SBJ/May 12-18, 2014/Media

Penske adds FanVision Pro race feed

Penske Racing became the first NASCAR Sprint Cup team to sign on for a product developed by the handheld device company FanVision that will reduce the delay time of the broadcast feed at the team’s pit box by as much as 10 seconds.

The technology, which is called FanVision Pro, was developed earlier this year to provide TVs at team pit boxes, haulers and motorcoaches with a FanVision broadcast feed of the race, an in-car camera feed and statistics that detail everything from the fastest lap to who’s making a pit stop.

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The product has the potential to reduce the broadcast delay that teams have at the racetrack from 15 seconds to less than 3 seconds, which Travis Geisler, Penske Racing director of competition, said could make a difference in the team’s performance.

“With the TV broadcast, there had been an increased lag time between what was happening and when you

Penske hopes the technology will help the team make better decisions during the race and on pit stops.

were seeing it,” Geisler said. “It started to become difficult to use the feed on the pit box to make decisions. It was far enough behind that you couldn’t see the damage on a car as fast as the FanVision Pro can provide it.”

FanVision, which is owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, has an exclusive agreement with NASCAR to deliver audio and video feeds of races to fans over handheld devices at the track. That exclusivity meant it offered what amounted to a closed-circuit feed of the race that was faster than the TV broadcast available through satellite feeds used by teams.

Spotters have used the handheld devices at races for years, and crew chiefs recently began asking for a similar feed for larger TVs and tablets along pit road. The request led FanVision to develop a set-top box that would provide its broadcast feed to bigger screens at the track.

It began selling its FanVision Pro service this year for $17,500 a season. Pricing will vary based on what a team needs.

“The idea was to bring more real estate to teams, so they could move data around and see what they want to see,” said Ted Van Zelst, chief revenue officer at FanVision. “We know our delivery system works.”

Penske Racing began using the technology earlier this month at Talladega Superspeedway.

Geisler said the service hasn’t made a difference in any decisions the team has made to date, but he anticipates it will in the future and that those decisions could be the difference between winning and losing a race. He pointed to Phoenix International Raceway as an example of a track where the team expects to benefit from using FanVision Pro. When the team raced there in March, Geisler found himself frustrated with the TV feed he was watching and believed the lengthy delay made it difficult for crew chiefs to make snap decisions about whether the team’s drivers should take two or four tires during a pit stop.

“If we knew better in real time what [competing] cars are taking, two or four [tires], we could have made a better decision,” Geisler said. “Instead, we were relying on what a spotter or the driver told us.”

Geisler hopes that changes when the team returns to Phoenix in November.

Van Zelst said FanVision is in talks with four other teams about using the technology service. His goal is to have every team on pit road using it and have racetracks begin offering it in their suites.


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