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Getting ready for a track day/weekend: Recording a lap-based session

August 25, 2015

It’s Thursday and you’re looking forward to an awesome day or full weekend of on-track gloriousness! Whether you are doing a track day or a full wheel to wheel race, there’s a bunch of stuff on the list to prep.

One thing that you are probably thinking about but that is easy as 1, 2, 3 is how to record a session on Track Attack.  This article is intended to help get you and your phone ready to record a lap-based session (road racing, oval racing, rally-x or whatever other shenanigans you’re driving).

Before getting to the track:

  1. Make sure Track Attack is downloaded on your phone.  Track Attack is free to download and try 3 times before buying.
  2. Make sure you’re registered with a user name.
  3. Go to settings and pick your preferences:
    • Set the video quality you want for your sessions, if you’re recording video.  Check the amount of available storage you have on your phone and estimate how much space you’ll need based on the # of sessions you are going to run.
    • Decide if you want to use ‘Auto-Start’ feature.  This is super helpful in that it will initiate video and data recording automatically, once you hit the designated speed.  Note – you’ll still have to hit ‘Stop’ at the end of your session.
    • Download/update the Track Database!  Many tracks have shotty data connections because they are more remote, so when you download the Track Database, you will have everything you need to be able to record sessions without a data connection.
  4. For Windows and Android phones, you can ‘pin to start’ or create ‘widgets’ for the track you are going to drive so that you can initiate a session recording with one click from your home page!
  5. Double check connections to your accessories.  Some of  you are using external GPS devices for data sampling at 5 or 10hz and GoPro cameras (Windows Phone only right now).  Double check they have been paired and are showing the right status’ on the recording screens.

That’s it!  To be honest, we personally do #4 for all the tracks we typically race and #5 each morning.  Sometimes, the external GPS lose the pairing relationship with the phone (not the app) and need to be re-paired.  This appears to happen maybe once a month or so.

Before heading out to pre-grid:

You’re at the track and ready to head out to your session.  Here’s what you should do to get your session started:

  1. GPS check – we rely on GPS signals to accurately tell you what tracks are nearby and record data.  To jump start the accuracy of your GPS, launch your default mapping app and hit the button to center on your current location.
  2. Launch Track Attack.
  3. Select your session type (Road Course in this example).
  4. Select your race track.
  5. Hit Start AFTER the GPS accuracy turns green OR have your ‘Auto-Start’ feature turned on.
  6. As soon as you hit the designated speed (if Auto-start is on) and cross the start/finish line, lap timing will reset.
  7. Each time you pass the start/finish line, your lap time will flash for 5 seconds.
  8. Hit stop when you get off track or pass through the checkered flag.

That’s it!  TA will take you to the session summary page for that session.  If you recorded video, you can immediately playback any of the laps you drove.

 

 

As we’ve mentioned previously, in the Pacific Northwest, there are two main motorsports competition organizations for road racing; Northwest Region of SCCA and the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC).  Despite the more regional focus of the ICSCC (conducting races only in Washington, Oregon and Vancouver, BC), it by far ends up with larger fields across the classes.

Most classes are the same as those found in the SCCA and NASA, such as Spec Miata, the new Spec E46, Formula V, Formula Ford, etc… but PRO3 is unique to ICSCC (they are more powerful and slightly more capable Spec E30’s).  So, this was Round 5 of the calendar, held at the challenging and dangerous, Pacific Raceways.

Mid-season updates!

A couple races ago, at Spokane County Raceway, we ended the weekend on a high, getting the electrical demons from a bad MAF mostly sorted out and a strong run on the final points race.  The downer was that we noticed one of the front Koni yellow shocks had started leaking mid-way through the weekend and by the time we got home, the shock had dumped all of the remaining fluid in the trailer.  While the Koni’s perform well and are double-adjustable, we had been looking to move to something different because of non-clicking adjust knob nature of the shocks.  Unlike most modern coilover setups, when you wanted to adjust compression or rebound, the knobs didn’t click so you never really knew how much to ‘turn’ the knob and it was difficult to feel the difference – making set up changes pretty challenging.

So we turned to Fortune Auto and their 510 road-race only series coilover setup.  These coilovers are all custom made-to-order.  You cannot buy them off the shelf.  We contacted Fortune Auto, talked to them about our series, the car and the types of tracks we run and ended up with a setup made just for the Track Attack #209!

 

Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers for the PRO3 Track Attack #209

Fortune Auto 510 Coilovers for the PRO3 Track Attack #209

We go them installed with the help of our Crew Chief, Bryce Allen from Southlake European, we partnered with local hot-shoe, ex-pro driver and instructor/coach, Ted Anthony Jr. for testing day at Pacific Raceways.  After a full day of running, twisting knobs, tire pressure/temperature checks and changing drivers, we felt the car was dialed in and ready to turn some competitive laps for the weekend.

Thanks to Fortune Auto and Vivid Racing (who we purchased them through) for the great quality product and support!  Despite the 510’s being only single adjustable for both compression and rebound, they did everything we needed them to do and for half the price of the super-high end product.  The performance, quality and value is unmatched!

Qualifying

First, we decided to run the Track Attack PRO3 #209 in two groups (or two races); Group 1 is the main venue for the PRO3 class championship and Group 8, the venue for the Northwest Endurance Championship.  The endurance championship holds an endurance race each race weekend, with longer races to book end the start and end of the season (2, 6, and 8 hour races).  For the second time, we partnered with Ted Anthony Jr to co-drive in the endure after previously winning the PIR and Spokane rounds.

For Group 1 qualifying, the goal was take the 1:35.3xx lap times we had been able to clock and stick with the top 3 current runners, to catch a draft and punch our ticket into the mid to low 1:37.xxx lap times.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get out to pre-grid on time and despite putting down solid and consistent mid-1:38’s, we were stuck in no-mans land, too far from the next front runner and too far ahead of the next front runner.  We ended up qualifying 9th in PRO3 but feeling good about the race pace. Click here to watch the session (open in new tab or window).

 

Car Tender Challenge Group 1 Qualifying - where is a draft?!?!?

Car Tender Challenge Group 1 Qualifying – where is a draft?!?!?

For Group 8 qualifying, Ted took the wheel and battled with 2013 PRO3 champion, Cody Smith for pole position in the ME2 class of the enduro.  In the end, he edged Cody by .10 seconds to put us on pole for the race!  Cody would be partnering with Hank Moore, owner/operator of Advanced Auto Fabrication (who refreshed the #209 over the previous off-season).

Check out Ted’s qualifying fast lap here – using an iPhone 5, Optrix wide angle lens and a Ram Mount Claw holder/mount! Click here to watch the fast lap!

1:37.043 - one pole for the 1-hour endurance race and the fastest the #209 has ever gone around Pacific Raceways!

1:37.043 – one pole for the 1-hour endurance race and the fastest the #209 has ever gone around Pacific Raceways!

Race Day!

Group 8 1 Hour endurance race – ME2 class on Saturday afternoon

For the race, we decided to have me (Gama Aguilar) start the race with the objective of staying up front, creating the biggest gap possible to the next contenders (Hank in the AAF PRO3 2013 Champion car) and Bruce Humberstone (solidly fast driver in the Basto’s DTM era livery car) so I can hand over the car to Ted in 1st position and have him close the race.

Thankfully, we had our comm’s in great shape and got a good start, temporarily getting in front of faster class cars that Hank and Bruce would have to deal with and putting a gap.  A few laps in, there was a healthy enough gap to Bruce in 2nd place that I could start running qualifying style lines but suddenly, the waving white flag came out in 2, indicating a slow emergency vehicle on track (which ended up being near the turn 5a entry – killing a lot of my momentum).  I had to slow to respect the white flag and that let Bruce close the gap.  From then on, the gap would widen and shrink from lapping traffic, my own mistakes and good runs.  A couple laps after the pit window opened, feeling I had a good gap to Bruce, we pitted for the driver change.

During the pit/driver change, there was confusion about the minimum time required for the pit (1 minute stopped or 1 minute total).  We took the conservative approach, assuming the 1 minute pit requirement started after you came to a full stop but our closest competitor took only a 1 minute pit/driver change total – putting them in front after the pit stop.  Instead of arguing, Ted put his head down ate up the lead.  With about 10 minutes left in the race, Ted got close enough to go for the lead and in lap 26, he and Kevin Doyle exchanged leads a couple times with Ted ending up with the lead at the end of the lap.  From then on, he steadily built on the lead and with a late race off by the Basto’s car, we ended up with a win by 30+ seconds!

Check out the full race here – shot with a Lumia 640 phone, GoPro Hero 4 and QSTARZ 818XT.

Group 8 - 1 Hour Endurance Race.  We start on pole and come out with a win!

Group 8 – 1 Hour Endurance Race. We start on pole and come out with a win! Click on the link above and open in new window.

Group 1 Race – Sunday mid-afternoon

Finally!  The big race!  The race was run mid-afternoon, in about 80-85 degree weather.  Starting 9th in PRO3 and 14th overall put us in row 7 of the grid, close enough to make charge with a good start.  Historically, we’ve had decent starts with most improving race after race.  Thankfully again, we had our comm’s down really well, got a good start, positioned the car well and coming out of turns 3b and 6 was able to take advantage of the traction that would wear out as the race went on due to the heat.  By the end of lap 1, we were in 7th place, getting ready to overtake for 6th place on the main straight.  After getting into 6th, the race settled down for the most part, just outside the draft distance from the next car and just far enough from the trailing car and the pack that was battling hard for 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th place.

At some point the 4th place car retired, putting us in 5th place and though we were cutting the lead to 4th, we finished the race in 5th after a tough wreck ended the race under full course yellow.

The 5th place finish was a solid performance and with Ted’s help, showed the car has the capabilities to fight for podium positions every race.

Check out the full race here – click here and open in a new tab or browser window.

Making a charge on the first lap!

Making a charge on the first lap!

What’s next?

We have a few weeks of a break before the next race at Portland International Raceway, the weekend of August 22/23.  We plan on doing routine maintenance, prepping some new sticker tires and hoping for continued sunshine.  We will be running the same groups and this time, partnering with Cody Smith from Code Red Racing on the 1 hour endurance race and he might run the #209 in the Group 5 race.

 

Heading out for the 1 hour enduro!

Heading out for the 1 hour enduro!

Coming in for a pit stop and driver change.

Coming in for a pit stop and driver change.

Winning!

Winning!

Ted bringing some Dirt Fish action to the pavement.

Ted bringing some Dirt Fish action to the pavement.

Waiting for a driver change.

Waiting for a driver change.

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

 

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