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NASCAR previews pit road officiating innovation

NASCAR.com

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 14, 2014) -- In yet another nod to the priority NASCAR has placed on innovation, NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell spoke Wednesday in Boston at the Front End of Innovation, a cross-industry conference bringing together industry executives, practitioners, academics and experts in innovation, product development and research and development.

Joining leaders and innovators from best-in-class companies such as Walt Disney, Procter and Gamble, MasterCard, IBM and Microsoft, O'Donnell presented a case study on the Air Titan 2.0 drying technology, as well as provided an update on NASCAR's technology-driven pit road officiating system.

O'Donnell touched on these and other initiatives spearheaded by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and borne out of the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., including safety and competition enhancements, as well as fan engagement and event experience.

"Innovation helps drive NASCAR, and it is central to the sport's evolution," said O'Donnell, who last year spoke at both the Harvard Business School's Cyberposium and the World Innovation Convention in Cannes, France. "There are several examples of it improving the sport, none more recent -- and impressive -- than Air Titan 2.0. The next wave of NASCAR innovation is the pit road officiating technology, which will increase the overall quality of in-race officiating."

Beginning in 2015, NASCAR will implement its automated pit road officiating technology -- becoming the first sport to use technology to officiate each of its events. This technology will be used on every lap, in every race, O'Donnell announced. Testing of this technology is currently under way.

This innovative pit road technology will employ numerous video cameras, which will be mounted to inspect and gather data -- in real time -- from all areas of pit road. Following O'Donnell's overview of the new system, he discussed future incarnations, including the use of the collected data to improve the fan experience while in the stands at-track or watching at home on television.

Following a February 2013 unveil of Air Titan, NASCAR introduced Air Titan 2.0 in March, signaling a major step forward in NASCAR's innovation cycle. The new system, which is a self-contained unit, delivers 2.6 times more air volume at a speed of 568 mph, while raising the air temperature by 70 degrees over ambient. With the combination of water removal and accelerated evaporation, the ultimate goal is to reduce track-drying time by 80 percent.

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