Daytona 500 - MWR Boasts New Satellite Communications for NASCAR Opener

Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

Daytona 500 - MWR Boasts New Satellite Communications for NASCAR Opener

When 43 drivers line up for the official start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Saturday's 51st Daytona 500, the Michael Waltrip Racing team will be using a new satellite communications system from Spacenet

Most of the communications systems -- whether wireline or some form of wireless -- I write about focus on the more traditional enterprise and SMB environment, but there is a whole market for the mobile communications space, for which satellite-based solutions are ideal.
Of course, for any business, its communications system is the heart of its operation, and nowhere is this more true than during the several hours between the white and checkered flags. Michael Waltrip Racing has deployed Spacenet's Connexstar Performance series, a portable satellite solution, to support its communications needs, which extends from the track to its engineering teams in Charlotte, North Carolina. The system was designed by Orbital Enterprises, an expert in both fixed and mobile satellite communications.
Read more on the MWR's Spacenet deployment here.
"In the NASCAR world, speed and performance is everything," said Michael Waltrip Racing Director of Information Technologies Patrick Hughes.  "Shaving seconds off the clock can make the difference between winning and losing,"
Hughes said the team explored several options, but settled on Spacenet because of its service guarantees, which exceeded those of any competitor. MWR hopes that its new communications network will allow it to react more quickly, resulting, in a fast start to a long race season.
If you don't think a split second can make a difference, think again. Just ask Kurt Busch (.002 seconds behind Ricky Craven in 2003), Kyle Busch (.005 behind Jamie McMurray in Daytona in 2007), or Jeff Gordon (.006 behind Kevin Harvick in Atlanta in 2001). In fact, four of the 14 closest finishes in NASCAR history have come in races run in Daytona.
MWR's David Reutimann, driving the #00 Aaron's Toyota, starts 18th Sunday, and teammate Michael Waltrip (co-owner and MWR Chairman), in his #55 NAPA Toyota, starts 34th
Still, even with the new Spacenet communications solution, the pair faces a daunting challenge, as they look to overtake pole sitter Martin Truex Jr., as well as the Hendrick Motorsports team, which starts all four of its drivers among the top 12 spots: Hendrick newcomer Mark Martin (2), three-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (6), Jeff Gordon (9), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12).

All eyes will be on the Hendrick drivers and other favorites, and I'm not sure even the best communications system can make up for pure driver talent ahead of MWR in the starting grid. But, Waltrip does have three checkered flags at the Daytona International Speedway to his credit, including two Daytona 500 wins, in 2001 and 2003. Regardless, I can't wait for what are known as, "The most famous words in motorsports" to be called out Saturday: "Gentlemen, start your engines!"


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I've never seen that aerial view of the track before. Neat view.

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