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09.20.10: Plans for video board unveiled

Bruton Smith unveils colossal plan: Build world's largest HD screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, Sep. 21, 2010

Come April, not everything will be bigger in Texas.

Charlotte Motor Speedway officials on Tuesday unveiled plans to build the world's largest HD video board.

The video screen, which will be 200 feet wide and 80 feet tall and weigh more than 165,000 pounds, will stretch across the track's backstretch between Turns 2 and 3.

It will supplant the HD video board at the new home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, as the world's biggest. Cowboys Stadium's $40 million board is 160 feet wide and 72 feet tall.

"This is the biggest announcement we've ever made," said speedway owner Bruton Smith. "This is not Texas-sized. This is Charlotte Motor Speedway-sized. I don't see a lot of places doing this. It's a little expensive."

How expensive? Smith declined to provide any cost estimate but did joke to his son and speedway president, Marcus Smith, "You didn't spend $40 million, did you?"

The video board is being built in conjunction with Panasonic, which will become the exclusive audio/video provider of the speedway.

So, just how big is this HD TV?

The 16,000 square foot screen will feature 720P high-definition visuals illuminated by more than nine million LED lamps.

The screen is big enough to fit 204 Sprint Cup cars or 20 NASCAR haulers. It's taller and wider than the White House.

A giant screen at Tokyo Racetrack in Japan is a bit wider, at 218 feet - but less than half as tall, at 37 feet.

"It's really going to bring a lot to the pre-race, to the race itself and after the race, with a focus on the Victory Lane celebration," said Marcus Smith.

In addition to the on-track action, replays and leaderboard, which the video board will typically show during races, speedway officials have already received a growing list of other ideas it may incorporate.

They include: hosting the "world's largest drive-in movie;" a "movie night" for patrons who dine at The Speedway Club; and perhaps a showing of racing-themed movies to coincide with next April's AutoFair.

Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co., said work on the video board will begin after next month's NASCAR races and should be completed by April.

Bruton Smith said he believes the addition of the video board will transform the speedway.

"This is going to ensure a sellout next year of all our events," he said. "I really believe it."

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