Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Partners with Ultracast to Provide Unique VR Experience

NASCAR is continuing its policy of elevating its fan experience thanks to a new partnership with a virtual reality organization.

The sanctioning body’s digital media sector recently announced it would be unveiling live, 360-degree views of pre-race events for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Thanks to a collaboration with Ultracast, a broadcaster that works with several sports entities to provide a fresh perspective for the folks watching at home.

“The technology around it is still evolving,” Tim Clark, NASCAR’s managing director of digital media, told Frontstretch. “It is literally a sphere-mounted camera that’s got multiple camera lenses in it so it is filming 360 degrees at all times. The user who is watching the video can control the angle they want to watch at.”

NASCAR will unveil this new partnership on Sunday, live-streaming the driver’s meeting. Fans will be able to feel like they are at the meeting, being able to focus in on their favorite drivers and teams through the NASCAR app on mobile devices and on NASCAR.com.

Two members of the Miami-based Ultracast team will be traveling to the racetrack this weekend to help set up and run the 360-degree camera.

“It’s a space we’ve been evaluating for a while,” Clark said. “Daytona is something we’ve talked about, but we wanted to move a little bit quicker. We thought the championship weekend in Miami made a lot of sense since there is a lot of excitement around the weekend.”

After the weekend is complete, NASCAR will be evaluating the results and feedback of the Ultracast broadcasts. The hope is to continue the ascent in the technology world, providing an in-depth experience for those can’t be at the racetrack.

NASCAR is also looking at ways to implement augmented reality, which is a live view of the physical world in front of you, “augmented by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data.”

“There are a couple of possibilities of what we can do,” Clark said. “It’s a learning process for us, and it’s one that we are looking to do more with.”

The goal is to enhance the fan experience once again, hoping to utilize the technology realm within sports.

This is the latest in NASCAR’s push to make fans feel what the drivers are going through throughout a race weekend. This year, NBC Sports strapped cameras onto drivers’ helmets for in-race broadcasts. While it may seem easy, Clark goes on to say, “there are a lot of moving parts to that.”

“We’re going to have to partner with the tracks and the teams,” he said. “We’ll have to evaluate what’s available from a technical standpoint.”

About the author

Joseph started with Fronstretch in Aug. 2014 and worked his way up to become an editor in less than a year. A native of Whitestone, New York, Joseph writes for NASCAR Pole Position magazine as a weekly contributor, along with being a former intern at Newsday and the Times Beacon Record Newspapers, each on Long Island. With a focus on NASCAR, he runs our social media pages and writes the NASCAR Mailbox column, along with other features for the site.

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