Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Race Scanner Advice Needed

This is a little off the beaten path, but due to still being under the weather and waiting on some interviews to come together, I thought I'd put the question to my wise, wise readership. I've never been a race scanner guy, preferring just to watch the on-track action unfold before me. I've listened in on scanners before, sure, but have never picked up one of my own. But I've grown interested in them enough to want to purchase one this winter. I don't want to break the bank, but would like a nice, sturdy set that will hold up well over the INDYCAR season Basically, I'd love to hear your recommendations as to what model or brand to check out, what features I might want, etc.

The thought crossed my mind that other fans might have the same question, so please, any useful hints or recommendations you might have, please share them in the comments below. Thanks!


  1. Zach,
    I purchased a TrackScan scanner over the summer and I have been very pleased with it. I would highly recommend it. I have the Track Scan Pocket Edge unit. This is the one located here:

    I really like it. Great quality and small/compact to carry. In my opinion the best feature it has is over the air programming. Basically you go stand near the TrackScan trailer at a track. I think you have to be within 200 feet of the trailer and press the program button and it automatically programs with all the car frequencies, radio broadcast, tv broadcast and race official channels.

    Also you don't have to know any of the frequencies, there is a "Car Number" button. If you want to listen to Will Power, you just press Car Number and then enter 12, etc.

    The scanner's screen also identifies which channel you are currently on such as "race officials" or "television broadcast" etc.

    I like that feature. I didn't want to be sitting in the stands fumbling with my scanner and trying to enter frequencies and missing most of the race while messing with the unit. So, this particular unit is very easy to use. Personally, I tend to listen to the radio broadcast during the race through my scanner and then periodically check in on a driver of interest, etc. But usually during the race, I'm not on a particular driver (I do that more in practice and quals) because during the race I usually want to follow the whole field.

    It also takes regular triple A batteries and I used the scanner all weekend (practice/quals/race) at both Mid Ohio and Kentucky and I never needed to change batteries.

  2. I picked my last scanner a radio shack PRO-74 100-Channel VHF/UHF/Air/800 MHz Race Scanner. At a flea market for $10. Frequencies key off the car number. you just enter the car number you want. To me the headset in the most important part of the setup. cheap ones will not block out the background noise. I prefer the behind the style so I can were a hat to cove my bald head.

  3. Zach, as both a motor sport and radio enthusiast, I would suggest the Uniden BC346XT. It is a fully featured scanner minus P25 digital capability. many public safety and government radio users are going P25 digital voice, but I haven't heard of any IndyCar race teams using digital voice (F1 radios sound digital to me but I don't know that they are). New radios like the 346XT have alpha numeric tags that you program in so you can ID the frequencies however you want to. Instead of fixed banks, they have dynamic memories so that you can create "systems" of frequencies that have as many frequencies you want in them; you can then turn on these "systems" of frequencies independent of each other.

    For instance, you can create a "system" for each team, a "system" for the officials, a "system" for the safety team, a "system" for media frequencies, etc. then turn on/off the different teams, officials, media, etc. as you want to during the race.

    Along the same lines, it also has a temporary lockout feature. While scanning the race, if you a particular frequency is very active and you don't want to hear it so you can hear other frequencies, you can temporarily lock it out. To remove the temporary lockout, you just turn the scanner off then back on and it's back to normal.

    Another nice feature it has for a race scanner is "Close Call." You can turn on the Close Call and it will search for active frequencies nearby while scanning the frequencies you already have programmed in; it's a great feature for helping find new frequencies or frequencies you don't have.

    For public safety scanning, if you want to listen in near tracks, some major metropolitan areas are preprogrammed into the radio - perhaps some of the preprogrammed systems are near the tracks.

    The dynamic memory takes getting used to if you have been using an older style bank/channel scanner but it makes much more efficient use of the memory. Computer programming is suggested to make the best use of the alpha numeric tagging and other memory features.

    Here's a link to the RadioReference wiki on the BC346 with more info:

  4. I have gone both routes. A standard scanner can be frustrating because of the difficulties finding an accurate frequency listing for race weekend. Once you do, there Are still alternate channels, multiple broadcasts, and officials channels that can be utterly elusive. The trackscan pocket edge will have every registered frequency included and every day the truck receives an updated list. Those pocket edges can be purchased for a bit cheaper (~160) from the track, albeit without the fanny pack. Needless to say, after my experiences with the ease of use, I will *never* use a standard scanner again. At Kentucky they also had all of the indy lights channels availiable and those channels are impossible to find. If you have any questions about the trackscan stuff you can find them on twitter @trackscan. They answered all of my questions within 24 hours. Great products and service. 100% happy with my purchase.

  5. Man, you guys are a wealth of knowledge! Thank you so much! I really appreciate the in-depth opinions here.

  6. I am on the trackscan mailing list and just rec'd this notice.
    Anyhow, you can save $50 if you order online between 11/24 and 11/29
    Track Scan's 3rd Annual
    Cyber Days Sale is almost here...
    November 24th through 29th
    This makes the PocketEdge unit only cost $129 during their special.

    By the way, I don't work for them and I don't any affiliation with them, I just like their scanners and that is a great price to get one at if you are thinking of getting a scanner.