'Fast Friday' is better known as a practice and qualifying day for NASCAR drivers. This weekend, both the Xfinity and the Sprint Cup Series' are taking to Bristol Motor Speedway while the Camping World Truck Series has a few weekends off.
If you've had a chance to turn on Fox Sports 1 today to view these practices, you might have noticed a big screen hanging in the middle of the infield. This is no ordinary screen you might see at any stick-and-ball stadium. So what is this called? Colossus.
According to a BMS fact sheet, Colossus is made up of four screens that measure 63 feet wide and three stories tall. These screens consist of 18 million pixels and nearly 54 million LED's and can display trillions of different color combinations, making it the highest viewing quality of any permanent outdoor stadium display. Compared to an HDTV screen you might have in your home, which is 1920 x 1080 lines of resolution, this massive unit boasts 2880 x 1350 resolution lines.
As far as sound goes, more than a half-million watts power 485 premier-quality speakers. The former system at Bristol featured only 2400 watts and 18 speakers. The difference is enormous. With multiple rings of speakers throughout the stadium, echoing is not a problem. Grandstand spectators will be able to hear the exact same sound at the exact moment it is made. BMS had a previous listening distance of 200-400 feet but with Colossus, that is reduced to 90 feet with less than three decibels of volume difference.
Colossus has a weight of nearly 700 tons. The four supporting towers feature 437 tons of steel and 127 tons in the supporting ring.
With the way that Colossus is suspended high in the air above the track, there has been some concern about safety for the drivers, crews and most importantly, the fans. In May of 2013, a cable cam fell during the Coke 600 at Charlotte. The cable that also fell injured fans and damaged racecars. However, there's a difference between what happened with the cable cam and Colossus.
Colossus was made to be permanent and in preparation for the upcoming UT vs VT college football game to be held in September. It consists of 117 tons of cabling, and the largest-diameter cable weighs 63 pounds per foot. The suspension cables are 30 percent larger than the vertical cables that support the Golden Gate Bridge.
The cable cam that FOX tried to utilize was not a permenant system. Television crews come in every race weekend and set up their systems. The TV networks have relied on the flying cameras for NFL games but since the Charlotte incident, they have not been seen in motorsports.
The staff at BMS has worked hard to make sure the screens will be able to withstand the different weather elements, including 30-50 mph wind gusts. Listening to experts, the SMI and the Bristol employees made sure that everything met or surpassed code to make sure that safety will not be an issue.