Want to hear all the action at the races but not sure where to start? You’re in the right place.
We created this guide to give you all the information you need to find the best way to listen at the races.
Short answer: Any scanner we sell will work at any race track. These are the least expensive options.
This Race Scanner Guide Covers:
How to Listen to Racing Frequencies
There are two ways to listen to race communication while at the racetrack. Either by using a racing radio (NASCAR scanner) or a racing app on a smartphone.
NASCAR Scanner or Racing Radio Scanner
A NASCAR scanner is another name for a handheld analog police scanner. Similar to a walkie-talkie in size & look—scanners only receive transmissions (like an AM/FM radio) & can not transmit.
There are several names for NASCAR scanners that all mean the same thing:
- Racing radio
- NASCAR scanner
- Analog scanner
- Police scanner
- IndyCar radio
There are two ways you can use a NASCAR scanner at the track—buy or rent.
Buying a NASCAR Scanner
NASCAR scanners can cost as little as $90 up to several hundred dollars if you get a racing package including headsets, splitters, a case, batteries & other accessories.
Renting a NASCAR Scanner
Renting a NASCAR scanner will cost $50-90 a day depending on the track and what you rent (scanner, headsets, frequency guide, etc.). This is a great way for any first time race fan to enhance their race day experience. At every major race, and some smaller races, there are vendors renting NASCAR scanners at the track. While there are several NASCAR scanner rental vendors, the largest is Racing Electronics. These vendors get your everything your need to hear all the action at that particular race.
NASCAR Scanner Apps
Racing apps have grown more popular with race fans as technology continues to improve. While racing apps have a ton of great features, the downside to them is that they use a lot of battery life and data. If you only want to listen for a few minutes throughout the race, this may work. However, we don’t know of any phone that can run a streaming app for several hours, let alone 6+ hours. Additionally, if you use the app you should attempt to jump on WiFi as this will eat up a ton of data.
Best NASCAR App: NASCAR App
Cost: $20.00 a year
What to Listen to at the Track
Driver & Pit Crew Communication
This is by far the most popular thing to listen to at the track and it makes races—and really the whole race weekend—a lot more fun. You can get a feel for the driver and pit crew personalities as well as hear what’s happening in real time. Sometimes this is really funny, but remember, this is unfiltered, so it can be quite vulgar.
Each race team a spotter (or several depending on the track) and you can hear their communication to the driver about who is passing, accidents, and more. It’s thrilling to hear spotters discuss other race teams’ strategies while it’s happening.
NASCAR & Race Officials
Listen to race officials’ discussions before, during, and after the race. Favorites include looming penalties, restarts, rain delays, and accidents.
Listen to TV (FOX & ESPN) or radio broadcasts live at the race.
When crashes happen you can listen to medical, fire, and race officials discuss accidents, injuries, and more completely unfiltered.
Listening to qualifying provides insight on what each racer is working on, or what problems they may be having.
Who Uses NASCAR Scanners?
Anyone who comes to a race can listen to race communication. There are three main groups:
Race fans listen to all the race day action and all the build up to the race including qualifying and TV broadcasts.
Pit Crews & Team Officials
Pit crews listen to other teams to get insight on what’s happening with other teams during the race. Team officials listen in so they know what’s happening with their team.
NASCAR and race media listen to race communication to get unfiltered access to what’s really going on with a driver or car in real time.
How to Buy a NASCAR Scanner
There are a lot of NASCAR scanners on the market and—like most electronics—you get what you pay for. There are three main things to consider when buying a NASCAR scanner:
All police scanners pick up different bands or frequencies and you must buy a scanner that picks up analog bands. These are commonly referred to as 'analog scanners' or here as NASCAR scanners.
Number of Channels
NASCAR scanners are like an AM/FM radio in that they have a certain number of preset ‘channels’ you can program. We recommend buying a NASCAR scanner with at least 200 channels. This will allow you to program your scanner once for the whole weekend. Most NASCAR scanner users tune into channels 1-100 for the Cup Series by car number, then 101-200 by car number plus 100 for Nationwide races. You can add race track, emergency, and other frequencies on the other channels.
NASCAR Scanner Manufacturers
Uniden & Whistler are the two scanner manufacturers. All of their scanners come with a 1-year warranty.
What to Buy With your NASCAR Scanner
Next to choosing a scanner, the most important thing to purchase is a high quality racing headset. We recommend buying noise canceling, over-ear racing headphones created specifically for auto racing such as these. Earbuds or home listening headsets like Bose or Beats will not work. It’s incredibly loud at auto races, so a headset that blocks out noise and is loud enough to hear at the races is required.
If you’re attending the race with a friend you may want to bring 2 headsets so you can both listen to the same thing. This is very common, a lot of fun, and we highly recommend. If you’re both listening to your own scanner it’s like being at two different races.
If you’re going to listen to the same NASCAR scanner as someone else, you’ll need a 2 Way Headset Splitter.
This splitter allows users to enjoy the scanning experience with another person. Commonly bought by NASCAR fans so the conversation and experience can be shared.
All NASCAR scanners use AA batteries and we highly recommend bringing at least one extra set to the race. NASCAR scanners typically last 4-6 hours per charge, but it’s best to have an extra set in case the race goes long or there are rain delays.
NASCAR Scanner Programming
Programming a NASCAR scanner takes 30-45 minutes and is typically done before going to the race. While programming each scanner is unique, it’s been our experience that once users read their owner’s manual, programming is quite easy. See ‘Racing Radio Frequencies’ below for how to find racing frequencies. Note that we offer free programming with all scanners we sell.
NASCAR Scanner Frequencies
NASCAR scanner frequencies are important so you can find the right race team or race official bands while at the track. Race frequencies can be broken up into 3 categories:
Driver & Crew Frequencies
NASCAR drivers and their crews are assigned one frequency for the year. Here are the NASCAR and IndyCar frequencies for the current season:
- NASCAR Cup Series Frequencies
- NASCAR Xfinity Series Frequencies
- NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Frequencies
- IndyCar Frequencies. For additional race day info, check out IndyCar.com and select a race, choose ‘spotter guide’, and download PDF.
NASCAR (race officials) & National Media Frequencies
NASCAR uses the same set of operational frequencies throughout the year regardless of what track they’re at. NASCAR has also set up the national media (ESPN, TNT, etc.) with the same frequencies at each race so these frequencies do not change throughout the year.
Race Track & NASCAR (race officials) Frequencies
Each race track has their own set of bands for their own operations, emergency services, and local media. You can find all of these race frequencies below:NASCAR Race Frequencies by Track
- Atlanta Motor Speedway
- Auto Club Speedway of Southern California
- Bristol Motor Speedway
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Chicagoland Speedway
- Darlington Raceway
- Daytona International Speedway
- Dover International Speedway
- Homestead Miami Speedway
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Infineon Raceway
- Kansas Speedway
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- Martinsville Speedway
- Michigan International Speedway
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway
- Phoenix International Raceway
- Pocono Raceway
- Richmond International Raceway
- Talladega Superspeedway
- Texas Motor Speedway
- Watkins Glen International
NASCAR Scanner FAQ
NASCAR Scanner FAQs
How far away will my NASCAR scanner work?
About 30 miles. You can adjust scanner to reduce range, if desired.
How do I program my NASCAR scanner?
Is is difficult to program a NASCAR scanner?
How well can you hear on a NASCAR scanner?
While this is a subjective question, with the proper equipment (race radio & headset) you should be able to hear everything perfectly. We’ve built a few race scanner packages that give you everything you need for outstanding listening quality. Here is a thread on Reddit from users discuss this topic.
What is the best scanner headset?
We recommend this headset which is made by Koss specifically for racing.
What is the best NASCAR scanner?
We recommend the BC125AT as it has 500 channels, great reviews & cost.
Do I need a digital scanner to listen to race frequencies?
Any police scanner will work including a digital scanner, but an analog scanner is all you need to listen to NASCAR. Here is a detailed explanation of what analog, trunked, and digital scanners are and the difference between them.
Will NASCAR scramble or change to digital scanner signals?
Highly unlikely. NASCAR is and will continue to be broadcast in analog. When asked, NASCAR has repeatedly said there is no reason to move from analog. We agree as digital is very expensive and there is no business or logical reason to move. Note that some NASCAR official communication is done using digital frequencies so users cannot listen. Fans love listening and NASCAR will not be changing this anytime soon.
Are NASCAR scanner legal?
Yes. Here is an article that goes into great detail regarding police scanner laws in the US.
Is there a fee if I bring my scanner to the race?
No. You can bring your scanner to any race free of charge.
Any other helpful race day scanning tips you can think of? Add in the comments below.