In the split-second world of auto racing, timing the cars as they hurtle around the track requires speed and accuracy. Currently, spotters do the job manually, logging each car as it passes them. But, obviously, the process is slow and cumbersome. Now, Electronic Data Systems Corp. in Dallas has developed a sophisticated timing and scoring system called TRACK that laps the old method like a Ferrari passing a Yugo.
A transmitter the size of a bar of soap, made by Australia's Dorian Co., is placed on each car. It emits a unique electronic "signature," which is read as the car passes over antennas embedded at seven locations in the track. The EDS system, which incorporates Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Digital Equipment hardware, analyzes and distributes the data. It's accurate to a ten-thousandth of a second and is available within three seconds of a completed lap. The information will allow fans to follow the battle for all positions, not just the leaders, and see the time gap between each car. It will be used first as the primary timing system at the Marlboro 500 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 2-4.