V8 Supercars in Abu Dhabi, 2011

I’ve just finished watching the 1st round of the V8 Supercars from Abu Dhabi. Here’s a rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly
The Good

  • The bounceback from the negative points situation for James Courtney to win Race 2 of the round! It was truly awesome and my heart was racing for those last 20 laps, willing you home. Brilliant result!
  • Awesome finish by Jason Bright (second) – It looked like he was going to do it but didn’t have the tyres left under him. The last 10 laps were the highlight of the race
  • Alex Davison’s 2nd place in Race 1. He knew he could do it, and a great race got him there!
  • Jason Bargwanna scoring the fast lap of the race and breaking the lap record (incidentally right after being nerfed off the track by Jamie Whincup).

The Bad

  • James Courtney being pinged 50 points (to put him into negative points!) Drive-through penalties work better as it gives someone the chance to claw some points back, and you don’t end up ‘creating  history’ with silly negative points situations! (For the record, an ‘early plea’ would have resulted in a 25 point deduction). James Moffat also copped a 25-point penalty for nerfing Bargwanna on lap 43 (See Story). Also, see “The Ugly”, below
  • Garth Tander & Tim Slade being knocked out less than half a lap through Race 2 by a wayward Tony D’Alberto.
  • The lollipop man at the end of the pits – he clearly had his little ‘stop’ sign showing and Lowndes just drove straight past. No penalty.
  • Jamie Whincup nerfing Jason Bargwanna. No penalty.

The Ugly

  • Tony D’Alberto, you are an idiot. No race or championship is won before a lap is completed!
  • V8 Supercars: for handing down a 25 point penalty to Tony D’Alberto you, too are idiots. How can 25 points for Courtney or Moffat equate to the carnage caused by Tony D’Alberto?
  • The farce that was the Safety car debacle in Race 2
  • Craig Lowndes hit on Russell Ingall. WTF Craig?!?

Other notables

  • Mark Winterbottom, you need to stop ‘following’ and think for yourself. That last second jump into pitlane was a brain explosion, possibly as a reaction to Whincup. Think like a leader, not a follower.
  • Will Davison showed promise, but that re-entry to the track was dangerous, and always going to end in tears.
  • David Reynolds (fourth) in the second race thanks to a great strategy and fuel economy. It must be great to outscore the team owners and be 5th in the championship!

I am looking forward to the Clipsal 500 as I will be there to see all the action up close! 🙂

Channel 7’s telecast of the 2010 Bathurst 1000

Along with many other V8 Supercar fans, I was furious & livid (furiously livid?) with Channel 7 for delaying the telecast of the 2010 Bathurst 1000 by up to 37 mins. I, too joined the multitude of people on Twitter to express my anger and disgust at the situation and how it played out. However, here are some of my thoughts and links to other responses on what I think could have been done better on the day. 2 things I’d like to bring your attention to before I start:

So here’s my list of things that Channel 7 could do better next time:

  1. Tell us (the viewers) what you’re doing: The underlying message (which transpired on the Monday after the race) was that of NMAT: Never Miss A Thing. This is something a number of people picked up on, but had to deduce ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with a desire to ensure viewers “…not miss a moment of action“, but tell us that. Chances are, we’d understand your decision points and ‘live with it’, as opposed to becoming more vitriolic and angry at the lack of information being shared. One of the interesting aspects to this is whether it was advertised as a ‘live’ race or not? Everyone with even a modicum of interest in the Bathurst 1000 knows this to be the pinnacle of Australian Motorsport. Some would argue with the accolades it’s received in the past (including 6 logies since 2000), and the number of cameras/locations they have them (168 in total, embedded in the track, spoiler, mirror, inside the cockpit, under race cars, etc) tells the world “we’re serious about this race more so than any other race on the planet”.Your message got lost somewhere that you had our best interests at heart (NMAT).
    You defended yourself the following day (see ‘Horse: has bolted’) by saying “it was never said the race would be live”, but to even say that knowing how prestigious the event it in the eyes of the consumer is a show of utter contempt for the many race fans around the country who could not make it to the race. Are we second-class citizens? Why did residents of South Korea (as an example) get to view the race live? (“I’ve got friends in South Korea that watched the race live, but anyone living in the country where the race is an icon was not afforded the same luxury.”Mic Cullen)
  2. Don’t point the finger at your business ‘partner’: One of your team blamed V8 Supercars, who in turn said “the decision to time-shift the live telecast was not in its control and the blame lay with the network“. Ouch. You need to respect your business partners and accept responsibility when you can. Both parties.
  3. Social Media is here to stay – don’t ignore it, embrace it: Now we’ve got it, there’s no way it will ever disappear from our lives. No matter which tool (Twitter, chat rooms, Facebook chat, etc) is being used to have the conversation, the conversationsare taking place. You cannot ignore it – race fans (along with NRL fans, AFL fans, soccer fans, and fans of almost any other sport) are using these tools to have a conversation with friends and observers. Twitter is like hanging with ‘mates’ at a virtual pub, you have a yarn, throw around your opinions/ideas and chat about what’s happening in the world. Twitter conversations allow this to be on-topic through the use of hashtags (view the spike in #Bathurst tweets on the 10th October as an example).V8 Supercars fans use Twitter.

    Please do not expect your broadcast(s) to be viewed independently any more. At other race meetings, some fans resort to switching off social networking sites when viewing a broadcast (to not spoil the results for themselves). However, when I asked a few of them (through twitter), almost all mentioned that they did not expect time-shifting to occur during the Bathurst telecast. Watching the racing now without twitter is like leaving the pub/dinner party to go home and complete your tax return – Twitter adds a lot of perspective, humour and opinions to the broadcast (you often pick up small details you don’t get from the commentators). The future of any broadcast media consumption (notably television in this instance) will undoubtedly include social media as mentioned by Adam Turner ..people tend to blend television and social media into one activity, watching the television with a notebook or tablet..

    Channel 7, you need to find a way to integrate Social Media more into your TV broadcasts. It’s a complementary (not replacement) technology. Break away from your traditional media tag and become a revolutionary. It doesn’t take much! If you need help with this, please let me know, as a fan of both V8Supercars and social networking I’d love to be involved to making things better!

Here are some other thoughts:

  • You had 168 cameras, but we hardly saw more than a few seconds of  some of them – I do not recall seeing the wing-mirror cam on Mark Winterbottom’s car except in the top 10 shootout. We saw a few seconds of footage from the rear wheel camera on Rick Kelly’s car. My tip: we need more Picture-in-Picture (PIP) footage. Showing a lap of Mt Panorama with no commentary: PIP the footwell camera footage with the external view + include an under-car camera as well. AND do more of it!
  • PIP your ads – I’d be happy for you to do a PIP of an ad with audio whilst being able to see the the race continue in the main screen. If something major happens in the race, immediately switch to it (like Channel 10 used to do). I believe this could have worked well in 2010 as some of the race without safety cars was mundane. We see more racing AND you get to show ads.
  • Release a DVD set of the entire race alongside the ‘packaged and polished’ highlights DVD. Do it. There’s a market out there.
  • Broadcast it in HD. Please don’t use the “Delhi Commonwealth Games” excuse for not having HD cameras in 2011. As mentioned earlier, this is the pinnacle of Motorsport in Australia. Treat it as such. If you can’t, tell us.
  • Talk to us. Don’t leave the conversation to be too one-sided. Mark Beretta is one of the beacons of greatness in your organisation, but he needs help and support from above.
The tweet that sums up my post
The tweet that sums up my post

Oh and to the advertisers:

  • KFC, I will NEVER leave my house to buy your products during a race broadcast! If you offered zinger burgers by home delivery (in under 2 mins) it may be a different story 🙂
  • Armor All: no-one’s likely to polish their car during the race. Reminding us 27 times won’t change us.
  • Super Cheap Auto: your stuff will still be there on Monday 🙂

What’re your thoughts on the 2010 Bathurst TV coverage?

Other Links:

V8 Supercars Sydney Telstra 500

I had the opportunity to attend the Season finale of the V8 Supercars at the Sydney Telstra 500 at Sydney Olympic Park. Below you will find my thoughts on the event as a whole, and some suggestions for next year, to make the event bigger and better!

We’ll start with the good stuff:

  • The Facilities: The race made great use of the facilities of Sydney Olympic Park:
    • Transport: BIG WIN, and the event certainly made use of the facilities that Sydney Olympic Park had to offer! Getting into and out of the event was very easy and efficient (except for the footbridges…see below)
    • Plenty of Toilets: Thanks to the many permanent toilet facilities around the place, you hardly ever had to queue or miss any action – a big plus compared to other racetracks.
    • The family zone was a winner (as was the Olympic Torch water feature to keep people cool), as were the many various places to sit and rest (mostly around the other pavilions).
    • Concerts: This worked well at the Clipsal500 and worked well here – great to see ANZ Stadium get a workout. Getting Cold Chisel ‘back together’ was a coup, and no doubt helped lure more punters off the couch.
    • Shade: There were plenty of places to go to get some shade, including the picnic tables in various parts of the precinct as well as inside the buildings – This is an absolute must with the weather in December in Sydney!

Now, onto some of the areas that need some work to be even better next time:

  • Track Crossings: There need to be more (at least 3 more). The Bigpond bridge next to the Novotel proved to be woefully inadequate, with long queues of people wanting to move inside/outside the track at various stages (start of qualifying, start of the race, home-time).
    • My suggestion would be to allow track crossing similar to the setup at Adelaide (where a lot of foot traffic arrives in the middle of the back straight – in between races they open the track for a few mins to allow a bulk group of people to cross the track). This would be especially useful near the Bigpond bridge. One small bonus is slightly less concrete walls we cannot see through.
    • There there needs to be another crossing somehow from the back of the pits to the pit-straight grandstands – the 2 nearest crossings are quite a distance away, often through very narrow walkways (see choke points, below).
  • Covered Grandstands: A shelter over the grandstands (again, a-la Clipsal500). I realise that the grandstands on the pit straight may not benefit with the setting sun in the afternoon, but it would help.
  • Grandstand airflow: The grandstands did not allow much airflow under the seats (other grandstands have a simple mesh arrangement; these grandstands were blocked). There was a great breeze blowing (hats, tickets and paper) onto the inside of the circuit – we could have done with that breeze in the stands!
  • Choke Points: There were a number of places around the track where you were down to 1-2 people wide, and created choke points. One of these had a raised step that I saw a few people stumble over. These choke points may be alleviated with more track crossings.
  • Super-screens: There were 14 super-screens at the track, and Tony Cochrane has come out and already said “…that if the post-event review determines there needs to be 20 big screens then they will be in place in time for next year’s Sydney Telstra 500.” The problem is not really whether there are enough, but of their placement. On the outside of the track near Bigpond bridge, I could see 3 screens from where I stood, my suggestion is to revise the placement of the screens.
  • Photography: With so much steel and concrete around, there were hardly any clear spots to take pictures of the racing action. We need the ability of both professional & amateur photographers to help tell the story and get the message out there about V8 Supercars. I’d suggest some more ‘open’ areas behind the racing action to be opened up; allow photographers (with requisite passes/checking) to use the large elevated Car-park to get some good high shots, and perhaps on some corners (like turn #8) setup some stands with clearer view of the track for photographers (perhaps limit time to a few minutes to allow people rotation?) Overall there could be a little less steel in some places where it is no danger (like looking down the ‘roller-coaster’ straight from turn 8 towards turn 9)

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself and believe the event was a success. I am not sure the V8 teams ever had so much ‘comfort’ in a large, covered, breezy building to work on their cars in between races! I will be back next year and hope the event gets bigger and better!

Channel 7’s 2009 Bathurst 1000 coverage

The 2009 V8 Supercars Bathurst 1000 has been run and won, by the best team on the day. They drove a faultless race and kept their heads throughout the day. There are many others out there who can write up the story very well, however I decided to dedicate this post to the TV coverage provided by Channel 7 (in Sydney).

In no certain order, here are my thoughts to Channel 7:

  1. Use one of your un(der)used ‘digital’ channels to broadcast the ENTIRE race non-stop – Have your ads picture-in-picture with the sound, BUT keep the main part of the screen active with the race. We may actually see some of incidents you happened to miss whilst showing the ads.
  2. Please provide a run-down of how each car is doing instead of switching to another ad break. A 5-10 second update on each car would be great. During your hourly update you told is how the FPR car caught fire, but little of the other players who struck trouble. Jason Bright got back onto the lead lap. How? We won’t know from your telecast because it barely rated a mentioned!
  3. Since the race is not beamed 100% live to our telly (2-3 mins delay from what I have heard, this is not substantiated, but we all know it’s a little behind) surely you could have timed your ads better. There were a couple of times where you had 3-min ad breaks sandwich 1 min of racing (albeit under the safety car). One way to think of it (courtesy of @erkpod on Twitter) “Ch 7’s ad campaign keeps getting interrupted by some car race #bathurst1000
  4. You had so many little cameras in great places but did not use them enough!
    • The wing-cam on the Kelly’s car was great, would have been great to see more.
    • Whatever happened to cameras out ‘over’ the track as in days gone by?
    • The camera in the footwell of the car, complete with external footage and the V8 sound is phenomenal – we need more of it. One great comment by @StevePizzati: “Dear Ch.7 please please show more on-board laps (with footwork) where all commentators shut the hell up! Signed V8Supercar fans #Bathurst1000“.
  5. Mark Beretta and Matthew White aren’t adding value to the commentary so feel free to deploy them elsewhere.

Many Many thanks go out to a number of Twitterers who helped make the 2009 Bathurst experience better than just watching it on telly: @VSSSCOM, @themolk, @queenslandchic, @FJBurlinson, @alikat2k, @erkpod, @stevepizzati, @TonySearl, @awhisper, @neop26, @obliterated, @talking_Stones, @TouringCarTimes, @Wakdem, @VenessaHunt, @terryicarter, @GTRoberts, @SherieheartsRob, @swgn, @psycik, @KeithSteelAU, @stevebiddle, @missmoochacha, @rosscity, @mavric35, @jodes77, @FraserIsland, @jimmysmalls, @sweeeet__x, @paul_marshy64, @gleno_, @eskimo_dan, @rhettblanch.