Communication

You develop your communication style around what the driver needs and likes. Some drivers need a lot of talk to help stay focused and others may be distracted by a lot of verbiage from the spotter. You need to know how your driver reacts to communication and what kind is tolerable.

For example, most drivers do not want or need for you to tell them how to drive. In special cases when the spotter is the crew chief, dad, car owner, or a consultant that is there to help improve the driver and/or team, moving the driver up going into the corner or telling them about other mistakes is acceptable. But be diplomatic. You are dealing with, in many cases, large egos.

And you can always tell a driver when he is doing great. "Nice way to work that traffic" and "Good clean pass, way to go…," and "now that line worked much better…" are typical accepted ways to help the driver know when someone is paying attention to their smart moves. They really appreciate being rewarded with kind words, just like the rest of us.

Keep your communication short and to the point. "Clear high" tells the driver he is OK to move up off the turn after passing on the inside and "fast car coming, two behind" says that a faster car is moving up to overtake and how far behind it is. The closing rate can be told by starting with "five back," then "four back," and so on. The driver gets a feel for when to expect a challenge and can drive his line until it is time to fight or move over.

Get used to the radio and how quickly it keys up. One of the most annoying problems with race radio communication is when you key up and talk at the same time. Words get cut off of the beginning of the transmission if you don't wait a second before talking. If a situation is coming, key up several seconds before being required to speak. If it is a continuing situation, keep the microphone keyed up all the time you are with the situation.

Work with the driver to define the terminology to be used. "Clear low" and "clear inside" mean the same thing. On a flat track, "clear low" doesn't make as much sense as "clear inside". A simple "inside" or "outside" will usually suffice unless the radio is not clear. A longer sentence may be understood more easily, like "you've got a car looking inside...he's inside your quarter...halfway inside…at your door."

What the Driver Needs

The driver needs the following from the spotter:

• Help in lining up before a race. Tell the driver if he is out of his appointed starting position or if he needs to move back to allow another car to get to their position.
• Knowledge of when to expect the green flag. "Green next time by" or "one lap to go, I'll give you the green," are ways to alert the driver to the start or re-start of the race.
• Notice for caution lights. Announce caution lights, or impending cautions and hazardous track conditions. Keep one eye looking ahead to spot trouble before your car gets into it.
• The proximity of crashes and where to go. If you feel the driver needs the information, tell him where it is clear. Never, ever talk while the driver is upon a sudden situation and can see well enough to make his own decisions.