NASCAR and Hewlett-Packard have joined forces to develop a unique resource to serve the partners and fans of America’s favorite motorsport – the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center. The innovative technology platform, which will provide near real-time analysis of NASCAR happenings, was unveiled on Monday January 14, with the endorsement of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France who was quoted as saying that NASCAR believes the system “has the potential to be the best of its kind in sports”. France was joined by HP Enterprise Services Vice President Charles Salameh in the ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony to open the center based at NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, NC.
Located on the 8th floor of NASCAR Plaza, the Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC) features all-glass walls, thirteen HP displays with the latest touchscreen audio visual technology. Custom designed by HP, the system is capable of processing significant amounts of data and presenting it in a format which is relevant to fans and the NASCAR industry. Salameh noted that the FMEC allows “real-time data capture and analysis across a wide variety of media, traditional as well as digital”, also pointing out that the information can be “tailored to specific audiences within the industry”.
The FMEC took eighteen months to develop with the goal of benefiting all parties involved in NASCAR racing – tracks, teams, broadcast partners and sponsors – to receive detailed information on how the media and fans are reacting to events, almost as they happen. All going well, race tracks will more effectively be able to track how effective ticket promotions are, while new sponsors will get feedback on how they are perceived in this fast-paced sport, with a host of other applications available. Broadcasters will even receive feedback on which camera angles are most appreciated by fans. The gathering and input of information from all media sectors will give NASCAR the opportunity to respond quickly to any controversies or erroneous media reports.
At the ceremony France noted that the FMEC will allow the NASCAR industry to interact with fans in ways that had never been dreamed of before and this will be done “in real-time, in almost every medium, all over the country”. No doubt fans are looking forward to seeing this new NASCAR innovation in action.
Concord Motorsport Park: it’s about the need for speed. In fact, Concord Motorsport Park is one of the fastest short tracks in the country. The USAR Hooters Pro Cup holds one of its most exciting events there each year. Fans from all over the Eastern Seaboard come to Concord Motorsport Park for the North-South Shootout Modified event every fall. Founded in 1982 – Concord is considered the new kid in town (compared to, for example, Lowes Motorsport Park which was opened in 1959 – now known as Charlotte Motor Speedway) – starting out as a 4/10th mile “outlaw” dirt oval. The track was paved in 1987 and came under NASCAR sanction the following year. Subsequent to the original construction, the original owner built a 1/4 mile dirt oval next to the original expanded oval, and then extended the original track to 1/2 mile.
Concord Motorsport Park is a complex of three oval tracks located near Concord, North Carolina. The three tracks are a 1/2 mile paved tri-oval, a 1/4 mile paved oval, and a 1/5 mile paved oval. The 1/2 mile track is banked, the banking ranging from 8 degrees at start-finish to 14 degrees in turns 1 and 3. The 1/4 and 1/5 mile ovals are nested one within the other, while the 1/5 mile version is used intermittently. The 1/4 mile track is used for karts as well as other auto racing events.
Concord Speedway hosts a number of exciting racing series, including the annual USARacing Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The track is also a popular venue for filming TV commercials, music videos and TV shows.
It’s no secret that Concord Motorsport Park is pretty high banked. There’s really no room for mistakes there. A driver can run within a hairs-breadth of the wall by his own accord or he can be forced to the edge by the onslaught of other traffic. Either way it’s high adrenalin at every turn.
Norman Graham Hill, or as most people knew him Graham Hill, was born on February 15, 1929 in Hamstead, London. He was made famous as an English motor racing champion and is the only driver to win what is known as the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
Graham Hill started off serving in the military, after which he joined Smiths Instruments as a mechanic. Later on he found his skills as a mechanic served him well when he joined Team Lotus as a mechanic during the mid 1950s. Unlike most other drivers, Graha only started his racing career at the late age of about 30 years. Due to Lotus’ attendance at Formula One it wasn’t long before he had a chance to race there. His debut race took place at Monaco Grand Prix in 1958.
Two years later in 1960, Hill joined British Racing Motors (BRM), later winning the world championship with the BRM team. Hill was also part of the alleged ‘British invasion’ of drivers who took part in the Indianapolis 500 during 1965. A year later he won the Indianapolis 500 in a Lola-Ford. With Lotus, Graham Hill was able to help develop the Lotus 49, which contained a new Cosworth- V8 engine.
With the unfortunate and untimely death of team mates Jim Clark and Mike Spence, Hill was left to lead the team, which he successfully did, with a win at his second world championship in 1968. The Lotus was growing in reputation as an immensely fragile and dangerous car, especially since the new aerodynamic aids had also caused similar accidents with Jochen Rindt and Hill during the Spanish Grand Prix in 1969. That same year Hill broke his legs at the United States Grand Prix, putting a spoke in his career.
At the age of 41 years, Graham Hill refused to retire, carrying on his Formula One racing for another 7 more years, but with little success. The last win he ever had in Formula One was in the non-Championships International Trophy in 1971 at Silverstone with the Brabham BT34. Graham was also known throughout his career for his endurance. In 1972 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Matra with Henri Pescarolo. With this win he finished the so-called Triple Crown of Motor Sport: winning the F1 World Championship, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours. Till today he is the only person ever to have achieved this.
Located close to Shiroka, Japan and east of Osaka, the Suzuka Speedway offers an entertaining and challenging course. Originally called Motor Sportsland (but re-named shortly after it opened), the Suzuka Speedway is built near Suzuka City in Japan, on land previously used by rice farmers. Suzuka offers a balance of curves and speed where the driver must be able to keep their speed under control so as not to overshoot into the two critical curves on the track, most notably the “Spoon Curve”. Traffic can be tight at the beginning, bringing drivers into quite a few possible collision scenarios.
With six total curves, and a length of almost 6 kilometers, the Suzuka Speedway is well-regarded as one of the best racetracks in the world, with several unique features. It is a figure-eight design with a multitude of fast and slow corners, including the aptly named Spoon Curve, the now much slower 130R corner, and Degner corner.
The Suzuka Speedway is the host of the Formula One Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix and one of the oldest and most-famous motorsport race tracks in Japan.
Designed as a test track in 1962 by John Hugenholtz, Suzuka Speedway is a unique circuit. Naturally, the track doesn’t actually intersect with itself on its figure-8 layout; instead, the back straight passes over the front section by means of an overpass. Due to its unique layout, Suzuka is a massive test of driver skill and is easily one of the most difficult racing circuits in the world. Nevertheless, the track is loved by drivers and spectators alike for its challenging design and many opportunities for overtaking.
Safety has been a concern at the circuit’s 130R, a 130-meter radius turn starting past the Crossover, following two tragic accidents in 2002 and 2003. Track officials revised the 130R, which has been compared to Spa’s Eau Rouge, redesigning it as a double-apex section, one with an 85 meter radius, and then a second featuring a 340-meter radius, leading to a much closer Casio Triangle (chicane).
During the Suzuka Speedway’s first major event since the revisions during the 2003 MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan, MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato was killed when he crashed in the new section headed to the braking zone for the Casio Triangle. (MotoGP has not returned to Suzuka since the incident).
Other than the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, the Suzuka Speedway also hosts the Suzuka 1000km endurance race. NASCAR organized a pair of exhibition 100-lap races on the East Circuit, a 1.4 mile layout which utilizes the pit straight and esses, before rejoining the main circuit near the Casio Triangle. The cars were Winston Cup and Winston West Series cars and the field was by invitation for the two races, run after the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
Today, the Suzuka Speedway stands as one of the most unique racetracks in the world. There is an adjoining amusement park, shopping mall, museum, several hotels, a motocross track and even a bowling alley within the circuit or next to it. Moriwaki and a slew of other Japanese hot-rod firms are located across the street from the main parking lot.
A1 Team Malaysia got off to a flying start at this year’s A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport season, with driver Fairuz Fauzy putting in a swimmingly good performance and taking home the victory in the Sprint race on the Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands on October 6. Fauzy also finished second in the feature race, making his overall performance a really good one despite torrential rainfall during the course of the race.
Actually, it seemed as if Fauzy was good to claim a neat double until a slow pit stop in the eighth lap of the Feature race, which set him back a bit, making it impossible for him to recover completely. In the Sprint race Fairuz Fauzy started fourth on the grid and managed to move up one place after Irishman Adam Carroll spun out near the start of the race. He quickly lost his lucky climb to third place when Swede Neel Jani charged through and overtook him after a few laps. For a while it seemed that Fairuz Fauzy would continue to be excluded from the top three, but after some fierce driving he managed to reclaim third place on the fifth lap. Not much later he also managed to sweep past Jeroen Bleenkemolen (Netherlands) and move into second place. In the last four laps of the race, Fairuz Fauzy made his final move past Earl Bamber of New Zealand, taking the lead and keeping it until he eventually crossed the finish line in a wet and nail-biting finish. He was followed by Bamber in second place and Loic Duval of France in third place.
Despite the fact that Fairuz Fauzy was unable to win both races, his brilliant performance in the A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport races on Sunday has ensured that Malaysia now shares the series lead with France. Both teams now have 22 points. That is pretty impressive when you consider that Fauzy’s win was Malaysia’s first victory in 27 races. The rest of the season will no doubt prove to be very intriguing as the two countries battle-it-out for series leader. Fans can look forward to plenty more great racing action before the season is over.