Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, signs autographs for fans during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2018 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
In April, NASCAR announced a partnership with software services company Lixar to redesign its race credentialing process. To do this, Lixar has implemented an innovative mobile, cloud-based system that streamlines the entire process for both guests and NASCAR’s backend administration.
NASCAR’s teams, executives, and partners have long used credentials to allow access to garages, trucks and motorhomes, and even parts of pit road for the race. But the race series’ paper-based credentialing system was outdated and often resulted in VIPs stuck in long lines that detracted from the first-class experience.
Lixar’s system, built on Microsoft’s SAAS cloud platform, Azure, has allowed NASCAR to reportedly cut its credentialing lines to about one eighth of their previous length. The new system also meets TSA and FAA standards, in part because Lixar has significant experience working with clients in the airline industry.
“[Lixar’s] experience with the airlines and some of the other industries helped show us you can really do this a lot differently than you are doing it today,” explained Stephen Byrd, senior director of technology at NASCAR.
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NASCAR and its partners can now send invites via text message or email that initiate the credentialing process. Guests simply click on the link that was sent to them and are prompted to input their information, a selfie, and a picture of their driver’s license. Nick Franza, the Senior Manager of Technology Development at NASCAR noted the importance of this aspect, “we wanted the invite to be really mobile friendly, kind of millennial focused. Everything has to be on your phone. Phone first”.
Franza also detailed the added operational awareness he found from the system’s real time data updates, “it shows how many invitations I have sent out, how many guests have registered, and the amount of passes I’ve given out for my guests. So, in real time these numbers will keep ticking like a flip clock as I am sending out invites, [and I can monitor] the wait times, how many people I am expecting to get through between now and the green flags, how many people are left to come through.”
Lixar CEO Bill Syrros was eager to be entering the professional sports landscape. “We are excited to see sports entertainment become a new and exciting vertical for Lixar,” he said. “You know we hadn’t predicted that. Our verticals were traditionally automotive, airlines, and carriers”.
NASCAR’s new credentialing system enhances the fan-experience by streamlining the registration and administrative processes. It also assists track security by implementing similar systems to those, made by cloud-based security companies, IDEMIA and Clear, that exist in some NFL and MLB stadiums.
Lixar differentiates itself from credentialing competitors like Sport Systems and security-focused competitors because its platform integrates a variety of functions. Reportedly Lixar will be able to integrate technologies like machine vision and camera based identity for security purposes.