The Sports Car Club of America® is stepping toward the implementation of the Flagtronics electronic flag and communication system, with onboard flag conditions being available to drivers participating in the 2023 SCCA National Championship Runoffs.
Already utilized by several race series, including SCCA Pro Racing, SVRA, and Champ Car, Flagtronics takes the current Flagging & Communication protocols and adds modern technology to deliver messages directly to cars on track to warn drivers of local and full-course conditions, as well as provide valuable incident information to race control in real time.
“Flags are critical communications from marshals to drivers. When drivers don’t react according to that information, it can escalate an existing situation, cause a new one, or lead to a penalty,” said SCCA VP of Road Racing Eric Prill. “Drivers miss flags – whether they are unsighted, behind another car, or focused on someplace other than the flag station. The technology now exists to deliver that information right to the cockpit, and Flagtronics offers a system at a price point consistent with Club Racing.”
For the 2023 SCCA Runoffs, each corner station will have a Flagtronics corner controller unit in addition to the standard array of flags. These controllers can signal stationary and waving yellow, debris, blue, and white flags directly to race control and, subsequently to any car with a Flagtronics in-car unit within that corner’s zone nearly instantaneously. The zone for each corner is set by GPS coordinates.
If a local yellow is signaled, the Flagtronics FT200 unit in a car in line of sight with that corner station will display that flag condition. It is important to note that while the unit will show the flag condition before the corner station, SCCA flag rules still apply, with the yellow zone starting at the point where the flag station (with the displayed flag) intersects the track. This is not dissimilar to seeing a flag waving at a station up ahead, but knowing that the yellow zone does not technically begin until you reach that point.
“SCCA flag rules note that the course returns to a ‘green’ condition once a car is past the incident, but depending on where the incident is, the Flagtronics unit may have returned to green in the car as it prepares for the next flag station,” added Prill. “The use of Flagtronics does not change the SCCA flag rules, or the need for fully staffed corner stations.”
For the 2023 Runoffs at VIR, Flagtronics will be operational, and drivers are encouraged – but not required – to install a Flagtronics FT200 unit in their car. Units will be available for purchase within the Runoffs registration process in MotorsportReg, which goes live Wednesday, July 12, at 10 a.m. CT. The FT200 in-car unit, including the display, GPS antenna, and standard wiring harness retails for $249.99 plus $10 shipping and handling. For an additional $10, the harness can be upgraded to include a CAN Bus connection, compatible with many available dash systems. Flagtronics units will be shipped directly from Flagtronics weekly, upon receipt of order.
Special “Rental” Offer
To have as many drivers utilizing Flagtronics during the Runoffs as possible, drivers can “rent” an FT200 for the event for just $50. The process up front is the same – order the full system during registration and receive it to install in your car – and after the event, return it by Nov. 1 to receive a refund less the $50 rental fee plus $10 shipping.
Flagtronics in the Future
The use of Flagtronics at the Runoffs is the first step toward implementing the system on a broader level. SCCA plans to utilize Flagtronics at Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour events in 2024 as part of a phased roll-out. Specific details are being developed.
“This is an effort to increase our level of safety, provide better driver communication during sessions, improve flag condition response, and reduce on-track incidents and session interruptions,” Prill said. “This equipment provides race control and our SCCA corner marshals an additional communication tool to convey what they see, hear, and smell.”
For additional information about the Flagtronics system and accessories, visit www.flagtronics.com. For information about the 2023 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, held Sept. 23-Oct. 1 at VIRginia International Raceway, visit www.scca.com/runoffs.
Photo courtesy Flagtronics