For the serious NASCAR fan, the multi-channel coverage available on Rogers Cable would be worth it solely for the commercial-free, flag-to-flag racing it provides.
But NASCAR's eight channels of In Car service deliver more than relief from those endlessly repeated commercials, as I learned while watching the four-hour Daytona 500 race that opens the stock car season.
Overall, I have to say this multi-channel service is the biggest advance in auto racing coverage on TV ever, taking full advantage as it does of all that fabulous new multi-camera coverage that's been around for some years now.
Since each cable TV company offers different content, you should check with your local provider to see if the NASCAR In Car service is available in your area.
What happens is that the cable TV company sets aside eight of the channels in its nether regions (on my Rogers service, it's channels 412 to 420) for the different video feeds.
There is of course a channel that shows the regular commercial-rich program with all of the commentator/apologists using their Formula Gump voices and attitudes to keep the casual race fan distracted.
Then there are the seven other channels each dedicated to a car, and they provide non-stop video for the whole race, plus whatever chatter there is between the driver and the pit crew, and some general atmospheric sounds.
|Dale Earnhardt Jr|
Which drivers are picked for this service even allows a little room for viewer feedback, since In Car subscribers get to vote on who they want to follow. For the Daytona 500, the coverage included Dale Earnhardt, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jarrett.
A ''virtual dashboard'' for each channel shows the exact track positions of the race leader and that specific car, and the running order for the entire field.
Information about the specific car includes its speed, the percentage of gas and brake being used, the lap count, and time behind the leader.
Each of the cars getting the individual coverage has three cameras -- one facing out the front of the car, one facing out the rear and one inside the car capable of rotating 360 degrees. For the most part, the primary camera angles are forward or back, with a sideshot when applicable.
Those channels do not show commercials or commentary, so the fan is able to experience a race from a unique perspective. For a lot of the time, but particularly during the laps under caution, you can even see the tedious nature of going around and around the same track in a high-speed traffic jam.
If something happens away from the car you're tuned in to, you don't know about it unless the pit relays the information, and that's another unique sensation during a race, given TV's normal over-reactive response to every little incident.