Major auto racing venues were latecomers with respect to using artificial lighting for nighttime events. Those venues are typically much larger, requiring more total lighting and imposing greater operating costs and electricity usage than baseball or football fields. Moreover, motorsports drivers need very high quality lighting for better visibility and safety as they drive at average speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. LED lighting is the ideal answer for all of these challenges, and next-generation LED lighting systems have a potential to transform a sport that has traditionally been relegated to daylight hours.
LED Lighting for Racetracks
Smaller stock car racetracks and motor speedways were some of the early adopters of LED lighting. The Weedsport Speedway in upstate New York, which hosts several classes of stock car races, was one of the first racetracks to use an LED system. The Weedsport LED lighting system gives drivers uniform lighting with reduced glare around the tracks. Lighting engineers have long understood that shadows can change a person’s perception of an object’s speeds. Weedsport eliminated the shadows, dark spots, and variations in illumination with a custom LED system that includes advanced luminaire lenses and precision light pole and fixture placement.
NASCAR is the premier North American motorsport and the racetrack at Martinsville, Virginia recently became the first NASCAR racetrack to switch to LED lighting. The racetrack’s owners installed 750 lights, each with up to 144 LED bulbs to illuminate the ½-mile oval track. Those lights also have special lenses that focus and condition the light and that shield the fixtures from environmental stresses. The Martinsville system also incorporates smart technology that gives immediate feedback on each fixture’s status and any light maintenance issues.
Martinsville is the home to one of the oldest NASCAR sprint car race in the United States. Industry observers see the venue’s migration to LED lighting as an indication of an early trend in the transition to LED racetrack illumination. The track’s owners believe that LED’s will allow racing to continue into the evening if cautions or other delays prevent racing during daylight hours. Drivers and their teams and racing fans will appreciate that LED lighting will allow a race to be completed on its scheduled day.
LED Lighting Benefits for Motorsports
These and other auto racing venues will realize multiple benefits from LED lighting. From an operating cost perspective, LED racetrack lighting will generate better and more uniform illumination than standard high pressure sodium systems at less than half the cost. LED fixtures have an average lifespan of more than five years and in some cases can continue to generate light with no degradation for more than 100,000 hours. Night auto racing under LED lights will also open a racetrack to more viewers, as racing fans who work during daylight hours would have an opportunity to attend live racing events in the evening. More fans in seats means more revenue to the racetrack’s owners.
Television and other live broadcasts of auto races will also see a likely expansion with LED racetrack lighting. Traditional outdoor lighting limits the quality of modern high definition broadcasts. LED lighting renders colors more accurately that captures high speed motion without distracting flashes or flickering during a broadcast. Motor sports fans will have more opportunities to see quality broadcasts of nighttime races on tracks that use LED lighting systems.
SpecGrade LED designs and manufactures LED lighting systems for all types of outdoor sports venues, including racetracks. We are a domestic manufacturer with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Our representatives and consultants are available to answer questions and to provide advice on installing our illumination systems at racetracks and other sports venues throughout North America. Please see our website or call us at 888-534-7657 for more information about our LED sports venue products.