Couch guide to race
MOTOR racing wouldn’t be the great couch spectacle it is today without the invention of the in-car camera.
Australia’s Channel 7 debuted the now-ubiquitous ‘‘Racecam’’ in 1979 in the 20th annual Bathurst 1000.
Around the nation, viewers for the first time experienced the stomachdropping experience of going into the Dipper, the eye-popping leap over Skyline and the buttock-clenching approach to Hell Corner as they sat alongside Peter Williamson in his Toyota Celica.
The technology, which included helicopter links, proved so popular Seven sold it to the world and now you can’t turn on any motorsport program without feeling as though you are along for the ride.
Today Channel 7 continues with its award-winning coverage that will put millions of couch potatoes in the driver’s seat with Craig Lowndes and the rest of the Bathurst racers.
But instead of a massive fixed camera in the passenger seat, Seven has moving cameras all over, under and throughout 10 cars in the field.
The television crew will number 315 this year with 117 cameras: 49 in 10 V8 Supercars; 31 in cars in other races; Flycam covering the pits; 31 track cameras; four pit cameras; and one helicopter camera.
One of the new camera spots this year will be in the right-hand side of the rear wing of the Kelly brothers’ Jack Daniels Racing Commodore, providing thrilling coverage as the car comes within millimetres of concrete walls at Reid Park, McPhillamy Park and the Dipper.
It is one of six cameras aboard the No. 7 Commodore. The others are: • A rotating camera on the passenger’s side facing forward; • In the passenger footwell looking up at the driver; • In the rear looking over the driver’s left shoulder; • In the left taillight looking backwards; and • Underneath the car looking back- wards at the differential and rear suspension linkages.
Driver Rick Kelly has been involved in bringing new views to the television audience, including a helmet cam which gave viewers a driver’s eye view of this year’s Sandown event.
‘‘It’s fun to think of an idea and then work at making that idea become a reality,’’ he says. ‘‘The on-board cameras are a great way to get the viewers even closer to the action.’’
V8 Supercars Television senior producer Simon Fordham says working with a driver who owns the car cuts most of the ‘‘political red tape’’.
‘‘Rick has been very accommodating with every idea we have suggested and has also had some great ones himself,’’ he says. ‘‘Rick has a real understanding of the entertainment factor these shots provide the viewers.
‘‘I worked with Rick for close to 12 months in getting the helmet camera approved that we saw at Sandown this year and the results speak for themselves – it’s a great shot.
‘‘We feel the wing camera will provide another fantastic insight into how these cars behave and bring the viewer closer to the action at our biggest event of the year.’’
The Bathurst 1000 is being broadcast in 130 countries including New Zealand, India, Pakistan, throughout South-East Asia, the US, and across Europe and North Africa.
RACECAM: Rick Kelly and, next to his hand, the camera on the rear wing of his Supercar.
CHOPPER ACTION: Seven’s helicopter relays the in-car camera vision.