Endurance car racing puts drivers and crews to the test, and also highlights the importance of quality communications. That’s why the Corvette Racing team has invested in the latest IP intercom technologies from Clear-Com, including the Eclipse HX digital matrix, FreeSpeak II digital wireless systems and the Agent-ICMobile app.
The Corvette Racing team designs and builds race cars for endurance events on street circuits. “Our races are anywhere from 100 minutes to 24 hours,” said team engineer Matt Cummings. “When you’re trying to keep the cars and the drivers running for so long, and also keep the teams and engineers engaged, communication becomes incredibly important.”
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In 2019, Corvette Racing switched from two-way radios and single-channel intercoms to the newer Clear-Com systems, a move Cummings, now in his seventh year with Corvette Racing, described as one of the biggest evolutions in program history. in terms of quality and productivity.
“Moving to multichannel Clear-Com was a big step toward reducing intercom clutter,” he said.
Races can average 25 to 28 pit stops, so the ability to communicate internally between car crews about when those occur helps everyone prepare for the controlled chaos that is a pit stop in sports. engine, where every second matters. “It’s easy to gain or lose time in the pit lane,” he said. “It’s really hard to make time on the field.”
The use of Clear-Com systems has also made setup on race day easier and faster. The team’s intercom matrix and panels are integrated into their pit base, which is manufactured in England by Clear-Com Partner MRTC and shipped for pre-race assembly at the team’s headquarters in the US. They also often use the same system layout for each event as their main template and then decide on site if additional channels are needed.
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“The nice thing about the EHX software is that I can program it on the fly, which I often do,” he said. “You probably won’t go through a race weekend without reprogramming the intercom at least a few times. We can add or remove channels as needed and also set up channels for private conversations between specific groups or with one person individually without disturbing others.”
A typical belt assignment for a race is extensive and may include Cummings and other electronics engineers, crew chiefs and car bosses, a race engineer and an assistant for each car, controls and simulations engineers, up to three team people from General Motors PowerTrain, a support engineer from Bosch, a team manager, and up to five executives from GM and Pratt Miller (parent company of Corvette Racing), with channel assignments closely mirroring these.
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In 2021, Corvette Racing also explored remote race management using Clear-Com’s Agent-IC mobile app. Team engineers in the United States connected on their phones to a race site in Belgium and were able to maintain reliable communications with crews and drivers, a perfect workflow option for people who don’t need to be on site during a whole career but you still need to stay in touch.
“A man was in his boat and still attached to the race,” Cummings said.
The Corvette team is confident that wireless systems like Clear-Com are the future of racing communications. “These systems allow us to run a race more effectively,” Cummings said. “We spent millions of dollars to build the fastest race car. We also need to have the best wireless intercoms to communicate in the most efficient way.”