The National Hot Rod Association, in a concerted effort to elevate its promotional opportunities, enacted modifications this season to its video and social media policies designed to leverage the creativity of its race teams and the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
At the beginning of the 2019 season, the NHRA granted wider liberties to its professional and sportsman competitors by allowing, for the first time, the publication of onboard camera footage, whether in or on the car, for social media purposes. While cameras had been permitted previously, the footage was designated for competition use only (ie. private review and data acquisition purposes). Video intended for publication on social media was required to be and must still be reviewed and granted approval by the NHRA’s social media team.
“The teams were capturing such great footage, they had great angles from the drivers’ vantage point, and we wanted them to be able to use that for social media,” explained NHRA Vice President of National Event Marketing, Kristen Wentzell. “We’re constantly evolving these policies, because social media is constantly evolving. We want to make sure that we keep up with the trends and make sure that we’re giving the teams the most opportunity to capture content at the events and be able to share it, because that’s only going to help the sport–to be able to share more content in general, more perspectives, more angles.
“We’re getting a little more liberal with these rules, and we’re being more flexible, because we want the content,” Wentzell adds. “We gained approval from our partners at Fox Sports to post this content immediately. We still can’t allow live-streaming, of course, because there’s the chance of an incident occurring, and we don’t want that. So as long as it doesn’t involve a crash, they can post that video right after the run and don’t have to wait until the show airs on Friday or Saturday.”
Further rulebook amendments, which took effect this week and were announced via NHRARacer.com, largely focus on the allowance of camera glasses with prior approval from the NHRA Technical Department. However, the NHRA has also made adjustments to its social media publishing policy across the board, from the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series to the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod and Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in regards to onboard camera footage.
As part of the new amendments, race teams will now be permitted to publish onboard video to social media at any time during Friday and Saturday’s qualifying, while the raceday policy of embargoing video until after the broadcast airs remains in effect. Those outside of the Mello Yello Series will likewise be permitted to publish video to social media prior to the tape-delayed Fox Sports air date.
“We want to write the policies in a way that creates the most content possible, and the most exposure possible for many of these up-and-coming classes,” NHRA Senior Director of Public Relations and Communications Jessica Hatcher notes. “We want to build upon some of the momentum that we have going across the various social media platforms. The teams, the drivers, the crews have such interesting perspectives and we want to give our fans a glimpse of that.”
In 2019, teams are also now permitted to share race footage with sponsors , expressly for social media and educational purposes, but not for commercial use.
The latest amendment makes provisions for the use of camera glasses, now a common and affordable content creation tool in many forms of motorsports, with pre-approval.
“Camera glasses were not permitted before, but now as long as they are approved by tech, they are permitted. So it would be considered a competition camera and it would have to be the only competition camera in the car,” Hatcher explains. “We’ve had some racers use them [glasses] in testing and it’s really cool, because you’re seeing everything from their vantage point. To see, for instance, a Pro Stock driver and how much work they put into making that car look like it’s just gliding on glass, it’s very interesting and it’s exciting to see that perspective, so that’s why we wanted to open that up to include the glasses.”
The changes are noted in the Pro Modified rulebook amendments issued June 11, 2019:
Images from any camera permitted under this section are permitted to be used (1) for competition/analytical purposes, and (2) for social media only as permitted in Section 1, 1.9.1 Pilot Team Social Media Rules. Unless otherwise permitted in writing by NHRA, each vehicle/driver is permitted only one camera at the starting line, and one camera in/on the vehicle.
All aspects of in/on-vehicle cameras are subject to the approval of the NHRA Tech Department which approval will be granted or denied in NHRA’s discretion. Use of unapproved cameras/mounting subjects the racer/team to all available penalties. Intentionally directing any competition camera at the racer or vehicle in the other lane is prohibited. Except as permitted by the then-current social media rules, images or audio/video from a competition camera are not permitted to be transmitted in any means or manner. Incident video may never be transmitted under any circumstances.
No video monitors permitted in or on any vehicle. Cameras/video may not be used in any way to determine track position in real time. In/on-car competition cameras must be securely attached to the vehicle with appropriate fasteners (except for camera glasses). Suction cups, wire ties, hose clamps and the like are not acceptable methods of attachment. If any camera is approved to be mounted externally on any vehicle, all mounting brackets, associated fasteners, hardware, etc. from the camera to the vehicle attachment point must be metal, and no plastic or nonmetallic components are permitted. Attachment of any camera to the driver, the driver’s helmet, or the steering wheel/handle bars is prohibited (includes Camera glasses that have been approved by NHRA Tech Department may be used as the in-vehicle camera.
Google Glass or any similar or future image or data-capturing technology). Additionally, no camera may be mounted anywhere above the shoulder hoop outside of a “funny car” style or “dragster” style cage, or anywhere the driver can come in contact with it during an accident. Mounting of a camera inside a “funny car” style or “dragster” style cage is prohibited. All on-car cameras must be approved by an NHRA Technical Inspector prior to use.