ESPN to introduce new Drafting Special Effects Continuing its tradition of ground-breaking innovations for sports television, ESPN will introduce the first phase of a new development in motorsports coverage during the live telecast of Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway on ESPN2.
Using proprietary technology, ESPN will be able to show viewers the effects of drafting in NASCAR racing in a way that has never been done before. The system, which was designed by ESPN and Sportvision, will display numerical readouts of a race car’s horsepower increase and downforce pressure, both as a result of drafting.
“This system will display numbers that could only have been speculated on in the past,” said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. “This is the first phase of this project and you can expect more.”
ESPN2 will be the home of the NASCAR Busch Series in 2007, with six select races televised by ESPN on ABC. “We have promised that we would elevate the NASCAR Busch Series with the same standards of production and same high technology that we will use later this year for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series,” said Drake. “The introduction of this special effects system is a perfect example of our commitment to the series.”
Drake said that ESPN’s new draft special effects system was an idea that came to him in 1997 during ESPN’s previous period of NASCAR coverage.
“There is a curiosity about things you can’t see,” said Drake. “We have a long history of creating technological systems to enhance our coverage, and the systems are genuine in the accompanying experience for our viewers.”
ESPN and Sportvision worked together to create the “First and 10 Line” in football coverage, now used by nearly all networks, as well as the “K Zone” in baseball coverage. ESPN also worked with another company to create the “Shot Spot” that is used in tennis coverage to show when a ball hits the baseline. All three innovations earned Sports Emmy Awards for ESPN.
Drake said that the Draft Special Effects system uses “massive math calculation, formulas and heavy-duty computing” as well as satellite technology to measure the position of race cars on the race track five times a second, with accuracy within two centimeters.
The new special effects package is the latest addition to ESPN’s NASCAR coverage that will be the most technologically advanced in motorsports history. ESPN will be the first network to use High Definition in-car cameras as part of its overall HD coverage, as well as the first to use Sportvision technology showing car positions and telemetry in coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series.
“ESPN will continue experimenting and pushing the envelope with technology,” said Drake. “It’s part of what we do as a company. Now that we’re back in NASCAR, the technology has risen to the level of our intrigue.”