Imagine for a second that you are trying to follow your car and clear him at Daytona, with
You develop your communication style around what the driver needs and likes. Some drivers need a lot of talk to help keep 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.
In the case of Shawn and David Reutimann, being family is important to the chemistry of their driver/spotter relationship. "A big plus is having a personal relationship with the driver. David and my relationship is really great and has grown over the past fifteen years. He knows that I know what he wants to hear and that generates a lot of confidence," says Shawn. He thinks that the best spotter is one who is a good friend, a relative (Ryan Newman's spotter is his dad), a former crew chief or driver, or anyone with an extensive racing background.
For an 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..." 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 okay to move up off the turn after passing on the inside and "fast car coming, two behind" means 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," etc. 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.
Most short track spotting in practice is done from the top of a trailer. Every time your c
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 at the beginning of the transmission get cut off 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 the entire 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...half way inside...at your door..."
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, be ready for the green" are ways to alert the driver to the start of the race.
- Notice for caution lights. Announce caution lights, or impending cautions and hazardous track conditions.
- The proximity of crashes and where to go. If you feel the driver needs the information, tell him where it is clear. Never, never talk while the driver is upon a sudden situation and can see well enough to make his own decision.
- Communication with the officials. The restart lineup may be relayed to the spotter for use in letting the driver know where to position himself after a caution. Penalties and warnings are other instructions the official may ask the spotter to relay.