1 2

Sponsored Content Presented by Flagger.

“She told me, ‘I’m 100% certain I’d have hit that car if I didn’t have the Flagger system in my car.’ That right there kind of told me that what we were doing was a good idea.” That’s Matt Eastling, CEO and co-…

Read the rest of the story

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/6/21 7:23 a.m.

Is the subscription mandatory for the units to work?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
1/6/21 8:55 a.m.

Yes, I'm pretty sure it is.

BA5
BA5 GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/6/21 9:27 a.m.

The idea is really good, but that subscription ask is a bit out there.

On one hand, I work at a company that offers software, so I get that it requires ongoing support.

On the other hand, he's gotta look at what he's asking for: he wants to increase the annual racing costs of EVERYONE who races by $100 every year.  That's a BIG ask.

I'm trying to think of what similar automotive products require a subscription service.  My transponder doesn't.  I don't think most stand alone engine managements do (maybe the high end ones like MOTEC?). Radios?  Even a lot of the entry level suspension and engine design software is a one time purchase price.

Finally, what value am I really getting from that subscription?  I could see the subscription for the trackside equipment, since that looks like a more extensive setup with an acutal software interface.  But for me the racer it looks like I'm getting a box that gets information relayed to it that it then displays.  That's doesn't really scream 'equipment that you need to be paying a maintenance subscription for'.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/6/21 9:44 a.m.

Cool.  I didn't know there was another company doing this.

 

Champcar is going to use flagtronics which is similar, and MAY not have subscription costs.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/6/21 9:56 a.m.

I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand the current flag system is seriously outdated and has some serious weaknesses. On the other I hate the subscription model, I'm not crazy about requiring another expense for racers and my (admittedly limited) experience so far with in car notification systems has shown that racers will miss those as well.

With today's technology, if one were to start from scratch to design a race car driver notification system the suggestion to scatter workers around the track and give them flags would likely be laughed at.  Flag stations can be hard to see in the heat of battle and no matter how observant you are sight lines always limit their visibility.  Usually in the areas where the flags are most needed.  I love the idea of eliminating the gray area between flag stands.  The whole don't start racing again until you reach the next station that's not displaying the yellow is extremely subjective and since I tend to interpret that on the cautious side I often loose ground in those situations.

I hate the subscription model.  I know that it's becoming the norm for anything with software but I still don't like it. 

Some drivers are going to miss notifications no matter how they're presented.  I once watched a dirt track guy run multiple laps with the 2" diameter, bright red, low oil pressure light illuminated on his dash and claim he never saw it.  I could see it from the stands!

Finding a place to mount that in my Formula Ford would be a challenge.  I'd have to choose between that and the DAC system. 

If one of the racing series that I run with once a year adopts this system I might choose to just not run with them.  Between the cost of the system, subscription cost and the need to figure out where and how to mount it I might just find another way to spend my time and money.

Thinking about this, I'd be more enthusiastic if this system were integrated with timing and scoring.

I suspect that this system, or something like it will eventually come to one or more of the sanctioning bodies that I race with and that it will be an improvement over the outdated flag system.  When that happens I'll pry open my wallet and rearrange the dash in my race car but I'm going to complain about it.

bmw88rider (Forum Supporter)
bmw88rider (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/6/21 10:10 a.m.

As a marshal, I love seeing more and more technology like this entering into the racing scene. I also wish there were more fixed LED "Flag" panels at the race tracks in a consistent location for better visibility.

Anything that helps us be safer on track especially with the club racing where we have to do more than the pro events is a god send and very much welcomed. 

I don't agree with the subscription fee either. I could see a $20 annual just to keep money inflow and drive future development for the receiver. $100 is a little much for something that would only need maybe an over the air update once a quarter or so. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/6/21 10:21 a.m.

So because 5-10% of drivers have red mist and or blinders on and miss flags the rest of us have to spend $250 plus $100 a year?  If you can't drive and use your brain, should you really be on track?

I'm of two mind on this; if I the ADD poster kid can drive and process information then surely everyone else can but I also know that people are wired differently so not all drivers can drive and process information. 

Where exactly do I mount this in my formula car? The system seems geared towards sedans.

As for the cost; even for someone like me who does 2 races a year, the subscription works out to $50 a race. That's not going to make or break my budget given I'm spending $750-$1000 a weekend.

This is a clever tool and I can see how it would help some drivers. While I use the corner workers as a tool, I'm cognizant that not everyone can do this and so this system would help them.

 

 

 

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/6/21 10:31 a.m.

I believe the $100 subscription pushes the limits of what people are willing to put up with.

This is $25 more a year than a mylaps subscription.

Within the costs of tracking a car, this is going to be a low level line item in the budget.. but it's still an item.

Since iRacing essentially has this built in and I find a lot of value in it from that, I am in support of the product. But the long term subscription model is very annoying to me, and I will push back against this COMPANY and their business model until they make changes to their subscription model. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/6/21 11:16 a.m.

Note I'm not trying to be a wet blanket/dik on this but since I make people justify the use of products and services for a living:

Please show me documented proof that this product increases safety over the existing system. While I may think it's clever and on the surface would appear to be a step up from our current system, I still want to see evidence that it increases safety and or reduces accidents.

When I say documented I don't mean testimonials of "this totally saved me from crashing" I mean actual year on year data.

As an example; there are roughly 8000 SCCA club racers, so if I mandate this you are going to see 2 million in sales plus  $800,000 annual in recurring revenue. Over a 5 year period you are going to see 6 million dollars in revenue.

If I'm signing off on 6 million I want hard data / proof and it will need to be a significant.

 

RadBarchetta
RadBarchetta New Reader
1/6/21 11:35 a.m.

The subscription model is going to stop a lot of people from buying into this. However, if a club were to rent or loan them out like they do transponders, it'll go a long way towards faster adoption. Surely a club could get a bulk rate on the subscription and pass the savings along to the drivers.

Matt Eastling
Matt Eastling None
1/6/21 12:43 p.m.

I am the CEO of Flagger In-Car Alert System and Thank You to everyone for your thoughts and comments. After reading all the comments, it's clear the biggest concern is our service plan fee. Our focus is to provide an alert system that is affordable for the person that is saving every penny to get out on track. We feel a service plan is the best approach to keep the initial purchase of the in-car Flagger device affordable. We even make the in-car Flagger work for free for 30 days after arriving to the track and receiving it's first flag, so that person who's really scraping by can spread out the purchase of the device and the initial service plan payment. The service plan also helps to make sure we are around year after year to service people's devices and make sure they have a good working Flagger device in their car every time they go out on track. 

Please feel free to reach out to me at Matt@NeverMissAFlag.com if you have additional comments or questions or want to talk about scheduling us to come to one of your events and let you try it out for yourself.

Thanks! 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/6/21 1:37 p.m.

Matt thanks for jumping in with the answer on the subscription rate.

So as a PIA purchasing analyst It's professional curiosity but do you guys have data yet on the reduction of incidents be they crashes or fewer missed flags?

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/6/21 1:41 p.m.

Miss a flag? Not me. (turning red with shame)

Rons
Rons GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/6/21 1:45 p.m.

Another point to consider and this is a generalization the worker group is aging and shrinking, and technology may be required to make up the shortfall. Many may not recognize this fact but it is becoming real in the US northwest 2021 calendars  there is a date conflict between SCCA and ICSCC. If the US Canada border remains closed which is likely concerns have been expressed about the about the ability of the worker pool to cover both events.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/6/21 2:21 p.m.
Matt Eastling said:

I am the CEO of Flagger In-Car Alert System and Thank You to everyone for your thoughts and comments. After reading all the comments, it's clear the biggest concern is our service plan fee. Our focus is to provide an alert system that is affordable for the person that is saving every penny to get out on track. We feel a service plan is the best approach to keep the initial purchase of the in-car Flagger device affordable. We even make the in-car Flagger work for free for 30 days after arriving to the track and receiving it's first flag, so that person who's really scraping by can spread out the purchase of the device and the initial service plan payment. The service plan also helps to make sure we are around year after year to service people's devices and make sure they have a good working Flagger device in their car every time they go out on track. 

Please feel free to reach out to me at Matt@NeverMissAFlag.com if you have additional comments or questions or want to talk about scheduling us to come to one of your events and let you try it out for yourself.

Thanks! 

I just want to say thank you to you guys for being willing to step up and talk to us random loud voices on the internet.

I waste a lot more than $100 a year on stuff I don't need, but I do still think your pricing model is a bit steep, but I agree with the need for subscription to keep this system evolving over time.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
1/6/21 4:34 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

My problem with the whole concept is the moment to look inside your car to check on flags when your whole attention needs to be outside focusing on what's happening on track. 
  Normally I can see issues developing and mentally have the flags waving long before the corner workers can push a button or wave their flag. Because of that in more than 50 years I had one trivial accident.  
I happen to agree that corner workers are at risk and need protection. Let's go the next step, heads up display.  Don't expect a driver to change focus to see if a flag is being waved. Project it on the windshield. We can see right through heads up display and so react accordingly to what is developing.  Rather than glance at a screen then check on what's happening on track. 

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/6/21 4:48 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I think you're discounting where the device is going to be located. It's not on the dash low, it's up in your FOV.



 

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
1/6/21 5:10 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

If it's in line of sight, it's obstructing vision. Some cars that loss won't affect things others it will. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/6/21 6:12 p.m.

Everything is going subscription these days.  As a business owner I have canceled or stopped using any and all products that require a monthly subscription.  It is a great business model for the person getting the $$ as it makes cashflow easier to manage and predict but from the consumer side (a business) these things drain you.  It is like they are trying to kill my business by a thousand pin pricks.  I hate it and don't support any subscription type service.  (cough couch Iracing cough cough).  As soon as I saw the subscription required I was out on this. 

The next thing you know we will be paying a subscription for the use of toilet paper.  I can see a future where you are purchasing the roll and putting it in a dispenser that is internet connected that then automatically charges your credit card a per sheet fee as you pull it out of he dispenser.

The world of subscription fees I equate as another form of micro transaction.  These are usually used by company that have a product that they can not really justify the cost they want to get for it so they hid it  using micro transactions.

I will leave this with this:  Many years ago one of my mentors in business told me that watching the big transactions is easy.  What will bring a company down is failing to watch all the little transactions as each one by its self is easily dismissed as "no big deal" however at the end of a year all these little transactions can easily be the difference between being in the Red or the Black.  As he put it successful people never stop watching the nickles.

itsarebuild
itsarebuild Dork
1/6/21 6:13 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I get you point in vision, but we all check (or should) our gauges and mirrors periodically so we do look at stuff in the cockpit. I personally see a good bit of my hood when driving and wouldn't mind a little help seeing flag conditions in my line of sight in the car to help out.

 

I do agree with the pack though, the subscription rate is steep for me. 

newrider3
newrider3 Reader
1/6/21 6:17 p.m.

It's not that the $100 per year subscription is a killer expense (it's a small one in a season of racing after all) it's the fact you're tied into the subscription forever. I'd rather pay more for the hardware up front and actually own it.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/6/21 6:22 p.m.

Looking at this and applying the KISS principal.  Why cant you just put a small box on the dash right in front of you with a big green, yellow and a red light (similar to a oil pressure light or a tach light).  Transmit a signal and all the box's in all the cars display the selected colored light that represents a flag condition.  Green track is clear, Yellow = Yellow flag and red is a red flag return to pit flashing red is stop on track.  the transmitter would be a little bit expensive and need FCC approval but the receivers would cost almost nothing.

The system they are promoting looks cool and may be something that higher levels of racing could use but I think a much simpler system is needed for the average open track practice or HPDE event.  What I have described above would be exceedingly cheep to make and could be purchased by a club for use by its members.  Flag stations call in the "event" control triggers the lights in the cars.  

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/6/21 10:08 p.m.

I really am a pain in ass. I still want to know the difference between our current method and this system. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/6/21 11:25 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

I really am a pain in ass. I still want to know the difference between our current method and this system. 

Well, if it's like other forms of motorsport that have used in-car flag display (F1, say) it's a supplement to the physical flags rather than a replacement.  If you've got all the same flags that you used to, PLUS a display/alert (with sound?) in the car, then that's better at providing notification to the driver.  I can see it being adopted by club racing organizations fairly easily -- if SCCA or NASA says you have to have it to compete people will grumble but in the end it's not significant compared to the existing costs so it won't make any difference to participation.

I do NOT see it being adopted by track day groups as described.  They're specifically designed to appeal to much more "casual" customers who are not going to buy their own in-car hardware or pay subscription fees.  The "track day organizer supplies rental units" model doesn't work either -- most track day groups don't have $25-30K ($250 each times 100-120 cars) of spare capital to burn and it becomes a huge logistical nightmare to charge them all up before an event, hand them out to the drivers, collect them at the end of the day, keep track of who got what and did they return it, deal with lost or damaged units, etc.  Locally BMWCCA runs a data-based coaching add-on for advanced drivers, and just dealing with handing out 15 or so solo 2 systems is enough of a challenge.

What I can see showing up at track days would be a system that's just an app you run on your smartphone.  Everybody's got one of those, many drivers are already mounting them in the car to do timing and/or video.  If you've got a "Flagger" system at the track for the event, it should be fairly straightforward to run an app on the smartphone that acts like the dedicated in-car unit.  Use cell data for the flag info (very low bandwidth requirements), GPS for location, and the app shows the flag whenever you're within N feet of the corner location that it specifies.  Ideally it would be one where the "Flagger" system generates a standard protocol that third party apps can tie into so that instead of having to use a flagging-only app, the flag stuff can be an extension to whatever your favorite timing app is.

 

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
1oRwAVxtJwNB6bxPpbdsiaxY3bCLvgLI9092hL3rtPS6cWrfk45GrLRWpawJAc1C