Be it NACAR’s Brickyard 400 or the famed Indy 500 – one of my favorite things about both of these races is the moving camera that ABC/ESPN uses over pitroad and down the front stretch – it is easily the most stunning camera shot in motorsports.
The camera is called the “Batcam” and is unique to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC/ESPN works with a company called Worldwide Rigging who install and operate the Batcam. Andy Hall, ESPN’s Associate Director of Communications told Q4G, “Worldwide Specialty Rigging does it all – they install it and operate it, and provide us with a shot that our director can choose to use at any time. The Batcam also has a microphone on it, with the sound rolled in with the sound from all of the other microphones we have installed around the track – usually in excess of 100.”
The Batcam runs on a 1,800 foot cable and can travel at speeds of 100mph while rotating to capture the action from the exit of turn four through turn one. One end of the cable is attached to the IMS Media Building and the other end is attached to the steel seating structure in turn one. It can also capture the action on pit road.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football uses a similar camera called Skycam and operates on a four-point cable system. Batcam is a two-point cable system.
Before the Indy 500, Rich Feinberg, VP of ESPN Motorsports said, “We can use (Batcam) for beauty shots, crowd shots, and we can use it to document pit road because it literally flies over pit road and a portion of the racetrack,” says Feinberg. “We can also use it for coverage as the cars are coming down the front stretch headed towards turn one. It’s an exciting shot, unique to that racetrack and offers some glorious views of the pageantry of the Indianapolis 500.”
Asked if ESPN plans to take the Batcam to other tracks, Andy Hall told Q4G, “It’s (Batcam) an extra element that we add for televising races from such an iconic and historic facility,” adding, “Right now we’re not considering using it anywhere else.”
You can see the Batcam in action at several shots in this ESPN highlight reel.