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vtjballeng last won the day on September 3 2019

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  1. Jumping the gun in the absence of information and ranting against the organization for making the right call is a too frequent problem. It exemplifies a larger cultural problem suffered in this forum and elsewhere. Some cars had Flagtronics flagging units installed which offered critical information directly to the driver in these treacherous conditions. We have flag stand light boxes planned but did not bring or establish light boxes for the flag stands yet. Here is one we got on the start / finish straight with some spare parts around 7:30 as visibility was rapidly worsening. In the 5 minutes from the 7:31pm yellow flag to the 7:36pm green flag shown in the images here visibility dropped dramatically. The drivers on track, teams, safety crew, corner workers, and ChampCar should all be applauded for their massive efforts to keep up with the insanity the weather brought. This was one of those rare, fluke events some driver's will still be telling the tale of decades later.
  2. Flagtronics & Ballenger Motorsports will be exhibiting at the 2019 Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis! Show dates are December 12th – 14th, so if you are attending, come and see us at Booth 6036!
  3. We are making the LED boards. It was mentioned in this thread and it's on the website too. @erich with your self-stated credentials and if you are running in this series, you could help. Let me know if you're interested via PM or email Flagtronics. Oooh, yes. Send me your address. We'll send you.... something 🏁 . Flagstands are infrequently in your direct line of sight & in your immediate peripheral vision. Placed properly, the FT200 allows drivers to see status in their peripheral vision or with a rapid glance. This helps drivers keep their eyes on the road. Some drivers have also asked for a wired seat option that vibrates or similar so you can FEEL a flag change event. You could always choose the type of vibrator you want and put it where you're most sensitive. That seems much friendlier than the driver taser option we planned on the whiteboard some time ago.
  4. TBD, Yes. Given the large featureset and rigorous timeline we will concentrate on core features / functions first. We will work to keep the series up to date on progress & feature implementation. You are not reading this correctly. Thanks for the extra luck! 1. Previously asked and answered in this thread. I've also updated the website to state FCC Legal explicitly. 2. In the very long term, we hope to offer a web interface & phone app. You will have the option of buying more than 1 unit. 1 unit for the car & 1 unit for the pits. Which will allow you to see, in the pits, what your driver is seeing in the car. We could provide a local telemetry broadcast for the pits but, at this moment, this is a low priority. Yes. Thanks! We're engineers first and we focus our efforts on product and function first and PR/web/marketing second. Sometimes that backfires. We did expect conspiracy theories to emerge and the people who would tell us everything sucks even if we were handing them $150 for free with no obligation. Some of the wild stuff people come up with is funny, some less so. Expectation makes it marginally easier to deal with . We'll work to keep our heads down and focus on product & function!
  5. Race Control & we plan to offer options to make it available to you. This speculation @Slugworks Paul made is incorrect. The local commands do not need to pass through race control to activate a local yellow. In reference just to the flagging authority, this is not a zero sum game. Improving flag observation percentages and getting dangerous cars off track more quickly are key, important goals. The features & benefits offer a LONG list of solutions and improvements for race control and racers. Take a look. https://www.flagtronics.com/products.html . We use radios on our team. The radio comment was tongue in cheek and not meant as a serious recommendation to avoid radios. re: expensive egg timer, see above. If you strip out the GPS, it's $99. You would lose the following features: Capable of notifying race control of a stopped car or wreck Capable of providing blue flag to improve safety passing Pit Timer that counts up so that it's clear and easy for the team & officials to see Pit speed Warning as well was data for race control Purple Flag speed warning (VIR 35 as example) as well as data for race control Emergency services may be dispatched to accident Tow truck may be dispatched to disabled vehicle T&S backup to help T&S when transponders fail Passing under yellow mitigation; greatly improves passing under yellow data for race control Incident, Accident, & Stopped vehicle reporting for race control. Automatic yellow flagging options. That's a strong set of features & benefits that are important to race control and directly benefits racers. Hey, a question from someone who has read the feature & benefits list! Good on you @bbaker480. Yes, we plan a web API to make this information available to teams in the pits. As we'll be focusing on the core features and function first, this will come down the line. Yes, it will offer programmable CAN Bus communication and we will publish the message structure so that you can integrate it into your AiM Dash & RCP.
  6. This relates to speculation @Slugworks Paul made which is incorrect. @chip, good question and an opportunity for clarification. The local commands do not need to pass through race control to activate a local yellow despite the above speculation to that effect. We have the option to provide each flagger with a box for their stand with buttons and a bright flag display. So it's possible to have the flaggers only operate their local control box at which point the delay is sub 100mS. It's also possible to have the control box per flag stand and still use traditional flags. This is one of the more complex issues to work through, not necessarily from a technology standpoint, from a methodology & logistical standpoint. It's worth re-iterating that we won't be coming out of the gate with every feature on the list. We will be concentrating on core elements and building them up over time.
  7. We have other revenue sources beyond this product that many ChampCar racers are familiar with at www.bmotorsports.com . We plan to offer some very compelling features and options that will supplement the revenue stream. With volume, production costs will drop and development will be amortized. At the moment, we plan to stay focused on the immediate task before us and continue to work diligently towards that goal. While Flagtronics is new, we're not new to the business and we've been running the Motorsports business since 2003. This isn't a whimsical venture and we believe the long term plan is valid even if the short term will incur significant losses.
  8. I'll try to update a few more questions I see and I will update my prior post with new information as relevant. Here is a product page: https://www.flagtronics.com/products.html So, you want them to buy QTY 2 of a thing that is more expensive. Sounds like you're on to promoting the system already This is a system whose long term goal is to solve a lot of problems for race control & flagging concurrently. We can't address every issue at once but there are things, long term, we can add that may improve local flagging as well. Notably, we can issue local flags if a car is in an accident or stopped on track for example. The box really does a lot of things. Some people don't want to call it a flagger because they feel another feature is more important to them. What I can say is that the feature-set is staggering at this price point. This thing is cheaper than a single AMB box and vastly more capable. We talked about this a bit since the rules release and it seems most of the reaction is how people are reacting to individual features or components they do not like. What gets a little lost is how many things this offers to the series and teams concurrently. The brightness will have custom curve settings based on the dimmer. If you want to have it at the lowest brightness 100% of the time, you can. If you want to re-shape the brightness sensor response curve, you can. It is an aggressive schedule and we can use all the constructive feedback and help along the way to make this a stellar experience for everyone as possible! We started design on this system before Mike put out the call for options, so everything lined up well when he did put out that call. We race here and we love ChampCar & ChampCar racing. We started this project because we saw problems in this series and in other series across the board we felt we could improve. Other companies wanted equipment, NRE, & design costs to both cover their entire cost and to profit. In this project, we've fronted everything so far. Six figures plus of development costs, equipment, testing, etc. When I say we are selling this below cost, that is an understatement. This is not something a normal business does. But we're passionate racers & engineers who are putting our all into this. The long term plan is to recoop our development costs and recurring costs elsewhere, so we're also putting a lot into this and hoping that success here will lead to success down the line with this system. This isn't our only product or revenue stream, we're not that crazy, but it a substantial investment for us. The box does a lot of things that were not within the original design criteria. We will be focusing on the critical functions up front and will roll out capability over time. This is a common complaint we've seen and here I/we will take full responsibility. We required an NDA during our development period which prevented some of the standard communication back to the series. That's on us. This is a revolutionary new product where we did not want to provide complete product information to our competitors. It was started primarily as a flagging system and gained features over time and with development. Yes, we can trigger automatic yellows with stopped cars, crashed cars, & other conditions. Yes, it can detect pit lane speed and warn the driver at a threshold. It can also provide that information to race control. Yes, we also think it's amazing for $150. Like really. A lot . It will have CAN Bus capability to talk to other systems and some features we will reveal down the road. The infrastructure at the track is very light-weight. Yes, we will offer the feature to send pit to car messages for just your team at a lower priority than race control. Yes, the in-car units can communicate with eachother.
  9. @JDChristianson, fortunately your concerns are easily remedied! Have you spoken with guys who passed under yellow and were penalized? Have you spoken with guys who missed the black flag repeatedly? I have. The most common answer is that they did not see it. Overwhelmingly, I believe them. Let's not forget how many amateur guys there are out there who are worried about 10,000 things on their car, with their team, with their strategy, etc. Let's not forget that line of sight, rainy, foggy, & dark conditions can make flags at a lot of tracks difficult to see. Often. They really don't see it and it's a real problem with some simple solutions. We started working on this system because we're on track and we're talking to the guys who honestly did not mean to pass under yellow and are mad as hell at themselves for the fault. We've talked to the guys dragging parts around the track, black flagged lap after lap. I haven't figured out how to make every racer in every amateur series situationally aware but I have figured out a way to massively improve the information available to them and to race control. Fortunately, at a very low price point. As far as V1, V2, etc we are over-designing this system with more of everything than it needs. We're putting on an expansion bus to make extra features, integration, and upgradeability available to the teams. We're not here to fleece you, we're selling this at debut below our long term cost. We're working closely with ChampCar and we're working our butts off to make this happen! That has been our experience as well. We always try to give back the position but we've definitely had times where the driver honestly could not see the flag. We've gone back to video more than once and found that another car obscured the line of sight to the flag stand or some other similar issue at play. We added a page with information on the Flagtronics FT200: https://www.flagtronics.com/products.html There is ample precedent for your work though many racers may not be aware. It's hard to argue with good empirical data.
  10. I'm sorry to hear you feel that way. You run a superb team with superb drivers who are on top of most things on track including flags. Perhaps your excellence has informed your view; forgetting that you are on track with many teams who are here casually with little practice and first time drivers struggling to make sense of everything on track. Nobody is perfect and even at professional levels, drivers receive flag notifications. Even if you wish to maintain the illusion of perfection, other drivers are on track who will miss flags and potentially wreak havoc for many laps after they've been black flagged within the current system. I've had my car hit multiple times by a car that was out of control and did not heed the black flags lap after lap after lap.We're working night and day in a good faith effort in cooperation with ChampCar to make racing safer & more efficient at an extraordinarily low price point. The system offers many other helpful features as well. Why you've chosen elevate this to shady and shameful is confusing. We're racers in the same series as you diligently giving this system our all to help improve dangerous situations we've personally encountered with regularity. It's certainly not something I'm the least bit ashamed of. It's an effort I'm proud to be a part of.
  11. I hope y'all are having a great labor day weekend! There are some good questions and concerns here, which I'm happy to talk about here in the forum and in person. I'll talk about the Flagtronics FT200 system, what it offers to the series, and answer some of your questions. Here is our product page. https://www.flagtronics.com/products.html The concept of the Flagtronics system came about many years ago when we saw significant issues on track with several series. Issues and risks that could be prevented by getting better information to the driver &/or crew about the track, it's conditions, & instructions from race control. There was no business model, this is technology led innovation created by racers/engineers in this series for the sole purpose of making it safer for us, for our friends, and our fellow racers in general. This is a good faith system ChampCar and Flagtronics are working diligently to deliver to it's racers. Fundamentally, the Flagtronics system will allow race control to provide wireless in car flagging to every car around the racetrack as well as messaging from race control, pit timing, and a slew of other features. • Fills in coverage holes between flag stations • Gets dangerous cars who are unresponsive to black flags off track • Improve all drivers flag observation percentage • Helps novice & overwhelmed drivers • Allows messages to dangerous drivers red misting around track • Greatly improves night flagging • Greatly improves low visibility flagging in conditions like fog or heavy rain • Allows flagging when drivers line of sight to flag stand is obscured • Capable of notifying race control of a stopped car or wreck • Gives team flag information in the pits for improved strategy & safety • Capable of providing blue flag to improve safety passing • Pit Timer that counts up so that it's clear and easy for the team & officials to see • Pit speed Warning • Purple Flag speed warning (VIR 35 as example) • Emergency services may be dispatched to accident • Tow truck may be dispatched to disabled vehicle • Color blind supplementation as many color blind drivers can't distinguish existing flags • Avoid black blag confusion where multiple cars pit for the black flag event of one car • T&S backup to help T&S when transponders fail • Passing under yellow information • CAN Bus communication to allow users to integrate signalling in their logger, display system, &/or telemetry system. • Improves safety for racers, safety workers, & officials The Flagtronics FT200 system will debut at $149.99 with no subscription for ChampCar. This is below our long term cost. Q&A Q - This is a cash grab, someone is lining their pockets, insert other conspiracy variation here. A - No money has changed hands here. We'll be selling this ChampCar flagging device below our long term cost. Thus far, and into the foreseeable future, we're talking about a large (for us) sum of money that we're pouring into development for the sole purpose of making racing safer and better for everyone. We're working our butts off to make this happen and we hope that we can break even, then profit down the line with widespread adoption in other racing series. There's no conspiracy here and both sides are working in good faith to make racing as safe & seamless as possible. Q - The screen is too bright (or not bright enough). You should automatically sense the light level & adjust. A - We do sense the light level & adjust. We'll also have override settings available to the user. Typically the issue occurs when the light sensor is facing a light source giving it a false indication of the ambient light levels. Q - The system failed in testing, will this fail? A - We offered, for free, testing units to select teams over the past few years to first gain a proof of concept, then data. The units were several non-production internal parts put together which offered many failure points. As we move to our custom designed production hardware, the reliability will reflect those changes and offer significant improvements. Q - We saw a slow signal / delayed signal to the cars in testing, will this be improved? A - The underlying technology has a sub 100mS response time. The delays you've seen are human delays in pressing the button / commanding the computer. We have developed a workflow with ChampCar and will be refining it with time that should improve any delays. Q - Is the system ready? A - Yes, the system will be ready at release. Q - How will the system show a pit timer when the power is off during a pit stop? A - The system has a user replaceable battery for this purpose. Q - Will we need to get video to contest flag events? A - Your unit will have a local log of flag events. Race control will have a log as well to resolve discrepancies. You can also log with your logger of choice if you choose to. Q - Our drivers are perfect, this is unnecessary. A - No driver is perfect. Even professional series employ similar technologies for similar reasons. Some drivers will have a lower missed flag percentage than others. Even if you wish to maintain the illusion of perfection, other drivers are on track who will miss flags and potentially wreak havoc for many laps after they've been black flagged within the current system. I've had my car hit multiple times by a car that was out of control and did not heed the black flags lap after lap after lap. Q - Is ChampCar looking for a sweet sponsorship deal here? A - We are not now and have never been a series sponsor. Q - How does race control activate the system? How does it work for local flagging? A - Race control has handheld boxes and a computer. Local flags may be activated at the computer or by flaggers at the flag stands. Q - What flagging source is official? A - The flag stands maintain authority. Q - Has it passed testing? A - It has passed testing to date and will be rigorously tested prior to release. We will also offer a product warranty. Q - Is it FCC legal? A - Yes. Q - People Pass under yellow intentionally, this won't resolve that problem! A - We will provide the best data available to the teams & race control which will allow for more informed passing under yellow conflict resolution.
  12. We had a big aero debate for this track. Our conclusion was that driver confidence, at this level of driver skill, was more important than raw speed. We debated several possible changes with significant mph advantage but ultimately chose to only trim the wing to allow our drivers full throttle for as much of the oval as possible without the need to lift. It was a clear case where the empirical calculations and strategic understanding of the track plus our drivers were at odds. Not Banned Yet Race Report This one is a doozy complete with a backstory! We have to go back a few weeks where an employee suddenly left, leaving many of us with excessive work to make up the shortfall. Soon thereafter a tree fell on our shop. Then a family trip to Atlanta led to my daily driver wagon being stolen from my hotel parking lot on Easter morning. It has since been found with the engine & trans chopped out. We had just rebuilt our engine after a bearing failure at VIR S. Upon firing up the rebuilt engine, a bucket shim got stuck under a cam lobe breaking the cam. To reach this diagnostic point, there was a lot of cranking and disconnecting of systems. We installed a new cam and got the car together in time for the race. As we towed down, we used some gas in our tow vehicle that had excessive water in it, stopping us as we were getting on the highway. We barely made it back up the cloverleaf and were in the way of traffic as we pumped the water out of the fuel line. We finally made it to the track and on race morning, our car quickly died on track. We were towed in as we had several false diagnoses. Ultimately, it was a cascading failure from the broken cam as some of the systems that were disabled for testing weren't properly re-enabled. Our battery failed as a result. Once back underway, we got a nail in our right rear tire somewhere on the racetrack that had @Wyatt hauling at top speed on 3-4 with a deflated right rear heavily loaded tire. The sidewalls were trashed and we were all happy about his ability to diagnose a fault and quickly come in safely! We had another vibration on the car and attempted some remedies. Unfortunately, our next driver in came out of T1 onto the banking out of control and his attempts to reign the car back in led to our hard hit into the wall. I may need to take @Ray Franck's suggestion and play the lottery this week. Our Not Banned Yet #307 car operated under a few names over the years. She earned us hardware, was a continuous challenge, and at times pushed the envelope. We've had a wonderful time working on, driving, drinking near, and building friendships and memories around this car. We're grateful for her service. #307 will be retired as we move on to the next car which will take us some time to debut. In the meantime, we'll still be at the racetrack running with other teams and continuing to develop products like our flagtronics.com system and our many electronics products from our title sponsor, Ballenger Motorsports. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, driven, worked on, and otherwise been a part of our lives while campaigning #307.
  13. Here is the RX7's footwell intrusion. @wvumtnbkr (Rob) would likely have been in the hospital had he not lifted his feet per @Bill Strong. Here you can see the firewall buckled. These aren't directly comparable incidents. NLS had a wreck similar to ours, Not Banned Yet (NBY), but at much lower energy. My understand of the NLS incident is that their safety systems also worked well at least as well or better than ours as they did have a full, proper foot protection bar in place. Here are my observations for the moment. The safer barrier is intended for MUCH higher energy absorption. They are protecting against heavier cars with full tube frames at higher speeds. Our cars run slower, have energy absorbing structure before the cage structure is engaged, and are typically lighter than Cup cars. Therefore the barrier is very stiff for our purposes. A Dash bar is CRITICAL. Footwell intrusion protection is CRITICAL. The A pillar in a caged car offers far better protection than an uncaged modern vehicle. Contrary to some opinions, you want energy absorption in the form of significant crumple zones. Additional safety compared to the rules minimum should be permitted within the driver safety cell imo. Do not install fuel components outside of crash structure when and where possible. Certainly try not to add exposure zones to stock locations. When we added a surge tank to our hatchback, we immediately added a full enclosure bulkhead to protect the driver from a fuel fire. This was years before the bulkhead rule and thankfully this legally questionable addition was given a manual override. It was generally accepted and our diligence towards safety congratulated. We did have a false floor with extra structure to protect the driver. Our next cage will likely have direct cage attachments and a proper footbar and some additional driver specific protection. This may not have been legal at the time we built the car but we plan our next car to take a significant step up in safety even if it means seeking exception or approval. We did make our car safer since it was built. The false floor, improved seat mounts, Halo seat, better belts (Scroth Enduro), and many other small improvements were added over time due to our continuing commitment to safety. An interesting tidbit. Some people suggested the amount that our engine bay crumpled was excessive. That solid engine mounts were a poor idea because without them, the engine could drop and essentially fall away in the case of an accident. This is leveraging some practices from stock vehicle design but isn't viable on our car. Our engine has a cross member that prevents it from dropping out. Our transmission has a cross member that prevents it from dropping out. We also have a front splitter and at our ride height there are few options for the engine to drop below the car. As-is our crumple zone was well suited for this incident. Enough to heavily sacrifice the car without significantly penetrating the driver cell. Had the same incident happened at 100+ mph at the same angle, the story would be a different one altogether. That's where we see room for improvement.
  14. Will do a report in the event thread but wanted to talk about the door bars. @wvumtnbkr, I'm taking some liberty here posting this let me know if you want me to take it down. Here was the result of our incident. Yes I redacted engine bay stuff because I want to talk about cage design and only cage design. The wreck video is above. The car hit the wall at ~48mph (from video, I haven't downloaded data yet). This impact is remarkably similar to the NHSTA Frontal Oblique Offset Crash Test in speed and angle. If you look up this test and results, you'll find most cars with far more damage and intrusion into the area that is caged in our car. Here is an example from a modern car. See our pedal intrusion. The engine & trans moved the transmission about 2 inches to the left and began to twist the firewall. While this performance isn't perfect, it is superb imo. Our driver walked away only with bruising to his body and pride, which is the best kind of catastrophic wreck one can hope for as a team owner / manager. Here is the RX7 wreck. They had a much more shallow hit to the wall but as I understand it at much higher speed, possibly north of 100mph.
  15. You repeated what I said and called it incorrect. 😎 Yes, it is.
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