Pinewood Derby Stories and Photos from Maximum Velocity
Utilizing Video Systems in Your Race
By Randy Lisano
More and more race coordinators these days are using projection systems or large TVs in their races for the benefit and enjoyment of their audiences. Not only are these systems great for displaying the race results, they can also be useful before and during the race for displaying a variety of material.
First of all, you need a computer, projector, projection screen, and a cable to connect the computer to the projector. If you don’t have a portable projection screen, you can simply use a blank section of wall. However, you may need to hang up a white sheet to make the projected image easier to see.
To connect the computer to the projector, most laptops have an external monitor port and/or an S-Video port. If connecting to a TV, you can use the S-Video connection; otherwise, use a regular computer video cable to connect to a projector. Once connected, you need to output the computer’s video signal to the projector/TV. Generally, this means holding down the Function (Fn) key and then pressing one of the F keys at the top of the keyboard. If the keyboard labeling does not make it obvious, check your owner’s manual for the appropriate F key to use. You may have to push the F key several times in order to send the video signal to both your laptop screen and the projector/TV. Once you have the video connection working, everything you see on the computer screen will be displayed on the projector/TV. Now you can start utilizing the system for your audience.
Before the race you can display a photo slideshow of last year’s race (cars, racers, candid shots, etc.), show a promotional video, or information on the race. Windows XP gives you an easy way to do a photo slideshow. Just drop the photos into a folder on your hard drive and then use the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer program to control the slideshow. If you have video from your last race, you can show that before your race as a primer. I have also heard of someone using a video with real race footage and spectacular crashes. You can also run a PowerPoint slideshow to display race rules, list of your racers and other information.
During the race there is a lot that you can display. If you have race management software that can interface to your timer, the audience really enjoys seeing the race results as each heat is run. You can also display the final race standings and list of awards during your awards ceremony. If you have a video camera hooked up to the computer, you can even display some live action video, instant video replays(1) or photo finishes(2). This may also help those that cannot get a good view of the finish line to be able to see the action. Also, during the race, sometimes problems occur which cause a delay. You can use the projection system to help stall for time by distracting the audience with a funny video, or slides with derby song lyrics that they can sing along with.
The use of a projection systems or large TV can greatly enhance the enjoyment of the race for your audience, by keeping them informed of race results, entertaining them, and even by giving them an alternative view of the race action. If you have access to such a system, it is highly worth the time to setup and use.
On a final note, don’t forget to save your photos and video footage for use at your next race!
(1) Lisano Enterprises, developer of GrandPrix Race Manager software, also offers RaceReplay, a software package that records race video, and displays instant video replays. You can learn more at:
(2) eTekGadget, makers of the SmartLine timers, offer a photo finish device and software combo. http://www.etekgadget.com/photofinish.htm
Randy Lisano is the owner of Lisano Enterprise, makers of GrandPrix Race Manager, RaceFX and RaceReplay software, and other race products. He also maintains these race related websites:
GrandPrix Software Central - http://grandprix-software-central.com
GrandPrix Race Central - http://grandprix-race-central.com
Derby Talk - http://derbytalk.com