Mega video board planned for CMS

September, 21, 2010

CONCORD, N.C. -- I just saw the future of NASCAR.

Fans keep saying the best place to watch a NASCAR race is on television, from the den couch, where you get instant replays, driver interviews and a running leaderboard, and the beer doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Now you will be able to get that, as well as the pageantry and noise, at the track.

In a huge way.

Charlotte Motor Speedway plans to build an 80-foot tall, 200-foot wide, high-definition video board just outside the wall on the backstretch that will be the largest in the world -- 30 to 40 percent bigger than the one at Cowboys Stadium, according to Panasonic president Jim Doyle.

If that doesn't put the size into perspective, it is bigger than the White House (70 by 168) and "bigger than Texas," joked Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith.

It is so big it would take 204 Sprint Cup cars to fill it. It is so big Doyle believes astronauts could watch a replay from the space shuttle if the screen were tilted on its side.

Fans attending future races no longer will be able to say they couldn't see prerace introductions, the crash in Turn 3, the fight on pit road or the Victory Lane celebration. It'll all be on the screen, in HD and in color, just as it is at home.

Imagine Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s head the size of three haulers for all to see.

Every track 1.5 miles and longer should have one. As CMS president Marcus Smith said, this is the biggest jump NASCAR has made since moving from dirt to asphalt.

Unfortunately, installing one of these mega video boards at every track probably won't happen anytime soon. As Bruton Smith said, "It's very, very expensive.''

Nobody would say just how expensive. But the screen at Dallas cost $40 million, if that gives you an idea.

Smith is among the wealthiest men in the country, worth enough annually to make The Forbes 400. But he doesn't see himself making this investment at any of his other SMI tracks in the near future.

Having said that, he called Tuesday's announcement the biggest ever made at CMS, which has had some pretty big announcements over the years. Remember the condominiums?

Smith was so excited about the possibilities that he all but guaranteed a sellout when the screen debuts for the May 2011 All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600.

If the video board is as impressive as promised, many fans will show just to see it. But what could keep them coming back is the opportunity to see everything they can on the TV at home, as well as be a part of the show.

"I believe it will redefine the way motorsports is watched," Doyle said.


The board doesn't have a name yet. The folks at CMS want fans to chime in before making a final decision. I've already recommended Big A-- Screen.

But since this is a family sport, we might have to settle on something else.

How about The Future?

Beer still costs the same, though.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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