The Motor Racing Network Takes to the Road

April 1, 2014


You can't really call it a remote broadcast vehicle. Yes, that's essentially what it does, but it really is a mobile broadcast production facility, and it packs more radio production capability into a 53' trailer than some radio stations have in several thousand square feet.

MRN truck

The Motor Racing Network is the primary source for NASCAR stock car racing and related radio programming. Event coverage for the network includes NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Programming is delivered via satellite to nearly 700 radio stations nationwide. The network was founded in 1970 by William H.G. France, the founder of NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway.

MRN truck

Through the end of 2013, MRN operated two production trucks: a 40' Great Dane trailer, which was built 25 years ago, and a 53' Featherlite trailer that was built in 2003. The Featherlite hauler was the primary vehicle, and the 40' was the secondary. With two vehicles, MRN can cover more than one event at a time. But after 25 years of service, the 40' trailer was showing its age. Primarily, the vehicle was too small. It simply did not provide sufficient work space for the talent. It's main studio and small edit suite/office barely met the needs of the network. In 2012, the plan was set in motion to design and build a new vehicle and retire the old one.

The main talent work area is also the central hall through the vehicle.

The main talent work area is also the central hall through the vehicle.


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A new 53' Featherlite trailer was ordered and delivered to Doug Watson at the MRN headquarters in Concord, NC, in Sept. 2013. That's when he and his crew of engineers Bob Wolfe and Sam Williams and drivers Dan Cressman and Mike Doncheff got started. Once the race ended, the heavy part of the project got underway in November and December 2013. MRN Director of Operations Frank Beers managed the project from start to finish.

The main control room is at the nose of the vehicle.

The main control room is at the nose of the vehicle.


The five-man team was able to complete nearly all the work in building the vehicle to have it ready for use at the Rolex 24 in Daytona on Jan. 21, 2014. While a few finishing touches remained, the trailer was ready for use.

Now that it's in use, the old 40' trailer has been retired. The previous 53' truck has since moved to secondary use.

The main studio can seat up to three guests.

The main studio can seat up to three guests.


But the new vehicle is not a repeat of the 2003 design. It's very different all around.

The primary difference can be seen in the chassis. Both trailers have a space to transport a golf cart for use at event. The 2003 trailer used a low chassis where the cart was raised up and stored above. The 2014 hauler has a high chassis, and the golf cart is stored in the belly. This is the obvious difference from the outside, but the internal differences are numerous.

The first step in planning the design was for engineering, operations and production to come together and discuss all the needs and wants. The 2003 trailer was a baseline for a design, and a wish list was created to decide what could be improved in the new vehicle. In the end, every idea proposed was implemented in the new vehicle.

For example, the 2003 vehicle was comparatively small and cramped. It has a two-seat studio and control room, but that space is confining. The office was in the nose of the vehicle. The traffic flow of the vehicle is such that people have to move through the studio to get to the office. This is far from ideal when a show is in progress.

The new vehicle places the larger studio, which seats three, in the nose of the truck. (A floorplan for the vehicle is online.) There's also a second studio and control room. The new vehicle has slide outs like the 2003 trailer, but the new slide outs are not symmetrical.

The larger slide out is on the street side. It holds the second control room and second studio. The small slide out on the other side provides access to the main control room.

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While both trailers have small edit suites, the second control room in the new vehicle can also be used as an edit suite when needed.

Studio 2 can seat two guests.

Studio 2 can seat two guests.


Another major upgrade is in the audio wiring. Since the previous trailer was built, IP audio has evolved rapidly. An Axia Audio network handles the audio throughout. The mixer in the main control room is an Allen and Heath GL2800, but each channel and each output is connected to audio network nodes so the full capability of audio routing and switching is still realized. The routing capability also allows the main studio to be accessed by the second control room if needed (and vice versa). Two full programs (and likely more) can be produced within the vehicle.

Control room 2 is also used as an editing suite.

Control room 2 is also used as an editing suite.


The high chassis design also helped with wiring. The wire count was reduced by the IP audio network to begin with, but the trailer design allows wiring to be run in the belly of the vehicle, which is much easier for the engineers. Likewise, the golf cart storage is easier; it drives up a ramp instead of being elevated on a platform. The panel on the back that is painted with the Voice of NASCAR is where the golf cart is stored.

Floor plan of the trailer with the extensions show in and out. Click image to enlarge.

Floor plan of the trailer with the extensions show in and out. Click image to enlarge.


With IP at the truck's core, the trailer can connect to the MRN headquarters at any event. A single CAT5 cable to the outside allows the vehicle to access the data servers and the IP phone system from the road.

Additional access is provided by the power and network outlets on the outside of the vehicle. There are also fold-out tables on the exterior to provide more work space.

The new broadcast production vehicle has been designed with all the lessons learned from its predecessors to create a highly efficient use of space with greater connectivity and flexibility in audio routing.


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Equipment List

■ Allen & Heath GL2800
■ Axia Xnodes, RAQ, QOR, XY router controllers
■ Bose 151
■ Comrex Access
■ Denon SD recorders
■ ESE ES 185U/NTP, ES 943U
■ EV RE-20
■ JBL Control 1
■ Lectrosonics Venue
■ Sony MDR-7506
■ Telecast Adder
■ Telos Zephyr Xstream
■ WideOrbit Automation for Radio
■ Wilburt pneumatic mast
■ Yellowteck Mika


The main control room.

The main control room.


The editing suite.

The editing suite.


A Day In the Life

■ It is expected the new vehicle will log about 30,000 miles/year. Once an event is complete, the vehicle is usually driven to the next event directly and stored rather than driving back to a home base every time.

■ When maintenance is required, the first attempt is to do so on the road if possible. Concord, NC, is the primary home for major work.

■ A typical race weekend: Crew travels on Thursday, arrives at the track by noon/1 p.m. and set up begins. By the end of the day, the broadcast set up is about 90 percent complete. On Friday, setup is completed. Once the final race is complete on Sunday, the truck is packed up and prepped to go. The crew goes to hotels for the night and flies home on Monday.

■ At the track, there are two turn announcers, three pit reporters, and one producer in the booth in the tower. The broadcast booth is connected to the vehicle via a fiber optic link. An assistant producer is in the truck.



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