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Satcom Spotlight



SD Fuels the Need for Speed


The Don Schumacher racing team moves fast. With three top-fuel dragsters, four funny car teams and 120 employees at the races every weekend, they need communications tools that can keep up with them, especially in remote areas where the wifi is limited and the cellular network is in high demand due to the thousands of fans in attendance. That’s why they chose SD to build a custom, robust, end-to-end communications system.

“To be able to bring SD on board with DSR and have live wifi and internet available makes us able to reach out to the world on a timely basis,” said Don Schumacher, team owner.

DSR’s situation presented some unique challenges. The network had to be able to connect a staff that was widely dispersed. Peak cellular usage during events prevented DSR from transacting business on the cellular networks. Point-of-sale transactions had to wait until evenings to batch, greatly increasing the potential for fraud or incomplete transmissions. The race crews could not send engine performance information for remote analysis, and the drivers were not able to send timely updates to social media outlets for both local and offsite fans.

Ron Capps, the driver with the quickest run in funny car history, is in a constant race to communicate with his fans. With close to 60,000 people following Ron on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, he enjoys being able to post pictures and updates from the racetrack.

“We’ll get thousands of people who show up for a race. As people show up, the cell service goes down to nothing. What’s great about SD is that I’m able to send my Facebook postings and check my email. I can send my Tweets out instantaneously,” he said.

SD’s mobile operations department installed ViaSat Exede Enterprise auto acquire terminals and a wireless mesh network.

Megan Fessel Schumacher says that the solution from SD not only keeps people communicating at the races, it allows the team to stay in touch with fans no matter where they are.

“A lot of the fans obviously can’t make it to every event, so they love everything they can get content wise. They want to see it, feel it, pretend that they’re there and imagine themselves there,” she says.

Real-time social media posts keep team drivers connected with fans, and internet access increases efficiency for office-based tasks during a race. DSR now can execute point-of-sale transactions at the merchandise trailer, maximizing revenue during races, while keeping all DSR support team members connected.

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