Auto racing has long been a sport loved by fans and racers alike. It began in the mid 19th century with the invention of the automobile, and the early 20th century saw the first racetracks being built around the world. Still, there was one factor other than car conditions that held the racing world back from peak performance: communications. Modern-day racing requires split-second dissemination of information to pass between a racer and their crew, but it was a distant and arduous path with many pit stops to get there.
Rewind to 1903, when the Milwaukee Mile converted its horse track for auto racing. Long before the RealVoice real-time voice synthesized engine alerts, the only way drivers and their crew could communicate was through the use of chalkboards and hand signals. The crew would write all relevant information, such as the car’s racing position, laps left, and fuel approximations, on a large board called the “pit board.” The driver would use hand signals, such as pointing to and tapping various parts of the vehicle, to communicate the issues as they passed the pit. The fastest car in existence could only go a few dozen miles per hour at the time, so this method worked to a point. Still, it was mostly ineffective and laborious for all involved. Even worse, the driver couldn’t fully explain a problem until the car was at a full stop in the pit, wasting valuable time.
By 1950, two-way communication walkie-talkies hit the tracks, but were banned due to the unfair advantage they provided. Eventually, ten years later, racers began using the same two-way technology that truck drivers use, bringing radio front and center as a vital way to communicate during a race. By 1970, headsets and radio communication were considered the most effective way for a team to speak with the driver and could be seen on every track throughout America. Niche companies began developing radios explicitly made for the racetrack, with FCC clearance, allowing dozens of semi-private channels for crews to use independently of each other. They’re still in use today, but race driver-to-crew communication isn’t the only information that needs to be shared.
As technology ramps up, the current setup is falling behind. Yes, the driver and their crew can communicate freely, but the driver still has to keep track of the many dashboard gauges while racing to let their team know the car’s condition. The crew only gets the readouts on various performance aspects once the race is finished, and the information can be downloaded from the dashboard.
Thankfully, one company, RaceVoice, has made it their mission to incorporate technology that disseminates real-time race information from dashboard diagnostic assessments to both the driver and the crew. This technology gives an advantageous edge to race teams, helping them shave time off each lap. The driver gets an audio readout of select diagnostics, while the crew gets the same live updates via an app and audio. This keeps everyone in the loop, which is vital when pit stops need to take 15 seconds or less. It also allows the driver to always keep their eyes on the track, a safety feature that has been sorely lacking up to this point.