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How NASCAR In-car Cameras Work

Choosing a Car for the Cameras

­With a typical field of NASCAR Nextel Cup race cars numbering 40 or more, how does a team get selected for the honor (or the hindrance, depending on your point of view) of receiving the in-car camera?

­It's a pretty easy decision to make, actually. Broadcasters and fans alike want the cameras on the popular drivers at the tracks where they do well. If a driver has won or placed in the top ten at Dover International Speedway's Monster Mile every race for the past five seasons, that driver's pretty much guaranteed to get a set of cameras on his or her car next time it comes up on the schedule. Alternately, if a driver excels at road courses like Watkins Glen in New York, that driver will get cameras aimed at him or her as he or she turns both right and left in the twisties.

Being good at a particular track or type of race sometimes isn't enough: Cameras most often end up in the cars of points leaders in the series. At the end of the season, when the top five or so drivers are racing for the Nextel Cup, those with the best shot at the big prize will likely have cameras in their cars.

Like everything else in NASCAR, the cameras are sponsored. Usually, the car's sponsor will buy an advertising package from the broadcaster that includes the in-car cameras. Once in a great while, an advertiser without a car in the race will sponsor the cameras, but that's pretty rare. The cameras are often positioned so that the sponsor's logo can be plainly seen, whether it's a sticker on the hood that can be seen by the roof cam or the badges plastered on the driver to be picked up on the doggie cam. Sponsoring the cameras for a season usually costs about $30,000, though the price can climb to $50,000 for popular drivers who are consistently high in the standings.

­We now know who gets the cameras and how they get into the car. The next step is to find out how the signal gets from the cockpit of a NASCAR racer to our TV screens.