Motorsports like F1, NASCAR, MotoGP are bringing the action into your living room like never before

There are many sensations that fans miss when watching a race on television. They didn’t see how dramatic the altitude changes were, they didn’t pick their noses when they smelled cooked brakes, they didn’t feel the waves of air scattering around as a convoy passed them at high speed. 200 miles degree. per hour.

And those are just the small details you get when you sit and watch. Imagine the sensations the driver goes through that fans will never know.

Andy Jeffers, owner of Sports & Entertainment Media, who coordinates the placement and sale of in-car cameras for NASCARtold ESPN.

With traditional club and ball sports, the action is confined to a relatively small area. Unless you’re watching the runner land at McCovey Cove in the San Francisco Giants game, you can bet most of the action will be included in the arena.

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In motorsport, however, drivers are caught as they cross several miles of track at once. There’s plenty of space for broadcasters to cover, meaning filming from a distance and using a wide angle. Those tactics provide viewers with all the action, but at such long distances they do so at the expense of conveying the speed achieved by the driver.

“How do you show speed? That’s the hardest part of [broadcasting] Jeffers said. “It’s hard to say about a driver who says, ‘Hey man, what these boys and girls are doing, this is a fantasy! They are in a competitive position the whole time! ‘ Really? Overhead [camera] it’s great because it shows a lot, but it can also look like traffic in LA. “

That’s why so many series are working with broadcast partners and broadcast hardware developers like Broadcast Sports International to find new and unique ways to get fans in the driver’s seat.

Last season, Formula One begins testing with a camera mounted in the driver’s helmet. NASCAR has been perfecting the art of capturing a driver’s forehead video since 2017. In MotoGP, two-wheeler racing is the equivalent of F1, Some riders’ protective leather suits now have a camera mounted on the shoulder.

“It’s really hard to recreate the experience of a Formula one Dean Locke, F1’s director of radio and communications, told ESPN.

It’s one thing to convey the speed of these riders, it’s another to illustrate the physicality they’re subjected to at triple-digit speeds.

“For people who have never jumped on a bike, it is unbelievable,” said Alex Rins, a Suzuki MotoGP racer, after launching the shoulder cam in November last year.

As athletes, drivers and riders all want to share those experiences with their fans. Take pride in displaying the strength of their bodies when subjected to the kind of g-forces that the cast of “Top Gun: Maverick” has grown accustomed to throughout the process. their extensive training regime.

In F1, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was at the forefront of helmet-cam development, and his Bell Helmet was the first to show a video to an international audience of the series from Belgium’s Spa last August.

“I think [the drivers] Locke says it’s really exciting that they can get the thrill of driving those cars to a broader range.

However, viewers at home aren’t the only ones benefiting from this technology.

In NASCAR, some drivers are collecting all the helmet camera footage they can find and using it as a learning tool. It’s valuable to have a real-time view of the driver’s inputs, every wheel spin or brake pedal, and see those actions show up in the telemetry data.

“Young drivers love it because it’s a huge tool for them to learn from,” says Jeffers. “Elder drivers, how many kilometers have they logged in to practice and check the tires?

“Those guys come out when the only way you learn anything is with your butt and the feel of your butt in that car. Now, with limited practice, there’s a disadvantage to those young people because they don’t know these songs or how the tires will wear or how the car will handle.”

However, this is the sport of the highest level, there are always those who seek to steal large amounts of information from their opponents and use it to their advantage.

Footrest-mounted cameras can help with learning how a driver best uses the brakes, which can be especially valuable on the roads. Ricky Rudd, a 23-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and notorious road racer who retired after the 2007 season, was not interested in such a camera setup because he wasn’t about to teach his opponents how to do it. bridge the gap with him when the songs went right.

The camera that gives fans a view from the driver’s seat also provides competitors with vehicle data and information presented to the driver via a display on the steering wheel or dashboard. Many teams in NASCAR now obfuscate that data by displaying incorrect numbers, using internal codes, or switching to show them what the numbers on the screen really mean.

As camera and broadcast technology continues to advance, the ways the series will bring their fans closer to the action. The first helmet cam in NASCAR, worn by Danica Patrick at Sonoma 2017, includes a visor, GoPro-like camera, and a power cord. Today, the entire device is lighter than an iPhone.

However, the future of fan immersion isn’t all visual. Formula One is working to enhance the audio experience for viewers at home and find new ways to illustrate the physical forces to which drivers are subjected using biometric data.

“Where can we innovate? Where can we bring fans back to that experience? Biometric data is exciting,” Locke said. “Can we do something around stress levels? G-force stats that we can get from a driver and compare them to fighter pilots and astronauts for me I’m sure it’s very similar.”

Regardless of how fast that technology evolves, fans staying at home on the couch will never get the same experience as those sitting next to the track – at least until Smell- O-Vision becomes a reality. Until then, enjoy the dawn of this golden age to experience what racers around the world go through every weekend.

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