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Fully Automatic Timing (FAT) Systems 101: What you need to know and how to choose the right one for your track facility

If your facilities have ever hosted a Track and Field or Cross Country meet, you are well aware of the resources it takes to coordinate and run one successfully. From scheduling to entering athletes for their events, having enough assistants and officials to complete them in a timely manner, and perhaps hiring an external timing company to provide official and accurate results, it is a testament to those who make it possible. Admirable as the efforts may be, a fully automatic timing system (FAT) can reduce many of these steps and any stress it may incur, empowering your Track and Field or Cross Country programs to host meets in an even smoother and efficient manner that benefits all.

There are many advantages an FAT system provides and whether your facilities are already a destination for premiere competitions or you’re just getting started, we’re outlining the factors that will help you choose the right timing system for your facilities.


Gone are the days of simply using stop watches as hosting an official meet of any kind cannot be done without fully automatic timing. An FAT system captures digital race results and is the standard today by every regulatory body in track and field, required to sanction meet results for new state, national and international records and qualify for any respective championships. The three basic requirements of any approved FAT system are:

  • Timing starts automatically from a starting apparatus
  • It produces printed images showing times
  • Must be capable of timing precision of at least 1/100th of a second

To achieve these accurate results, the start signal, running time and capture device must be digitally synchronized.

You may already be well aware of third-party timing services for hire who will take care of all your timing from the sound of the first starter gun to the final heat. While this may suit your near-term needs, it would be prudent to weigh the number of meets you host or plan to host and consider whether having your own FAT system on-site could provide an advantage for your budget and time. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • If regularly hosting meets or seeking to add more, it may be the most cost effective option
  • More power over your schedule, not having to worry about availability, delays, or rescheduling
  • Most FAT systems require just two people and minimal training, not including the starter or accompanying judges
  • Your other staff is free to assist elsewhere and help the day’s events run more seamlessly

This kind of control over your budget and time can make your facilities a more attractive destination and potentially lead to more high profile meets such as a conference or state championship. The better experience everyone has, the more visiting programs will want to return, and this may also mean more revenue and an opportunity for your Track and Cross Country Programs to flourish.


Not all FAT systems are made the same as the options to choose from, their capabilities, and the resources to help you succeed can vary. It is also important to consider the competition you’d like to host and what components you may need as timing systems range from the basics needed for FAT to state and national meets and other elite competitions. So, the best place to start when setting up your facilities is to consider these factors:

  • Envision the profile of your venues and the future of your programs. What is the goal?
  • Can you find everything you need in one place from the FAT provider you’re considering?
  • Can the FAT provider easily integrate results with external results networks or organizations?
  • If cost is a barrier, does the provider offer flexible options to upgrade as program needs evolve?

The answers to these questions will provide a firm foundation to rely upon and help you find a timing system capable of meeting your needs. As you consider your options, one such provider that is capable of meeting all your needs no matter the specific event or meet is FinishLynx.

FinishLynx is now part of the Nevco Sports family with a partnership designed to provide an optimal experience and improve the way Track and Cross Country meets are run. From the basics necessary to sanction official results to the standards required by every governing body including World Athletics, FinishLynx has a solution for the goals you have in mind.


No matter your setup or the kind of meets you’d like to host, FinishLynx offers 6 ready-to-utilize packages specifically designed to not only satisfy the obligations of a meet but streamline the entire process. Starting with the basics of FAT to enhanced cameras that provide ease-of-use and capture the tightest of races, wireless starters that allow the operator to move freely, high-resolution displays that show instant results and more, FinishLynx always has an answer. Additionally, each package can be enhanced through different accessories or add-ons based on your needs as your program or meets evolve. This detailed Package Comparison Guide shows what each package has to offer.

Regardless of the package you choose or accompanying upgrades, there are several advantages that comes with choosing FinishLynx as your FAT system.

  • FinishLynx results are accurate to 1/1000th of a second or more (the minimum required accuracy for FAT is 1/100th of a second)
  • Built-in timing capability within the camera on all FAT systems whereas others depend on the clock in the computer running the software
  • FinishLynx FAT systems consistently pass zero gun tests, meaning no time lag between the starter and clock
  • FinishLynx can easily integrate with third-party results networks and organizations such as Athletic.Net or Milesplit
  • Opportunity to generate revenue through high-quality image printouts
  • Over 30 years of experience as an industry leader, used at events such as the NCAA Track and Field Championships, USATF Championships, New Balance Nationals, Penn and Drake Relays, US Olympic Trials and most High School State Championships


Adding a fully automatic timing system to your track set up will ensure your events run efficiently, delivering a better user experience for faculty and athletes. If you’re looking to take it one step further and enhance the fan atmosphere at your events, consider pairing your timing system with a video display. Here are just a few ways pairing a FinishLynx timing package with a video display captures the attention and enhances meets for all:

  • Feature team introductions, highlights, and profiles of athletes to boost your programs
  • Show time, instant replay and new views of live events to bring everyone closer to the action
  • Display all results instantaneously and other important information to eliminate confusion
  • Fire up the crowd showing shots of cheering fans and invigorate school spirit with fun graphics and prompts
  • Strengthen your budget and generate new revenue streams with unlimited inventory to showcase key sponsors and supporters

Nevco recently launched new Indoor and Outdoor Track Video Packages that make transforming your facility simple with a display, easy-to-use software, computer and on-site set-up and training. Together, a timing system and display working in unison gives you the ability to create the ultimate meet atmosphere and have visiting programs and organizations make your facilities a priority year after year.


If you are interested in learning more about bringing FinishLynx to your facilities and finding a solution that meets your goals or needs, you can visit or call 1-800-851-4040 to get in touch with your local consultant and start the conversation.