Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Have you ever used NASCAR Trackpass and/or TNT RaceBuddy?

Let me start off with what we call a disclaimer. Just before the season finale for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway, I was asked by a PR guy with NASCAR to do a NASCAR giveaway here on RaceDriven.com, the two prizes were a subscription to NASCAR Trackpass that was good for one year from activation and the second prize was a NASCAR Prize Pack that included several different things. For running the giveaway, I received both prizes.

So with that said, what did I think of the NASCAR Trackpass experience?

A few weeks ago during the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford 300, I activated the NASCAR Trackpass to use during the race and see what it was like and what an interesting experience it was to say the least. There were a few good points as well as a few bad points.

But before I get into my experience, here’s what the NASCAR Trackpass has to offer:

“View real time driver data positions with the leaderboard, updates on the race including pit stop times, driver’s time behind the leader, drivers’ speed, RPM, brake, throttle, and race positionand more, watching LIVE racing from 3 virtual camera angles, listen to exclusive driver and team communication for all 43 drivers with scanner, Listen to the NASCAR Officials discuss the race and more.”

Now I have been watching all of the NASCAR races all season long on TV and with the exception of attending the NASCAR race last June in New Hampshire and watching a few of the races at someone else’s house, I watched them at home on television with NASCAR on FOX, NASCAR on TNT and NASCAR on ESPN/ABC, those experiences are another article all together.

Anyway during the Ford 400, I had the NASCAR on ABC coverage on TV with the sound muted for most of the event. I’ve seen and heard the ESPN coverage before in general and it’s scripted. However instead of listening to the ABC coverage, I switched between the MRN/PRN Radio coverage which is always great to listen to considering they have to paint a picture for the listener and the scanner to listen to NASCAR and any of the 43 drivers.

I was a little bit surprised that the radio coverage was basically live or so it seemed. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the ABC coverage which seemed like it was five or seven second delay or a straightaway behind. I was hearing about a battle between the leaders going into turn 1 and the ABC coverage was just coming off turn 4 heading for the start/finish line.

Even more so, the scanner feature was delaying further then the TV coverage. For example during one of pit stops, I was listening to Jimmie Johnson’s radio during a pit stop, about the time when the crew chief Chad Knaus calling Jimmie into the pits and making sure the guys changed every right, the pictures on TV showed Jimmie Johnson already done his pit stop and going down the back straightaway.

I also found the leaderboard helpful as well as the pit stop times, lap times and the chase standings. However the other features just didn’t work for me like the virtual pictures, I need real cameras, not fake.

I would say that while I liked the opportunity to use NASCAR Trackpass and will continue to use it, I wouldn’t pay all that much for it. However during the NASCAR summer series, namely TNT’s coverage, TNT added an online feature called TNT Racebuddy which was on NASCAR.com as well. It’s a free feature that had the extra features that the NASCAR Trackpass lacks.

The cameras which included a shot of pit road, a roof camera which a Pocono was on the #14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet and other cameras controlled by the TNT crew was a welcome pleasure. I didn’t even mind the four advertisements that were on it, but I didn’t like hearing the TNT TV crew.

My opinion is, combine the NASCAR Trackpass with scanner function, leaderboard and the live cameras from the TNT RaceBuddy for free with ads or no ads for a small fee and you might have a good product that NASCAR fans would use. Just watch the price tag, in this economy where money is at a premium, fans will either pay for it or not especially if they don’t like the TV coverage.

I will say that in watching just the TV coverage for ESPN/ABC, the radio and the scanner helped and in some cases was a completely different race. So have you used NASCAR Trackpass and/or TNT RaceBuddy and if so, what did you think?