Story and photo by Steve Zongker.
For the better part of the past month, most race series have been in their off season mode. Typically as race fans, we start our winter hibernations from the end of the racing season until the beginning of a new season the next calendar year.
Even myself, I was in hibernation mode, except for filling in and sending out media credential requests for the first races of 2017.
But this year, the racing gods blessed me with an amazing opportunity.
Last month, I was contacted by a championship winning team to assist with their communications and computer networking infrastructure. I was completely honored and frankly shocked to be asked to join such a high caliber organization (even if on a part-time basis).
Let me be clear though, this is strictly a race weekend gig. I still have my regular full-time Monday through Friday job that keeps me quite happy. But to be able to combine two of my passions (Motorsports and Information Technology), is something that not too many people can claim to be able to do.
So this past week, while most everyone was enjoying their holidays, I drove down to the team shop in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
My first morning, I sat down with the team owner and received my marching orders for the next two days. This included rounding up all the team radios, computers, cables, cords, and checking each individual item out, and making sure they all worked.
My next item off the checklist was taking all of the team radios, pulling off the previous season’s stickers, cleaning them, putting this coming season’s stickers on, and putting them on the charging stands overnight so that I can test each radio the following day.
Would you believe that there were over 40 radios for the team to use?
Next up on the list was taking all the team’s laptops and checking them out for any issues. Obviously throughout a season these laptops take an absolute beating, and they too need some TLC and re-conditioning before the next season.
The biggest, and most time consuming of all my tasks in the shop, was to open up, clean out, and re-assemble the pit boxes. If you have never seen a pit box in person, you may not know all that is integrated into these pit side command centers. From extensive power requirements, numerous monitors, the communications with the drivers/ crews/officials, and even down to the computer equipment to monitor the race cars themselves.
It truly is an amazing array of 21st century technology.
My second day in the shop was making sure that each individual component was labeled, tested, mounted, and ready for the upcoming preseason testing that begins in January 2017.
In a few weeks’ time, I will be meeting up with the team and setting up all of the equipment trackside and making sure that our 2017 season gets kicked off on the right foot.
And now for some final thoughts……
There has been much debate on what the new 2017 cars look like, especially after the IMSA December test at Daytona, but no matter what side you’ve chosen, they all look great.
If you have not already done so, make sure to add to your playlist the 2nd season of “Dinner with Racers” podcast. Sean Heckman and Ryan Eversley continue to put out a great podcast that you can binge listen to while driving to your favorite racetrack.
If you get a chance, please look into Michael Goodwin (@michaelgoodwin) and his Tutu5K for the Camp Boggy Creek charity. His tight group of super-fans (yes, me included), have gotten together the morning of the Rolex 24hr. race and run/ walk and give all the proceeds to CBC. Go to http://cbcteamtutu.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1168243 for more details.
That’s it for 2016. See you at the track in 2017!