Stock cars won’t be the only race in the Daytona 500 – there will also be some epic drones that will give viewers dynamic and incredible footage of the race. We went behind the scenes with Mike Davies, Senior Vice President of Field and Technical Management and Operations at Fox Sports to see how they plan to deliver the race like you’ve never seen it before.
Speed is obviously a big part of the Daytona 500, and the new drones Fox Sports are using to capture the race are no exception, reaching speeds in excess of 90 mph. “[These are] Racing drones, ”says Davies. “Anything you can use to make the cars look as fast as they actually drive is a huge win in our book. It gives the feeling of action and dynamism that we were looking for, ”he says of the drones.
Of course, you can’t just buy these specialized drones from Amazon. These drones are entirely manufactured by Beverly Hills Aerials. With these specialized drones, Davies and his team were able to take close-ups and fly near the ground and around structures.
A headset allows the drone operator to control it in the first person so the pilots can get the best shots possible. “It’s really exhilarating,” says Davies of piloting a drone at 90 mph and following a car that goes nearly 200 mph.
But it’s not just drones. Fox Sports is also changing some of the cameras that were used during the NFL season to capture the same kind of super footage during the football season. From a camera called “The Megalodon” to a rig called “The Digi Boom”, NASCAR will capture footage that has never been seen before.
And as one of the first sports to restart during the pandemic, putting these footage together is a technological feat that uses people across the country for seamless transmission. “We have a place in LA that we call ‘The Vault’ that will do the replay and our ‘Fox Box’. We have a place in Pittsburgh that has more iterations and graphics. And of course we have our hub in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we will do part of our preshow. On the live show, there will actually be some people working in their homes, ”explains Davies.
Fox combined its creativity with breakout technology to deliver this year’s Daytona 500 and will show the race like never before. All the pieces have to come together to really tell the stories of the race and the drivers.
“The thing about coverage of a race that is two and a half miles is that all of these simultaneous storylines are happening at the same time,” says Davies. “And what I look forward to is what I always look forward to: All of these toys like the drone, the super slow motion cameras, the high definition cameras, the broadcast analysis … and seeing it all come together in a unique way. “