Thursday, March 25, 2010

SPEED Introduces TruckBuddy For Martinsville

We have been moaning a lot this season about the fact that the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series have no online video applications. Last summer, RaceBuddy from TNT was tons of fun and injected a brand new user experience into NASCAR racing.

Although the folks from Turner Interactive said they were talking with FOX and ESPN, only SPEED has made a move to increase the online interactivity for the fans. The formal announcement is expected on Thursday, but the CWTS version of RaceBuddy will be called TruckBuddy and debut at Martinsville.

The link for TruckBuddy can be directly accessed by clicking here. The website, which is owned and run by Turner, is the launching pad for all of the online NASCAR applications. These folks have come a long way, but it is a shame that things are progressing so slowly with this technology.

The TruckBuddy application will have four live race video streams, a dedicated backstretch camera, two in-truck cameras and one pit road cam. It will also feature the ability to chat live using several different social media applications including Facebook and Twitter.

NASCAR fans are notorious multi-taskers. At the track, team radio scanners and Sprint Fan Viewers are all over the place. Fans are using cell phones to take pictures and people are texting and tweeting before, during and after the race. We like to communicate!

The RaceBuddy application has some more gizmos attached like a battle cam for the best racing on the track and several team audio links, but for the truck series and Martinsville, this is a solid start.

It should be interesting to see if veteran tweeter Michael Waltrip joins the TruckBuddy conversation on Twitter from his perch in the TV announce booth for SPEED. Other announcers on the team like Krista Voda and Adam Alexander are still getting the hang of using Twitter as an easy way to communicate directly with the fans.

The only downside of this project is that for right now TruckBuddy is a one race deal. Hopefully, some good fan feedback and strong use of the program during the race will help SPEED, Turner and the sponsor Dodge to add more races down the road.

TNT has already committed to bringing RaceBuddy back for the six race summer package. This was a huge hit, especially when TNT added a dedicated pit reporter and began to figure out that many NASCAR fans already watched the race while online.

It is ESPN that really needs to look into RaceBuddy. They have the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races and having all these bells and whistles for viewers to play with is only going to strengthen the ratings. No one turns off the TV with RaceBuddy. It simply is an addition to the television experience.

Thanks to Dodge for using their Ram brand to sponsor TruckBuddy this Saturday and keep it free for all fans. That is the best part of the experience. There is nothing to pay, nothing to join and no big program to download. The official news release from Turner and will come out Thursday, so we will attach it to this story so everyone can see the details.

Are you one of the fans that will try TruckBuddy? Do you already multi-task online during the races? Maybe you could tell us what you would like to see added to this online application for the summer Cup races and beyond? Take a moment and leave us an opinion.

To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, the entire NASCAR TV schedule for the weekend is posted on the TDP homepage.