The invitation to the unveiling of the world's largest high-definition-LED video board at Texas Motor Speedway read: “Go Big or Go Home.”
I'd expect nothing less from TMS President Eddie Gossage – who is as good at putting on a show as anyone I have ever come across – and his crew who gave DFW sports fans an epic, celebrity-laden evening in Fort Worth that was worthy of all of the hype.
Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson, defending Firestone 600 champion Helio Castroneves and defending Duck Commander 500 and O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 champion Kyle Busch joined NASCAR president Mike Helton, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith, SMI President and COO Marcus Smith and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on stage with the huge remote to fire up the screen. When Big Hoss’s 218 X 94-foot Panasonic screen was turned on, as one would expect, it was a spectacle. There were even fireworks above the backstretch of the 1.5 mile oval racetrack, all against a backdrop of the North Texas sky.
More than 8,000 fans turned out to see the TV, which is 79 percent larger than the video board at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. With the gates to the South tunnel set to open at 7:30 p.m. for the presentation, which kicked off shortly after 8, there was a backup of more than 1.7 miles with cars lined up to get inside. Those who made it in were treated to the most recent episode of A&E’s popular reality show Duck Dynasty.
Panasonic Eco Solutions North America Vice President Richard Ballard assured everyone that Big Hoss would be able to withstand whatever crazy DFW weather may come its way, including hail and 120 mph winds. It did slip out that a few lucky people made sure it was hail-proof by hitting golf balls at it. I must say that in my never-ending quest to live the Entourage -lifestyle, I am extremely disappointed to have missed out on that craziness.
“Everybody is competing in sports with the ever-improving technology that we all put into our houses with home theater,” Gossage said. “To have to the biggest screen in the world is one of those ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ stories that we are really proud to be a part of.”
As for the drivers’ opinions on Big Hoss? Busch said he doubted he’d be distracted by the screen due to the set-up of the Sprint Cup cars. INDYCAR driver Castroneves, the 2007 Dancing with the Stars winner, joked “we’re going so fast down the backstretch that I don’t know if I’ll have time to look up, but I’m going to try and look at myself and see if my hair is in place.”
Gossage also announced that Big Hoss TV will officially go into the Guinness Book of World Records prior to the Duck Commander 500 on Sunday, April 6, when an official adjudicator will verify TMS’ claim for the record. Though nothing is official, it was hinted that TMS may indeed show movies on the huge screen in a drive-in style set-up.
While this is the race that normally takes place on Saturday evening, the schedule was adjusted to embrace rather than compete with the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Final Four being held the same weekend in Arlington. The basketball games are Saturday and Monday nights, so by having the Sprint Cup race on Sunday it gives fans the opportunity for an ultimate sports weekend in DFW. Tickets are available for Duck Commander 500 at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting here.
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