“Transponder scoring is a major step up for the series,” says GNCC Trail Boss Jeff Russell. “The system will reduce bottlenecks in the woods and the finish line, and it should be more accurate than scanning bar codes each lap.
"In addition, fans will love live timing and scoring direct from the track. We think it’s the next step for the series.”
GNCC Racing searched hard to find an affordable and durable transponder system. The Series offered several challenges unique to off-road racing, including the wide variety of GNCC machines, which include bikes, sport and utility ATVs, minis and UTV side-by-sides; massive entry numbers in the series—the 2007 series averaged more than 1,400 unique riders per round; and difficult conditions including mud, sand, water, dust, and hot and cold weather. But the most important factor was bringing costs in line to what the average GNCC amateur could afford.
Transponder testing in the GNCCs actually began in the late 1990s. Kirk Sessions, of checkpointscoring.com, worked closely with Racer Productions for nearly a decade before finally settling on Sport Tag transponders (www.sport-tag.com). Sessions, a former racer who earned a bronze medal at the 1994 ISDE, has been developing off-road race scoring software since 1995.
“It took nearly 10 years to find a transponder that could perform accurately and reliably at the GNCCs without costing too much,” says Sessions. “For $60, the Sport Tag transponder can easily match the performance of transponders costing nearly five times as much.”
GNCC racers can purchase the transponder for $60, or rent them for $10 per race (with a $50 deposit that will be refunded when the transponder is returned).
GNCC will be using the Sport-TAG–XC model (the existing Sport-TAG-TI model will not work.) The unit is an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system has a two-year warranty, and will not require a battery charge for two years. For best results, tags should be mounted on the front fender on motorcycles and on the front hood on ATVs. More information on the system is available at www.sport-tag.com.
The transponders will eliminate handlebar tags and hole punching at the GNCCs. They will eliminate bottlenecks on the trail caused by checkpoints, (two checkpoints will remain on the course so riders will have access to course marshals in case of emergency, however, riders will not have to stop at the checkpoint for scoring purposes). They will also eliminate any chance of scoring problems linked to human error with bar code scoring.
By purchasing a new satellite Internet system that allows high-speed internet access from the track, the GNCC scoring software can now link to live timing and scoring on gnccracing.com throughout the weekend. Fans around the world will be able to follow their favorite racers by checking lap times on the web.
The 2008 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series kicks off with the Triton GNCC in Melbourne, Fla. on March 1-4. ATVs will practice on Saturday, March 1, and race Sunday, March 2. Bikes will practice on Monday, March 3, and race Tuesday, March 4.