Within the last couple of seasons, the TV networks that carry the races have developed a neat little toy that lets viewers see pit stops from a whole different perspective. By mounting a small camera on a crew helmet, fans can take a ride with carriers, changers, and jackmen and see things how we see them during a stop.
I’m sure most of you have probably seen the replay from one of these helmet cams during a broadcast, but if you haven’t, here’s a great video from a Busch Series (yeah I said it) race last season. The camera is on the front tire changer’s helmet, and he gets quite a view of the jackman “shooting the gap” as we call it. It’s a great example of what the helmet cam is, and illustrates some of the crazy stuff that can happen on pit road.
These cameras capture not only the crazy stops, but also the routine and the not so routine stops. Most of the replays I’ve seen have been of fairly solid stops, but I’m sure they’ve shown bad stops too. This is the only negative from my perspective about these cams. If I’m wearing one I hope I have a great race, because if I screw up, I’ve got several million people seeing it now, instead of maybe only a few. Viewers will get to see every missed lugnut and bad hang.
I’m not going to say whether or not I’ve worn one of these during a race, but I’ve got to say I think they are really cool. I’m blessed to have one of the most unique jobs on the planet, and its not too often you get to see something like this from the participant’s perspective.
To add another dimension to the helmet cam, this year they’ve got audio on some of the guys too. I’ve seen some footage this season where DJ Copp (rear changer, #45 Cup car) actually talks viewers through exactly what he’s doing, as he’s doing it live. Changing four tires in 12 or 13 seconds is hard enough on its own, now add in the play-by-play from Copp, and it shows just how good some of these guys really are.
These helmet cams have been a great addition to the TV coverage, and let fans get really close to the action. The only way to get closer is to strap on a helmet and a firesuit and step off the wall with us.