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Part 3E: Auto Racing

A NASCAR practice run.  (Photo by Larry McTighe, United States Air Force.)
NASCAR Racing Practice Run

At the racetrack, radio communications among drivers, spotters, race officials, and news media can be quite entertaining and informative. Imagine hearing all of the strategizing, pep talks, and emotions during a NASCAR stock car race as they happen! Most racing communications take place in the 450-470 MHz radio band and, to a lesser extent, the 800 MHz radio band (851-869 MHz). Any radio scanner that can pick up both of those radio bands, which includes all scanners in Categories 3, 4, 5, and 6, may be used as a "race scanner" or "racing scanner". Scanners in Category 3 will typically be least expensive since they don't have features needed to hear other listening topics like trunking.

Racing communications will typically not use elaborate features such as trunking, so a high-end, expensive scanner radio is not necessary. At the race, you will typically want to program the frequencies for each car into a channel matching the car's number. Some scanner radios are specifically designed and sold as race scanners - they typically have at least 100 channels, allowing frequencies to be programmed by racecar number so it is easier to keep track of frequencies. Also, many racing scanners have alphanumeric displays ("alpha-tags") so you can list the identity of who you're hearing. Some race scanners use a different memory layout, allowing you to program multiple frequencies for each car number. Also, high-end scanner models may have a computer port so you can download frequencies from your PC. However, it is not necessary to use a scanner specifically marketed for racing - many others contain most or all of the features listed above.

In summary, all scanners in Categories 3, 4, 5, and 6 may be used for racing. Scanners with at least 200 channels are recommended. In addition, the cheaper radio scanners in Category 2 can hear the majority of racing teams, who use the 450-470 MHz band, but not the small portion of racing teams who use the 800 MHz band.

Auto racing is very loud, so a good pair of noise-blocking headphones is necessary both to protect your hearing and for you to hear your scanner. Many scanners marketed for use at races include a pair of noise-blocking headphones (not to be confused with small walkman-style headsets which do not block much noise).  You may want to check with the dealer/seller if it is not clear what accessories are supplied with the radio. 

Part 3D: Military Aircraft
Part 4: Table of Listening Topics and Scanner Categories


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