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World’s largest HD video board to be built at Texas Motor Speedway (VIDEO)

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Texas Motor Speedway is set to deliver a super-sized fan experience beginning next spring with the world’s largest high-definition video board on the backstretch of its 1.5-mile oval.

Dubbed “Big Hoss,” the nearly 21,000-square-foot Panasonic screen will broadcast in 1080p, top out at nearly 125 feet high, and stretch 218 feet wide. It will be bigger than the current world’s largest screen at TMS’ sister track, Charlotte Motor Speedway, which built their own monster, 16,000-square-foot display two years ago.

In a special meeting with fans tonight at TMS, track president/general manager Eddie Gossage noted the ongoing struggle for sporting venues to draw in fans that prefer to stay home and watch the game on their own big screens while using the Internet and social media for a ‘second-screen’ experience.

“Live sports venues are really in a battle with social media, with home theaters, affordable big-screen televisions, streaming video and more,” Gossage said. “…As a result of all of these things that have occurred, we have to give fans a reason to come see and feel, experience, smell, taste exciting racing action live and in person, and get ’em off the couches.”

Enter “Big Hoss,” whose creation will begin after the track’s fall NASCAR weekend this year (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) and is slated for completion in March of 2014.

“We are extremely proud to have the world’s largest video board coming to Texas Motor Speedway as well as now having the top two largest in the world at our facilities,” said Speedway Motorsports, Inc. chairman/CEO Bruton Smith in a press release.

“This continues to show our company’s commitment to our great race fans and our efforts to remain at the forefront of our industry. Eddie always tells me everything is bigger in Texas, so I wanted to make this video board fit his motto.”

TMS also announced some changes for its 2014 schedule. Chief among them is the altering of its April NASCAR weekend to accommodate the Final Four at nearby AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The Texas 500 for the Sprint Cup Series will be moved from Saturday night to the afternoon of Sunday, April 6, which enables TMS to dodge a head-to-head conflict with the National Semifinal games that will be played that Saturday (April 5) inside the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The IZOD IndyCar Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will maintain its usual early June twinbill at TMS, but the IndyCars’ main event on Saturday, June 7 will feature a longer distance of 600 kilometers (adding an additional 50 kilometers). Naturally, the race is now known as the Firestone 600.

TMS’ 2014 schedule will then conclude with a NASCAR tripleheader weekend from Oct. 30-Nov. 2 for the Trucks, the Nationwide Series, and the Sprint Cup Series, which will stage the eighth race in its 2014 Chase.

For more reaction from Gossage on “Big Hoss” and the track’s new schedule, check out the clip below.

Photo/Video Credit: Texas Motor Speedway

F1 Paddock Pass: Mercedes W08 Launch (VIDEO)

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Winter storm Doris hit the U.K. on Thursday but filming of Paddock Pass pressed on regardless, as the latest installment of the NBC Sports Group original digital series captured yet another video – this time the launch of the Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+, the latest challenger for the Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Mercedes’ launch differed from the first three this week, Sauber, Renault and Force India, in that it was both a filming day and launch at the Silverstone Circuit for drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Both drivers had time in the car.

NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton catches up with the key stakeholders in this edition of Paddock Pass.

Previous Paddock Pass editions from this week are below:

Stay tuned to more on NBCSports.com as the week continues in the buildup to testing next week in Barcelona.

Scuderia Ferrari reveals its 2017 Formula 1 challenger

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Photos: Ferrari
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Scuderia Ferrari has taken the wraps off its 2017 chassis as the launch week continues for this year’s Formula 1 cars.

Despite the loss of technical director James Allison to Mercedes and after going through an underwhelming, winless 2016 season – at least by Ferrari standards – the team looks for a bounce back this year to coincide with the new regulations.

The renamed SF70H, which follows on last year’s SF16-H, was revealed online in a quick video without any buildup or dialogue from any of the key team stakeholders.

Photo: Ferrari
Photo: Ferrari
Photo: Ferrari
Photo: Ferrari

Noticeable on this car is the shark fin element, again with a winglet on the top of it. The team’s reveal of the chassis reveals the differences for this project, code named the 668 internally:

There are several differences between the 668 project and Ferraris from the recent past: the lengthened nose and the arrow-shaped wing are a consequence of the regulations, as is the obvious fin on the engine cover and the more complex aero appendages ahead of the air intakes on the sidepods, whose unusual shape was designed in harmony with the front crash structure. Visible at the front is a duct that has an aerodynamic role, while behind the driver, the roll-hoop, which incorporates the engine air intake has been completely redesigned. Also updated is the suspension layout, which still retains a push rod design at the front with pull rods at the rear. The hubs and wheel nuts have been redesigned to facilitate the work of the mechanics when changing wheels during the pit stops. Finally, also as a function of the expected increase in performance this year, the power-steering and braking systems have been upsized.

A couple screen caps from the launch video are below:

newferrari2

Photo: Ferrari
Photos: Ferrari

The launch is the first of two today, with McLaren’s reveal of the MCL32 coming in a couple hours.

Ricky Taylor makes his IndyCar test debut today at Homestead

BRASELTON, GA - OCTOBER 03:  Ricky Taylor, C, sits with member of his crew before qualifying for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 3, 2014 in Braselton, Georgia.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)
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It seems to be the winter of all-stars from other racing disciplines testing in IndyCar.

Today Ricky Taylor joined the list of those stars from the closed-top sports car or touring car world on the winter IndyCar test list, with a one-off guest test for Team Penske in defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud’s No. 1 PPG Chevrolet.

The older of two Taylor brothers, who completed a star turn at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona en route to delivering the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R an overall win with brother Jordan, Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon, made his maiden laps at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course.

Chevrolet and General Motors extended the test offer to Ricky Taylor for this opportunity. Fittingly for Pagenaud, it’s the second time in not even a year he’s given up his seat to another member of either the GM or Penske family; Brad Keselowski made a similar out-of-nowhere one-off test at Road America last year.

“Every driver dreams to be an Indy car driver,” Taylor said, via IndyCar.com. It can’t hurt to be involved with (Team Penske); there are no negatives to that. To get to know all the guys and get to drive the car and get an actual feel for it in a low-pressure environment is a great opportunity for me. Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, it’s a big learning opportunity.”

With Ricky Taylor completing this test and with Robert Wickens and Pipo Derani set to test next week at Sebring’s short course, there’s been a sudden series of additional interest in the final few runs before the IndyCar season opens on March 12.

And with Ricky Taylor in Homestead today, it was left to Jordan Taylor and the Konica Minolta team’s new third driver, Englishman Alex Lynn, to run solo today as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship February test at Sebring’s full course. Lynn will make his U.S. race debut in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, to be held March 18. Ricky Taylor will be back at Sebring for the second day of the IMSA test, held Friday.

Great to see @simonpagenaud and @rickytaylor_10 today good job both!!

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Alexander Albon moves up to GP2 with ART Grand Prix

2016 GP2 Series Test 3
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 2 December 2016.
Alexander Albon (THA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _X0W3990
© GP2 Series
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2016 GP3 Series runner-up Alexander Albon has announced that he will move into GP2 for 2017 with ART Grand Prix, completing the team’s line-up.

Albon, 20, finished second behind Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc in GP3 last year with ART, racking up four race wins through his rookie campaign.

The Thai youngster will now continue with ART in GP2, partnering McLaren youngster Nobuharu Matsushita through 2017.

“I am really excited to be working with ART Grand Prix for a second year. I learnt a huge amount last year and we have become one big close family,” Albon said.

“Moving up to the GP2 series is an important step in anyone’s career and I am extremely fortunate to be with a top team who already understand me.

“There’s a lot to learn coming from GP3, and the experience and method of working at ART Grand Prix is the reason they have won so many titles. I hope I will continue to proudly wear Thailand’s colours and those of my faithful Thai partners.

“I look forward to the new challenge and cannot wait for the season to begin!”

The new GP2 season will begin in Bahrain on April 15.