Fans of NASCAR racing know that they can listen in on the drivers and teams communicating during the racing action via scanners that pick up the radio transmissions between driver and crew. What many people don’t realize is that the practice has gone on for many years. It isn’t just NASCAR racing that this is available; it’s available in most forms of racing. The ability to listen in on transmissions between driver, crew and officials is readily available for the taking, if you have the right equipment.
Glen Aikenhead is from upstate N.Y. State and was working in the oil fields of Alaska in the early 1990’s when he and his friends would work for three weeks straight and then get an entire week off. This gave them the opportunity to attend IndyCar racing events at places like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other tracks, including California, where the Long Beach Grand Prix was held. Aikenhead had been bringing police radio scanners to the track to listen to the drivers and recalled an incident where he heard British driver, Nigel Mansel, singing an Irish ballad while running in race mode, to distract him from the pain he was in from an earlier accident. The scanners were cumbersome and finding batteries that would last an entire race was extremely difficult. Not only that, the scanners were not for the technically inept, you had to know what you were doing to get them to work.
Aikenhead sought out ways to make the use of scanners commonplace and in order to do that it had to be friendly and intuitive for the fan to use. It was this basic premise that allowed Aikenhead, in 1993, to start TrackScan, a company dedicated to providing race fans a means to listen to the radio frequencies at the race track. This meant that he needed to procure the equipment in order to do so. While that wasn’t too difficult to do he also needed to get the suppliers to make the scanners easier to use. Currently the company holds brand licenses with NASCAR, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and many top teams for scanner and headset products. According to Aikenhead, “TrackScan became the industry standard” for such equipment.
So it wasn’t too long ago that NASCAR fans were able to not only have portable scanners where they could listen behind the scenes but they also had the option to use a hand held device that showed real time video and statistics. A company called FanVision provided this service and it was an immediate hit with fans and teams alike.
On January 9, 2014 FanVision made the following announcement, “FanVision, a division of RSE Ventures, the sports, entertainment and technology company co-founded by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, today announced the purchase of radio scanner company, Track Scan. FanVision, the complete in-venue fan enhancement service, provides fans with access to eight in-car cameras, replays, a digital scanner, while providing real-time statistics and more at every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ race. FanVision devices take fans out of the stands and put them directly into the driver’s seat, further enhancing the racing experience. Now, Track Scan joins the FanVision family with an eye on growth, creating a must-have product for fans at every race.”
Aikenhead became a Vice President in the company and is focused in the NASCAR operations side of things. He said of the purchase by FanVision, “It made the best sense to move forward with a merger of the two companies. FanVision wanted to take control of the distribution of race information at the track. They looked at the products offered and TrackScan and FanVision together did everything better, it made sense to put it all together. Everything via FanVision is available for fans, a three second video replay, and statistical information live.
The experience is so great for fans Aikenhead mentioned the FanVision Gen 3 controller and FanVision Pro which would be for the race teams and their engineers. “It’s an in-car data feed for them, there is literally no delay, it’s that quick. It’s perfect for crew chiefs and the engineers to use. ”
For anyone that attends events at race tracks and other significant sporting events, cellular and digital services, most notably, data services are difficult to maintain with such significant draws on the network resources due to the sheer number of people there using those services. Aikenhead discussed his technical group from Montreal, Quebec saying, “It’s our own private network that we bring to the tracks. With the need for that much bandwidth it can’t be done any other way. It’s our own proprietary network system and it’s the smart way to do things.
Aikenhead also discussed some recent news about the merger that FanVision had just last week with PrePlay, a developer of mobile games in sports entertainment. According to the press release, PrePlay develops live, mobile games that enable fans to predict events in real time, with clients and partners including MLB.com, the NHL, and the US Open Tennis Tournament. The merger allows FanVision to augment its current product with native mobile applications to bring its unique content to additional fans.” He said of the merger, “Preplay is involved in every aspect of sports entertainment. It allows gaming on Apple and Android mobile devices. Even more special is its ability to develop applications in the Android environment.”
There is a lot of excitement at FanVision as they do their best at providing race fans with the best experiences that can be offered.
FanVision’s press release says this about the company, “FanVision Entertainment LLC, based in New York City, is the global leader in fan-enhancement technology and the world’s leading provider of rich, in-venue content dedicated to fans. FanVision operates UHF broadcast equipment across the entire schedule of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ events, as well as other events, including select golf tournaments. In 2013, FanVision attended more than 40 events in the U.S. alone. The company is developing innovative solutions to enrich the in-stadium experience for sports fans that want to combine the best of live and broadcast sports. FanVision provides fans with a game-changing service in their hands at the game, race, or match. For more information about FanVision, visit http://www.fanvision.com/ .”