IMSA Spotlight: Calvin Fish
FOX Sports Analyist
How has it been adjusting to calling the race in the studio?
“It’s early days. Sebring was our first studio-based broadcast but I believe our group were pretty happy with how things went. Our team at FOX did a great job setting up the studio and organizing good timing and scoring data feeds etc.
“We have called races this way in the past, like Le Mans in recent years, so we had a good idea of what to expect. We will make a few tweaks moving forward but we have a comfortable studio/home for the year.
“The main compromise for Greg (Creamer) and I moving forward, is not having our feet in the paddock on the race weekend. It means we have to adjust and use other resources/tools to stay in touch with the teams and drivers but everyone is being accommodating with that.
“The networking and getting the inside details make a difference to the story we bring to the fans, so we need to maintain that.
“The positives are the efficiency of us being studio-based, frees up some resources for helicopter aerial shots and higher quality feature pieces which I believe really enhanced the Sebring show.”
How has the chemistry been with Greg Creamer, considering you also work with him in another series?
“I’ve been very fortunate to work in the booth alongside some of the best in the game with first Leigh (Diffey) and the last few years with Bob (Varsha), both great mates and thoroughly enjoyed being partnered with them and I learned a lot.
“With Greg it’s been pretty seamless as we’ve worked together for so many years, from pit lane in the early days to now in the booth. I think the dynamic with Greg is strong as we both get pretty fired up and excited. The chemistry is great, Greg is a very fun guy and a good friend so I look forward to establishing a great partnership for the future with the series.
“I think the common thread with all of our team past and present is a group of friends who work well together and really care about their work. We are passionate about motorsports and want to showcase the WeatherTech Championship in the best possible way, making it exciting for the fans pure and simple.”
Some fans might not know so what goes into preparing for a race on your end and what tools/resources are you using to call the race?
“It starts in the pre-season, attending the tests and starting to build your book of notes with all the changes from 2015. The Rolex 24 is a big one to get prepared for. Pounding the pavement to talk to the teams is important.
“We have a great stats guy in Rick Ratajczak who prepares notes of interest from a data and historical perspective etc. We have conference calls with the production team to establish storylines going in, and deal with technical and logistical items. We receive press releases from teams, drivers and series partners.
“Sportscar365 is a great resource as well as social media like Twitter, for feeling the pulse of the race weekend. Talking directly to the teams and drivers is ultimately the best preparation.
“I’m lucky that this year at The Glen will mark 20 years with the FOX/SPEED family of networks, and the majority of that time has been in the sports car paddock so I have a great network of contacts to call on.
“Our friends at Ganassi have been superb over the years in supplying track data etc. We also have great access to the whole IMSA team, for example a race weekend meeting with Beaux (Barfield) and Paul (Walter) will take place.
“It’s a great opportunity to sit down and discuss past race decisions and explore track specific details to that weekend’s race from the stewards perspective. Attending drivers meetings whenever possible also identifies any driver concerns and needs for clarification.”
What are your predictions for the 2016 IMSA season?
“If Daytona and Sebring have set the table, it will be an enthralling season. I expect intense battles for every title in all classes. In Prototype, in the final year before the DPi era arrives, it is tough to predict. The P2 cars, as we have witnessed, are very strong in performance this year particularly those with the upgraded HPD motor.
“But ultimately I think a DP car will claim the title. There are some quality teams in their ranks so it will be tough for the No. 5 to get the three-peat. Strong competition from their teammates in the Whelen car, the Taylor boys and a revamped Visit Florida line up will keep it feisty. Mazda may grab a win too.
“In PC it will be nip and tuck with CORE, PR1 and Peter [Baron’s] boys at Starworks for the championship. I think other teams may also grab race wins.
“GTLM is simply the toughest GT field on the planet. Incredible manufacturers, teams and drivers at the top of their game. Can the new turbo cars from Ford, BMW and Ferrari beat the proven cars from Corvette and Porsche?
“I think all will take at least one victory but once again Corvette came out of the blocks strong. Can they close the deal as the No. 4 car seems to have found their mojo again? Porsche will be tough again though, super group who play the game very well.
“Possibly the best racing may be seen in GTD. Cool new GT3 cars and so many great combinations… It really is anyone’s game but the title will have to be won the hard way.
“In the sprint races I think the strength of the teams driver pairing, with the grading system, will be key to claiming the championship. It will be tough with depth of field to come from behind.”
As a former driver, what is your most memorable moment on track?
“I’ve had some fun races over the years, many of them in the early days in karts but the names wouldn’t resonate with most fans today. I was privileged, or had bad timing depending on which way you look at it, to run against Ayrton Senna for a couple of years in 1982 and ’83.
“In ’82 we had some good battles in British and European FF2000. I finished 2nd 15 times in one season and you can guess who won the most of those!
“We won 4 races, but one at Brands Hatch was memorable for turning the tables on Ayrton. He was so unbelievable on cold tires and the opening laps in what were very short races in the UK. I got the jump at the start and got the hammer down to create a gap he couldn’t close.
“A group of my mates were in Paddock Bend after the chequers, cheering and going nuts. It was a great day and a really cool memory to look back on now, knowing what a legend Ayrton became in our sport.”