SMT Develops 3D GhostCar Technology for NASCAR Race Qualifying

NASCAR and Fox Sports have adopted SMT’s GhostCar, its Broadcast Analytics platform for NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series and Xfinity Series for the 2019 season. NASCAR broadcasting partner Fox Sports is leveraging SMT’s GhostCar tool to help tell a more in-depth story during single-car qualifying, giving fans a compelling and captivating look into the intricacies of turning the fastest lap possible.

On May 1, NASCAR announced its three national series will return to single-car qualifying at all oval tracks after more than five years of using a group qualifying format. The changes went into effect May 6 for NASCAR’s tripleheader at Dover International Speedway, and SMT’s GhostCar technology was featured in Fox Sports’ qualifying coverage.

“In an environment where every second counts, SMT has created an invaluable visualization tool integrated with a data feed that’s quick and easy for talent and fans to digest,” said Michael Davies, Senior Vice President, Field & Technical Operation, Fox Sports. “This extraordinary platform has an enormous impact on detailing the differences between winning and losing, really giving the talent in the booth storylines to discuss.”

SMT, the pioneers of Emmy Award-winning sports broadcast technology, released its GhostCar technology on Fox for single car qualifying for this year’s Daytona 500.

“The combination of the broadcast video with our live virtual visualization and leaderboard data created a compelling Daytona 500 show, bringing storytelling for the broadcasters to a new level,” said AJ Mead, digital product manager, SMT. “Viewers were able to see in real time how drivers were racing vs. the bubble or pole sitter and where they were gaining or losing.”

SMT’s GhostCar application visualizes SMT’s RACEf/x® tracking-system data — a combination of GPS location data, NASCAR Timing and Scoring data, and ECU (engine control unit) data — in a 3D virtual environment based on virtual track and car models using SMT survey data.

“In 2018, GhostCar was primarily used to visualize one driver’s qualifying lap vs. another’s. While that is a compelling execution, it was only scratching the surface of the tool’s capabilities,” said Mead. “This season, Fox and SMT have used GhostCar to visualize more scenarios, including a car’s performance on old tires vs. new tires and team performance on green flag pit stops. These additional visualizations are a great tool for the talent to effectively communicate with the audience.”

“Innovation is in NASCAR’s DNA, and the same can be said of SMT,” said Steve Stum, VP, Operations and Technical Production at NASCAR Productions. “We employ technology in several areas, all with one goal in mind —a stronger, more engaging experience for the fans. We want fans to enjoy our sport in a deeper way, and innovations like SMT’s GhostCar help accomplish that goal.”

SMT has provided cutting-edge solutions for NASCAR since 1992, when SMT introduced NASCAR’s first televised live official timing and scoring graphic and race crawl. SMT’s Emmy-winning products include the yellow 1st & Ten® line, the K-Zone™ pitch-tracking system, and RACE f/x.

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