I went to my first Nascar race last weekend. It was LOUD!
People had warned me about this, but I don’t think I quite understood it until I was there. I was lucky to have earplugs, but I experienced the start of the race without them, and it was physically painful!
I was amazed by the number of people with no hearing protection (Maybe 75%). I was also shocked how un-obvious it was where you could acquire them at the race. With the constant extremely loud engine noise, I’m surprised they don’t come with your ticket.
I didn’t have any proper meter with me, but some quick searching tells me races can average around 130 dB SPL in the stands… from one car… right at the threshold of pain, which lines up with my unscientific assessment. I’m quite certain experiencing just one race with no protection would cause you significant hearing damage. Please, people… protect your ears!
Anyways, enough of my hearing protection rant. I also took my PCM D100 to the race!
I was a little worried that it might not handle the sound levels the best, but I was absolutely wrong. It did fantastic. I was able to record from both inside and outside the track from fairly close perspectives and it handled it like a champ.
I was a little surprised with how much variance you could get from cars all going almost the same speed depending on your perspective and position. Inside the track, I was able to capture the constant roar of the engines. Outside the track I got some fantastic extremely fast pass-bys. Depending on where I positioned my self in the turn, I could capture gear shifts/acceleration/deceleration/etc. Have a listen below:
One of the things you might notice is during the caution laps some cars seem to have almost no sound when they pass by. Sometimes drivers shut off their engines to save fuel during times they’d otherwise not be on the accelerator. It’s a neat sound if you crank your volume a bit.
If you have the chance to go to a race for the first time, it’s well worth it for the experience. Just bring a recorder… and earplugs!!!