Richard Childress Racing
Want to ride shotgun with Kevin Harvick
January 30, 2013
Author: Jeff Gluck
Date: Jan. 29, 2013
CONCORD, N.C. -- Few NASCAR fans ever get the chance to hop into a real Sprint Cup Series car with a top driver and take a few laps, but an upcoming mobile app aims to change all that.
Budweiser, in conjuction with "surround video" specialist yellowBird, spent Tuesday afternoon getting footage on a 360-degree camera as driver Kevin Harvick took laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Budweiser sponsors Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet. The team used one of Harvick's actual Gen 6 race cars -- the new model NASCAR is introducing this year -- and employed its camera technology in several different angles.
When the free mobile app is launched before next month's Daytona Speedweeks, fans will be able to have a 360-degree view of Harvick's cockpit as he drives at full speed, along with other angles (including a camera hanging out the driver's side window).
"Normally when you do something like this, you do it with a show car, and this wouldn't be right or that wouldn't be right," Harvick told USA TODAY Sports. "But this is an actual race car that's got the right seats and blowers and everything in it.
"So the fan will get a really realistic view of how locked in we are in our little cocoon and everything that's going on around you. There's a lot going on at a really high rate of speed, and if you're claustrophobic, you're not going to fit in too well."
The yellowBird crew, which flew from London to record footage for the app, has made Harvick's car its latest project. It uses five cameras stitched together to make a 360-degree view and offers people a chance to "immerse yourself in a space you've never seen before," according to creative director Richard Nockles.
"Surround video is the evolution of content," Nockles said. "It's the next step in the way people watch content."
As the video plays, viewers will be able to move their phone around and look at whatever they want during Harvick's laps: The driver, the wall, the inside of the car.
When he gives ridealongs, Harvick said he often finds fans are taken aback by how fast everything happens. The footage from Tuesday's laps should provide a similar view.
"The first thing people usually say when they're riding is, 'How do you do that around other cars?' " he said. "That's usually what people are the most surprised about, is just the sheer speed of what happens inside the car versus what it looks like just sitting in the grandstands."
So how does Harvick manage to do it? It's no different than an average Joe showing up at the office each morning and turning on the computer, he said.
"You know where everything is at, you know exactly what you want to do and where you want to go," he said. "I've done this long enough to know exactly what the car should feel like. You have to very open-minded to change ... but you still have a general feel to how loose you can drive a car, how tight you can drive a car."
Nockles, who hadn't seen a NASCAR driver make laps before Tuesday, was thrilled with the footage.
"He's a lunatic!" Nockles said after seeing how close Harvick got to the wall. "That is just ridiculous."
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