Race-Winning Communications

Race-Winning Communications

Rev-up your radio

Key steps for race-winning communications

By: Steve Gonzalez

    It’s nearly the beginning of a new racing season and your car is completely torn down. The body panels are off, the suspension is removed for rebuilding, every zip-tie is cut, and the engine and transmission have been removed. You’re in the middle of major prep ahead of your first race of the season and time is ticking away… but you haven’t touched your radio or intercom.

    Most racers leave checking their communications systems to when there is a problem. That’s always too late. There are simple steps, however, that you can take now, for maintaining an effective communication system in your race vehicle.

When your vehicle is torn apart during prep for next season, that is the time to fully inspect your communication harware and wiring.

Cables: Inspect, replace, update

    Hands down, the most common issue we see in any off-road communications system is damaged cabling. Smashed, kinked, pulled apart, cut in-between body panels, strangled under that super-strength zip-tie, or connectors filled with water by that 3,000psi pressure washer… seen that, fixed that. Every cable in a communications system is critical and, when damaged, has the potential to negatively affect intercom or radio functions.

WHAT TO DO: At a minimum, cables should be thoroughly inspected for any sort of physical damage or corrosion. Ideally, Intercom, Push-To-Talk, and antenna cables should be replaced during your major pre-season prep. This will help you avoid common issues that carry over one season’s communication problems into the next.

Zip-Ties: Put them away!

Those high-strength zip-ties you got from McMaster likely have a breaking strength of several hundred pounds. While they are great for keeping something from falling off the car, it’s bad when you’re crushing a critical communications cable under it.

WHAT TO DO: Instead of zip-ties, use Velcro wraps on all communications cables to avoid over-tightening, damaging cables, and to add serviceability.

If you're unfamiliar with hook and loop wrap ties, we highly recommend them as an easy and durable alternative. Our signature R-Wraps are available here.

Shown here: a poor coax mangled by a seemingly innocent zip tie

Connections: Inspect and clean

Desert racing takes vehicles through the worst conditions in motorsports. Heat, dust, rain, mud - an electrical connection’s worst nightmares.  

WHAT TO DO: Inspect all connections. Clean any debris and corrosion thoroughly. Dry completely and apply dielectric grease before reconnecting.


A bent antenna will not transmit accurately or receive as well as a straight one. If you ran your antenna into a low-hanging branch last race or during a pre-run, and it now looks like a question mark, performance is compromised.

WHAT TO DO: Replace bent antennas and, carry a spare!

Rugged Radios offers a full range of race antennas and replacement antennas.

Replace bent antennas and always carry a spare.

Contact us for help with your race prep needs!

If these four simple steps are not part of your race prep, they should be. Rugged Radios has a dedicated race support team who are laser-focused on getting your communication system dialed before race day. Whether it’s from our HQ in Arroyo Grande or on-site at SCORE races, Rugged is here to help.

Contact Us: Click Here

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