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

Porsche ready for final LMP1 outing in Bahrain

Photo: Porsche
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At the conclusion of this weekend’s Six Hours of Bahrain, Porsche’s four-year run in the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship will come to a close. The pair of Porsche 919 Hybrids will roll off from first and third after Friday’s qualifying, and will look to add one more win to their final tally.

Despite its short stint, Porsche more than made its mark on the class and the championship, immediately jumping to the fore and challenging young hotshots Toyota, race winners in 2012 and 2013 and LMP1 champions in 2014, and long-time stalwarts Audi, which introduced its first LMP1 entry in 1999 and quickly became the predominant force in the LMP category.

The 2014 season saw Porsche score four poles and a race win before embarking on a remarkable three-year stretch from 2015 to 2017, in which they scored three straight 24 Hours of Le Mans wins and three straight WEC driver and manufacturer championships (they wrapped the 2017 titles at the previous race in Shanghai.

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of the LMP1 effort, detailed that the early days of the program were a little rocky, given the complex hybrid technology they were working with, but that they were able to find their stride relatively quickly.

“Back then (in 2014), we developed from zero a highly complex hybrid racecar on a Formula One level. The early days were extremely demanding, especially as we had to set up the infrastructure, including new buildings, at the same time, plus assembling a team of 260 excellent people. The timing was really tight and the 2014 Le Mans race came way too early for us. But since then, we have managed maximum success. I’m incredibly proud of this team and I hope that we can conclude the era of the Porsche 919 Hybrid with a good race in Bahrain.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl added that having the championships wrapped up will make the final weekend more enjoyable, as they won’t have the pressure of racing with the championships in mind.

“I feel a big relief that the pressure of defending the manufacturers’ and drivers’ world championship titles is resolved before our last race. The emotions of the farewell under the stress of the title battle would have been extremely hard for the team,” Seidl revealed.

Further, he added that Toyota’s TS050, which debuted last year, made their task all the more challenging as they worked to developed the Porsche 919 Hybrid –  the same basic car that they launched in 2014.

“In Toyota this year, we are facing a competitor who developed an all-new car for 2016. We, instead, kept developing our existing car. That we still won Le Mans as well as both championship titles is thanks to outstanding driver performances, many detailed improvements and the operational strength of our team,” Seidl asserted. “Now we have to get ourselves together and focus on this last race. We want to leave the stage not only as world champions but also with a performance that is satisfying for all of us. Six hours of reliability and faultless work are big challenges of men and machine. Safety has the highest priority. Only after the checkered flag can we allow our reflective feelings to break through.”

In terms of approaching Porsche’s LMP1 swan song, some drivers are taking different approaches. For example, Nick Tandy, driver of the No.1 entry with Neel Jani and André Lotterer, isn’t putting much thought into the farewell and is focusing entirely on the race.

“I prefer not to think about the farewell yet,” Tandy quipped. “The Bahrain race is very interesting anyway because we are racing from day into night. It is normally very hot for the car, the drivers and especially the tires. It is a challenging race to finish the season at. I haven’t been there since 2015 but I was on the podium back then when I came second in the LMP2 class. So this year’s target is to make it onto the LMP1 podium.”

Conversely, newly crowned champion Brendon Hartley, driver of the No. 2 entry with fellow champions Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard, freely expressed his emotions about the end of the Porsche LMP1 program.

“Going to Bahrain will be emotional for all of us. Especially as we arrive as World Champions with less pressure now,” asserted Hartley, who has also endured a busy stretch since the Petit Le Mans on October 7 that has seen him racing every weekend across the WEC, Formula 1, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “I have so many incredible memories and experiences with the 919 Hybrid, teammates and all the boys and girls from the Porsche LMP Team. We shared something very special together. After developing the Porsche 919 for more than four years, it’s an absolute dream to drive so we will all be enjoying every last lap with this awesome machine. On one side there will be a lot of sadness, but on the other hand we will be giving everything to give this project the ultimate send off it deserves.”

Porsche’s LMP1 effort won races in each of its four seasons, totaling 17 victories between it’s entries.

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