Record viewership follows debut of SMT Creative Studio’s storytelling graphics
DURHAM, NC – October 9, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology), the leading innovator in real-time sports data delivery, graphics presentation and tracking solutions, has expanded its partnership with the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series this season, delivering a customized full graphics insert package for the lightning-fast racing series that airs on Fox Sports. Combined with the fan-favorite AR graphics package that virtually displays driver information, sponsor logos billboards, and other race-related content, SMT is now the exclusive graphics partner for the NHRA.
SMT Creative Studio, the in-house design division of SMT, in collaboration from NHRA and Fox Sports, conceptualized and crafted a statistics-driven insert graphics package to capture the thrill and intensity of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
The variety of info-rich graphics helps viewers gauge performances in a sport where races are measured in increments of thousandths of a second. The insert package made its debut on Labor Day weekend, coinciding with one of the NHRA’s most-watched broadcast in history, as nearly 2.1 million viewers tuned in to original airings for the world’s biggest drag race, the 69th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, the world’s most renowned drag strip.
In close collaboration with the NHRA, SMT Creative Studio and SMT engineers joined forces to develop data displays tailored specifically for drag racing. For example, the lower-third launch sequence graphic offers real-time insights into race timing, seamlessly synchronized with the broadcast to deliver immediate race results to viewers.
“Since our partnership with SMT began in 2016, we’ve witnessed year-over-year enhancements to the sport of drag racing as SMT introduces cutting-edge virtual and broadcast graphics. This has helped support NHRA’s ratings growth as fans embrace new storytelling enhancements,” said Steve Reintjes, NHRA Vice President of Broadcast.
“Bringing our graphics production operation in-house with SMT at the helm has allowed us to further educate our growing fanbase about the sport and the drivers. From virtual driver cards and start and finish lines to the enhanced timing and scoring graphic with RT (reaction time), ET (elapsed time), and MPH, SMT consistently raises the bar year after year.”
The new design predominantly incorporates the red, white and blue color scheme synonymous with the NHRA, prominently featuring the oval-shaped NHRA logo throughout the look. Creative Studio introduced complementary colors to the mix to highlight winners, including a clean shade of green reminiscent of the NHRA’s “Christmas Tree” starting lights.
“Our design strategy for NHRA revolved around crafting a distinctive visual identity uniquely their own,” said Jon Kaczmarski, Director, Creative & Strategy, SMT Creative Studio. “Our approach embraced tactile elements by seamlessly integrating 3D shapes and components inspired by various automotive elements and textures. These elements harmonized with a HUD-style design, enabling viewers to absorb the data while keeping their eyes on the cars, allowing us to highlight the depth of real-time data and performance metrics vital to the sport.”
SMT’s patented video overlay system, NITRO, serves as the core technology behind the virtual graphics. SMT precisely calibrates camera panheads to capture every moment, from the cars inching up to the staging lines before launch to hole-shot views. Given the incredible speed of Top Fuel dragsters covering the 1,000-foot dragstrip in 3.7 seconds at 330 mph, virtual finish lines enable viewers to witness numerous photo finishes.
“SMT and NHRA are continually exploring ways to enhance and expand our product offerings,” said Rob McCarney, Special Projects Manager, SMT. “Last year, we embarked on a comprehensive upgrade, introducing a brand-new graphics package, statistical interface, and time-and-score insertion, all of which were all launched this season to great acclaim. We take pride in contributing to the success of NHRA and promoting this high-energy, fast-paced sport.”
SMT is a world leader in real-time data delivery and graphics solutions for the sports industry, providing clients with cutting-edge storytelling tools to enhance live events and productions. SMT’s technology for scoring, statistics, virtual insertion, tracking analytics and messaging for broadcasts and live events has been used to enhance the world’s most prestigious events. The 37-time Emmy Award-winning company is headquartered in Durham, N.C., with divisions in Jacksonville, Fla.; Fremont, Calif.; Toronto, Canada; and Munich, Germany.
Headquartered in San Dimas, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 21 national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports, Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown™ and Top Fuel Harley Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and NHRA Street Legal™. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street® program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League® for youth ages 5 to 17. With 120 Member Tracks, NHRA allows racers to compete at a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services® (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv®, allows fans to view all NHRA national events as well as exclusive features of the sport. In addition, NHRA owns and operates three racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park; and In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Southern California. For more information, log on to www.NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Source: National Hot Rod Association