NASCAR integrates technology into pit road officiating.
CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR will unveil a new high-tech officiating program for the 2015 season starting with Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
In an effort to integrate more technology into the sport, the sanctioning body created a program designed to engage the fan base while increasing consistent officiating, transparency and pit road safety.
Since the idea was approved at the end of 2013, the last year has been used to develop and test the officiating program, which will identify infractions such as a car travelling through more than three pit boxes entering or exiting the team’s stall, pitting outside of its box, too many crewmen over the wall or crew coming over the wall too soon.
I think the end game is fair and equal treatment of all of the teams, accurate enforcement of the rules and content generation for the fans.
Shawn Rogers, NASCAR
NASCAR reached out to 65 different companies before receiving 18 proposals from 31 interested parties and chose Hawkeye Innovations as its technical partner. The sanctioning body performed full parallel testing over the final 11 races of 2014 to check out the software and bring officials up to speed.
After several site tests, officials opted to mount at least 45 high-definition cameras (weighing five pounds each) at various positions on the grandstand side of the track. Each camera records two pit stalls to offer a selection of views and provide a backup should one camera malfunction. Each pit road was laser measured to accurately mark all openings. CAD dimensions enable the program to identify specific cars and apply the officiating based on pit road rules.
“It records everything in the pit stalls,” said Shawn Rogers, NASCAR managing director of planning and business operations.
A second set of eyes
The pit road video feeds from the cameras will be fed to a 53 ft. production trailer (which will reside in the TV compound at each track) and integrated with timing and scoring. The trailer has eight stations where officials can review the video and identify infractions. Rogers added the video clips will be sent randomly to the officials “to avoid favoritism” and “won’t have the same drivers throughout the race.” The data will be forwarded to the control tower where penalties will be determined by the race director.
Video clips will also be sent to the teams, manufacturers and broadcast partners to enhance the telecast.
See a new game
After comparing 10 of the 2014 races with the new system, Rogers said NASCAR was able to identify 10 to 20 times more infractions – specifically crewmen going over the wall too early and drivers using more than three pit stalls to enter and exit their pit box.
“I think the end game is fair and equal treatment of all of the teams, accurate enforcement of the rules and content generation for the fans,” Rogers said.
Rogers added the system will decrease the number of officials on pit road from 43 to 10. Those 10 officials will be responsible for four pit boxes each. At stand-alone races in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR will revert to the previous officiating system.