Farm Tek Electronic Timing System 
Something New at Autocross

Bob Schoenherr
by Bob Schoenherr, Redwood Region Autocross Co-Director

Redwood Region autocrosses at the Santa Rosa Airport are extremely well attended by PCA members from the entire Zone. We do our best to provide an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all participants. Drivers and the working crew like to know their times immediately after coming off the course. We were not able to do this during the first three 2014 autocrosses as our display stopped working; we had to depend on radio communications only. Timing slips and the recording of scores were becoming painful for all and not the experience we wanted.

Grady and I spoke with other regional autocross directors to seek their advice and to learn what they were using for their timing systems. After some troubleshooting and phone calls we realized that repairing our display was not cost effective. Our vintage system timer is 13 years old; the broken display is 8 years old - this is ancient as I found out during my calls. After a week of calls and research I found a system that appeared to be simple, wireless, and to meet the needs of our autocross team. The best part it takes 5 minutes to setup, less than 5 minutes to train people how to use it, and the price was only $500 more than just replacing our old broken display. The system is a made by a company in Wylie, Texas called FarmTek. Mike, their engineer, and I had long talks on our requirements and on setup. Grady and I talked it over for many an hour and then decided to recommend this system to our Board. We went ahead with the purchase after Board approval. Anita and I set it up and played with the system the Friday before its intended first use at our May 3rd autocross event. Anita and I were amazed at how easy it was to setup and operate. We only hoped it would be the same at the Santa Rosa airport the next day.

Saturday came and I set up the system ... it was too easy, something had to go wrong. Tracy, Kim and Tristan were in the trailer for the first runs. It worked great and the display was bright so that everyone could see your time. Second run group: Greg and Penny same thing, it worked great except for one error due to a timing sensor blowing over. We set it back up and we were fully functional again. With our old system timing gates we would have had to realign on our hands and knees. The afternoon run groups went well too. I'd say that we were very happy with the performance and ease of use of the new system. Of course it wasn't perfect, yet!  I need to turn the display time on for a longer amount of time for our next usage. In the future we have plans to setup a wireless network which will allow you to check times on your smartphone and download the times into a spreadsheet. This will make the autocross experience even more exciting for our members and our competitive group will have more tools to help them compare their driving skills. We hope to have some of this ready to go by our July autocross. Stay tuned.