RaceTech OB Trucks Clear HD Hurdle

RaceTech, which provides broadcast facilities for TV coverage of horseracing in the UK, has ordered three high-definition OB trucks from systems-integration company Megahertz (MHz). The order follows a commission from independent sports channel Racing UK and is expected to allow terrestrial commercial broadcaster Channel 4 to transmit next year’s Cheltenham Festival in HD.

The new vehicles will replace three trucks in RaceTech’s current fleet of six. Racing UK — which covers more than 650 live race meetings each year and is available on Sky in the UK and Republic of Ireland (RoI), Virgin (UK), and UPC (RoI) — commissioned RaceTech to build customised units able to handle race and programme presentation, with feeds available to stewards, commentators, and the closed-circuit TV systems used at courses.

MHz will design and build the vehicles, which will be in 12-metre-long, rigid-body MAN 26T chassis. Each will have two expanding sections: an 800-mm area for the main production suite and a 1,000-mm platform as an outside walkway along the length of the vehicles to give access to all three entrances to the suites.

The trucks will contain VT and Vision Control departments, with additional production areas for RaceTech and Racing UK operations. A 96×96 HD/SD Evertz router will be at the heart of each unit, with capacity for up to 10 triax and three wireless cameras, 12 Sony XDCAM decks, and a video server.

Other equipment will include a Grass Valley Kayak HD vision mixer, Chyron HyperX3 real-time 2D/3D character generator and graphics system, and a Yamaha DM1000 audio console. Because of the distances that need to be covered at racecourses, “a substantial amount” of fibre-based gear will be installed in the vehicles.

RaceTech, short for Racecourse Technical Services, started life in 1946 as Race Finish Recording. The Jockey Club was looking for a way to decide close or disputed finishes and turned to technology — the photo finish — for the solution. RaceTech continued this spirit of innovation and, in 1960, developed the “scout camera,” which allowed entire races to be filmed for the first time.

Mick Both, director of engineering and technical operations for RaceTech, says MHz was selected for this project because of its “understanding not only of the space being used but the operational requirements of the production crews.”

The three trucks are scheduled to go into service during first quarter 2011, in time for the Cheltenham Festival in March.