10 Tips To Avoid Leaving Tracks Around The I Ternet Race Scanning Tips & Hints

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Race Scanning Tips & Hints

I have been running scans for almost 25 years. Long before serviceable scanners, my first camera was an old Bearcat 250 mobile scanner duct taped to a 12 volt flashlight battery. The whole setup must have weighed 10 pounds and I had to lug it around in a big camera bag! I guarantee I was the only guy in the stands at The Milwaukee Mile listening to the USAC buses go by in 1980! Things have changed a bit since then.

It is estimated that more than 10% of fans at a typical NASCAR event are “scanner devices”. Spectating racing became very popular, expanding beyond NASCAR super speedways to dirt tracks, drag strips, and even Saturday nights at local short tracks. I’ve put together some tips and advice to help you get the most out of your racing experience. If there are others you can add, please send them to me so we can share them with others. Enjoy!

Why bring a scanner to the race? What did I hear?

Once you’ve experienced a race with a scanner, you’ll be hooked forever. Running scans add that extra “dimension” to the experience. You can listen to the conversation between the driver, his team and the scouts. You will hear from the race officials and the security team. You can even track the “behind the scenes” activities of the TV and radio crew. IMPORTANT! One thing you want to know about listening to race communications, it doesn’t have to be for kids! Emotions can run high during racing events and language can often get “colorful” to say the least. You may want to consider this if you are sensitive to harsh language. What kind of gear do I need for the race? The two main components of a running scan setup are the scanner itself as well as the noise reducing headset.

First – the scanner. What kind of scanner do you need? It really depends on your needs or budget. Almost all handheld scanners work for racing. They are available in 10 or 5000 channels! As for the price, expect to spend anywhere from $75 to over $400. The most common frequency ranges are 150 – 174 Megahertz and 450 – 470 Megahertz. There is some, but not much racing activity in the 800 Megahertz band. Popular “racing” scanners are the Uniden Sportcat 200 and 230, Racing Electronics RE-2000, and the Radio Shack Pro 99. Two really nice features to have are the alpha-displays, which allow you to customize the driver’s name. only in frequency, and the CTCSS or tone function, which allows you to arrange a phrase on a channel to reduce interference.

The second thing you need is a good quality noise canceling headset. The race is HARD! Not only will the headset help protect your ears, it will help your scanner hear better. They are available in several designs to suit your personal preference. You can also get the small device, foam, in the ear similar to the driver’s device. Other accessories you might consider are a “race” antenna or stub, which will help reduce local interference, a leg strap to help secure your scanner while watching the race, and a headset splitter or “Boostaroo” so you can drive. a second headset for your friends to listen too. Don’t forget the extra battery! There is nothing worse than running out of “juice” halfway through a race. Where can I buy racing gear? You can purchase a complete setup at your local Radio Shack store. Some specialty retailers that sell racing test equipment are Racing Electronics and Racing Radio.

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to buy a setup, most of these vendors also offer rentals. These dealers have trailers that offer equipment at most of the larger races.

OK, I have the scanner and the headset, where do I find the frequencies?

Although you can find free information online, most of it is outdated, incomplete, or simply wrong. I highly recommend buying the latest from one of the vendors above. It’s worth a few dollars. They have information on national series such as NASCAR, IRL, and Champ Car. Most new scanners are computer programmable. You can even take them to a trailer at the track and get the latest tunes on your radio while you wait.

The new Uniden SC230 scanner comes with frequencies for Nextel Cup, Busch Grand National, Craftsman Trucks, Champ Car, and IRL programmed into it! For regional series, your options are more limited. For Midwest fans, we’ve put together the Midwest Racing Frequencies website. It contains information on local tracks as well as touring series such as the ASA Late Models, Big 8 Series, and MidAm Limited Late Models. Information on the Midwest Racing Frequencies website can be found at; www.midwestracingfrequencies.com

In The Track Tips

1 – Do what you can before leaving the house. If you can get informed often before the race, you will save a lot of time by pre-programming the scanner before you get to the track. Don’t forget extra batteries, paper and pencil for taking notes, and sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to pack a plastic bag to put your scanner in in case of sudden rain.

2 – Programming advice. A popular trick is to program the frequencies so that the channel numbers are the same as the car numbers. For example, you can set Mark Martin, Car #6 to channel 6 on your scanner. That way during the race, if you want to quickly switch to a specific car, you can manually change to that channel. With the new scanners with alpha display, it’s easier to keep track of who’s who.

3 – Don’t try to listen to everything! In a big race, there is too much going on. Choose your leader or favorite and lock everything else. It also helps track races in your scan list. In the main race you can also listen to the broadcast on TV and radio (MRN broadcast on 454.000 Mhz). Some tracks will rebroadcast the PA track on the scanner frequency or a strong FM station. These devices will “lock up” your scanner, because they are constantly transmitting. You have to close them and switch manually if you want to listen.

4 – Go first on the road. If there’s a dealer selling a racetrack there, they’ll give you a good chance to check it out or get the scanner for yourself. Buy a memory program. They will have the number so you know who to listen to.

5 – Practice and skill is a good time to check often. Taking notes now will help you during the race. Listen to the scouts and team leaders talking to the drivers. You may be able to tell “who’s who” when passing or entering a hole.

6 – When the driver gets into his car before the race is a good time to listen to the radio check. The fast turnaround and attention period are also times when radio traffic increases.

7 – If you use your scanner to try and find new constraints, narrow your search to a smaller area. 450 to 470 Mhz will cover all race connections. Some race officials will use a frequency of 150 – 174 Mhz. Even if you already have the right list, you can often find something new by using the search feature.

8 – Take good notes!

Using your scanner really adds a whole new dimension to the ‘racing experience’ and other than that it’s simply AMAZING! As you can see, running scans can seem difficult at first. The more you do, the better. I ran races with almost no information and, using these techniques, saw over 90% of the field by the time the race was over.

Happy scanning and see you at the races!

By Scott W. Lowry Editor, Midwest Racing Frequencies

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