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Vegas road race

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By Carl Kozlowski
In his 23 years as a media producer, Pasadena-based Earl Beadle has provided the red carpet pool footage for the Academy Awards and helped launch NBC’s fall seasons by staging the affiliate promotions interviews for the network’s new series. But in September, he found perhaps the most adventurous challenge of his career when he teamed up with fellow producer W.J. Lazerus of Boise, Idaho, to produce a documentary on the Silver State Classic Road Rally.
Held on 90 miles of desert highway near Ely, Nevada, twice yearly in May and September, the race enables amateur race-car enthusiasts from around the world to compete in various speed classes ranging from 90 mph to more than 200 mph as they try to match a precise timeclock for their speed divisions. A mix of driving skill, precision and adrenaline is required to meet the challenge, and Beadle and Lazerus found it also took a mix of equipment to capture the excitement of the race.
“We used one Sony Betacam SP for primary interviews, multilight interview setup and at the starting line, and a Panasonic DVX 100 at the finish line, but the Panasonic was also for more spontaneous shots and allowed us to be much more portable,” said Beadle. “You have to take great care in getting shots at high speed, where both the technology will sustain the very demanding conditions of operating at high speed and secondarily, shots that are actually interesting.”
One way he got those interesting shots was in hanging a camera out the side door of a race car on the track at the Derek Daly Driving Academy outside of Las Vegas, where Beadle and Lazerus’ adventure began as the drivers took a speed safety course before heading to Ely.
“For instance, placing a camera in a car at high speed, it’s very difficult to get a sense of how fast you’re going because of wide open flat expanses. You become acutely aware of how fast you’re traveling at 130 when you’re holding onto a camera worth thousands and hanging it outside the window,” Beadle recalled.
This wasn’t the first sports event of Beadle’s career, having spent a stretch as a sports cameraman for the Tribune affiliate in Denver covering the Broncos for three years in the 1980s. He also shot Colorado PGA and LPGA events as well as Broncos and Nuggets events while at the station, in addition to shooting ESPN winter sports for three years during his time in the snowy state.
A California native, Beadle opened his Earl J. Beadle Productions in 1992, moving to his current location in 1997. He learned of the Silver State Classic from production partner Lazerus, who felt that the event would make a good sale as a sports feature or documentary to networks, and their quest began. They are currently posting prior to shopping it.
“One of the first things we noticed is that it is a complicated sports event to cover, and yet it’s a fascinating human interest story that happens to revolve around sports. We started pre-interviewing people to determine what the best stories were going to be,” said Beadle. “You have to come to the event very informed about what you’re going to catch. Another producer once said the camera is not a firehose, you don’t just wave it around and hope that something interesting winds up inside the flame. You use the camera as a tool to tell interesting stories.”

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