Racing fans that want to get the most of out of their day at the racing track have a new tool in their arsenal, with NASCAR announcing a partnership with the creators of the FanVision live media controller — but owners of NASCAR's previous offering are being left out in the cold. The FanVision is a portable audio and video streamer that will allow users to access in-car camera feeds, official timing information, and instant replays, all delivered live by a wireless network at a given racing event. The device is already offered at many NFL venues, with NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps calling it a device "that will have immediate impact on how the sport is consumed." (Nilay reviewed the NFL FanVision a couple years ago and called it "intuitive" and "fun to use.")
While the upgrade may be good news for new buyers, it most likely won't sit well with those who shelled out for a similar device that has been supported at NASCAR venues since 2006. The FanView offered a reduced set of the same functionality, with a smaller, lower-resolution screen, and after two years of rentals was made available for purchase in 2008 at a starting price of $369.95. Those who bought the device could activate it on-site at racing events they attended, making it an investment for the rabid racing fan. With the new system, however, FanView devices will no longer be supported whatsoever. NASCAR has said that FanView owners "may" be eligible for an unspecified discount on the new device, though with an original receipt required, it's unclear how many will be able to take advantage. As for the FanVision device itself, it will be available for rental at various NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event weekends beginning February 18th, or can be purchased directly from FanVision for $299 — although it sounds like rental is the far smarter option based on today's news.