2021 W9IMS Special Event Station Details!

Now Underway: A More Typical W9IMS Special Event

By Brian D. Smith, W9IND

The fans are returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year, and with them comes a more traditional calendar for special event station W9IMS.

For hams and SWLs alike, that means a renewed opportunity to earn three newly designed QSL cards and the latest edition of the certificate known as the Checkered Flag Award.

The first W9IMS special event of 2021, saluting the upcoming IndyCar Grand Prix, is now underway and will continue through Saturday, May 15 (Race Day), ending at midnight Indianapolis time or 0400 UTC Sunday, May 16.

It’s the first of three W9IMS special events this year – two in May and the third in August – to commemorate the major auto races at the track. (Last year, because of Covid restrictions, two of the three races were held on the same weekend, and W9IMS followed suit by compressing its usual trio of special events into two.)

Here’s the remaining W9IMS slate for 2021:

May 24-30: Indianapolis 500

Aug. 9-15: NASCAR 400 at the Brickyard

Each of the three W9IMS events features its own unique QSL card, with the Checkered Flag certificate available to anyone who completes the clean sweep. However, you can still claim a single-event QSL or two even if you fail to bag the trio.

How to find W9IMS? The station will operate SSB daily on two bands, 20 or 40 meters, generally around 7.245 and 14.245 MHz, and could pop up at any time of day or night until local midnight Sunday. Keep a lookout, too, for digital activity – particularly FT8 and FT4 – on virtually any amateur radio band.

But the surest way to snare the station is this:

  1. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and find the heading, “2021 Operating Schedule.” Beneath it are links to the operator schedules for this year’s three special events; time slots with a name and a callsign offer your best bet for a W9IMS contact.
  2. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots that identify the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.

Remember, you can’t qualify for the 2021 certificate if you don’t catch the first event! So if you haven’t logged W9IMS by Saturday evening, keep in mind that the station traditionally conducts “happy hour” between 11 p.m. and midnight (0300 to 0400 UTC Sunday), with rapid contacts right up to the end. (But don’t stake your certificate on it: W9IMS special events may end early if the calls stop coming and/or band conditions deteriorate.)

For additional details, including QSL information, consult the W9IMS web page.

And in answer to the most-asked question: W9IMS operators transmit, usually remotely, from home stations in the Indianapolis area, but neither the ops nor the stations are physically located at the track.

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9 thoughts on “2021 W9IMS Special Event Station Details!

  1. Brian, W9IND

    Just a reminder that today (May 15, Indianapolis time) is the final day for the first W9IMS special event of the year. You can’t get a 2021 certificate unless you put this one in your logbook!

    We’ll be shutting down at 0400 UTC Sunday or midnight Indianapolis time — possibly sooner if band conditions deteriorate. Look for our spots on DX Summit from now till 0400.

    We’ll be on 20 and 40 meters in the daytime and probably 80 later tonight. If anyone has any particular requests, feel free to email me at my QRZ.com email address. No promises, but I’ll do my best.

    NOTE TO HAMS: We award certificates and QSL cards for reception reports as well as QSOs, so if you can hear us but can’t get through to us, consider jotting down the time, frequency, signal strength and other QSL details and submitting a reception report. The cards and certificate are the same!

    TNX and GL!

    1. Walt Egenmaier

      I have tried every night on 20 and 40 meters and can’t even hear W9IMS. Do you have an 80 meter frequency for those of us who are in Indiana trying to the last of 3 contacts? WB4ZUT/Walt

      1. Brian, W9IND


        My apologies for not responding to your message sooner — I just saw it for the first time today.

        I hope you managed to catch W9IMS for the third race and qualify for the certificate, but if not, you can start your quest again with the 2022 Grand Prix from 0400 UTC Sunday, May 8 (midnight Indy time). through 0359 UTC Sunday, May 14 (11:59 p.m. Saturday, May 13, Indy time).

        The other two special events will take place on May 23-29 (Indianapolis 500) and July 25-31 (NASCAR 200 at the Brickyard). For more details, including QSL information, go to http://www.w9ims.org

        Good luck and thanks for your interest!

        Brian, W9IND

  2. Brian, W9IND


    I mentioned 20 and 40 meters in the story, but we’ve since begun jumping to 80 after 20 closes.

    No set schedule, but if you’re looking for our QSL and/or certificate, it’s another option.

    Remember, you can’t qualify for a certificate without bagging this first special event of 2021, and it will be off the air at 0400 UTC Sunday. So there’s time to lose.

    Good luck!

    Brian, W9IND

  3. Harald DL1AX

    Thanks for the activity. Please listen to SSB calls on 20 m from Europe every now and then.

    1. Brian, W9IND

      Thanks for your interest, and sorry if we missed the chance to work you. But the week is not yet over!

      I try to listen for Europe and other DX, and even call “DX only” periodically when I hear the band begin opening to more distant locations. But it’s easy for an operator to get caught up in the pileups and focus only on the loudest, most easily heard stations, which of course are usually in the U.S.

      We’ve also had an issue with the 20-meter antenna and are waiting for a replacement part. I don’t know if it’ll arrive by the time this special event ends at 0400 UTC Sunday. However, if you were able to hear us on 20 anyway, we should have a good chance of working you regardless. We’ve also been active on 40 and 80, but I’m not sure if you have access to our typical 40-meter frequencies.

      Tell you what, when’s the best time and band for you to work Indiana/Central United States? I can try to set up a sked or at least listen for you if you give me your best time for a contact. Feel free to email me at W9IND (-at-) arrl.net

      Brian, W9IND

  4. David Davison

    Made contact on 40 meters last night, what a pile up! Propagation was fantastic.

    1. Brian, W9IND

      Thanks for your interest, David, and congrats on getting through!

      Don’t forget to look for us in a couple of weeks when we begin our Indy 500 special event. Work us again and you’ll be 2/3 of the way to your 2021 certificate.

      Again, the best advice I can give anyone looking for us is to (1) check the operator schedule on our QRZ.com page, and (2) check DX Summit for the latest W9IMS spots. That’ll tell you where we are.

      And yes, propagation has been improving significantly this week since the end of the geomagnetic storm. And the flux and sunspot count are up.. Go, Cycle 25!

      Brian, W9IND


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