Photo by Getty Images.
Technological innovations are placing each fan inside their favorite NASCAR driver's car to feel the intensity of driving at 200 mph. For every Nextel Cup Series race, in-car audio is provided to fans via their cell phones or through a pay-per-use feature on NASCAR's Website, as well as to interested media outlets through dedicated feeds. Fans can listen to their favorite driver communicate race strategy, car and track conditions, and pit stop logistics with the spotter and pit crew.
Because drivers sometimes utter profanities in the heat of a race, NASCAR is obliged to police the in-car audio. To achieve this, Daniel Braverman, president of Radio Systems Inc., and his team integrated 24 Symetrix AirTools 6100 Broadcast Audio Delays for NASCAR Images. Radio Systems is the exclusive manufacturer of the StudioHub+ wiring and integration system, which allowed the company to set up the elaborate in-car audio infrastructure in the span of a weekend in January 2007.
From every track in the Nextel Cup Series NASCAR Images can uplink 48 channels of in-car audio to their site in Charlotte, N.C., where all 48 channels are delayed through the 24 AirTools 6100s in AES/EBU dual mono pairs. The AirTools 6100 conveys every nuance with 24-bit, HD-compatible word length and 48kHz sampling rate (synchable between 30 and 50 kHz).
The sophisticated digital routing system is manufactured by Sierra Automated Systems (SAS) of Burbank, Calif. This digital router allows all of those channels to be connected in any conceivable matrix of inputs and outputs. A custom version of the SAS software pins the right dump button to the right delay channel. Ten human monitors must listen for forbidden words during each lap.
"The genius of the system is its flexibility and the ease with which we're able to integrate the delays so that the monitors don't have to think twice when it's time to dump audio," says Braverman. "For those drivers that are more popular, NASCAR will assign a one-to-one monitor. The less popular drivers will be lumped together. You might have one monitor listening to as many as a dozen drivers."
No matter how many drivers are being monitored, the monitor has just one dump button. A profanity on any single channel will prompt a dump on every channel that he or she is listening to. "NASCAR was very concerned about dumping the obscenity, so they are willing to lose a bit of audio on the other feeds," Braverman explained.
From the monitoring facility in Charlotte, the sanitized audio is separated by individual drivers and sent to the wider world.