Intercoms & Communication

Using Intercoms and Communication in Car Racing

During the early days of car racing, drivers and the pit crew members communicated using visual signs. The pit crew would write critical info regarding the number of laps to go, the amount of fuel remaining and the driver's position on a board. The pit crew also alerted the driver when to check in for a tyre change. One of the crew members would hold the board up for the driver to read while the driver communicated using hand signals as he raced through the track. However, the driver could not explain his concern clearly with the pit crew until he stopped at the pit.Two-way communication radios were developed in the 1950s and helped counter such shortcomings. The radio allowed the driver to describe the specific problems with the vehicle before stopping at the pit. Other intercom and communication systems like headsets and intercom devices were integrated into the systems to enhance communication between drivers and the pit crew. It is the use of exceptional communication that helps pit crew members to change tires and refuel the car in less than 14 seconds.

Types of Intercoms and Communication

Increasing radio technology introduced two-way portable radio for drivers. The radio is placed in a custom box and fitted on the driver's left side where volume and channel controls are easy to reach. Semi-custom earpieces and a microphone are fitted on the driver's helmet and a push-to-talk switch connected to the steering wheel. Pit crew outfit the pit boards with customised headphones and two-way radios enhanced with Active Noise Reduction technology, which cancels out background noise. Apart from the two-way radio communication, drivers and pit crew members use important Intercom systems like:

  • Two-man Intercom System: This kind provides uninterrupted communication between the car race driver and the crew chief. Most two-person intercom systems have helmet cables.
  • Four-person Intercom System: The system is designed for use by the pit crew. It supports communication of up to four crew chiefs or engineers when discussing strategies privately when practising or during the race.
  • 8-Man Intercom System: This intercom system is also designed for pit crew members. Supporting up to eight users, the device allows both pit crew members and coaches to talk privately during training. The package contains one four-person intercom, an expansion cable, eight headset cables and headsets, an intercom-to-expansion module cable and eight mounting cables for the pit cart.

Two-to-four Person IntercomThis type is enhanced for compatibility with a two-way radio system. It also supports up to four users to control the radio and transmission to all the users. The system is fitted with internal microphones that have control over the internal radio adjustment settings to allow transmission of audio from the two-way radio.

Four-Person Intercom Expansion ModuleThe module allows users to add up to four positions to turn a regular intercom system into an eight-person intercom.

Ground StrapIt is an excellent addition to any communication setup. The strap is designed to improve the performance and distance of a two-way radio. One end is fitted on the antenna, and the other end is mounted to the roll cage to enhance the performance of the antennas that are not connected to the metal roof directly.

External Kit (External) for Handheld radioIt allows users to extend the range of their handheld radios from their racing cars. The kit is ideal for racers driving on short and circle tracks.

Over the Head Intercom HeadsetThe headset allows users to connect to the intercom and the handheld radio simultaneously. Racers can switch to intercom or radio use with the click of a button. When using the microphone going to the intercom, the handheld radio microphone mutes automatically.

How Intercoms and Communication Improve Car Racing CompetitionThe pit crew comprises the driver, team manager, the crew chief, engineers, specialists, mechanics and others. Drivers often consult with the crew chief and the team's race spotter during the race.

The race spotter identifies blind spots on the rear of the vehicle and informs the driver via radio. Modern intercom system and radio technology have made it easy to make real-time conversation between the driver and the pit crew members. A successful race requires a continuous assessment of tire wear and fuel consumption, among other factors. As such, the in-car audio systems help the pit crew to discuss strategy, e.g., whether the driver should stop to refuel or maintain the leading position.

Fans who enjoy an insider perspective can take advantage of the in-car audio devices that allow them to listen in on the conversations in real time. Note that you may be required to purchase the communication device or subscribe for a special package to listen in on real-time conversations.

Some devices have additional features like in-car camera videos that allow fans to watch the drivers as they race on the tracks.

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