In-Car Race Communications

johndjmix

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Driving in the dust: Personally I don’t do it. If I can’t see I move way way off the course and take it slow. At V2R a few years ago I did just that and just to my left heard what sounded like a 70mph race vehicle hit a almost stopped vehicle.

I’ve had a car pass me in bad dust then seen it impaled into a rock a few miles later.

The idea of going from 50 to zero instantly doesn’t sound fun for me.

You can win in most classes without driving through dust where you can’t see. We have gotten 2nd and 3rd without driving blind. We actually had 1st with a 15 min lead, but I got sick. Without driving blind

—john
 

EL ROMAN

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Good thread. Zambo seems to have nailed it on his feedback. Only thing I disagree on is point 5. I like talking. I prefer the codog speaking vs silent (even if it is just reminding me temps are good or we're on track). But that is simply personal preference. Best advice is "ask yourself what you would need when driving."

Since we're primarily racing for fun (competitive, but mostly individual races not full season), we get new folks codriving regularly. I have found calling a simple degree (30, 60, 90, hairpin) turn with our range rings set at 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 has worked well. Not much to interpret, so the driver's brain is doing less calculation and more focused on driving. The range rings set at 0.1 increments, gives a good 3, 2, 1, "bam" timing and is easier for new folks to learn the timing on turns/dangers, and helps keep drivers out of trouble. We also run with two GPS, with zoom set at different levels. Driver can see the zoomed out map (easy to see high level trail), while codog reads the zoomed in version (0.1 increments).

Driving in dust is all about risk management. In a rally UTV, a small bush will take you out, so you have to be careful. Sometimes, it is driving by GPS, and sometimes you can see the line of bushes to each side of the trail. Personally, I push to get to the chase lights. Once on the lights and "above the dust" passing is much easier and seeing opportunities to pass is easier. But we also race in classes where we can nerf (which is not the case for Rally UTV). Hard to say there is a "perfect" formula for driving in the dust. If someone has one let me know ;).

And to Mike's point, this is coming from my POV with various seasons as codog and driver in multiple vehicles (from limited classes to Spec TT). And to others' points, how I would recommend someone codriving for a TT would be very different than someone codriving in Rally UTV.
 
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aantill

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Seat time and talking to your driver about what information he/she needs is what is going to help the most.
I've raced for a full year with a driver who wants information from me CONSTANTLY, every turn, every slight turn, and if we had miles of straight, he wants to hear "straight" every 5 seconds. I think part of that is hearing my voice keeps him calm and focused, which is part of your job as a nav. That being said, with so much constant communication, he fully trusts every word out of my mouth and we haul ass in the dust. I think that kind of depends on what series you're running and how much you trust their gps files. I can tell you BITD and SCORE are both pretty spot on in my experience, you just never know if there's going to be a stopped vehicle or something else that can't possibly be marked.

Learning to call turns on a 1-6 number scale is crucial, especially if you plan to ever hop in the car with anyone else as it's a pretty universal system. It's very hard to learn to do from just watching videos, you have to just do it and by the end of the first race calling them out, you should have it down to the point you hardly have to think about it. Definitely print out a little chart to tape up beside your gps to reference when you're first learning.

On a lap race, utilize the symbols. I use the skull&cross bones to mark my dangers, you can also choose a symbol to tell you to keep left and another to keep right.

I plan to take Erica's Seidman's gps class as soon as she has new dates available. There's always more to learn and I've heard nothing but great things, I can tell you that I recommend you do the same even without having taken the classes yet myself.
 

coolerking

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I have Navigated lots of stuff 16,10, Great Race cars in timed endurance rallys that you need to time out to the second after 100's of miles at hidden checks. No GPS, no idea where you are going save for the road book they hand you 45 minutes before you go and a super accurate speedo (1/10th of an inch per mile !) The key is development of a system that both driver and nav are in synch with, that means using the same words in the same cadance everytime.
Once you get that part figured you will be amazed at what you can do.
Doing homework and practice, loads of great info here, Zambo hit it out of the park, but if I was going to prioritise his comments, #3 would be #1, #4 would be #2 and #5 would be #3, #8 goes without saying...no flying blind!!
No matter what you do, you are going to have a blast!
Great thread!
 

kyle_pc_75

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This is a really cool thread. I've codriven occasionally, and every driver wanted something completely different. Most of the time, we really didn't have a gameplan going into the race, and next time I get the opportunity I'll make sure we do. All of these comments will be super helpful in developing that.
 

DustEater

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All, thanks for the continued feedback here! Thought I'd post a follow-up after the Parker 250 (yes, it was a few weeks back and I'm not on the ball with this stuff).

We had 1.5 days to do a little additional prep work on the car and go over some changes. This included attempting to implement some changes recommended by Zambo. One thing I quickly found out was that I couldn't get the 1/10 mi tick marks on the Course Line Extension, at the smallest length (1 mi) they were 1/4 mile tick marks. I stopped in at the PCI trailer during contingency, tried each Lowrance they had on display and asked them about it as well. Eventually the owner (I think) came over and talked to me for a bit. He couldn't figure it out either. He ended up showing me the split screen setup and said that's what he uses. I went with that during the race, one was zoomed so range rings were 1/10 mi and the other at 1mi (could see about 3 mi out). Since we're running a 7" screen I'm not sure that this setup was the best option, but it was usable. Most of the time I watched the 1/10 mi screen as that was the most relevant to the driver's needs. Occasionally I would look at the 1 mi setup when we were running at speed just so I knew if anything major was coming up.

On race day things were different than they had been the last couple races. We have been continually upping our baseline for what the car can handle. This race was definitely a progression. We passed a lot of people, drove up through dust, took some calculated risks along the way, and challenged what we thought the car could handle. Thankfully we were meshing better as a team in the car and our communication was much better than it had been. All that being said; I think that our numbering system of 1-3 ended up being too course with the more aggressive driving. Meaning, there was too wide a range of radii for a given number to effectively/efficiently pace into the corner. Mentally I kind of shifted away from our previous "1" and reserved that for squares. Then the old 2 became the new one and so on. I think that a 1-6 system would be most effective, but it would require practice in the car to effectively call out and drive the the corners.

As previously stated, our communication was definitely better. I started giving information that would allow us to continue over a crest at the appropriate speed, such as straight over the top, or L2 over the top. Stuff like that. Essentially, we were trying to be as fast into corners as comfortably possible. Also, when we got into someone's dust I made sure to keep my head down and read the course instead of staring out the front in disbelief about how blind we really were! There were a few "gotcha" moments, but we weren't too out of sorts to survive them! Also, I used the "drive by sight" whenever I was distracted with something else such as radio calls.

There's lots more I could add here, but I just want to say THANKS to all who have contributed! Appreciate the community and the feedback.


Lastly, I nabbed a still off our GoPro of the Shock Therapy cow. Surprised it made it off the road!
View recent photos.jpg
 

DustEater

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Good thread. Zambo seems to have nailed it on his feedback. Only thing I disagree on is point 5. I like talking. I prefer the codog speaking vs silent (even if it is just reminding me temps are good or we're on track). But that is simply personal preference. Best advice is "ask yourself what you would need when driving."

Since we're primarily racing for fun (competitive, but mostly individual races not full season), we get new folks codriving regularly. I have found calling a simple degree (30, 60, 90, hairpin) turn with our range rings set at 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 has worked well. Not much to interpret, so the driver's brain is doing less calculation and more focused on driving. The range rings set at 0.1 increments, gives a good 3, 2, 1, "bam" timing and is easier for new folks to learn the timing on turns/dangers, and helps keep drivers out of trouble. We also run with two GPS, with zoom set at different levels. Driver can see the zoomed out map (easy to see high level trail), while codog reads the zoomed in version (0.1 increments).

Driving in dust is all about risk management. In a rally UTV, a small bush will take you out, so you have to be careful. Sometimes, it is driving by GPS, and sometimes you can see the line of bushes to each side of the trail. Personally, I push to get to the chase lights. Once on the lights and "above the dust" passing is much easier and seeing opportunities to pass is easier. But we also race in classes where we can nerf (which is not the case for Rally UTV). Hard to say there is a "perfect" formula for driving in the dust. If someone has one let me know ;).

And to Mike's point, this is coming from my POV with various seasons as codog and driver in multiple vehicles (from limited classes to Spec TT). And to others' points, how I would recommend someone codriving for a TT would be very different than someone codriving in Rally UTV.
Just seeing your post here. You actually hit on several things that ended up working better for us.

Most importantly we started to "click" in terms of timing, me saying the call to when we hit the corner ahead. I had to adjust my timing to not say the next corner when we were nearing the exit to the current one. I do make the periodic calls on the temps. Unfortunately the belt temp gage is installed to the left of the steering wheel, so I can only see the LED color on it (add that to the list of things learned for future builds, which is growing haha).

We found that the pushing to get on the chase lights was what worked well too. We would push hard into the dust until the driver could drive by sight on the chase lights. I still kept my head in the game and called out corners, but it was a much easier task once we got to that point.

Thanks for the inputs!
 
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DustEater

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Seat time and talking to your driver about what information he/she needs is what is going to help the most.
I've raced for a full year with a driver who wants information from me CONSTANTLY, every turn, every slight turn, and if we had miles of straight, he wants to hear "straight" every 5 seconds. I think part of that is hearing my voice keeps him calm and focused, which is part of your job as a nav. That being said, with so much constant communication, he fully trusts every word out of my mouth and we haul ass in the dust. I think that kind of depends on what series you're running and how much you trust their gps files. I can tell you BITD and SCORE are both pretty spot on in my experience, you just never know if there's going to be a stopped vehicle or something else that can't possibly be marked.

Learning to call turns on a 1-6 number scale is crucial, especially if you plan to ever hop in the car with anyone else as it's a pretty universal system. It's very hard to learn to do from just watching videos, you have to just do it and by the end of the first race calling them out, you should have it down to the point you hardly have to think about it. Definitely print out a little chart to tape up beside your gps to reference when you're first learning.

On a lap race, utilize the symbols. I use the skull&cross bones to mark my dangers, you can also choose a symbol to tell you to keep left and another to keep right.

I plan to take Erica's Seidman's gps class as soon as she has new dates available. There's always more to learn and I've heard nothing but great things, I can tell you that I recommend you do the same even without having taken the classes yet myself.
Wanted to follow-up on the adding markings for a lap course. I was intent on doing this originally, but didn't have a good system worked out in my head to mark things. I was also worried about being distracted/inefficient doing that to where I'd miss an important call on the road. So I quickly abandoned the idea. I will reconsider this for the next race (still TBD).

I assume that a lot of this is learned efficiency while in the car, during practice would be optimal. Both for my GPS efficiency and for calling corners on the 1-6 scale.
 

MTPyle

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Nice review and update. Thanks for sharing.

For sure get the handheld Bluetooth remote. It’s so easy to drop Red, yellow, and green dots to help you know what to expect. Even if you don’t call them out you will remember that area was either faster or slower than you thought previously.

As a driver I really try and focus on the personality of the terrain I am in. You start to see cues that help. I have become more interested in geology to understand why certain areas have certain terrain. Pretty interesting and i have learned a lot.

It’s a art that you can never master. Just always get better.

Mike
 

Argentino

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I just called that last Legacy race for Knudsen. He requested a 1-6 corner call and it went something like this...

Left 1
Flat out
Left 1
Flat out
Right 2 over crest
Caution 2, G-Out
Flat out
Right 3, bring it around
Flat out
Left 1, inside
Flat out
106 MPH
Flat Out
180* Water Temp
Flat out
Trans Looks Good
Flat Out
Next Call 2 Miles
Flat Out, You're doing great!
Remember to Breath!

(At this point he's so excited he reaches over and shakes my leg and shouts in excitement! Things are going great! We're holding our place, haven't gotten passed, and nothing is going wrong.)

20 Miles Later...

*I feel a vibration in the wheel*
Can we make it to the next pit?
*I think it's the power-steering pump! I've got tons of feedback*
Okay, Pullover!
(Power-steering pump ripped off and was rubbing the steering shaft. He was right.)
 

michael.gonzalez

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+1 for reminding the driver to take a deep breath on long straights.
Also, remind them to take a drink of water.

This thread is awesome!
 

EL ROMAN

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Ditto on the reminder to drink water. Although in my case, my codog is a camel and never drinks water, so I have to remember to remind him to drink water 😆
 

MTPyle

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Another thing that I as a driver like is when my Co driver looks back and lets me know if we are clear behind. I often worry about someone on my ass so its nice to know nobody is back there. Just relaxes me more so I can focus on driving.

While we are talking tips and tricks. One of the best things I was told was look at how high the berm is. Big berm = sharper corners. No berm faster corner. That was one of the best tips as a driver I have ever got.

Mike
 
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michael.gonzalez

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Don't worry about the guys behind you. You are faster if you focus on what is ahead and not what is behind.
As true as this is, the driver always has that worry on the back of their mind (much like engine temp, oil pressure, etc)

It's the job of the co-driver to let him know to NOT worry, and to let him know periodically.


It is letting the driver know "Temps are good. Rearview is clear." so he can STAY focused.
 

450grl

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Don't worry about the guys behind you. You are faster if you focus on what is ahead and not what is behind.
Normally I agree with this - until you are in a mostly stock UTV and being chased down by a bunch of pissed off TT's in the silt at Vegas to Reno the time they decided to make it a 2-day race and allow broken trucks to fix themselves but start behind everyone on day 2! One of the most nervewracking situations I have been in during a race. Their closing rates were insane.....
 
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