NASCAR race cars are tending to be more multifaceted as their performance and safety technology evolves. One effect is that more people require being in the driver’s communication circle. Whereas the number of pit crew members allowed over the wall to service the car remains at seven, the full squad standing behind a single NASCAR driver can include more than 30 people. It’s chiefly important that the squad manager, squad chief and spotter be able to talk with the driver during the race. The driver depends on these three persons for guidance as the race progresses. In recent years, the team spotter has turn out to be even more valuable to the driver, helping him (or her) to get the race car around the track as quickly and safely as possible.
In the early decades of NASCAR stock car racing, the driver and pit crew depend on visual signals to communicate. Each troop had a big “pit board,” on top of which they would chalk instructions and information; such as the car’s position in the race, the number of laps to complete, projected fuel remaining and so forth. The pit board would also notify the driver when to come in for tires and fuel. The squad chief or another team member would hold the board up for the driver to read, as the race car flashed by the pit region.
The introduction of two-way radio communications permitted the driver to describe and discuss precise issues with the car before making a pit stop. Now, a shaking in a wheel or a miss in the engine could be reported, so that the pit squad member could be ready to act in response when the car came in to pit. As electronics became more dependable, NASCAR teams began to regularly use two-way radios for communication. By the mid-1970s, headsets and radios were a ordinary sight in the pits. During the 1990s, radio tools were progressively more integrated into the car and the driver’s helmet.
The driver’s helmet, which carries a microphone and semi-custom earpieces fixed for comfort, plugs into the harness. A push-to-talk switch is connected to the steering wheel and a short whip antenna is mounted on the roof. A Racing Radios wiring harness connects the radio system components while a dedicated battery powers the audio system. Many groups outfit their whole pit and support crews with custom-engineered, hand-built headphones and two-way radios prearranged through Racing Radios. Multi-car teams may decide to connect even more people through their radio communications network. Active Noise Reduction (ANR) technology helps to cancel out disturbing background noise.
Extraordinary communication is one of the reasons a 21st century NASCAR pit troop can replace four tires and refuel a race car in around 13 seconds and do it ten or more times in a single race. Racing Radios says their systems function well even at the highest track speeds and almost never suffer from interference or dead zones.