Charlotte, North Carolina-based CSM Production was called upon to provide an IP-rated package of Elation lighting gear pre and post-race production for NASCAR’s Daytona 500.
Held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Daytona 500 is the most prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar and traditionally harnesses the highest television ratings of any auto race of the year. Delayed for six hours due to storms, the 2021 edition of The Great American Race was a rain-soaked affair that, despite a bit of waiting and the characteristic racing drama, went off without a hitch.
CSM Production has worked the premiere race for many years and often uses Elation lights to highlight events surrounding the race. This year, CSM handled all pre-race events including a concert by country artist Luke Combs, driver intros and the National Anthem, as well as Victory Lane celebrations after the race.
Combs played to the live crowd and a global audience on Fox with safety protocols requiring fans to remain in the grandstand seats. Senior Coordinator of Technical Production at CSM Production, Ashley Tobin Rutherford designed the lighting for the Luke Combs stage.
Tobin was on hand for the event and explains why using a bevy of IP65-rated fixtures made her job much easier. “It seems to rain every day in Florida so you can use a lot of time bagging and unbagging fixtures and that eats up a lot of your day. If there is even an inkling of rain, you can’t uncover. Using IP65 fixtures cuts out all of that extra time and worry so we can focus on other important things like dialling in the LED screen and refining the effects and looks we want to achieve,” she added. “It was fantastic to know that when the gear came back to the CSM shop, it wasn’t ruined or needed a lot of repair.”
This year’s design was new and slightly smaller than past years due to the reduced number of fans – limited to about 30,000, all in the stands – in attendance. For the pre-race Luke Combs concert CSM constructed a main stage of truss grid bolted on a 53ft long flatbed trailer on which four vertical LED screens and a center screen hung, along with 12 lighting pipes.
Flanking the main stage were truss grids bolted onto two landscape trailers that held PA and additional lighting for the concert, including six Elation ACL 360 Matrix moving head effect panels, eight Elation Platinum Wash LED Zoom moving heads and 12 Elation Cuepix Strip Tri fixtures working with four Antari M-7 RGBA foggers. Control data ran through a NETRON EN12 node from Obsidian Control Systems. Combs got NASCAR fans warmed up for the race, performing five songs with his newest song aired live on TV. After the concert, the PA trailers and centre stage were cleared away, leaving just the LED backdrop for driver intros with custom content mapped to the screens and lights.
Post-race at Victory Lane, 12 Elation Proteus Hybrid IP-rated arc source moving heads rented from Music Matters of Atlanta,16 Elation Pixel Bar 60IP and 2 Pixel Bar 30IP battens worked with four Antari M-7 RGBA foggers to add energy to race winner Michael McDowell’s victory celebration. Eight Proteus Hybrids on truss towers provided front wash during the trophy presentation and photos, hit the front stretch of seats for burnouts, and provided the light show for a song played throughout the speedway. Four additional Hybrid units and foggers on stage added movement and cryo effect shots during burnouts, the lightshow, and driver car exits in the Winner’s Circle. The Pixel Bar fixtures outlined the existing signage to highlight and make it more noticeable.
CSM supplied all of the Elation gear, except for the Proteus Hybrids, and work with Elation rep firm The Healy Group for all things Elation. “It’s fantastic to see that they have expanded their IP line, which is great for everything we do,” Tobin Rutherford comments. “The gear is really high quality yet still very cost efficient and on the back end, if you do have any issues, the support they provide is great. They really understand deadlines.”
Although the rain held off for the Luke Combs concert and pre-race events, the downpour eventually came which meant that Victory Lane celebrations took place at 1:30am. “It was a long day but we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t enjoy it so much,” Tobin Rutherford concluded. “Even with all the rain, the lights held up and worked for an amazing event!”