Smarter Wi-Fi Speeds Real-Time Racing Stats to Fans at BMW's Grand-Am Championship Weekend
SUNNYVALE, CA, September 26, 2012 – Ruckus Wireless™ has been named the Official Wireless Supplier at this year’s Grand-Am Championship Weekend presented by BMW, taking place at Lime Rock Park, the historic road racing motorsports venue in the rural northwest corner of Connecticut.
Lime Rock Park is deploying Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi products and technology to significantly improve the mobile spectator experience at the 55-year-old facility. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Lime Rock Park hosts dozens of road racing events attended by hundreds of thousands of fans every year.
This year, the track wanted to give spectators mobile access to up-to-the-second timing and scoring information right from their smart devices. Because of its remote location, cellular network performance is sub-standard, making it almost impossible for fans to view current race information from their smartphones. This has been a major drawback for fans since the track’s primary scoreboard can only be seen by about one-third of the crowd at any given race.
“Despite the track being relatively short for a road course, only a certain percentage of our fans can see the scoreboard and hear the public address system,” said Skip Barber, president and owner of Lime Rock Park. “It’s the price you pay for having a track set in the hills and valleys of the Berkshire Mountains. We saw smarter Wi-Fi as a great way to solve this problem.”
Lime Rock was the first road racing track to be engineered and designed using scientific and highway-safety principles. The course is 1.5 miles long, with seven corners and dramatic elevation changes. Its setting is a village in Connecticut’s Litchfield County, renowned for its historical, cultural and recreational resources.
The new Smart Wi-Fi network provides public access to patrons in the two luxury hospitality chalets – one of which is being used by Grand-Am Championship event sponsor BMW – and many of the outdoor spectator areas. Additionally, the Wi-Fi provides coverage to the official timing and scoring tower, the racecourse’s central headquarters where announcers and members of the media are located.
The Grand-Am race weekend is annually one of the biggest events of the year for Lime Rock Park, Barber said. “We know most of our fans have iPhones and other devices, but with only one cellular carrier providing a good signal here, we absolutely needed a robust Wi-Fi network. Ruckus solves this for us, and our fans will be very, very happy.”
In addition to public access, the network is also being used to support Point-of-Sale purchasing devices, an Internet kiosk, and also a live audiostream being broadcast over the P.A. system by ClearChannel.
Smart Wi-Fi Gets the Green Flag
Lime Rock Park, with the help of its integration partner Fortes Technology, first installed a few Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11n access points (APs) earlier this year to significantly upgrade the weak mobile connectivity delivered by local cellular networks.
“We have had lots of success deploying Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi for other clients, and given Lime Rock’s goals of supporting a high density of users and applications in both indoor and outdoor areas, we knew Ruckus was the perfect solution,” said Joe Sauer, founding partner of Fortes Technology. “Particularly given the landscape of Lime Rock – with dense trees and varying hillsides – we knew Ruckus would be up to the challenge of delivering the best performance in wireless signal penetration and range.”
The initial deployment included three ZoneFlex 7363 dual-band APs, which operated autonomously simply to provide guest access. More recently, several 7762 outdoor APs were added to provide higher capacity and broader coverage in spectator areas, as well as support a private VLAN for Lime Rock staff and vendors and for the ClearChannel audio feed. The ZoneFlex outdoor access points mesh with wired ZoneFlex indoor access points using Ruckus Smart Meshing technology.
“The track has racing events and driving schools taking place all year long, and so far with the minimal number of APs we’ve had, performance has been solid,” said Sauer. “With the new network, we‘re raising the bar for the entire auto racing industry, and we‘re excited to see how the fans interact with the network at this weekend‘s championship race.”
The network is managed by Fortes through a ZoneDirector 3000 centralized controller, which enables Sauer to optimize network performance through advanced capabilities like band steering, airtime fairness, per user client thresholds, dynamic (performance-based) channel assignment, and dynamic and configurable client load balancing.
Integrating patented adaptive antenna technology, the Ruckus ZoneFlex system is designed to overcome the physical and technical challenges of delivering high-capacity, high-performance access to indoor and outdoor areas which are prone to interference or which pose physical barriers to signal penetration for seamless connections. By focusing and directing Wi-Fi signals over the best signal path, the ZoneFlex system is the only one on the market that automatically avoids interference to ensure consistent performance and high throughput.
“The way fans follow the races – and, critically, how they interact with other fans – has changed dramatically over the past couple years,” said Barber. “When people visit Lime Rock, I want them to embrace the history and tradition, but to also expect the experience to be state-of-the-art. With Ruckus networking in place, we’ve achieved that.”