Live From Daytona 500: NASCAR Productions Embraces At-Home Workflow for Super Bowl of Racing
Home base in Charlotte, NC, will handle international feed, in-venue show
Since the start of last year, NASCAR Productions has been tinkering with new ways to bring the high-speed action on the track to millions in the U.S. and around the globe, and one of those tools is an at-home–production model. For the biggest race in auto racing, the Daytona 500, the company’s headquarters in Charlotte, NC, will be responsible for sending out the international feed and facilitating the in-venue production at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
“Over the last couple of years, we wanted to build a home like other professional leagues for officiating, managing, and other things,” says Steve Stum, VP, operations and technical production, NASCAR Productions. “We’ve created a crossroads for productions back to Charlotte.”
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An At-Home Mindset: Videoboard Show, International Feed Resides in Charlotte
Generally speaking, the team producing an in-venue show is located at the particular stadium or arena. For this year’s Daytona 500, the videoboard show will be produced in Charlotte, 475 miles north of where the race is being held.
“We decided to move production of all screens back to Charlotte,” says Stum. “It’s a big undertaking.”
The quintessential American sport, NASCAR has its fair share of fans in distant lands. This year, NASCAR Productions is tasked with piecing together the transmission to about 185 countries and territories.
“All of this will be done back in Charlotte,” he says. “Matt Roper [senior director, broadcasting, NASCAR Productions] and his group will produce all of the international feeds out of [the studio there.]”
With Roper at the helm in Daytona, the offsite team of around 50 strong in Charlotte will also distribute the international broadcast in up to 20 languages.
For both the in-venue show and the international feed, the NASCAR Productions crew is accessing the same connectivity that Fox Sports is using to stay in-sync with its own offsite locations.
“We have 10G circuits that were put in this year,” Roper notes. “We’re buying that from AT&T to do all of our transmissions and connectivity going back to Charlotte.”
To congregate the resources in the compound, Stum and company chose NEP and its SRT2 mobile unit as a helpful conduit to home base. “NEP is providing all of the fiber infrastructure and routing that connects us back to Charlotte,” he says. “They have always been a great and long-time partner.”
More Than an At-Home: A Customized Racing Experience for Digital Fans
While the linear side is being dealt with, the team at NASCAR Digital is laying out menu items for digital fans. NASCAR Drive, for example, is an offering that combines live-streamed video and different elements that the user can choose from to personalize the viewing experience, such as the audio channels and different camera angles for all 40 drivers.
“Drive is back for this year, where fans can choose driver audio and isolated camera feeds,” says Roper. “Choosing these angles is a newer functionality they’ve added to [the platform]. You’ll be able to build your own quad [box] and watch it that way.”
In addition to the audio and visual selections, NASCAR Drive gives fans access to live driver statistics, lap-by-lap commentary, and data from the leaderboard. The digital team is already developing a new deployment for next year’s race.
“We’re working [toward] more in-car connectivity for next year,” Stum explains. “It’ll be a big year getting the next-gen car out.”
Constant Improvements: NASCAR Family Eyes a New Frontier at Daytona
The 62-year-old racing tradition has seen its fair share of changes, but, to NASCAR Productions, change is a welcome sign to those that want to continue to innovate. In recent years, the company has been greenlighting projects that will further enhance what it has to offer.
“We did a big partnership with AWS this year, and they’re looking at ways to help us improve the fan experience,” says Stum. “We also made a big investment with Verizon, and they’re going to install new Wi-Fi systems. So we’re getting more advanced starting right now.”
Whether deploying multiple efforts via at-home production, giving digital-savvy viewers a unique way to digest the race, or looking toward a bright technological future, the entire 75-person team in Daytona appreciates the significance and gravity of this event.
“This is a big one for us because it sets the stage for the season, in terms of ratings and people in attendance,” says Stum. “But, for us, the focus is always on the content and what we do with it.”