How the CAMCAT system functions

During Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a piece of TV cabling broke and fell onto the racetrack and across the grandstands. According to track officials, 10 fans were injured with three of those transported to local hospitals for further evaluation.

The cabling was part of a system that is not new to the sporting world. It was provided to FOX by CAMCAT, an Austrian company that works with groups such as the Olympics and other networks. While the company has been using this technology since 2000, FOX was using the system for only the second time (it was also used for the Daytona 500). This particular system takes about five days to set up and had been in place and working since the All-Star race. This was a unique incident for the system.

The system works on cabling suspended above the track. It’s a point-to-point system that goes back and forth across the track, with the cabling suspended between two cranes that are placed outside the track. One side is the smart end, which was located outside Turn 4 and has all of the controls and motors. The other crane is located outside of Turn 1.

The rig is made up of three ropes — two ropes on either side that are called the guide ropes and the center rope, known as the drive rope. The drive rope is the one that was pulling the CAMCAT back and forth across the track. The camera itself is mounted on a buggy and the buggy is what rolls along the guide ropes with wheels and that is pulled by the drive rope. The camera itself is wireless, with no electronic activity, and is controlled by operators that sit at the smart end at Turn 4.

When the drive rope broke, the camera itself didn’t come down because the drive rope is in the middle and camera was sitting on the guide ropes. That is a safety function that is built into the system that worked to prevent the camera from falling.