Ferrari Challenge Comes To SPEED

by John Rice

The Ferrari Challenge is a unique opportunity for Ferrari
owners to test their cars and their own driving skills on race tracks across
the country. Originating in Europe in 1993, the Challenge came to North America in 1994. This year, the North American
Ferrari Challenge will be covered in a 16-part series premiering this month on
SPEED.
Produced by Kansas City-based Drive Digital Media, the
series will focus primarily on the six North American races, but will also
dedicate two episodes to the International Finals that will be run in Italy. In North
America, the Ferrari Challenge races are part of Grand Am weekends at tracks
including Homestead-Miami, Infineon Raceway in Sonoma
CA, and Mt.
Tremblant in Quebec. On average, 20 cars participate in
each race. The Challenge is only open to
amateur driver/owners of Ferrari race cars.

To capture each event, Drive Digital Media dispatches a crew
of 20 to 25 people, including 10 to 12 camera crews. Primary footage is shot on
JVC HD cameras and Panasonic AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 cameras. Additional
material is captured with in-car chase cams and flip cameras strategically
placed around the track. The flip camera is a 4- by 2-inch unit with a built-in
USB connection. All material is shot in 720p HD.
“We are really working on using different technologies,”
says Matthew Barksdale, president of Drive Digital Media. “Be it the flip cams,
chase cams, [these technologies are used] to provide a unique experience for
the viewer. We want to make it much more than just cars going around the
track.”
The Flip cameras are “placed at low levels throughout the
track in positions where you could not put a person or a full-sized camera,”
Barksdale explains. “They are put at the very end of a straightaway — within
3 or 4 feet of the track — where [the cars] may be going 160 or 170 miles and
hour. If the car careens out of control, then we lose the camera,” he admits. “And
we have lost cameras. But you’re able to
get shots that you’d never be able to get otherwise.”
In addition to the 16-part series for SPEED, Drive Digital
Media also creates post-race press conference packages that are released at the
end of each race weekend.
After each series episode premieres on SPEED, highlight
packages will be available on the web at both Ferrari North America and Drive
Digital Media’s sites. Thirty days after each SPEED premiere, the entire
episode will be available on the Web, as well.
Narration for the series is provided by legendary Formula 1
announcers Bob Varsha and David Hobbs. The series is being post-produced on
Final Cut Pro at Drive Digital Media.