|A view of Daytona International Speedway from the grandstands during the 2019 Coke Zero 400.
When it comes to NASCAR, the Daytona 500 is the equivalent of the NFL’s Superbowl. Both events occur annually in February and are the most anticipated of the season. Fox Sports has used drones in the past to cover the 500-mile Daytona 500 race. This year, and last, the network stepped up its coverage by hiring Beverly Hills Aerials to provide first-person view (FPV) cinema drones.
The East Los Angeles-based drone services provider created a custom in-house build that carries a Sony HDC-P50 equipped with Canon’s new 20X5 lens for more cinematic footage. It also holds multiple batteries and a 25-pound microwave transmitter manufactured by Broadcast Sports International (BSI).
FPV drones are equipped with headsets that allow operators to hone in on subjects at a closer range for dynamic action shots. The models used by Beverly Hills Aerials can sustain speeds up to 85 mph and even accel to 100 mph for short periods of time. Equipped with Dream chip cameras, they are able to capture 4K60p video that matches the quality of the other setups used by teams employed by Fox Sports.
As visible in the embedded clips, the drones never fly directly overtop the cars as they’re driving at speed. Instead, the operators keep on the inside of the track, for the safety of the drivers, who are traveling upwards of 190 MPH (305 KPH).
Race cars can be tracked during practice laps when they’re not traveling at speeds up to 200 mph. A 100-foot-wide barrier separates the audience from the cars and gives the drones substantial room to operate. ‘Once the winner crosses the finish line and usually comes back to do donuts, we’re allowed to go on the track and get really close to the cars and the celebration,’ Michael Izquierdo, chief pilot of Beverly Hills Aerials, tells TV Technology.