I don’t often write about NASCAR (At least I haven’t to this point) simply because I don’t follow it very closely and thus didn’t feel I could provide much in the way of insight into NASCAR’s online & mobile products. However, my sister recently dumped cable and was looking for a way that my nephew, a big racing fan, to watch NASCAR races online. More specifically, a free solution to watch the races online. Especially those races that aren’t available on local TV. This led me to check out TNT’s Race Buddy this weekend.
Race Buddy is designed to be a complimentary product to “enhance” the TNT TV coverage. It’s similar in concept to TNT’s NBA Overtime Extra and MLB’s Postseason.tv. It delivers free (operative word) online coverage of all of TNT’s NASCAR races.
Race Buddy claims ten camera angles, but in reality it’s only eight. They seem to count the mosaic views as the 9th and 10th cameras, but they are really just a collection of 4 of the available cameras. Semantics, I guess.
There is constantly updated leaderboard below the video screens and an integrated chat feature that allows you to log in via Facebook, Twitter, or Yahoo and chat/comment along with other racing fans.
Each time you switch camera views, you are forced to watch a short commercial alongside a smaller view of the new camera view. This can get pretty annoying if you want to frequently change views.
During the race at Pocono there were 4 in-car views, a pit road view, a backstretch view, tow “battle” views and the 2 mosaic views. I thoroughly enjoyed the in-car camera views and spent most of my time watching the race from those views. The video isn’t HD, but it’s certainly good enough quality to enjoy.
There is no audio commentary, so it can be tough to understand what is going on at times if you aren’t also following along on TV. For instance, they went to a caution at one point and I had no idea why or how it happened. Perhaps listening along online would be a nice compliment to race buddy.
They do have the radio for the individual featured cars which I found to be really cool. However, it can be tough to understand at times over the roar of the cars themselves.
Race Buddy Schedule for the rest of 2012
June 17 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400
June 24 – Toyota / Save Mart 350
June 30 – Quaker State 400
July 7 – Coke Zero 400
July 15 – Lenox Industrial Tools 301
I’m sure Race Buddy is no secret to NASCAR fans, but if it is, congratulations on discovering it. Race Buddy is a thoroughly impressive product. I’ll defer to the serious NASCAR fan, but from my experience it seems that NASCAR lends itself more to this type of product than most other sports. NASCAR action happens on other parts of the track other than what can fit on the TV screen at one time. Thus, more camera angles are better. Plus, I imagine fans of the drivers with the in-car views must find it particularly cool. Of the supplementary online viewing products I’ve seen, I find Race Buddy to be the best of the bunch.