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-IC®Mobile App.
The Corvette Racing team designs and builds race scars for street-course endurance events. “Our races are anywhere from 100 minutes to 24 hours long,” said team engineer Matt Cummings. “When you’re trying to keep cars and drivers going for that long, and also keep crews and engineers engaged, communication becomes incredibly important.”
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 the program’s history in terms of quality and productivity.
“Going to Clear-Com multi-channel was a big leap toward reducing intercom clutter,” he said.
Races can average 25 to 28 pit-stops, so the ability to communicate internally among the car crews about when those occur helps everyone get ready for the controlled chaos that is a motorsports pit stop – where every second matters. “It's easy to make or lose time in the pit lane,” he said. “It's really hard to make time on the course.”
Using the Clear-Com systems has also made race-day setup easier and faster. The team’s intercom matrix and panels are built into its pit stand, which is manufactured in England by Clear-Com Partner MRTC and shipped for pre-race assembly at the team’s U.S headquarters. They also often use the same system layout for each event as its core template and then decides on-site if additional channels are needed.
“What’s great about the EHX software is I can program it on the fly, which I do often” he said. “I probably don't go through a race weekend without reprogramming the intercom at least a few times. We can add or subtract channels as needed and also set up channels for private conversations between specific groups or with just one person individually without having to disturb everyone else.”
A typical beltpack allocation for a race is extensive and can include, Cummings and other electronics engineers, crew chiefs and car chiefs, a race engineer and assistant for each car, controls and simulations engineers, up to three people from the General Motors (GM) PowerTrain team, a Bosch support engineer, a team manager and up to five executives each from GM and Pratt Miller (parent company of Corvette Racing), with channel allocations closely mirroring these.
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 for a whole race but still need to be in touch.
“One guy was on his boat and still connected to the race,” Cummings said. The Corvette team is confident that wireless systems like Clear-Com are the future of racing comms. “These systems allow us to run a race more effectively,” Cummings said. “We spend millions of dollars to build the fastest race car. We also need to have the best wireless intercoms to communicate in the most efficient manner.”