Auto racing has long been known to be physically stressful for drivers, especially a race of such major intensity as the Indianapolis 500. Now, television viewers will have data to show just how physically intense it is.
ABC’s telecast of Sunday’s 99th Indianapolis 500 will introduce the use of biotelemetry, a high-tech sensing system that will, in real time, give viewers the heart and respiration rate as well as calorie burn rate of two drivers competing in the race.
Drivers James Jakes and Sage Karam will each wear a special sensor on the left side of their chest, near the base of the heart, during the race. Readings from the sensor will be sent out as part of the race car’s telemetry and ESPN’s television production will capture the data for use during the telecast.
“For years, we’ve been able to take viewers inside the car during a race, and now we will be able to take them ‘inside’ the driver,” said ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch, who will present findings from the technology as part of his role as a pit reporter during the race telecast.
“We’ll be able to show the viewers how a driver’s baseline heart rate can fluctuate under stress and anxiety levels during the race, under G force in the corners and how it changes when the driver is about to experience a pit stop,” said Dr. Punch. “And as the race evolves and the intensity goes up in the final 20 laps, viewers will see how that’s reflected in heart rate and respiration.”
ESPN is working with Dr. Terry Lyles, an internationally recognized expert in human performance, stress management and life coaching, who developed the biotelemetry system that will be used in a live television broadcast for the first time. A racing insider, Dr. Lyles is often trackside coaching top drivers and teams competing in IndyCar, NASCAR and sports car racing.
“Unless you are belted into the car, there is no better way to experience motorsports,” said Dr. Lyles. “The most important part of any race car is its driver. From the first green flag to the final checkered flag, these super athletes are pushed to their physical and mental limits. Biotelemetry offers an entirely new dimension to race coverage and will enhance the fan experience.”
The Indianapolis 500 is airing on ABC for the 51st consecutive year. The telecast begins at 11 a.m. ET with the race’s green flag at 12:17 p.m.
“We’re always looking for ways to better serve fans, and this is an opportunity to bring the viewers something they’ve never seen before,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, production. “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing in making this happen.”
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