News & Media

NASCAR unveils unique multimedia mission control

January 14, 2013, David Caraviello,

All data, all the time in NASCAR Fan & Media Engagement Center

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Race tracks better gauging the effectiveness of a ticket promotion. New sponsors seeing how they’re resonating within the sport. Broadcast partners determining which camera angles click with fans, and which don’t. NASCAR more quickly responding to a controversy or an erroneous media report.

"It’s very, very different from anything else out there."

-- Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer

Those are some of the goals of the NASCAR Fan & Media Engagement Center, a kind of multimedia mission control unveiled Monday at NASCAR Plaza. Built by NASCAR in concert with HP, the 13-screen glass room was the idea of chairman Brian France, and designed so the sanctioning body could better monitor digital and social media on behalf of the sport and its constituencies.

VIDEO: NASCAR, HP launch Fan & Media Engagement Center

“It’s going to allow us to handle digital and social media on behalf of our entire industry,” France said at a ribbon cutting. “… The capabilities being created today are going to allow our industry to interact with our fans in ways we could have never dreamed of before -- in real time in almost every medium, all over the country.”

Eighteen months in the making, the FMEC is designed to help teams, tracks, sponsors, broadcast partners and NASCAR itself receive more data on fan and media reaction. Monitored by a staff of five people, the center on race weekends will be capable of determining things like hashtag efficiency, positive versus negative impressions, even how much one driver is being mentioned in ongoing social media conversations.

“It’s very, very different from anything else out there,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s chief marketing officer. “It will enable us on behalf of the industry to see what’s out there, to see how we’re being covered, and more importantly be able to respond to that in an efficient, effective manner. It’s one thing to get the data -- it’s another thing to respond quickly to it.”

The FMEC will also allow NASCAR to monitor media coverage, and perhaps clear up a misinterpretation of a rule, or correct potentially inaccurate reports from outlets that do not cover the sport on a regular basis.

“This is not by any stretch, and I want to be clear, us trying to control anything,” said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR’s chief communications officer.

“It’s going to allow us to respond faster,” he added, “because we’re going to know more quickly and with more depth and breadth what the conversation is.”

France said NASCAR chose to partner with HP after speaking with different technology companies about the idea. The result unveiled Monday is being hailed by NASCAR as a potential game-changer, and by HP as a product that other industries may want to duplicate.

“This is an absolutely unique, first-of-its-kind solution,” said Charles Salameh, HP’s vice president of enterprise services for the Americas.

“This approach by NASCAR, I’ve never seen it, in all the customers I deal with across the Americas. It’s a very unique way. And mark my words, after this launch … the sporting world will look at what’s been done here. Not just the sporting world, but the automotive industry, the parts supply industry, the communications industry -- any industry looking to have a more interactive dialogue with their customers … is going to look at what was launched here today.”