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Viewing all the posts from May 2013

At 9104 Studios, as small as it might be today, we love technology and we love motor sports.  To help us develop the best solutions, we spend as much time on a race track and with racers as possible.  This enables us to come up with usage scenarios and get feedback from drivers, instructors and racing schools about what we’re working on.

With this in mind, we decided that 2013 was the year we would go feet first into competitive motor sports so we enrolled into the first available SCCA competition racing school available at our local racing school, ProFormance Racing School, based out of Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA.

How to get a competition license?

There are different ways that people go about getting their competition license.  Most paths involve some level of an initial day or half day of instruction on vehicle handling and dynamics, followed with lapping at a race track with a driving coach and at some point, you are given the ok to be on a race track on your own, without a coach.  The objective at that level is to make sure you are a safe driver for your own and other’s sake.  This is generally referred to a stage as having a ‘Sport Driving License’.

Once a track record of knowing how to control a car and be safe on a track, is established, then it becomes easy to know that you want to go after a competition license and be allowed to go after it.

What’s the big difference between a Sport Driving and a Competition Licensing Program?

There are a number of differences but I believe the main difference is the objective.  In a sport driving program, the primary objectives are for the participant to have a safe and fun time going around a track, i.e. not necessarily to be as fast as possible.  In a competition school, the objective is to train you to be a safe and fast race car driver.  Safety and then fast, fast, fast are the objectives.  Be faster than anyone else!

Time to go fast!

Having completed the High Performance Driving Education 1 day course at ProFormance and several open track days with the school, the competition license school was the best option to get licensed as early as possible in 2013.  ProFormance breaks down their program into two days:

Day 1:

  1. Classroom instruction about the racing world (club, pro-am and pro levels).
  2. Drills on braking, slalom while watching for flags and passing.
  3. Practice with a data collection session.
  4. Track tour
  5. Practice pre-gridding, gridding and start of a race

Don Kitch Jr - Chief Instructor

ProFormance Racing School

Day 2:

  1. Track time with instructors working on specific areas from the previous day
  2. Passing drill
  3. Medical examination (more of taking blood pressure and heart rates before and after a session)
  4. Practice
  5. Qualifying for a race
  6. Official race among school participants

The school provides cars to participants for a few reasons; create an even playing field, establish comparison marks so they know what to expect of performances and give people enough power to have fun but not get in to much trouble.

I had the black #11 below.

 

Racing School cars

Racing School Cars – Supercharged Chevy Cobalt SS

While the school end to end was invaluable, these were the highlights for me:

  1. High quality instruction: All the instructors have years and years of racing experience at various levels, in many cases at the pro Grand Am and American Le Mans Series!  They know what it is like to go fast and go fast with other fast drivers in VERY fast cars!  The quality of feedback that was provided was second to none.
  2. Using Track Attack to Accelerate Learning: Yes, a little biased but in truth, only a few other people had video going during any of the practice sessions.  More people brought out GoPro’s during the final race but what a lost opportunity!  I was able to use Track Attack during each practice session to record how I did, review after each session and most importantly, during the first practice session of Day 1, I had my instructor (pro driver and local hot shoe, Ted Anthony Jr) put down a hot reference lap for me to review and compare to my laps.
    1. What did I learn?  First, I wasn’t carrying as much speed as I could into a very complex section of the track where momentum is key.  He could carry the speed (entering around 70mph) and that told me the car could easily do it so if I don’t, it’s because of me and not the car.  Second, the car can easily carry an extra 5-8mph around a long, fast sweeper coming off the main straight away.
    2. How did this help?  The very next practice session, I was able to get within .25 seconds within his reference lap!
  3. Anyone Can Race Almost Any Car and Have a Blast!  No joke.  You’d think, a Chevy Cobalt SS?  Front Wheel Drive, stock with street tires and OEM brake pads and rotors?!?!?!  How are you going to learn to race with that?!??  Just like you would any other car but the saying is true about cars:  It is more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow.  You don’t need a crazy fast car, expensive parts and huge tires or wings to get on a track or even race wheel to wheel.  Just get out there!

So what’s next? 

This certification of completion was money well spent and paves the road for entering competitive racing with NASA, SCCA and ICSCC.  Specifically the Track Attack team will be doing two campaigns this year:

  1. Time Trials Competition with NASA Northwest – look out for future blog postings on this where we’ll give an overview of the car and each event!
  2. Wheel to wheel racing in a BMW Pro 3 spec car with ICSCC – we’re renting a full on race car and doing racing!

Regardless of what level of motor sports you want to get into, just get out there and start driving.  You don’t need a ton of money or a super fast car.  Just bring a good attitude, energy and your car to most clubs or sanctioning bodies and you’ll be able to get going soon.  See you at the track and don’t forget your mount!

 

 

 

 

 

You got your car ready, rented a helmet and downloaded Track Attack.  Now, you just need to figure out how to mount it securely.  So, which mount do you use?

In our year of developing and testing Track Attack, we used pretty much everything you can think so here are the options, pro’s, con’s and our bottom line recommendation.

Bottom Line: If you’re short on time and just want to know the best solution, it’s RAM Mounts.  The best place to get a Ram Mount for your phone is on Amazon.com:

  1. RAM Mount for iPhone 4
  2. RAM Mount for iPhone 5
  3. RAM Mount for any phone

The total cost of your mount should be ~$45+ Tax & S/H.  These mounts are so good, they are the exclusive mount for AIM Solo lap timers and we’ve had to off-track incidents, one involving a wall and another involving a ditch and they didn’t budge an inch.

There are three parts to the mount:

  1. The Phone Holder: this is the part that actually holds or cradles the phone.  In the wizard, you will find out if they make a phone holder section specifically for your phone (they make one that is designed specifically for iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5) OR if you have to use their universal X-Grip holder.  The mount that is made specifically for your phone is the best choice but the X-Grip works just fine too.  Read below for specific reasons.
  2. The Arm: The part that connects the Phone Holder to the part that is secured to your car.  The best parts about the Ram Mount are the way it loosens up to adjust orientation, the option on arm length and the how well it absorbs vibration.  Again, very much on-par with Go Pro mounts.  We have gotten great, stable video with the mounts and if there is vibration, it’s mostly because of the quality of the track pavement.
  3. The Mount:  There are a number of options here where you can have it be a suction cup to the windshield, a base that is put on the dash via an adhesive, drilled to the dash or even a u-bolt solution that will tie to tubes up to 1.5″ in diameter (for your roll cage).  We have primarily used the suction cup mount and it is top notch, on-par with suction cup quality of Go Pro stuff that will stick on anything with a clean surface.

Ram Mount X Grip Example

 

So what are the other options?

Track Attack App Mount Comparisons

Track Attack Mount Comparisons

Now that you know what the options are, get one and take it to the track!

Sources:

iClam for iPhone 5

iClam for iPhone 4

Optrix Waterproof Case for iPhone 5

Optrix Case for iPhone 4 and 4s

 

Track Attack 1.1.2 Released!

May 17, 2013

We’ve had a busy last couple weeks doing final testing and going through the approval process for Track Attack 1.1.2 on iOS.  As of this afternoon, it is approved and ready for download.  Here are the main changes with the build:

  1. Registration Bug: In some cases, new users would register via the app but not all profile information would make it to our servers.  The issue that would come up is that the app would through an error when looking at the Driver Profile and Race Car Profile page.  This issue is now fully resolved.
  2. Video Upload: Uploading large files over the internet is always tough no matter what the purpose or file type and we had our fair share of challenges.  The bug was primarily found when users would record 30 minute+ sessions in HD which would result in video files 2.5GB+.  The upload would sometimes get stuck at certain %, primarily because a packet would get lost in the process.  Well, we revamped the entire upload management process and made it bullet proof.  Two months and 100+ hours of testing later, we have an almost bullet proof upload manager.  We also updated upload performance management where the app will dynamically adapt and make the most of all available bandwidth to get your video uploaded ASAP.  In many cases we saw 3GB files uploaded in 1.5 hours using standard Comcast Cable Internet!
  3. General App Performance Improvements: Since we spent two weeks on testing after race weekends, we also took time and made several improvements to the code base to make the app generally faster and more bullet proof.  Most users should see responsiveness improvements across most screens.

As always, let us know what you think and we look forward to sharing updates on our V2 of Track Attack which is well underway!  So what are you waiting for?  Get on a track this weekend, drive smart, upload and share!

Gama

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