Scottish Motorsport Marshals Club Title
Rescue Unit and red Subaru rally car

SMMC Motorsport Radio Group

The SMMC Radio Group mobile control room

Welcome to the web pages for the SMMC Motorsport Radio Group.   The following pages will give you an overview of the Group and its activities:

  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • Useful Documents
  • How to get in touch if you want to get involved and
  • A history of the Group

Who we are

The easiest description is that radio marshals are marshals with a means of communication. 

The Radio Group provides safety and administrative communications primarily using the MSA Safety & Medical Frequency.  Our members come from a variety of backgrounds:

  • Rally marshals, with experience of forest, tarmac and off-road events
  • Individuals with other rally / motorsport backgrounds including trainers, timekeepers, scrutineers, stewards and Clerk of the Course up to International level
  • Radio amateurs keen to use their interest in radio to support events.

What we have in common is a desire to provide a high quality communications service on rallies to improve the safety of competitors, officials and spectators.  And to enjoy the craic!

As a Group we licence and use the Tartan call sign for use on the MSA Safety & Medical Frequency.  Several of our members are also members of other motor clubs and use the call sign licensed to the other club or Group.  These call signs include Border, Elgin, Granite, Jupiter, Kingdom, Mull, Raynet, Scot, Silk and Tob. 

What we do

SMMC radio operator on duty at a stage juntion

Radio Group members provide safety communications on most rounds of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship, some rounds of the Scottish Tarmack Championship and other events including the Mull Rally.  We also regularly assist on off-road event and test days.  Members have also provided safety cover on charity events where the public pay for a ride in a rally car.

Radio marshals are located at the start, finish and at certain mid – stage locations agreed with event organisers.  The FIA require that there be no more than 5KM between radios on stages.  Whilst not a mandatory requirement for other types of events, this is used as a standard and followed wherever possible.

If the Club is asked to co-ordinate radio crews for an event we circulate our members looking for crews to assist and work closely with the organisers to decide where to position radio marshals on the day.  We might also be asked to provide radio cover for media / shakedown days ahead of the actual event.

Stages radios report to a Radio Controller, who may be responsible for one or more stages depending on the area and reception (radio waves don’t like hills and glens). 

Don’t worry if you are a new to rally radio.  We will arrange for you to be placed on a non-mandatory post to build up your knowledge and confidence.  Links to the MSA Guide to use of the frequency and the Guide to Rally Radio issued by the Group, are available on the ‘Useful Documents’ page

Individual radio sets have to be licensed with the MSA and meet their technical specification.  This involves the supplying engineer providing what is known as a Certificate of Conformity to confirm the requirements are met.  As mentioned the Club licenses the Tartan call sign and maintains all the paperwork required for this.  The annual fee to license the individual Tartan call signs is included as part of an individuals membership of the Club

The MSA frequency (81.575 FM) is the main frequency used on events with Rescue Units and Recovery Units along with a number of Doctors, having sets on the frequency.  On some events use is also made of frequencies under the UK General Licence.  Additional amateur frequencies may be used for non safety related messages where radio marshals have the appropriate licence.  In all instances where events use other frequencies as well as the MSA frequency, the MSA frequency always takes priority.

Radio Controllers

Radio Controllers are experienced radio marshals licensed by the MSA.  A radio marshal has to show certain skills and abilities to be considered for training as a Controller.  These skills include not only the ability to use the radio but a good knowledge of rally management, the ability to constantly re-prioritise tasks and being able to handle pressure when incidents occur.  Oh, and they must enjoy themselves.

The MSA has defined the training programme that a potential Controller must follow and to achieve this they need to work closely with experienced licensed Controllers to understand how to handle particular incidents.  Full details of the training programme, which involves attending a minimum number of events per year, along with training days, are details in the MSA ‘Blue Book’

Radio Controls tend to be ‘live’ much longer than radio marshals on individual stages.  This is because Controllers have to be in location before crews are due to arrive at the stages, and they stay in location until all recoveries are completed and emergency services have left the stage.  Depending on the number of cars ‘off’ in the stage and how tricky the recovery is, this can be a matter of hours after the last competitor left the stage.

Given the landscape of Scotland, one Radio Control may be ‘running’ more than one stage which also increases the length of time they are ‘on air’.  With this in mind, and to provide more space for laying out maps, time schedules, etc., the Club has bought a mobile control unit.  These have been based on ex-rescue units when being replaced by the Rescue side of the Club.  As well as providing power for running the various radios required, they have whiteboards for recording key matters and a large table for laying out paperwork.

Club kit

We recognise that the financial commitment required to buy your own radio and antenna may prevent individuals getting involved.  To encourage new members the Club has a stock of radios that are available to members for use.  This allows new members to come along to a few rallies and try your hand at being a radio marshal before you have to think about buying your own radio.

Useful Documents

  • MSA Safety & Admin Frequency Guide
  • SMMC Guide to Rally Radio
  • Radio Checksheet
  • Chrys Worboys Incident Record Sheet
  • MSA Sign on Sheet

(These documents and others are available on our Downloads page)

Want to get involved?

Hopefully you have found this brief overview of the Radio Group activities of use. The Radio Group is always keen to attract new members and provide them with the training necessary to enhance the safety services on events. 

If you think rally radio is for you, or just have any other questions, please feel free to contact the Co-ordinator of the Radio Group using the Contact Us page.

Alternatively look out for one of our members on a rally near you.

History

The official announcement of the formation of the SMMC Motorsport Radio Group was made in MARSHALS POST (No 51) back in August 1986 and an inaugural meeting was held in March 1987. However, the history of the Radio Group goes back somewhat further, in that radio training was included as part of a SMMC Marshals Training day at Blair Castle in March 1984, while individual operators used ‘86’ sets on the Scottish and RAC rallies from around 1979.

In those days, radios were delivered to stage starts and finishes to provide some form of communication coverage, before Controlling of the 86 net and mobile telephone links to Rally HQ were even contemplated.

The Tartan callsign was adopted by the Group in early 1987 and Club records indicate that our first official engagement was at the Charterhall Stages Rally in May of that year.

SMMC Radio Control Van with the mast erected.
Interior of Radio Control Van, WIP April 2011.
Interior of Radio Control Van, WIP April 2011.