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The NASCAR Hall of Fame

Interactive Exhibit Designer & Inventor of the Smart Ticketing System
Ralph Appelbaum Associates, New York
2007 – 2009


The NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment-filled attraction designed as part of a mixed-use development on a five-acre site that encompasses an office tower and an expansion of the Charlotte Convention Center. Visitors immerse themselves in the sport’s spectacle while learning about its complex science, intense teamwork, technical innovation, and the personalities who have made their presence felt since NASCAR’s founding.

I designed a unique smart-ticketing system that connects the moments before, during, and after a visit. Visitors use the card to gain access, and then collect information as they interact with the exhibits. This culminates in a digital portfolio they can explore later at home. The card also enables people to select a personal host to guide then through the building, and to compete with other visitors to see who would make the best NASCAR driver.

I worked with our office in Beijing to design and manufacture the unique cards, which contained an RFID chip, a printed section, and a semi-transparent panel. The panel enables the illusion of data flowing from the kiosk and into the card – effectively turning the object into a screen that fits inside your wallet. The experience of seeing data flow into the card helps instill value in a practically worthless object, increasing the likelihood people will visit their portfolio online later.

The technology enables a sustained relationship between the Hall of Fame and NASCAR fans, connecting the physical experience of going to a museum with a personalized digital experience that takes place at home. It has several technical advantages over smart-phone systems, but the main attraction is that it keeps the visitor’s attention on the exhibition, rather than on a mini-screen they spend all day with anyway.

As an exhibit designer, I find it interesting to imagine what this platform could do in other contexts, especially science museums – where the quantity and depth of information can be too much to absorb in a single visit.

Smart Card Prototype

This high fidelity ‘smoke and mirrors’ prototype proved to be an effective demonstration tool. I triggered the projected animations via a hidden remote control, moving my hand in time with the sequence. When the client saw how the system could work they were sold on the concept. It was enough to give them a visceral feel for the technology, the ease of an interaction, and the potential for a customized experience.

Smart Cards as Mini Screens

This prototype was used to demonstrate how the Smart Ticket could become a mini-screen in its own right. In this scenario, the user would place their ticket on the top of the kiosk, where a mini projector would illuminate their scores in a competitive game.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame : Hard Card check in sequence

Future Smart Card concept : An interactive table for Toyota’s car showrooms


This prototype was created to help Toyota imagine how interactive tables could become part of the showroom experience, assisting dealers as they sell new features to potential clients.

By placing a transparent card on the table, the user is able to choose a model and finish. With two or more cards on the table, it becomes possible to make comparisons without getting lost in complex navigation menus.

We created a special card for the dealer who can choose their moment to trigger promotional material.


Client : Nascar Hall of Fame : http://www.nascarhall.com/

Design : Ralph Appelbaum Associates : www.raany.com/

AV Integration : Electrosonic : http://usa.electrosonic.com/

Media Production : http://unifiedfield.com/