Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dish's 'Hot Pass' a hot ticket

Watching racing on television will never be the same after tuning-in to Sunday's Daytona 500 with the aid of DirectTV's 'Hot Pass' - the dish television package that basically puts the viewers on the pitbox.

I don't want this blog to become a shill for the dish, but the 'Hot Pass' gives fans an in-depth view of four race drivers and their team communications. Some conversations were interesting, others were informative and one driver was downright hilarious.

In the beginning of the race, I turned to the channel that featured Dale Earnhardt and was amazed by the view from his in-car camera as the cars bounced all over the track. But it was what came from his mouth that was brow-raising: Dale Jr. is a cussing machine. The most humorous exchange came with his crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., as the No. 88 was trying to draft with a six-car pack. However, Eury was more concerned about the water temperature in the engine, and began badgering Junior to tell him the reading. After a few moments, Junior finally keyed the radio and snapped, "The temperature's fine! I'm trying to draft with these (expletive) here!"

The dish also allowed me to eavesdrop on Jeff Gordon when the team pulled the hood on the No. 24 while in the pits. Although the car exited pit road with no apparent problems, crew chief Steve Letarte told Gordon to take another lap before bringing it to the garage. He indicated it would take about 20 laps to fix the car before the FOX commentators even knew there was a problem.

The most shocking development was moments after David Regan crashed into teammate Matt Kenseth. The No. 17 car turned around on pit road and Kenseth feverishly searched for a path to the garage area. He couldn't find it and pleaded to his spotter and crew to direct him there. He was greeted by only silence as crew members scampered to their garage stall to prepare fixing the car. The usually unflappable Kenseth screamed, "Somebody talk to me!", and the spotter immediately responded.

The package allows fans to focus on four drivers with cameras following each driver continuously around the track. It also scans the radios to allows viewers to spy on 14 other drivers while watching the race broadcast. Even thousands of miles away from Daytona, I knew what was happening on the track before the fans a dozen feet from the track. Pretty cool.

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