After conducting a trial run earlier in the month during the Barber Motorsports Park Indy Lights race, the NTT IndyCar Series will bring its new EM Marshaling lights system into service for the first time during this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course.
The large LED light panels operate in the same capacity as those used in Formula 1 (pictured above) and FIA World Endurance Championship events where yellow flags, blue flags, and all the other routing flagging functions can be facilitated by marshals activating the lights in place of waving the traditional cloth flags. And with the timing loops placed throughout the road course working in conjunction with the EM marshaling electronics affixed to each corner for the volunteer track workers to operate, IndyCar’s race control will have an increase in real-time data to use for judging whether drivers are heeding the various electronic flagging moments in a timely manner.
“It was a pretty clean Indy Lights race, so that was good, and they didn’t use the EM system a lot, but everything that we got back from the corner marshals was it was really cool and they really liked it,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “After the IndyCar drivers did their track walk at Barber, they were like, ‘Why can’t we use it this weekend, right now at Barber?’ You can tell they liked it.
“So we’ll try it this weekend. We’ll use it at the GMR Grand Prix but we won’t use it at the Indy 500. We’ll take it to Detroit, and so on. This weekend, we’ll learn from it and if there’s anything we need to adjust, we can before we go to Detroit.”
Frye looks forward to seeing how the new light panel-based flagging system is received by IndyCar’s drivers and the men and women operating the units throughout the 2.4-mile, 14-turn facility.
“Being the first North American series to have this technology is cool and the EM group has been phenomenal to work with,” he said. “We’re excited to see how it all plays out. Again, the corner marshals are still obviously very important; we’re just giving them a different tool. They have a handheld unit that they press a button versus waving a flag, so it should be even quicker.
“Instead of having to grab a flag, you just press a button and a flashing light will come on, so it should be more efficient. It should do lots of different things that help us from an officiating standpoint.”