NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
NASCAR-Related Q & A · Thomas Bowles · Thursday July 31, 2008
Ever wonder how NASCAR keeps track of 43 cars going around at speeds up to 200 miles an hour? It’s a complex process, one that includes far more than electronic timing to confirm where cars are running around the racetrack. A member of each team aids officials in the tower, individual scorers whose sole responsibility is to make sure their driver is credited for the exact amount of laps he’s run. With nothing more than a piece of paper, a pencil, and their eyes, these men and women become an integral part of how the final results get tabulated each week.
But in a sport where technology has moved to the forefront this decade, that process is on the verge of moving to the next level. This year, you may have noticed little black boxes stuck on the windshields of cars in the Nationwide Series. Made by a company called Tiwi – infamous for installing the crash data recorders in Cup cars following Dale Earnhardt’s accident — what these boxes are commissioned to do is part of a long-term process that will revolutionize not just NASCAR Timing and Scoring, but the way in which fans can view a race for years to come.
Just what is this technology, you ask, and why should you understand it? For the answers, read on in this week’s edition of Beyond The Cockpit.
Tom Bowles, Frontstretch: Tiwi has been around in NASCAR since 2002, with your crash data recorder. What’s the back story as to how you got involved in the sport in the first place? Did NASCAR approach you? Or did you have this great idea and approach them to get involved in the sport?
Scott McClellan, Chief Innovative Officer For Tiwi: Basically, a friend of ours was a vendor or potential vendor with NASCAR in a number of areas. And they were familiar with our technology and when NASCAR put out a request for proposals, they knew our product was perfect for what they were looking for. And, so NASCAR called us.
Specifically, the sport wanted to have a very reliable, completely independently powered crash data recorder on board every vehicle that runs in their top three series: Cup, the Nationwide Series, and the Trucks, so that they can begin to study how well their safety systems were working. They needed a very high quality crash data recorder that was battery powered, and there’s not very many players in that arena.
And we’ve done a very good job with NASCAR [ironing out the relationship since 2002]. Let me share a quick story with you. None of the engineers in our company had ever had any exposure to the sport, and in the first meeting we were sitting there and I believe Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon were there, but they were dressed in street clothes. Well, I turned to Jeff Gordon and asked, “Well, how do you do Jeff. I’m Scott. What do you do for NASCAR?” And that’s where there was complete silence in the room because they couldn’t believe we didn’t know who Jeff was. And at that point they realized we were genuine — and the relationship has grown over the past eight years.
And this recorder still exists to the present day?
Scott McClellan: Correct. I think that the power of the crash data recorder is that [before it existed] you didn’t have a very accurate system that gave you a pulse or signature of crash severity. [For example,] you wouldn’t really know that the impact in Texas with Michael McDowell’s car – how long the crash pulse was, and what the magnitudes were. [Without the crash data recorder], you couldn’t further go back and test and answer the question of, “I wonder how well the SAFER Barrier performed in this case,” or how well the helmet performed, or the seat belts or any of the other safety features on the vehicle. It basically gives you the ability, the feedback you need to test the efficacy of your safety design.
OK. Well how did that lead to you getting involved in the future of NASCAR Timing and Scoring?
Scott McClellan: Well, NASCAR wanted to develop some sort of a digital timing and scoring technology, and it was a natural partnership for them to ask us to look for solutions. They wanted a very high precision GPS system. We were making one. And we’ve had a very good relationship over the past eight years. They trust us, and we tell them what we can and cannot do. So it’s been a very good relationship, and it enables them to have a very nimble technology partner.
What, exactly, are you doing for NASCAR Timing and Scoring with your black box device?
Scott McClellan: Well, the current system we have right now is designed specifically to perform as a lap counter. The project is multi-faceted…but the first phase of this is to have a box that simply counts laps. It’s not to replace the loop data system. The loop system is millimeter accuracy, and at this point our GPS system – at least in its initial format – can place exactly where the car is on the track, accurate within five meters. But to be a lap counter, whether you’re in front of me by a few meters or behind me, it really doesn’t matter as long as I’m keeping accurate count of the laps completed. And five meters is actually well within – and much more accurate – than the current redundant system that they had in place right now. Currently, it’s a manual process – they have lap counters in the timing and scoring booth that will basically toggle and switch every time a specific car crosses the start / finish line. So, it’s labor intensive, and purely from an efficiency perspective, if you can have an accurate system, a digital system that can replace that, there are economic reasons behind it.
But there are different stages to the project. Stage one is as a lap counter, and as we find success there, the next phase would be to connect that to the crash data recorder [to utilize the data we’re collecting]. And now, you can transmit accelerations and/or crashes in real time [and figure out what the car is doing when those happen]. And then, a third phase would be something akin to very high precision, very high sample rate, which would be positioning where the car is down to the centimeter range, on something more than 30 Hz frequency real time.
How does your system get set up in the cars each weekend?
Scott McClellan: We have a bracket that is mounted to the windshield of every vehicle, every car and/or Truck. And the system just basically slides into this bracket, there is a cam wheel lock that holds it in place — and we use a pin system that toggles on and off. NASCAR wants to prevent connectivity to the electrical system in the car, so they want a completely self-contained, battery-powered system. And so our system has a battery — it has about a ten hour battery life.
On a race weekend, we would typically get there shortly after the haulers arrive and the vehicles go through the first inspection. And we place the Tiwis into position, and they’re just basically dormant until an hour or so before race time. And then we pull the pins, and just watch them come up over an internet portal, and the system is now live. And once they start running around the track, we start counting laps, and there’s a specific ID – Identification number – with every Tiwi. And that’s associated with a specific car. So, that’s how we keep track of how many laps the A car or the B car complete during any specific event.
I wanted to ask a little bit about the technical aspects. I’m certainly not Johnny Scientist by any means, so – how does it work? To me, it’s an amazing thing where you can get GPS to locate where a car is on the track electronically.
Scott McClellan: Yeah, that’s a pretty standard GPS chip set. We’re not doing – that specific chip set is really designed and/or being used strictly for this lap counting application. The fact that [the car] may be on the inside of the track or the outside of the track is not – it’s really of no consequence, because overall they’re going to the start / finish line and we can detect that. That’s our primary focus, primary function. As we move to a later phase of this project, then positioning becomes a much greater focus, and accuracy becomes – you go from five meters into one meter into centimeters of accuracy. And the reason we don’t just jump into that is there a lot of things to learn in the interim, so it’s kind of a [long-term] process.
Todd Follmer, CEO of Inthinc: So, our boxes work via cell modem. So, we have made Sprint’s public network work for us at the track. So, the GPS signal is sent via the cell modem to the portal. We actually log every GPS location at one second intervals, right now, on the track. And that goes into a separate file that we use for analysis and for our R&D process, but in addition to that, the unit knows itself because of the programming every time it’s completed a lap. And that notification is sent over the cell modem as well.
Where do you see this type of technology going in five years? Do you see you guys becoming a primary timing and scoring outlet over time, as the technology becomes more accurate? Where would you like to take your technology within NASCAR next?
Todd Follmer: If our technology evolves to the point that it’s the most accurate means of determining a position of the car on the track, that I would think naturally NASCAR would want to use it. And as we pinpoint our GPS to locate the cars on the track within one centimeter of accuracy – we hope to have that done by 2009 – there are multiple functions we can use this for. Because the technology’s so simple, because it requires no equipment at the track site itself in order to count a lap – it can be deployed in any series and be used at any track. So, tracks that can’t afford the kind of timing and scoring system that NASCAR is using as its primary system at all of its tracks – I think we’re going to have a product that can be used by anybody that’s putting on a race to have a very accurate system. It’ll also be a way to observe a race for races that are not being broadcast.
If you look back to how broadcast.com got started with Mark Cuban, it was his hobby as a fan of Indiana basketball to be able to listen to an Indiana broadcast wherever he was. Well, this system over the long-term can be a way for race fans to – where this system has been deployed – to watch a race, a virtual race anywhere in the world.
Sort of like NASCAR.com’s RaceView product.
Todd Follmer: Yes. Really, we’re going to have a fairly inexpensive piece of technology that can be installed in a race car, and whatever track it’s going to run at, it can have the benefit of our lap counting system, and it also can be a feed for somebody to create a virtual broadcast of the race. So, over the long-term, I definitely see it going that direction.
And we’d like to develop other uses for the product. [For example,] having the ability for teams to be able to look at the line that their drivers run would be enormously helpful. Often times, a driver when talking with a crew chief, they are looking for, they are trying to help their driver hit their mark as they enter a turn so they can reproduce their fastest lap time.
And a system like the one we’re talking about – well, often times the crew chiefs tell us that drivers miss those marks by 15 feet either up or down. And a system like ours could help them pinpoint the entrance to their turn or their exit on the track. So, I think there are a lot of benefits to both the teams, to NASCAR, and to the fans for a fairly simple improvement like this one. Not to mention the technologies that we test here have a direct impact into the commercial world.
Just one other question that I have – you’re racing a bit of human element. NASCAR has had manual scorers for so long – have you had any backlash in taking away the function of these scorers?
Scott McClellan: I think overall, the teams have been very positive. And even the scorers themselves – which, I think, the manual function or manual process has certainly played a very important role in the history of NASCAR. There’s no question about it. But as other technologies come along, NASCAR is a business as well, and each team is a business. To ignore a significant improvement in efficiency and a reduction in cost would really be – in the long-term – it could be a catastrophic business decision. So, I think that for a lot of reasons, NASCAR is always looking to improve efficiency not unlike they’re moving to improve safety. The fact that they could take a system like this and digitize it, and really – in many respects – move it from an overhead expense, which is a complete cost structure, to potentially a revenue-generating function, it’s good business and it’s actually good for the fans.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thanks for a very interesting interview, Tom. Since I make my living developing Business Intelligence software, I find the timing and scoring aspects of motorsports to be fascinating. Thank you for a great article, and keep up the good work!
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
Did You Notice? ... Keep On Asking, And You Will Receive A Qualifying Sigh Of Relief
If you want to know more about Tom Bowles or to view all of his articles here at the Frontstretch, check out his archive and bio page.
Want even more Tom Bowles? Check out Tom's archive at SI.com.