US stock car racing organisation NASCAR has agreed a multi-year partnership with Verizon under which the telecommunications company will boost connectivity at its circuits.
The partnership designates Verizon as the official wireless telecommunications and 5G mobility partner of NASCAR, as well as the official at-track Wi-Fi partner of 12 NASCAR-owned racetracks. As part of the agreement, Verizon will work with NASCAR to upgrade its in-venue wireless communications service, starting with delivering improved Wi-Fi service across the 12 racetracks over the next three years.
“There’s nothing like the thrill and excitement of attending a NASCAR race and now there are more ways than ever to capture and share that experience,” said Craig Neeb, executive vice-president and chief innovation officer at NASCAR. “Partnering with Verizon will offer fans the benefits of reliable in-venue connectivity as we usher in a new era for our sport.”
George Fischer, senior vice-president of 5G ecosystems and alliances for Verizon Business Group, added: “The thousands of fans attending NASCAR events across the country need reliable connectivity to share and send photos and videos of races in real-time, stay up-to-date on their favourite drivers, and connect with fellow fans inside and outside the track.
“As the official wireless provider for NASCAR, we are looking forward to enhancing the fan experience today and working together to revolutionise the future of the racing experience for drivers and fans.”
The partnership has been signed ahead of the start of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season with the 62nd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday. NASCAR’s 12 tracks host 19 of its elite Cup Series races. Along with the iconic Daytona International Speedway (pictured), they are: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California; Chicagoland in Joliet, Illinois; Darlington, South Carolina; Homestead-Miami; Kansas; Martinsville, Virginia; Michigan; ISM Raceway near Phoenix; Richmond, Virginia; Talladega, Alabama and Watkins Glen, New York.
Verizon has strong experience in sports infrastructure projects. Ahead of this month’s Super Bowl, Verizon said the game at Hard Rock Stadium between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers would mark the first time its customers would be able to access a commercial 5G ultra-wideband network with a commercially available 5G device inside the stadium.
Verizon invested over $80m (£61.5m/€73.7m) to enhance its network to support the Super Bowl. The company said the permanent network enhancements would benefit Miami residents and visitors for years to come.
Verizon entered into a two-year innovation partnership with the NFL in March 2019. In September, Verizon announced the 13 NFL stadia, among them Hard Rock Stadium, that had been fitted with its new 5G wireless service.
The announcement followed previous confirmation that Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, would feature 5G technology. Verizon later announced that the Buffalo Bills’ New Era Field would receive its 5G ultra-wideband service.
In October, Verizon furthered the roll out of its 5G network in US sports venues by announcing that the service is now available in three arenas – Chase Center in San Francisco, the new home of NBA basketball team Golden State Warriors; Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, which hosts NBA franchise the Suns and NHL ice hockey club the Coyotes; and Pepsi Center in Denver, home of the NBA’s Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
The NASCAR deal is seen as a long-term project for Verizon due to the scale of the venues involved. “Unlike NBA or another sport, a NASCAR venue is a humongous infrastructure, it takes a lot to get it right,” Vickie Lonker, vice-president of product management at Verizon Business, told the Associated Press news agency.