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History of the In-Car Cameras

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 types of automotive racing broadcasts.

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.

Very noticeably was the fact that in the cockpit the image from the giant camera only had the car number, driver name, and the CBS logo. CBS was very concerned with car racing as a whole, specifically any advertising viewed by the in-car cam since the FCC limited the amount of advertising per hour. The biggest question was if car racing was advertising or sport?

Then entered Lyn Jeffers, a true visionary and marketing genius. Jeffers, who had been working to bring team sponsorships into NASCAR in the late 70’s, realized there was potential for sponsors to gain extra exposure by selling the in-car camera.

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.

Very noticeably was the fact that in the cockpit the image from the giant camera only had the car number, driver name, and the CBS logo. CBS was very concerned with car racing as a whole, specifically any advertising viewed by the in-car cam since the FCC limited the amount of advertising per hour. The biggest question was if car racing was advertising or sport?

Then entered Lyn Jeffers, a true visionary and marketing genius. Jeffers, who had been working to bring team sponsorships into NASCAR in the late 70’s, realized there was potential for sponsors to gain extra exposure by selling the in-car camera.

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 in the in-car camera program and it became an enormous marketing tool. All thanks to Jeffers’ big idea.

What began as a single 50-pound awkward monster in the late 70’s is now a streamlined 4 camera system providing multiple angles to allow the audience a more complete onboard view.

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 when the “dual path” system was introduced, providing simultaneously multiple live video feed within the car. 2013 the “gyro-scopic” camera was unveiled. 2014 saw the newly designed 360º 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 NASCAR Cup Series introduced yet another new roof camera. Streamlined and stylish to both fans’ and networks’ delight, the camera’s ability to intensify the coverage enhanced side-by-side racing. Midseason in 2017, Broadcast Sports International brought back the Visor Cam this time in high definition form. On the footsteps of their groundbreaking Indy Car visor cam, BSI brought fans into the stock car giving them the closest perspective from a driver’s view than we have ever seen in HD. In 2018 NASCAR assisted the networks’ request for a fourth camera in every in-car camera carrying car.

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 when the “dual path” system was introduced, providing simultaneously multiple live video feed within the car. 2013 the “gyro-scopic” camera was unveiled. 2014 saw the newly designed 360º 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 NASCAR Cup Series introduced yet another new roof camera. Streamlined and stylish to both fans’ and networks’ delight, the camera’s ability to intensify the coverage enhanced side-by-side racing. Midseason in 2017, Broadcast Sports International brought back the Visor Cam this time in high definition form. On the footsteps of their groundbreaking Indy Car visor cam, BSI brought fans into the stock car giving them the closest perspective from a driver’s view than we have ever seen in HD. In 2018 NASCAR assisted the networks’ request for a fourth camera in every in-car camera carrying car.

Each car carrying an onboard camera system now is set up with four mandatory cameras; driver, roof, bumper and a specialty fourth camera angle. Depending on the varied track configurations for each racing series, a car has potential to have 14 different angles.

In most NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races, four to six cars carry onboard cameras, while the Truck series typically have two trucks carrying a camera systems.

Working on five 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 all thanks to Lyn Jeffers’ “Big Idea”.