Producer-Director-Writer John W. Coleman is wrapping up his 15th consecutive television production of the annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races for Speed Channel. "Fifteen years is without a doubt a major accomplishment in the world of TV," says Coleman. This year's milestone means he has produced the television coverage for almost half of the event's 36 year history.
One of the reasons for the successful long run of the TV coverage is the fresh approach Coleman has been able to bring each year. "The nature of the event doesn't change much and the historic race cars are often the same so it's a creative challenge to make a TV Special that captures the tradition in a new and exciting way." This year, the show concentrates on coverage of three of the event's most exciting races. But past coverage has taken a variety of approaches. "One year we did a documentary just about the honored marque-an esoteric gem, the Indy Roadsters. It involved traveling back to the Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum. In that special we told the glorious history of those rare cars through the modern-day racers who restored and preserved them and brought them to Monterey to race again." That documentary won a number of awards.
On another occasion, Coleman and his crew produced the event live for satellite feed to the network. "That year we were on the air live for a total of seven hours over the weekend. Going live takes unique skills and the production can be very intense. Not everybody can do it." Coleman was able to do it successfully due in part to his over 25 years of experience, much of it in live broadcast television.
The Rolex Monterey Historic Races take place each year on the oak studded hills of Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca. Covering the event for television requires a lot of logistical planning by Coleman. "Whether we're live or shooting for post-production, the heart of the event is seeing the rare historic race cars zip around that track. And it's over two miles of blacktop with eleven turns! So, each year, I hire a small army of TV technicians, a lot of top-quality broadcast equipment and arrange for a ton of support-everything from port-a-potties to hotel rooms and meals."
Coleman sums it up; "For me, the fun of this particular yearly event is meeting the unique complex of challenges-both creative and logistical-that are presented. Capturing the pageantry, competition and history in state-of-the-art quality video; coordinating between the network, sponsors, the promoter, venue, entrants, cast, crew and vendors; and telling stories large and small that make viewers simultaneously feel they've experienced the event and yet want to be at the next one-now that's fun!"
John W. Coleman is a producer-director-writer and consultant with over 25 years experience in various media. He can be contacted through his company at www.twinoaks.tv