The sport that already offers unprecedented fan access is going one step further in 2007, allowing DirecTV viewers to watch an entire NASCAR race from behind the wheel.
NASCAR HotPass will debut on DirecTV at the Daytona 500 in February and offer fans at home the opportunity to watch a race from a driver's vantage point. Subscribers will have access to five channels dedicated to individual drivers, who will change every week.
Each channel will have up to six cameras and two isolated announcers focusing solely on one driver for an entire race. Viewers will have access to in-car audio communication, real-time statistics and cameras covering every angle from inside the race car to the pit box and all around the track.
HotPass is the brainchild of Fox Sports chairman David Hill.
"There was this moment for me when the lights went on, and I thought, 'This is why NASCAR is so popular: because you can buy a seat and sit down and watch your guy go round and round,'" said Hill, who worried his network coverage was lacking because it didn't showcase the in-car conversations between a driver and team. That audio is available to fans at the track through scanners and FanView devices but isn't offered to television viewers.
He tried the idea in 2005 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he had multiple cameras follow winner Tony Stewart from flag to flag. He liked the results but still felt the effort was missing perspective.
So Hill tried it again at Las Vegas in March, adding two dedicated announcers to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. coverage. The announcers explained everything Earnhardt was doing, debated strategy, called pit stops and chatted with the driver during cautions.
Hill took it to NASCAR, which awarded DirecTV a three-year contract. The cost is $99 for a season pass with no guarantees on which drivers will be featured. The venture requires an additional 70 at-track employees and 10 announcers.
Sirius Satellite Radio plans to offer 10 driver channels that will combine the race broadcast with driver-to-pit crew chatter in 2007.
"By layering the driver chatter over the race broadcast and alternating between the two, we'll provide a way to follow the race like never before," said Scott Greenstein, president of Entertainment and Sports.
WBC flyweight champ suspended over test
WBC light flyweight champion Omar Nino was temporarily suspended Tuesday after testing positive for methamphetamine after last month's title bout, Nevada boxing regulators said.
Nino is the first fighter to test positive for methamphetamine in Nevada.
The Nevada Athletic Commission will keep Nino out of the ring until it holds a formal hearing, probably in January, commission executive director Keith Kizer said.
Two tests on a urine sample taken after the Nov. 18 title fight came back positive.
Nino, who denied using the drug, could face a suspension, have his boxing license revoked, be fined and have the commission rule that his latest bout was a no-decision.
Also, the WBC is preparing to conduct its own test, which could put Nino's belt in jeopardy, Kizer said.
The 30-year-old Mexican retained the title Nov. 18 with a majority draw over former champion Brian Viloria.
PAGE IMPROVING: Former heavyweight champion Greg Page was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Louisville, Ky., 10 days after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Page, 48, was taken to Frazier Rehab Institute on Monday after being taken to Jewish Hospital on Nov. 24 with pneumonia and other complications. "At that time, he was very ill, but he is doing much better and is looking forward to working hard in therapy," his wife, Patricia, said in a statement Tuesday.
SOCCER: Juergen Klinsmann and the U.S. Soccer Federation are likely to know within a week whether their talks will lead to a deal for him to become coach of the American national team. Klinsmann and USSF president Sunil Gulati have held lengthy discussions about the possibility of the former German star forward succeeding Bruce Arena, who coached the team for 7-1/2 years and was let go by Gulati after the World Cup. Meanwhile, former U.S. national coach Bob Gansler was hired as an assistant for Toronto FC, which will become Major League Soccer's 13th club in April. ... Defending champion FC Barcelona and AS Roma captured places in the second round of the Champions League by winning their final group games. Eight games are scheduled for today to determine the last four berths. Manchester United and last season's finalist Arsenal are still not assured of qualifying.
GOLF: Former U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi was expected to have a full recovery after having heart surgery Friday. Venturi, 76, remained hospitalized Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. A release date wasn't set. TENNIS: Attorneys for a pair of promoters suing tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and their father accused the three of committing perjury during previous testimony. In a motion filed Tuesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, the attorneys accuse the sisters of "a repeated pattern of deception and falsehood." Promoters Carol Clarke and Keith Rhodes claim they lost millions of dollars because the sisters reneged on a contract.