Verizon Technology Takes a Front Seat at the Indy 500

For someone who had never attended a motorsports event before, the sights and sounds of an IndyCar race were eye- and ear-opening. The speed and the sounds do not translate to TV – unless your TV lets you feel the rumble of the ground and the roar of the engines. 

And Verizon, as the title sponsor for the IndyCar series, was there in full force. Displays in Fan Village, which was open to all attendees, featured several Verizon Wireless solutions, including the connected home, connected car and Softcard*, a mobile payment technology. 

The Verizon Wireless network was apparent all over the grounds, with a new Digital Antenna System (DAS) in place for this year’s race and Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs) deployed to enhance wireless coverage. XLTE came to play, and that meant fans could tweet, text and stay connected all weekend. What fans couldn’t see were the system performance engineers working hard behind the scenes, making sure service levels were great. 

The LTE Multicast demo gave many people a glimpse into what video on mobile phones will be in the future. The numerous camera angles and race broadcast were crisp and clear and delivered with very low latency, which is the amount of time – measured in milliseconds – that it takes for data on a network to reach its destination. Initial feedback from the teams that experienced the LTE Multicast on demo devices was very positive. 

Access to the Fan Village was only the beginning for the IndyCar fans. Unlike other sporting events, fans can go on the track, and hundreds of people there “kissed the bricks” and took pictures that were missing only the iconic jug of milk. The access fans get to pit road and the garage areas is pretty incredible, too, even in the hours and minutes before the race. It’s one of the great things about IndyCar: the interaction among the teams and the fans is ongoing and genuine.

After nearly 200 exciting laps, the race ended in a dramatic finish. The first three-quarters of the race were run non-stop under a green flag, setting a new record. Imagine sitting behind the wheel of a car going more than 200 miles per hour for more than 350 miles, making 30-second stops for gas once or twice. It’s an incredible athletic feat, and even more incredible to watch up close. 

*UPDATE: Google and Softcard have completed an agreement that will leverage the best technology from both companies to create a more robust mobile wallet for consumers. The mobile payment system will keep the Google Wallet name. Read more here.