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I have read some of the new posts on the message board about our course workers and I agree 110%. These people volunteer there time to sit in the dessert for alot of hours to make sure we as racers are safe and i personaly would like to thank all of them. However a disturbing event happened Sunday that really scared me and the people around me. The report was given that Tim had left the starting line and was on his way. Several minutes later another report was given that he had just pasted check point 5 which I knew that he was hauling some serious ass!!! After a few minutes a report was given that Charlie had left the starting line. A few more minutes pasted and no report on where Tim was. Myself along with several other people that were with me raised the question "WHERE'S TIM" to the finish line people, the answer was" OH HE'S FINE".
After 20 or so minutes the question was raised again to the same answer. By now Charlie is at check point 7 and Tim is nowhere to be found. Not until Charlie finished and got out of the car did I find out from him that Tim was on the side of the road between check point 6 and 7. If the SSCC has this much trouble keeping track of the racers than in my opinion something needs to be done with there poor communication and I personaly know it's poor because I was a course worker in May and we couldn't even talk to the gate worker across the road. The SSCC needs to step up, like some other race organizations and put down some cold hard cash for a better radio system before someone gets hurt. For Tim and Barbara's sake it was just a tire but what if it was life threatening and no one knew where they were!!!!

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Let me add my $.02 worth on this subject. Frowner The FRS radios given to courseworkers are very weak and apparently worn out. I was at gate 46 and tried to contact gate 44 and 45 which were so close I could have hollared and they could have heard me. Then I got my own FRS radio out of the glove box and VIOLA, not only was I able to reach them, but also gates as far away as 49A and Checkpoint 4 which had to be 15 miles away.

Smiler I will be back as a courseworker, and I feel that something is better than nothing, but I would really like to see improvement in communications.

Wink Thanks for alowing those of us who , for whatever reason, choose not to run be a part of your weekend.

Bill Bryant
Team Courseworker
I agree with Tracy. I was announcing most of the update from the radio report. When we would ask about Tim and some others, they would say they are looking for them. Not an answer I would want to hear either. It was at least 25 minutes, before we finally hear he was fine and pulled to the side, between check point 6 & 7. Seems the gates are close enough, if they don't go by, start checking. It is only minutes later to the next gate. But I have not worked the course, so I my be out of line.
I have worked the pits 4 races, and this is the first time I have had a radio man standing right there with Bunny and I. The reports were sketchy at times, and others would be right on. They agreed there should be a radio in the pits. It is the comunications during the race that needs to be clearified. Confused Know where theses cars are within minutes of not clearing a gate. Maybe this is easier said then done. I realize the radio signals fade. I am sure this is some of the problem.

Communications in ORR is always very difficult. SSCC had more and better HAM radio communications than anyone has had in any ORR event. Nearly 30 HAM radio operators had good communications throughout the event this past weekend. All emergency or potential emergency situations were noted quickly and addressed timely....and we had several from tire blowouts to fires to a full on off course crash. Fortunately, because of safety requirements and a little luck, no body was hurt. In non-emergency situations (tracking) is not prioritized over other situations. You can imagine all of these people trying to relay tracking information on each car to the starting area. The FRS radios all have fresh batteries the morning of each event and the CW are instructed to stay out in the open so they will work properly. If anyone stays in their car as an example the relay is not effective thats why the back up checks are in place. The two airplanes both have HAM communications and are used to spot problems. ORR presents the most difficult situations because of its linear design. It is no secret that emergency personnel is often many miles from a potential accident site. This is stressed in our rule book and driver's meeting. That is part of the risk we accept and why people need to drive well within their ability. Unforseen problems do occur that may be out of the driver's control and that's where we need excellent communications and servalence. It is very easy to say we should have this and that is much more difficult and expensive to do. Example: We could require full cages and fire systems in every car and every course worker to have HAM licenses or satellite phones, we could have an ambulance every 1/2 mile and a fire truck too..... but then there would be no race. You will quickly regulate your way right out of business. SSCC is a non-profit organization and the dollars that we have go back into the communities updating equipment (including communications) and providing services to the racers. SSCC only runs on fenced roads to reduce the risk of large animals and other things ability to enter the highway. SSCC is looking into alternative communications systems and have worked with local suppliers for solutions and as challenging as it is communications are better. Maybe someone out there has a solution that is effective, practicle and more cost effective than the experts that we have spoken with. If so e-mail me at and I will be happy to discuss it with you.
Hi Gary,
I mentioned some time ago in another post that I would gladly pony up a couple of C-Notes for better radios. I could be on drugs, but if asked, I bet you could raise some serious dough for better equipment. I think you guys do a good job and I thank you for that. Another group I run with plunked down about $22K for radios that have better range. That is a HUGE chunk to swallow, so it's OK to ask for help from the people who benifit, the racers and their crew. My being MIA for so long did induce some stress for my friends waiting for me at the finish. I know and accept the risk involved with our sport but if I could be safer by spending another couple C-Notes, so be it, sign me up. So now, back to planning for next year..... I think my boys might return in time for another run at 200 in May. I'm shaken, but not stirred. Big Grin SSCC, keep up the great work, let's start planning now for a sucessful 2004!
Hello All

I want to pitch in my 2cents worth on this subject.

I have to say the communications is better than it used to be. I have course worked I believe 5 events.

The first 2 I had the same problems of reaching other gates. The last 3 times have been excellent. It may have been because I moved to a higher place, behind the gates. In fact it was the highest place available to me. I didn't do this the first couple of times, because it says in the literature concerning duties of a course worker, to stay at your gate.

The place I use now is not directly behind the gate, but it's LOCKED! Common sense tells a person, that you don't need to be directly behind a locked gate, to prevent animals or humans from using a locked gate. That's the way I see it anyway.

In the position I have now I can see much farther, and am able to communicate in both directions a rather far distance. I was 79.2 miles down course, and I could reach to the finish line I believe, and north to the ''ham on the hill''. Which by the way is a very good ham operator. Thanks to the ham on the hill. Big Grin

I also use a scanner. I can hear them release the cars, and in the case of the unls; I can estimate when they will near my position. A little pro active math can help a person know when to expect a car to come by. Much better than setting around and waiting for someone to call out an alert, for a missing car.

I also noticed Gary or the board implemented a request for course workers, to do their own sweep of the area they tend. I also saw it was mentioned in the course worker literature, that a scanner is not manadory, but provides more involvement and entertainment, during the race.

Those are 2 things Gary and I had talked about. Thanks Gary for implementing those ideas. :headbang:

Now the only complaint I have is the non recognition of a letter I wrote to the board concerning these issues. If a person takes the time to address real concerns involving safety issues; they at least should recieve a response. Be it a no go, or thank you.

I swore I wouldn't do this again. I mean vent anger or frustration on this subject, but once I got started it was hard to stop. :bash:

I knew going into this event it would be my last one. It's not worth it to me to spend a grand on transportation, once or twice a year, if no one really acknowledges your presence. I know the racers appreciatte the work of the course workers. They say so every time they learn you are watching the gates. Thank you all gentlemen, and ladies. But to be concerned with issues that go unnoticed, or unacknowledged is very belittling to me. :moon:

I will go the BBORR in April next year. I hope Mike Powers reads this; because I tried to email about doing so, and it got bounced back to me. I will also go to the Sandhills rally. But SSCC is over for me. There are organizations that actually pay their course workers. That's of no concern to me. I say keep the money, just provide the best communications, and enlist the resources already available to the board. The PEOPLE involved!

I wish Todd could've gotten his double deuce this time, but that's the way it goes. He has been an outstanding guy to me. I wish him the best, in any endeavor he attempts. :bowdown:

I have been told this message board is not meant to discuss issues like this. But there have been plenty of you complaints before I wrote this.
We are setting up a new company in Vegas in November which is why I missed the race. However, I might be able to supply some answers to the problems you are having with communication. I can't release a lot of details yet but it might possible to set up wireless internet the length of the course which would also allow real-time video anywhere on the course. It's not that expensive but it is a logistical problem with getting power out there. Although I have driven the course, it's been a while since I have have been to a race. How many line-of-site locations do you have from end-to-end meaning a point which can see another point which can see another point, etc... Range is not a problem so the 13 mile straight would be considered one point.
All we need is a simple gate to gate hand held 2 way radio that works Each course worker needs a reliable radio and some training on how to effectively use the radio.The "hams" newly onboard seem to have provided a solution for the "end to end" communications requirements. Gary points out what Ron and other CW's have highlighted by sharing their experiences.The hand held cost should not a deal breaker.
Hi All

I worked in May and Sept. at gate 79 (43.5miles out). In May Todd blew a tire at our gate. Sept. 21 Jeff Dugan lost fuel pressure at our gate and had to pull off coarse.

Both times I attempted to contact race control or anyone else that could receive my signal from the radio I was given. Both attempts were in vein!

This issue needs to be addressed atleast at gate 79!

I don't mean to be negative. I do feel SSCC does a very good job trying to keep us all safe as we hook it down the highway.

Chris Cummings
I was gonna let this one go by, but...

I also was stuck on course, with a great courseworker. I also listened to the release of cars (I brought the scanner out of my car, since the CW did not have one), and I also listened with frustration when no one noticed that Tim's car went AWOL. I believe the challenge is NOT the gate to gate communications, but the fact that individual gates cannot communicate directly to "Net Contol".

If the Checkpoint is relaying info, then all is fine. But I heard (myself) times when the gate radio'd info that the Checkpoint never relayed. This created several situations where cars could not be immediately found, even though a CW had them in site (or knew they had gone past).

For what it is worth, the Start Line crew asked MANY times for the checkpoints to be more active and accurate in notifying Net Control where the cars were, some checkpoint were great about it, others were not. None of this is a slight to anyone involved, I think the race has always been done quite well, and I provide this info solely for the opportunity to make it better.

one other improvement I noticed was; there was not one car released without a number. Last May I think there were at least 3 cars without numbers. Also if a car went out of sequence; Race Control made a strong effort to let everyone know about it.
Two cars went at the regular end of the race, and it was strongly communicatted not to enter the course, until the official car went by, or NDOT released the course.
I wonder if the Sheriff got anyone after the race?
Gary, I will happy to start working with you on it in a couple of weeks. I am spending about 2 days a week right now in Vegas (just flew home tonight, in fact)so it might be possible just to sit down over lunch or dinner and go over the logistics.

The power problem is easily solved by just leaving a car at every location we have access point. Users could have real time instant messaging, bulletin board, or video conferencing if you like. It's basically setting up a 90 mile private user network. It's not that hard to do and we would be happy to loan the equipment. Logistically, we just need to know how many hops, how far away, and how much time we have to set up. We would be basically setting up a Wi-Fi network which means anyone with a computer and wireless card would have access to the system with the proper passwords/security. The cost of the equipment is actually pretty inexpensive but it takes more manpower than simply handing someone a radio. Our techs or volunteers would have to set up each point and then aim antennas in the approprate directions.

As a side note, once we get this figured out and extend the design, we might be able to get live video from inside some of the cars in certain stretches. We have tested past 50mph and will be testing triple digit speeds once the old Mustang gets finished.

For those of you living in Las Vegas, hopefully around Nov. 16 which is Comdex, you can check the system out yourself.
One other thought I have although it's just a wild idea and I'm still in techie mode tonight. It should be easy to use a PDA with a GPS package and wireless network card to transmit real-time location data back to a central computer. I am not sure which PDA's could do both at the same time and I have no idea of the cost. It might even be possible to build a small computer package under $400 that can be installed in any car. Put this down under the category of at least 1 test race after a fully demonstrated system works area but I don't see technical hurdles.
We would have to have some of our staff out there and we wouldn't be providing course workers with the computers, only the infrastructure. However, anyone with a laptop and Wi-Fi capability would be able to connect. We would probably use a private messaging and email system for the event that is web-based. It would be similiar to what they use at the Olympics. None of my idea has been tested at that level but we are launching Las Vegas with this equipment, so it better work. Really, we have been testing and designing it for 4 months, so technically it can be accomplished. The question is can it logistically be set up in 3-4 hours before an event. We would need at least one trained volunteer at each point to set up the equipment. I could probably supply 4 technicians but it would take about 10-20 people depending on how much time we have and if it's raining. The only other issue is to make sure I get to race and don't have to fix things.

We would have to have everyone who is going to be on the system to bring their ocmputers to Vegas or Ely beforehand so we can make sure it connects properly.

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