of physics.
 

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Yes, the article was informative. It's just that I saw the funny side of it and immediately the points system used in ice skating sprang to mind!
 

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>5. In-Car cameras. Don?t wait for the TV crew to put a
>camera in your car. Until you?re regularly cracking the top
>five overall, it?s not going to happen. Buy a good two-piece
>camera/recorder unit, mount it properly and tie it into your
>intercom system. At worst you?ll get a good souvenir. At
>best, when you get some great footage, offer it to the
>producer. Similarly, if a fan shows you an awesome shot of
>your car and you can get a copy to the production company
>within a day or two of the rally, you stand a good chance of
>being included. Another tip: Don?t make us plough though 4
>hours of stages to find the bit where you almost nearly
>spun. Cue the tap to the big incident.

Lawrence, thanks for your tips and the great coverage you and your team put together.

On the subject of in-car cameras, what kind of equipment do you as a producer suggest? What requirements do you have in terms of things like resolution, format, etc?

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #14
There are a lot of choices which work. TV2GO has had great success with Sony CVX3 cameras recording onto Hi8 decks. The WRC recently upgraded to a 3-chip Hitachi camera recording onto mini-DV (or transmitting via digital microwave at Wales Rally GB). Replica Productions used Sony XC555 cameras and mini-DV recording decks. They all have advantages and professionals can accept any format. I like Hi8's longer record time and more robust recording during off-road incidents. If you plan to edit yourself, then definitely buy a digital recorder (either miniDV or Digital-8) so you can edit your material on a Firewire-equipped computer.

Some key tips:
1. Tthe camera should be rigidly mounted to the rollcage. Don't try to isolate vibration - it will only look weird. If the camera is rigidly mounted the windscreen and dashboard will appear steady while the scenery bounces. If you add suspension to the camera mount, everything will start moving and motion sickness will ensue.

2. The recording deck has to be kept dust-free and isolated from vibration as much as possible. We use strong nylon bags that are tie-wrapped to the cage behind the codrivers' seat. The bag isolates vibration and allows some cooling airflow. WRC and SCCA TV people prefer Pelican cases bolted to the floor. That seems overly elaborate and heavy to me, especially if you want to quickly move a camera system from one car to another.

3. If your camera is an auto-iris model, learn how it works and make sure it's reading the f-stop outside the car and not on the dashboard.

Good luck,

Lawrence
 
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