John Hindhaugh, the voice of IMSA Radio, recently had an eye-opening assignment: providing turn-by-turn commentary for a 360-degree virtual reality video hot lap of Daytona’s road course – at 150 MPH while strapped into the passenger’s seat of a BMW M3.
When it comes to motor racing, John Hindhaugh is a self confessed lifer. Said John, “One of, if not my first, full sentence was ‘that’s a Vauxhall Viva,’“ which was a small General Motors car in John’s native U.K. in the 1960s. “My father, who’s 83, swears it’s true.”
Let’s go for a drive!
John would be the first to admit that the life of a racing broadcaster has its perks. One of which is simply going for a drive. This time the drive would be in the passenger’s seat of a BMW M3, driven by BMW Performance Center driving instructor Mike Renner, with John voicing a turn-by-turn running commentary for the video A High-Speed Lap of Daytona in 360-Degree Virtual Reality .
This stunning hair-raising video lap of the world famous Daytona International Speedway road course, sponsored by BMW Performance Center and the IHG Rewards Club, gives you a startling 360-degree view at speeds up to 150 MPH on the world famous road course at Daytona International Speedway, which is the home of the Rolex 24 at Daytona around-the-clock endurance classic every January.
John gave us his recollection of how it felt to be on board the M3. “Do you remember the excitement you used to have as a child when your dad would say, ‘let’s go for a drive,’ and not because you had to go anywhere? Getting in the M3 with Mike Renner and driving around Daytona is a fabulous way to rekindle that enthusiasm. It was a marvelous experience with that BMW engine revving away, steering wheel shift lights flashing, right up to the red line.”
John was more than simply enjoying the ride. He was voicing turn-by-turn commentary for the video as an extension of his “day job” as chief announcer for IMSA Radio.
“The joy of endurance racing is that we’re watching a story unfold. You’re a storyteller without a script because we don’t know what the next page is going to be.”
Once upon a time, in real time.
John’s life-long obsession with cars and racing led him to become one of the world’s leading auto racing broadcasters via Radio Le Mans at Le Mans and IMSA Radio.
Radio Le Mans at Le Mans was born out of what was called “Special Event Radio” in the mid 1980s. These highly localized radio stations narrowly broadcast low power signals to event spectators at the tracks.
In 1989 John joined the network’s announcing team. Eventually, John purchased the operation and radiolemans.com now broadcasts road racing events online to a global audience. Two years ago Radio Show Ltd., which John co-owns and co-manages with Eve Hewitt, became a co-producer with IMSA to cover all International Motor Sports Association races and IMSA Radio was born.
Broadcasting a 24-hour sporting event like the Rolex 24 at Daytona is a challenge for John and his IMSA Radio crew. “The joy of endurance racing is that we’re watching a story unfold,” said John. You’re a storyteller without a script because we don’t know what the next page is going to be.”
The track on which John took his ride is the home to the Rolex 24, the opening round of the 12-race International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series. This series, with BMW racecars competing in all of its GT categories, travels from coast-to-coast.
Sports car racing: growing fast.
The rapid growth of sports car racing is a worldwide phenomenon. John attributes this is to the fact that it is attracting a younger audience. “The amount of younger people getting into sports car racing as fans is outstripping (all other forms of motorsports),” said John. “And that’s because the racing is interesting.”
The crown jewel of the international sports car racing schedule is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of the featured categories racing at Le Mans is GTE (GTLM in IMSA) where numerous major manufacturers compete fender-to-fender, around-the-clock. Said John, “The GTLM class is becoming even more important to (the manufacturers). “There’s a greater freedom for manufacturers to show how clever they are (in design and engineering).”
BMW currently competes with the M6 in GTLM in IMSA. And BMW Motorsports recently announced a return to Le Mans with a full factory supported effort for a brand new BMW racecar competing in GTE (as well as in IMSA GTLM) in 2018. “The importance of Le Mans is perfectly shown by BMW coming back in 2018,” said John. “BMW have not stopped racing in the time they’ve been away from Le Mans, and they have not stopped winning, either.”