Backseat Drivers

Mar 24, 2002 (07:03 PM EST)

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NASCAR fans looking to the Web to satisfy their racing cravings can get a lot closer to the action, thanks to the debut last month of TrackPass, an online subscription service created by producer Turner Sports Interactive in conjunction with RealNetworks.

The service, at $5 a month or $30 a year, provides NASCAR enthusiasts with a host of interactive multimedia features, both live and on-demand.

While live video isn't available because of NASCAR's reluctance to let its Web property cannibalize its TV audience, a TrackPass subscription includes access to RaceCast, a live audio leaderboard and race-summary application. For more intimacy during the race, the In-Car Audio Select feature lets subscribers choose from among the leaders and listen in as they communicate with their pit crews.

"We'll take you closer to the track than anything else besides being there," boasts Scott Bailey, VP of internet operations for Nascar.

For those who crave video, NASCAR has teamed with video-content vendor Virage to offer customized race clips as part of the TrackPass service, letting subscribers create personalized highlight reels of their favorite drivers, races, or maneuvers. They'll also have access to's entire library of video clips.

Judging from the initial reception, demand for online NASCAR coverage is greater than anticipated. Bailey says that in the first three weeks, the service had generated 90% of the audience expected for the first year, but he wouldn't give specific numbers.