The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association has brought a newly developed virtual reality experience to the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show. Using a VR headset loaded with 360 degrees of real video filmed during races in Pennsylvania and an Equicizer - the horse racing equivalent of a mechanical bull - users can experience horse racing through the eyes of a jockey or harness driver.
In the coming months, the creators of the VR horse racing experience plan to expand it to give users the option of using a special race bike that will mimic the feel of a harness race in addition to the Equicizer.
The virtual reality experience was created by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association as a way to allow more members of the public to experience the excitement of horse racing with the hope of enticing them to later visit one of Pennsylvania’s six racetracks.
“This is our way of bringing the racetrack out to the public and giving them a taste of what it’s like to experience horse racing live and in person,” said Pete Peterson, President of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association. “We are literally putting fans in the saddle or in the driver’s seat and allowing them to experience a race from the perspective of a jockey or driver. It’s unique, exciting, and gives fans a new appreciation of the sport that we hope prompts them to visit one of Pennsylvania’s six racetracks to enjoy the races in person.”
“Before, most people could only imagine what it feels and looks like to guide a magnificent race horse through the curves and down the backstretch,” said Peterson. “Now they can experience it for themselves.”
Attendees of the Pennsylvania Farm Show can participate in the virtual reality experience free of charge, although it is limited to individuals aged 12 and older. The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association is located at booth 599-600 in the main exhibit hall.
The footage for each experience was shot during races at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa. and The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington, Pa. using a 360-degree, high-definition camera mounted on the helmets of both jockeys and drivers.
After the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the PHRA plans to take the new virtual reality experience to fairs, festivals and other events throughout the state in 2020.