Using radio communication between the driver, crew chief and spotters is a major benefit to any racing team. It doesn’t matter if you are racing in the World Touring Car Championships at Monza or running in Spec Miata at Road America, communication can lead to success. But communication also can mean excess — excess things to bring to the track, like radios, batteries, antennas, chargers, cords and headsets. All that excess electrical gear often becomes a tangled ball of wires.
Radio gear needs maintenance and care. Batteries have to be charged — before the race starts. As if there weren’t enough things to do before a race weekend, adding radio gear to the list of things to be prepped and packed adds more responsibility and time. Often with some teams, radio gear gets overlooked, and as a result, communication is lost because the gear wasn’t properly cared for.
Radio equipment is cumbersome and delicate. Radios don’t like to bounce around underneath the car in the race trailer for 400 miles. And radios don’t function well if they get wet. That brings me to radio rule No.1 from Shawn Sampson of Sampson Racing Communications: “Don’t take handheld radios into the Port-a-potty!” A very important rule to live by.
Another important rule with radio gear is to stay organized. To ensure my radios don’t fall victim to a missing cord, or get backed over in the race trailer, I constructed a simple storage unit out of a medium sized plastic toolbox. I mounted the Vertex radio chargers to the bottom of the box and mounted a plug bank to the inside of the box so they would have power.
All my team’s radio equipment fits in one rugged, easy-to-carry case, which doubles as a charging station. This works great for two reasons. Everything is protected and everything is easy to find. When we arrive at the track, we plug the box into a power source and everything inside begins to charge. When the race starts, the crew chief and spotter grab the charged-and-ready radios and begin talking to the driver. There is no last-minute panic or yelling in the pits, “Where is the headset?” or, “Are any batteries charged?” Instead, when the flag drops all I hear is a crystal-clear, “GREEN, GREEN, GREEN!”
Total costs for the box, the power strip, some smaller interior storage boxes for organizing extra batteries and antennas was less than $75. It’s a worthwhile investment to protect expensive racing communication equipment. For all radios and headsets inside the box go to www.sampsonracing.com for pricing.