By Brian D. Smith
Two out of three ain’t bad, proclaims the late ’70s classic rock song. But three out of three gets you the Checkered Flag Award from W9IMS.
That’s another way of reminding you that the third Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event of 2023, honoring NASCAR’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, will take to the amateur radio airwaves starting at midnight Indy time (0400 UTC) on Monday, August 7, and ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13 (0359 Monday, August 14 UTC).
Those who chalked up contacts or receptions during both of the first two special events in May – commemorating the IndyCar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 – now have the opportunity to complete the clean sweep and qualify for the colorful Checkered Flag certificate.
But even if you’re just getting up to speed on the Speedway special event, or have caught only one of the two special events so far, you’re still in the running – not for a Checkered Flag Award (that’ll have to wait till 2024), but for one or more of the three collectible QSL cards that commemorate the individual races.
How to find W9IMS? The station operates primarily on 20 and 40 meters, but sometimes adds 80 meters later in the week (and occasionally 2 meters on Race Day for locals and fans in the stands at the Speedway). Preferred frequencies are 14.245 and 7.245 SSB, plus or minus QRM.
And the following suggestion will enhance your chances of putting W9IMS in your log:
- Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots listing the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box at upper right, you can customize it to show reports for only Indianapolis Motor Speedway special events. Naturally, you’ll be interested in only the ones from August 2023.
- Follow this link to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and look for the heading, “2023 Operating Schedule.” Click on the NASCAR 200 link, which opens into a weeklong schedule listing individual operators and their reserved timeslots. Your odds of catching W9IMS on the air improve significantly during these hours.
- Prime operating time on weeknights is 6 to 10 p.m. Indy time (2200-0200 UTC). However, W9IMS can appear anytime, even on two bands at once, between 0400 Monday, August 7, and 0359 Sunday, August 13.
- Operators often get on the air at unscheduled times. That’s why DX Summit is your best bet for locating W9IMS’s current frequency (or frequencies).
- If you plan on applying for the 2023 Checkered Flag Award, remember that the three required W9IMS special event QSOs (or reception reports) must come from all of the year’s three races – the Grand Prix, the 500 and the Brickyard. Making three contacts during the coming week still earns you the colorful Brickyard QSL card, but no extra credits toward the certificate.
- Remember that the published schedule can be shortened by adverse circumstances, such as noisy band conditions, local thunderstorms or a lack of calling stations. Don’t wait till the final day and hour to chase W9IMS!
- If you want to get off to the earliest possible start, keep an ear on 20 meters at midnight Monday (Indy time) and listen for a YL operator. Cathy Harris, W9QKR, is slated to kick off the festivities from 12-2 a.m. (0400-0600 UTC).