ESPN’s Draft Track Lets NASCAR Fans ‘See the Air’

August 17, 2007
ESPN has enhanced its NASCAR coverage with Draft Track, a special effects package developed by ESPN and SportVision, which debuted on the July 29 telecast of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To date, the new effect is used on replays.

Viewers see air flowing over and behind race cars as they speed around the track. The Draft Track airflow visualization changes as cars change position in real time on the racetrack, whether passing, racing side by side, or lined up nose to tail.

Using computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel data, SportVision developed a comprehensive model of the airflow as it affects cars in relation to each other. The system uses positioning data derived from SportVision’s patented RACEf/x system. Draft Track computers calculate and determine the profile of the airflow many times per second on cars traveling at more than 200 mph.

The airflow effect is then locked into the highlighted cars using SportVision optical tracking technology, and a visual representation of the airflow is inserted into ESPN’s video. The density, color and velocity of the airflow help illustrate the effects of drafting on car performance.

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