Perhaps more than any other sports coverage on television, audio is integral to capturing the excitement of NASCAR. The visuals alone don’t translate the visceral impact of these hulking machines battling for first place at 200 miles an hour – it’s the high-pitched screech of the tires, the massive roar of the engines, and industrial grind of the pit crew’s tools that give viewers a real sense of what it’s like to be at the track on race day.
Creating the sound design for NASCAR’s television and video projects requires a careful balance, with a wide range of sonic elements competing for space in your speakers. One of the technicians responsible for crafting that mix is Full Sail graduate Benjamin Potts, who is a post audio engineer for NASCAR Media Group. Ben graduated with a double major, in Recording Arts and Music Business, and actually began networking with the company’s postproduction facility while still in school.
“It was near the tail end of my degree when I started bugging my career advisor about getting an audio job with NASCAR – I just kept hounding him,” Ben says. “Then about three or four months before I graduated I got a call while I was in class. I listened to the voice mail during a break, and it was my advisor telling me that someone from NASCAR was coming down to meet with me. I couldn’t believe it.”
That person was Scott Perry, Director of Audio for NASCAR Media Group, who offered Ben an internship immediately after graduation. Only a few weeks in, he was hired on full-time as Post Audio Engineer, and has since become a fixture of their production team. He describes his role as a “hybrid audio person,” and he’s been responsible for handling the audio editing, sound design, mixing, location sound, and music editing for a range of content that NASCAR develops. During a typical season, it can be a work schedule that moves nearly as fast as the sport itself.
“We’re a 24/7 facility, just like Full Sail, and we definitely have some quick turnarounds,” he says. “A race will happen on Sunday, and we’ll get all of our data four or five hours afterwards so we can work on it. Then that following Monday afternoon we’ll need to have all our stuff ready to go out to stations like ESPN and Speed. It’s pretty rapid-fire, and you get really good at being efficient and delivering quality work in a short amount of time.”
If you follow NASCAR, you’ve probably heard Ben’s work in a number of their television packages, including clips he’s edited for HD Theater Network, Fox, Style, CMT, and ABC. Among these credits, some highlights are Showtime’s Inside NASCAR, as well as two entries in ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary series, which included The Wendell Scott Story, about the first African-American driver to get a NASCAR racing license and record a win under NASCAR's sanctioning body.
“When we work on these projects, whether they’re big or small, you always get into them emotionally, and The Wendell Scott Story was a great experience,” he says. “That was nice to be a part of because it dealt with a more serious topic, and we could really get artistic with it. I think we do a great job of telling stories like that, and the writers and producers who put them together are just incredible. Those are something you’re very proud of when they hit the air.”
In addition to the content itself, among the perks of working for an organization like NASCAR is the name recognition, and Ben is particularly proud to be contributing to a sport that has earned such a dedicated fan base. He doesn’t have to explain to people what NASCAR is, and the reaction he sees from people who love the sport is as much of a payoff as the satisfaction he gets from putting together a dynamic audio mix for broadcast.
“Now that I’m on the other side of it you realize how huge this sports is,” he says. “It’s something you’re proud to be a part of every day, and you feel a responsibility to do your best work because as you put these things out you have a standard that you hope to keep up for the fans. I hope I never take that for granted because it’s special, and it’s hard to put into words what that means. Each sport has their own thing, but with NASCAR, it’s really a unique organization.”
To learn more about how Full Sail can prepare you for a career in the sports media industry, check out our online Sports Marketing & Media Bachelor's degree, our online Entertainment Business Master's with a Sports Management Elective Track, or our campus-based Sports Marketing & Media Bachelor's degree.