NASCAR’s Innovative FMEC Unveiled

January 15, 2013 by  
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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.

Nashville Superspeedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in Gladeville, Tennessee, the Nashville Superspeedway is a concrete track which is oval in shape and measures roughly 2.145 km (1.333 miles) in length. It is situated about 30 miles east of Nashville and was built in 2000. There are currently only three concrete tracks on the NASCAR circuit and the Nashville Superspeedway is one of them. The track is owned by Dover Motorsports and it currently hosts four major races each year – two NASCAR Nationwide Series races (the Pepsi 300 and the Federated Auto Parts 300), one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and one Indy Racing League event.

The Nashville Superspeedway has a seating capacity of 50 000 with the potential to be expanded to 150 000 should the track be chosen to host a Sprint Cup Series event though currently NASCAR has shown little interest in doing so. In fact it would seem that there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Dover Motorsports’ unwillingness to move either of its two most successful races from the Dover International Speedway to the Nashville Superspeedway. This has resulted in NASCAR’s unwillingness to allow the track to host a Sprint Cup event which has resulted in it being the only track to host two Nationwide Series events and not be included on the Sprint Cup calendar.

The track is called a ‘superspeedway’ as it is slightly longer than a mile as opposed to a ‘speedway’ which is traditionally shorter than a mile. The use of the term in the name helps to differentiate it from the Nashville Speedway USA, which is 0.596 miles in length. The Speedway can be found at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. The Speedway originally conducted a number of races in the Winston Cup Series but this was eventually stopped due to disagreements over track management.

The Superspeedway near Nashville has at least one interesting tradition worth mentioning, that of presenting race winners with specially-designed Gibson Les Paul guitars instead of trophies. While these may take up more space on the trophy shelf, they have a functional purpose as well as a special uniqueness which makes them that much more special. The Nashville Superspeedway in Tennessee is also known for producing a large number of first-time winners.

Formula One Tracks

February 9, 2009 by  
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Formula One is a popular sport the world over. Eagerly watched at live events and on TV, F1 is a sport that continues to attract large crowds. Of course, the highlight of the Formula One calendar is the World Championship. Held at Formula One race tracks across the world, top-notch drivers compete for the opportunity to win the title of Formula One World Champion for that year.

Formula One race tracks, or F1 circuits, are specially designed for high-speed racing – and speed is exactly what Formula One Grand Prix is about. Corners have to be carefully set so as to prevent serious accidents, but remain challenging. Certain Grand Prix circuits have been set in the streets of towns such as Circuit de Monaco in Monte Carlo and Spa Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium. Over the years that the World Championship has been held, the F1 circuits hosting the event have sometimes been changed. Some have remained hosts to World Championship Grand Prix races, whilst others have been used for just a season or two.

Each Formula One track is uniquely designed with several turns, curves and straights. Amongst the more challenging are Suzuka in Japan and Nurburgring in Germany. Bahrain International Circuit in Manama of Bahrain is set amidst the sand which was sprayed with a special substance to prevent it from blowing onto the track. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola is probably one of the best known in the world, along with France’s F1 circuit of Magny Cours. Other well-known Formula One racing circuits include Australia’s Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Silverstone Circuit in England, Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, Hockenheimring of Germany, Hungaroring in Budapest and Canada’s Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal.

Viewing Formula One racing on television is a popular pastime for many, but F1 is best experienced live at a track. If you live in a country with a nearby F1 Grand Prix circuit, you will be fortunate enough to get several opportunities to watch the thrill of F1. Many make travel arrangements to attend major races at F1 tracks around the world. Imagine yourself standing looking out onto the track, the drivers are pulling up in their stream-lined cars. The engines begin to rev as they prepare to speed off down the road-way. Eventually the tension bursts as the cars race forward. During the race you eagerly watch the top competitors until the final lap comes. Chills shudder down your spine as the team you have been rooting for comes in first place. The excitement, tension and joy of a day at the racetrack is truly not to be missed.

Tracks

Nürburgring

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Nürburgring, or “The Ring”, is a motor racing track situated in Germany. As a truly impressive Formula One circuit, the Nürburgring winds its way through the beautifully wooded hills of Germany’s Eifel plateau. Based around the town of Nürburg, the unique Nürburgring F1 circuit overlooks the remnants of a medieval castle, providing a challenging circuit in remarkable surroundings which attracts large crowds for every event.

The racing circuit of Nürburg was an idea formulated by Dr. Creutz in the 1920s. The original Ring, called Nordschleife, was opened in 1927 and is still used today. This circuit covered an impressive 14 miles or 22.5 km with 172 corners. Many drivers battled to remember the racing line of the complicated Nordschleife circuit. The Nürburgring was actually made up of two circuits, the Nordschleife and the Sudschleife which joined a the paddock with the pits and grandstand. The old Nürburgring was the site of many impressive races such as the time Jackie Stewart won a race in 1968 whilst his wrist was in plaster and the track was covered with fog. Unfortunately, the old track was plagued by safety issues. In 1976 F1 driver Niki Lauda suffered a bad accident in which he sustained severe burns. At the end of 1976 Nürburgring’s license as an F1 circuit was removed.

Over time the Nürburgring was revamped and the new circuit was opened in 1984 covering 4.556km with 14 turns. During the 1984 inaugural race it was decided that they would pit some of Formula One’s greatest drivers against each other in 20 equal Mercedes 190Es. The line-up of famous drivers included Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Keke Rosberg, James Hunt, John Surtees and Carlos Reutemann. Senna took the lead, beating Lauda by a small margin.

The European Grand Prix was hosted at the Nürburgring F1 track in 1984 and 1985 but not after that due to financial problems. For some time the Nürburgring played no role in Grand Prix, but ran several other events during this time, both on a club and international level. Fans did not abandon the Ring though and turned out in large numbers on race days.

As Michael Schumacher burst onto the F1 scene, Formula One was brought back to the Nürburgring race circuit. The Ring hosted the European GP in 1995 and 1996 and then the new Luxemburg GP in 1997 and 1998. From 1999 through to 2006 it became the resident venue of the European Grand Prix. As of 2007 the Nürburgring Formula One circuit will host the German Grand Prix on alternating years with Hockenheim.

Phoenix International Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Built in 1964, the Phoenix International Raceway was originally designed to be one of the best American open wheel racing tracks available. The raceway was carved out of the Estrella Mountains giving the racetrack an incredibly picturesque backdrop. This meant that the new track, which is located at Avondale in Arizona, not only replaced the old one at the Arizona State Fairgrounds but quickly became a favorite amongst racing greats at the time. What’s more, the development of the track further spurred on the developing tourism industry, which meant that it contributed to the economy of the local community in quite a significant way. However, things only really started to take off at the track in 1988 when the Phoenix International Raceway was chosen to host some NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. Suddenly racing legends could be found in every corner of the town and the whole of America discovered just what a great track the Phoenix International Raceway was.

The Phoenix International Raceway is one mile (1.6 km) in length and takes the form of a D-shaped tri-oval. It has a seating capacity of 76 800 and is currently owned by the International Speedway Corporation. Because the track was built right at the foot of a rocky mountain range, it had to be designed around its geographic location. Thus there is a curve in the middle of the backstretch which is situated between turns two and three. This curve is a rather unique feature and is commonly known as ‘the dogleg’. The ‘dogleg’ design allowed the designers to include an external road course and a drag strip into the overall design of the track. Turns 1 & 2 have an 11-degree bank while Turns 3 & 4 have a 9-degree bank. The front straight has a 3-degree bank while the back straight has a 9-degree bank.

Today things at the Phoenix International Raceway are somewhat different from what they originally were. The external road course gave way for an infield road circuit. The crossovers that were originally built to access this infield circuit were sealed off in 2005 after construction of a tunnel under turn four. The drag strip is also seldom used, but the raceway continues to be a popular venue for racing in general. Unfortunately, the raceway was unable to host the Indy Racing League in 2005 which brought to an end a long history of hosting this premier event. Still the raceway continues to enjoy its unmatched tradition of hosting 58 IndyCar events including the Fall NASCAR weekend, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series, Craftsman Trucks Series and Featherlite Southwest Series.

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