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HISTORY of The In-Car Camera

NASCAR television coverage was ignited by the vision of CBS Sports President, Neal Pilson and motorsports editor, Ken Squier. Before 1979, television coverage of the Daytona 500 either began when the race was halfway over, or as an edited highlight packaged that aired a week later on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. On February 18, 1979, CBS presented the first flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500. That telecast introduced LIVE in-car cameras, which has now become standard in all sorts of automotive racing broadcasts. Cale Yarbourgh Early In-Car

At that 1979 Daytona 500, Benny Parson’s car was the first to carry an in-car camera, which Emmy Award-winning producer Bob Fishman of CBS helped develop. Parson’s car also had one in 1980. The first two years the cameras were stationary. Then in 1981 cars driven by Terry Labonte and Richard Childress were equipped with cameras that could be panned and tilted by remote control.

Two years later, CBS working with Broadcast Sports International installed a more adequate, though still a bit over-sized, camera in Cale Yarborough’s car at the season-opening Daytona 500. Yarborough won that Daytona 500, and viewers were treated to a shotgun seat of the victory with an in-car-camera view. It was such a big success, CBS decided to put a camera in both the Michigan and Talladega races. In 1986, CBS won an Emmy for its use of the in-car camera on the Daytona 500.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 4.00.30 PMOne thing that was very noticeable, however, was the fact that in the cockpit pictures from the giant camera only had the car number, driver name, the CBS logo. CBS was very concerned with car racing as a whole and specifically any advertising seen by the in-car cam since the FCC limited the amount of advertising per hour and the question presented was if car racing was advertising or sport? Then entered Lyn Jeffers, a true visionary and marketing genius, stepped in. Jeffers, who had been working to bring team sponsorships into NASCAR in the late 70’s, realized there was plenty of potential for sponsors by selling sponsorships so that viewers would see the decals of those companies while they were viewing the race. The late 1980’s is when the in-car camera and its marketability really began to take off. Sponsors and teams alike were on board with advertising on the in-car camera program and it became a huge marketing tool. All thanks to Jeffers’ big idea. What started out as an awkward, 50-pound monster in the late 70’s now only weighs a few pounds and instead of a one-camera installed there are now multiple camera angles so that viewers enjoy a more complete onboard look. Every year Broadcast Sports International, https://www.bsintl.com leads the way with new innovations with the in-car cameras. In 2007, Broadcast Sports International debuted the in-car cameras in HD. 2011 saw a revolutionary advancement with the “dual path” system was introduced. 2013 the “gyro-scopic” camera was unveiled. 2014 saw the newly designed 360 cameras added to the fleet. NASCAR called for a new roof camera for teams at Kansas in 2014, as they were looking for a more streamlined looking camera. Broadcast Sports International answered the bell again providing the technology and engineering to accommodate the sanctioning body’s request. In 2017 the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will debut yet another new roof camera. Streamlined and stylish, but to fans and networks’ delight the camera will be capable of panning.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 3.16.13 PMEach car carrying an onboard camera system now is set up with three basic cameras; driver, roof, and bumper. At some tracks, like road courses and short tracks, additional cameras angles are used to enhance coverage. In most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity races, four to six cars carry onboard cameras, while Trucks carry four to five cameras working on four decades; sponsors, teams, and drivers have used the in-car cameras to deliver their image in a 200-mph billboard to millions of race fans in their living room due to Jeffers’ “Big Idea”.

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