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All the latest and greatest and the what-not and the how-you-doin'.

It’s almost April and normally we’d be less than a month away from the first track day, or maybe already done a handful of test and tunes.  This year has been and will be a little different for good and not as good reasons.

Injuries

Last September, I finally one an amateur league race at our local outdoor go-kart track, Pacific Grand Prix.  This meant that I got upgraded to the ProAm league, where the competition is faster and more consistent.  So that first week in October, I participated in my first ProAm race.

It was awesome but unfortunately, on the last race, an over zealous driver who was trying to make a last to first epic drive, on the first lap, took out a couple cars and they eventually collected me as I was exiting the turn.  I finished the race and initially the hit felt like not much but as the days wore on that following week, it was clear that something was not right.

Long story short, that hit plus my decision to train for a half marathon (and little to no strength training) has resulted in a 6 month recovery period.  It is now almost  April and I am about 75% back to normal.

Lessons learned?  Being fit, warming up, stretching, having the right safety equipment and being aware of your competition during a race, even in rental karts is paramount.  If you sometimes become that hasty driver when the competitive juices start flowing, show restraint.  Not only will you likely drive much better but you won’t put other people’s health in danger.

Off-season Rebuild

As some of my have seen on our Facebook page, the Track Attack PRO3 car has gone over an extensive makeover.  We’ll have a detailed blog post in a few weeks but the car is night and day different.  Because of the extensive amount of work and that it was done in Spokane, WA (close to 5 hours drive away), the car has been gone up until a couple weeks ago.  Super excited about the car, to share the details and more importantly, why each upgrade or change was made.

Season schedule

With a hiatus of NASA northwest in 2015, this year we’re focused on a more regional but super competitive racing schedule with ICSCC and in the PRO3 racing series.  This is a spec series for BMW E30’s, similar to Spec E30 which is popular across the US but a little faster.  We’ll be campaigning an almost full schedule, revolving around 14 races, across 10 race weekends.  You can find the full schedule here and each of the race results.

  • The Ridge Motorsports Park Test & Tune | Early May
  • Pacific Raceways | May 17, 2015 – Results
  • Portland International Raceway | June 7th – Results
  • Spokane County Raceway | June 19 – 21st – Results 1, 2 and 3
  • Pacific Raceways (SOVREN Historics) | July 3 – 5th
  • Pacific Raceways | August 2nd
  • Portland International Raceways | August 23rd
  • The Ridge Motorsports Park Test & Tune | Early September
  • The Ridge Motorsports Park | September 20th
  • Portland International Raceways 8 Hour Enduro| Mid-October
  • TBD – 25 Hour of Thunderhill | Early-December

We’ll also have between 2-4 test race days to break in the new components, coaching and testing any in-season upgrades.

We’re also trying to figure out how to get to Thunderhill, Sonoma and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca sometime this summer.

Excited to get the season started and hear and see all about how our users are getting out there on track!

 

 

 

 

A couple months into the new year, we’ve made enough progress to have a good sense for what is achievable this year and what probably isn’t.  So, with sharing as much as we can, here’s what we’re focusing on for 2015:

 

1. Putting Track Attack into your hands

From the very beginning, we envisioned enabling drivers to accelerate learning and development by leveraging the shared knowledge of the community.  This means putting a number of features in place that allows everyone to contribute to the knowledge base and connect with each other.  Without giving away too much, here’s what you can expect:

  • Track specific profiles
  • Leaderboards
  • Driver specific pages
  • Ability to share whatever you want, however you want – you control what you share and how you share it

2. An incredible app experience

It took time to get Track Attack at feature parity across the three platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) and 2015 is when we go to the next level.  Here’s what we got planned:

  • Support for external GPS accessories on all platforms.  Android and Windows Phone are done, and we’re close to having it done with iOS.
  • Support for GoPro cameras.  Many of the phones have awesome cameras but sometimes we want different angles, wider views, to use it easier on Karts and motorcycles.  With GoPro support, we’ll make it happen!
  • Ability to export your video with the data overlay embedded.  This is done for iOS and we’re going to make this happen for Android and Windows Phone, one way or another.
  • Ruthlessly attacking bugs – we test, test and test again but we can’t cover all scenarios.  We’ll keep at it and make Track Attack as stable as we possibly can.
  • Improved usability – we want to make Track Attack as easy to use as possible.  Especially in the most time sensitive situations such as recording a session or getting to your highlight reel.

3. Helping you be a better driver

While we are going to enable our users to export session data to analyze however you want in Excel or any other statistical analysis program, we’re going to go one step further.  We are working with fast drivers and one of the world’s best driver coaches to make analyzing your driving easy.  There are great tools out there but for most of them require a race engineer or hours of setup and tutorials.  We’re going to take a crack at making that go away.

This won’t be for a professional drivers and teams but for the rest of us, it will be the best solution for driving at the limit, improving consistency and improving our fastest lap.

Timing?

So you must be wondering (as am I :) ) when all this good stuff will happen?  The work is already planned or underway.  You’ll see small releases against these objectives just about every month and we’re shooting to have culminated in a significant step forward each quarter.  It will be a long, tough and exciting 2015 and we hope you will join us on the journey.

 

Thank you for the support and here’s to a great to 2015!

Today, January 16th, 2015 we released the 1.1.10 build of Track Attack for Android.  The scope of what’s included is very similar to the Windows Phone 2.2 update, where the focus is to make it much easier to find your tracks, create sessions and get to your favorite sessions.  Here’s what’s included:

New Features

1. Enhanced Track Database Functionality

There is a new Track Database Page on the first level navigation.  Here you can start exploring all of the tracks on the official track database and update the locally stored track database.  Each track has it’s own profile page, where you can see the start/finish coordinates, a map preview of the track, the ability to designate it as a favorite track, drive it immediately or pin to the start screen.  More on this below.  We are super excited about this functionality and looking forward to rolling out more features on this over the next few months.

 

Track Attack comes pre-installed with the full official track database but by synchronizing with the server, you get access to all user-created tracks as well.

Track Attack comes pre-installed with the full official track database but by synchronizing with the server, you get access to all user-created tracks as well.

Screenshot_2014-12-17-19-21-23

See details for each track, mark it as a favorite or go drive it from this screen.

 

2. Enhanced Session History Functionality

You will also see that we’ve created the ability for you to designate sessions as ‘favorites’ which then can be brought up in a view specific to favorite sessions.

 

Notice the new heart at the bottom of the screen, here you can designate a session as favorite.

Notice the new heart at the bottom of the screen, here you can designate a session as favorite.

After the session has been designated as a favorite.

After the session has been designated as a favorite.

This is the history page but with the heart at the bottom selected, which shows just your favorite sessions.

This is the history page but with the heart at the bottom selected, which shows just your favorite sessions.

 

3. Get going fast with Track Attack Widgets

Create Tracks Widgets to your Home Screen: We know how stressful it can be on a track day or a race when you’re waiting for your session to come up and next thing you know, you need to be on pre-grid, strapped in and ready to go.  Even the few extra seconds it takes to have the GPS engine turn on, find the tracks around you and hit start can feel like an eternity.  With the the widget functionality in Android, you can create a track specific widget to get recording your session fast.

Note: We’ve made changes to memory management to enable this feature.  Moving forward, the core of Track Attack will install on the phone’s main memory and a separate folder will be installed in your SD card (if installed) to store session videos and data.  This will enable the widgets.  If you manually move all of Track Attack to be stored on the external SD card, Widgets will not be available.

Step 1: Go into the widgets menu in Android and find the Track Attack Track Tile

Step 1: Go into the widgets menu in Android and find the Track Attack Track Tile

Identify your favorite and regular tracks as favorites!

Step 2: Find your desired track and select it

The Tile will be created with the track name - simply select it and the app will go directly to the record session screen of that specific track

The Tile will be created with the track name – simply select it and the app will go directly to the record session screen of that specific track

 

Widgets for Favorite Sessions: Almost as stressful is when friends want to see some of your on track greatness and you need to get into the app, go to your sessions, find the fastest lap and then bring up that personal best lap time session.  Now you can also create session or the specific session to your home screen so you can instantly start watching!

Step 1: As in the picture above for creating a Track Tile, go into the Widgets options of Android and find the Track Attack Session tile.

Step 2: Place it somewhere in an available space and then the following steps and screens will come up:

Step 3: Select the Session you want to create a widget for - note, I have the favorites view enabled.

Step 3: Select the Session you want to create a widget for – note, I have the favorites view enabled.

Step 4: Select a specific lap (optional)

Step 4: Select a specific lap (optional)

Done!  The widget is created and when you select it, it will launch Track Attack and go directly to that session.

Done! The widget is created and when you select it, it will launch Track Attack and go directly to that session.

 

Folders on the Start Screen: Another really cool thing is the ability to use one of your available panes for all your tracks or favorite sessions.  .  For example below, I’ve a pane with all of my usual tracks, so with one click I can get going on the track.  I can imagine creating a folder with all of your personal best fastest laps or the races from each race weekend of the year.  Each phone platform has some really cool differentiators and this is one of the things that makes Android cool and similar to Windows Phone!

Use a pane to hold all of your regular race tracks!

Use a pane to hold all of your regular race tracks!

 4. Bug Fixes

We took care of all bugs that came through since the last update through our analytics.  As of now, there are no known bugs but that rarely stays the same for a while – stuff happens and crashes occur.  Let us know if you run into issues!

 

 

Yesterday, January 10, 2015 we released Track Attack 2.2 for Windows Phone.  It’s currently in the review process but should go through in the next 24-48 hours.  Here’s what’s included:

New Features

1. Enhanced Track Database Functionality

There is a new Track Database Page on the first level navigation.  Here you can start exploring all of the tracks on the official track database and update the locally stored track database.  Each track has it’s own profile page, where you can see the start/finish coordinates, a map preview of the track, the ability to designate it as a favorite track, drive it immediately or pin to the start screen.  More on this below.  We are super excited about this functionality and looking forward to rolling out more features on this over the next few months.

 

See the full Track Database and Update the database!

See the full Track Database and Update the database!

See the detailed Track Profile, add them to your favorites, pin them to Start or drive them right from this screen

See the detailed Track Profile, add them to your favorites, pin them to Start or drive them right from this screen

Add them as a favorite track!

Add them as a favorite track!

 

2. Enhanced Session History Functionality

You will also see that we’ve re-arranged the History page:

  • All Sessions: This is the familiar view you’ve had in the past where it shows all of your sessions, sorted by default with your most recent sessions first and now we’ve included the ability to change the sorting from descending to ascending.  Here you can also still synchronize your sessions with the sessions on your online profile.
  • Favorite Sessions: Now you can go into a individual sessions and designate them as favorite sessions and those will show up in this section.
  • By Track: Sometimes you just want to see your highlights and in this view, we show your top 5 lap times by track driven.

 

New History Page

New History Page

All Sessions - same as before

All Sessions – same as before

See just your favorite sessions

See just your favorite sessions

See your favorite laps!

See your favorite laps!

 

3. Get going fast with Pin to Start

Pin Tracks to Start: We know how stressful it can be on a track day or a race when you’re waiting for your session to come up and next thing you know, you need to be on pre-grid, strapped in and ready to go.  Even the few extra seconds it takes to have the GPS engine turn on, find the tracks around you and hit start can feel like an eternity.  With the ability to pin race tracks to the start menu, now you can simply select your track and get driving.

Pin tracks to start!

Pin tracks to start!

Pin all your regular tracks to Start!

Pin all your regular tracks to Start!

Pin Favorite Sessions and Laps To Start: Almost as stressful is when friends want to see some of your on track greatness and you need to get into the app, go to your sessions, find the fastest lap and then bring up that personal best lap time session.  Now you can pin that session or that specific lap to your Start screen so you can instantly start watching!

Pin a specific Session to Start

Pin a specific Session to Start

Pin a specific lap to Start

Pin a specific lap to Start

Folders on the Start Screen: Another really cool thing (if you have an 8.1 Update 1+ Windows Phone) is the ability to create folders on the Start screen.  For example below, I’ve created a folder with all of my usual tracks, so with one click I can get going on the track.  I can imagine creating a folder with all of your personal best fastest laps or the races from each race weekend of the year.  Each phone platform has some really cool differentiators and this is one of the things that makes Windows Phone an awesome platform!

Create folders for your regular tracks, personal best laps or sessions!

Create folders for your regular tracks, personal best laps or sessions!

 4. Critical Bug Fix

Users of Track Attack with an external GPS device might have experienced some weird errors like the screenshots below.  The root of the issue is that while these external GPS devices provide sampling at 5 and 10Hz, which is great!  It also comes with bad data at some times, primarily speed values of NaN and “infiniti”.  When and how often these values are provided in inconsistent but Track Attack was not effectively managing these bad values when recording or playing back sessions that had those values in the data file.  In 2.2 we’ve fixed this issue and made sure Track Attack is rock solid when using external GPS sensors.

wp_ss_20141230_0003

NAN Speed values causing bugs

 

wp_ss_20141229_0004

This is the result of a session which collected a NAN or infinity value in the GPS data – unfortunately, the session is completely lost.

 

wp_ss_20141228_0006

If a session successfully recorded with a bad GPS value, you would have gotten this error. With the fix, the session will play back correctly.

 

2014 on the racing front was a great year, with a lot of highs and a few lows but all in all, a great year.  After an eventful end to 2013, the focus moved from competitive time trials in a relatively high horsepower car (NASA TT3 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9) to the world of competitive spec racing. Why the shift?  Having the ability to start a fresh, I wanted to focus on becoming the absolute best driver I could be in one year.  This would encompass a number of activities but when it came to deciding on the car to drive, it came down to one make and model, a BMW E30 race car.  The E30 is an iconic car across the world but here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, one of the largest and most competitive club racing classes exists – the PRO3 racing class.  This is essentially a spec class (with the pro’s and con’s associated with any spec class) with over 70 known built race cars, 16 races over 12 or so race weekends and each race weekend having between 25-45 PRO3 cars on the grid, in a multi-class field as part of the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC). What’s a blog post without some cool videos?  Here’s an awesome documentary put out on the E30 car and PRO3 racing is featured about halfway.

Here was the plan for 2014 on the driver development front:

  1. Earn a full competition license for wheel to wheel racing.
  2. Drive a full schedule of NASA TTC events (more available track time to focus on my driving versus congested practice and qualifying for a race).
  3. Compliment NASA TTC with 5-7 PRO3 race weekends.
  4. Go Kart during the winter (indoor) and in between race weekends (Summer) in the respective racing leagues.
  5. Train for a half marathon in preparation for an 8 hour endurance race at the end of the season.
  6. Get within 3 seconds of the top 5 drivers at each race track.

So, how’d it go?

Earn a Full Competition License for Wheel to Wheel Racing

Mission accomplished!  In 2013, I completed a 2 day racing school and 2 of the 3 required races to obtain a full racing license with ICSCC (I could have gotten a NASA or SCCA license in 2013 but that’s a story for another post) and would have completed by 3rd race but the spectacular end to the 2013 season stopped me from being able to race the final race of the season.  So in April of 2014, I completed 3rd and final required race and a couple months later (due to additional volunteer working requirements), I finally got my license.  Here is the video of my final race where I started second from last as the licensing director staged us in a reverse qualifying order.

Check out the full race at the link above!

Check out the full race at the link above!

 Drive a Full Schedule of NASA Time Trials (TTC Class) Events

Though I shifted my focus to wheel to wheel racing, getting quality track time was also critical.  I love NASA and the NASA Northwest crew.  They put on a really good program which lets prospective racers or just drivers, experience and be around everything from their first time on the track, competitive time trials and even full on wheel to wheel racing.  A person can see the progression in person and it feels less daunting to move through the ranks.  I believe that because of this, the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed, there is a good amount of drivers but not too crowded and therefore, you get real quality track time.  I ended up doing all NASA Northwest weekends except the last one of the year at Portland (more on that below).  Each weekend prove valuable for working on my driving but also on-track testing of Track Attack builds.  Here are a few highlights from the year:

Big improvements in personal best lap times:

After the first race in April, we had the first NASA event at PIR (same track) but using the chicane configuration.  Once that first race was over, I had a ton of things I knew I could do better in but just wanted more track time to be able to implement.  So with the pro’s I listed above about NASA events, I made the most of them and dropped substantial time off my personal best lap times (in a PRO3 car the year prior that I had rented, in the low-1:38’s) hitting a solid 1:34.949 (not super fast but a huge improvement).

Fastest lap in 2013 - Right Click and Open in New Window

Fastest lap in 2013 – Right Click and Open in New Window

2014 Fastest Lap with NASA Northwest - Right Click and Open Link in New Window

2014 Fastest Lap with NASA Northwest – Right Click and Open Link in New Window

 

At some point, power matters:

In a mostly spec class, every detail makes a difference and I learned a year earlier than I had wanted that power is more than a detail.  The PRO3 car I purchased was built several years ago and while it was well set up, the engine pretty much original and tired.  The head had been replaced and ‘built’ but the bottom end was original with 230k+ miles (the odometer stopped working well before I had the car and it read 230k).  I knew I was going to be down on power from the get go but I was ok with that as long as the engine lasted the whole season.  It was not meant to be.  First, at the PIR NASA event above, we dyno’ed the car on a NASA standardized dyno (the one dyno used for all official dyno pulls to determine if a car is legal in class) and it put down 148whp – about 16whp below what a front running Spec E30 car puts down and between 30-40whp below what a front running PRO3 car puts down.  Disappointing but it at least provided perspective on what to expect. Second and finally, at the following month’s June NASA Northwest event at the Ridge Motorsports Park the engine decided it had enough.  After a day of testing on Friday which went well (made some progress on goals – a 2.5 second improvement from a year prior in a much more powerful PRO3 car I rented for a day), on the third session of a beautiful Saturday June afternoon, a rod decided it need to see the world.

End of the last lap, engine blows up - Right Click and Open in New Window

End of the last lap, engine blows up – Right Click and Open in New Window

After that weekend, it was time to make some expensive decisions.  Call it a year and start building a front running PRO3 engine or find a backup engine to get through the season?  Like all motorsport related decisions usually go, I went down the most expensive path – both.  Kind of.  I was able to find a decent running street engine that while it had wonky compression, put down a decent amount of power and was readily available.  I also gave a green light to start a front running engine build from Advanced Auto Fabrications in Spokane, WA – a shop that builds and maintains some of the best PRO3 cars around.  The engine would not be ready until the winter so it would be a 2015 investment.

2014 Sovren Historics featuring PRO3 Racing

Part of the reason I bought someone’s back up engine was to salvage the season but another reason was that PRO3 had been asked to be the featured racing class at SOVREN’s 2014 Historics event on 4th of July weekend.  3 days of racing all day long and 20k+ spectators watching some awesome racing and incredible vintage show cars.  I was able to get the new (to me) engine installed and ready to go with only a week to spare before the event.  Not only was it really fun racing the whole weekend but the lap times continued to tumble!  Below is the last race of the weekend, a shorter sprint race where positions were determined by the finishing position the previous day.  With 30+ cars in the field, I ended up just outside of the Top 10 at the end of the weekend.

Almost got them!  Right Click and Open New Link in New Window

Almost got them! Right Click and Open New Link in New Window

I learned a ton during that weekend in terms of my driving, the difference of a stronger engine and the right final drive ratio and tires, can make.  I left that weekend wanting more time on the track to be able to make the changes I wanted in my driving but not having to worry about other cars to protect a position or simply having too much traffic.

Personal Bests!!

With half the season gone, improvement really started happening at a quick pace, which was awesome!  I was able to make massive improvements on my personal bests at the three of the four major race tracks in the northwest.  Wasn’t able to make it out to Oregon Raceway Park this past year, despite it being one of my favorite tracks.

Pacific Raceways July 19, 2014 – 1:39.927

Taking the lessons I had learned from 3 days of hard racing two weeks prior, I put them to good use and squeezed out another almost 2 seconds from my personal best times.

1:39.927 - Right Click and Open in New Window

1:39.927 – Right Click and Open in New Window

 

Portland International Raceway – August 10, 2014 – 1:31.898

A month later I headed back to Portland with an ambitious goal of improving my fastest lap and cracking the top 10 in a dry weather race with PRO3.  The latter didn’t happen but I did improve my best times by another 3 seconds.  Two big differences – first was that I was driving with a new (to me) engine with ~10-15 whp more than the original engine.  Also, I had studied a lot of video and data from some of the front running drivers who had shared data.  My only goals were to have the same or slightly later braking points and carry the same speed as them through each corner.  In the end, due to having much less power than them still, I was able to brake at the same or later positions easily and in about half the corners, carry the same or more speed.  My last race of the weekend ended too early due to pushing too hard after getting bumped off the track on lap 1.  Lessons learned but still a was a blast!

1:31.898 - Right Click and Open in New Window

1:31.898 – Right Click and Open in New Window

 The Ridge Motorsports Park – September 21, 2014 – 2:00.393

Last time at The Ridge for the year and I went for broke.  With the engine developing a slight hesitation around 6k RPM’s in each gear, I knew I would have to push super hard to get some good lap times and perform well in the races.  Specifically at the Ridge, there are two somewhat significant up hills where being down on torque to other cars is a big disadvantage, so my goal was to carry as much speed as possible as I approached the hills.  All in all, it paid off in that I was able to improve my best lap time by 1.5 seconds from my last time out at the Ridge in August.

2:00.393 - Right Click and Open in New Window

2:00.393 – Right Click and Open in New Window

 How’d the rest of the plan go?

Go Kart all year long, indoor and outdoor:

This went mostly to plan.  I competed in the local K1 monthly racing league up until the car racing season started landing 3 podium finishes over the 6 months I raced.  Once summer arrived, I shifted to outdoor racing at Pacific Grand Prix, which is located right next to Pacific Raceways.  After a few months of the Amateur League racing, I finally got my first win and upgrade to Pro-Am.  Unfortunately in my first Pro-Am race I got taken out in the final race and resulted in some back issues that I’m still recovering from to this day.  I haven’t been back in a Kart but am hoping to be fully healed up by mid-January and karting as much as possible in the rain.

Train for a half marathon in preparation for an 8 Hour endurance race in October:

The training went well, as I did a 17 week training program, running almost 800 miles in 2014 and running a half marathon in just over 2 hours in September.  Unfortunately my day job created a conflict the weekend of the race so I was not able to do the Endurance race.

Get within 3 seconds of the top 5 drivers at each track:

Pacific Raceways – check!  The fastest times and near (or new) track records were in the mid 1:36.xxx. The Ridge Motorsports Park – close but not quite there!  I can’t seem to find the qualifying sheets but I believe the fastest laps this year were in the mid to low 1:56’s.  This puts me at about 4 seconds from the absolute fastest and possibly within the top 5 but I can’t confirm. Portland International Raceways – check!  1:29.2x was the fastest PRO3 lap time in August (and I believe the year) which puts my 1:31.898 just under 3 seconds away. Why does 3 seconds matter?  In a future post I’ll give more details on what’s going on with the car during the off-season beyond just the engine.  I think those changes will result in ~2 second improvements (maybe more in some tracks) alone and with improvements in my driving, I think that will at least put me in striking distance with the front of the pack.  We’ll see.

Wrapping up

2014 was a tough but great year for me personally on the driving front.  A lot of highs, some lows and it wasn’t cheap but it was worth it.  We’ll see what 2015 has in the cards but I’m coming back guns a blazing and I hope you all are too!  Here is to 2015!

Getting more than a facelift for 2015

Getting more than a facelift for 2015

 

2014 Technology Year in Review

December 29, 2014

With only a couple days in the year, wanted to take some time and reflect on a challenging but overall really good 2014 for Track Attack.

When we started out the year, we had finally launched Track Attack for Android officially out of the beta stage and were in the midst of moving Track Attack for Windows Phone out of Beta as well.  By May, we had Track Attack commercially available across all three platforms (Windows, iOS and Android) with in large part the same features on each version.

Screenshot_2013-06-05-14-55-05

Throughout the year we rolled out updates, just about once every other month for each platform.  Most of the time our goal was to introduce one or two new features and fix bugs that cropped out.  While we had a ton of bugs (and there are still some that exist, known and unknown) these are some of the features we are the most proud of:

Auto-Start

We all know how nerve racking it can be when you’re at the hot pits, gridding up or pulling up to the start line for your race or session.  The last thing you want to worry about is ‘hitting start’ before you get going, especially if you have gloves on or have positioned the phone behind you for a more complete video angle.  With auto-start, you simply go into the Settings screen, enable Auto-Start, set the speed that you want video and timing to begin at and start your session.  That’s it!  The app will automatically start recording and timing as soon as you cross the speed threshold you set for more than one second.  Here’s a quick video where we demonstrated how it works.

 

External GPS Compatibility

Related to the video above, making Track Attack compatible with external GPS systems that will sample at 5 and 10Hz was also huge.  Smartphones, with their internal GPS systems sample at about 1Hz (or one reading per second) which for simple calculate of lap times, works perfectly fine.  But for those who want to really dig into their data and figure out how to shave tenths of seconds or less, sampling at 5Hz is a minimum.  Throughout the year, we took on this challenge and have made Track Attack on Windows Phone and Android compatible with the main external GPS system accessory, QSTARZ line of Bluetooth products.  These products are well priced and have worked really well.  For iOS, we are working on the compatibility but are constrained due to the iOS certification process but expect to have this out by the end of January.  Below is a session recorded on an Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Qstarz 818XT, sampling at 5Hz.

Using a Qstarz 818XT

Right Click the Image and Open in New Tab/Window

 

Video Export

We know sharing is one of the top reasons people want an app like Track Attack and we spent a lot of time and efforts in enabling that through www.trackattackapp.com but thanks to your feedback, we realized that we needed to give our users options. This meant enabling you all to select a lap or full session and export the video with the data overlay at once so you can share wherever you want and create new videos. We heard you loud and clear and made efforts to make it happen. Unfortunately, this feature sounds a lot easier than it really is. In 2014 we made this happen for iOS, got 90% there with Android but hit some real roadblocks and have started exploring how to make it happen on Windows Phone. In 2015, we’ll get Android done and make it happen on Windows Phone, if it’s possible. Check out how it works on iOS below:

Thank You!

There’s a lot more that we did in 2014 but these are some of the highlights and we couldn’t have done it without your feedback and usage. We also couldn’t have done it without the great team of developers we’ve been able to assemble over the past year from all over the world. These guys are passionate and work tirelessly, usually in the evenings after their day jobs are done to make progress. Thank you to them in Canada, Italy and Ukraine!

Over the next week we’ll publish our plans for 2015 and hope you all will not just like them but give us feedback on how to make using Track Attack the must have app for when you hit the track, whether it be an oval, a drag strip, a road course, the cones or a dirt trail!

This past weekend, we released Track Attack 2.0 for Windows Phone.  Jumping to 2.0 is a big deal and something we’ve wanted to roll out for some time now.  While we have much more work to do, we’re excited about this release and getting the Windows Phone version of Track Attack on par with the iOS and Android versions.

Updated UI – Windows Phone Style

Every single screen has been revamped, updated and cleaned up.  Our goals was to make the UI as clean as possible while still retaining the fact that it is clearly, a Windows Phone app.

 

New, clean and modern!

New, clean and modern!

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Record Screen – Video On/Off Toggle

While the windows phone version of Track Attack has had the capability to turn off the video recording, users haven’t been able to simply hit the camera button again and turn it back on.  That’s changed!  :)  It’s a small thing but important.

Track Attack Record Screen

Fancy new toggle switch and use the front camera!

 

Record Video Using the Front Facing Camera

Also on the record screen, users now have the ability to switch their video camera used for recording from the rear facing camera (default) to the front-facing camera (if your phone is equipped with a front-facing camera).  This is important for a couple scenarios:

  1. Racers – in some race scenarios, you want to practice your ability to manage traffic or study other competitors who are trying to overtake you.  By using the front facing camera to record video instead of the standard rear-facing camera, you can keep a close eye on what’s going on behind you!
  2. All drivers – look where you want to go and look as far down the track as possible!  Those are some of the fundamental techniques preached by coaches far and wide.  Use the front facing camera and mount the phone in a position where you can study where you are looking.  Are you looking through the apex?  Are you keeping your eyes up?  Are your eyes moving across the track and through corners smoothly?  Now you don’t have to wonder and you’ll have the  lap times to figure out what impact changes in your techniques have had.

 

Bug fixes!

Each build we release, we collect anonymous user data to see how you all are using the app and really, to see when it breaks!  Each release we’ll include several bug fixes to make it perform faster and be more stable.  A lot of these fixes are for one-off situations and take really nerdy explanations, so unless it is one of our known issues, we won’t include much detail about it.

A few weeks ago our latest update to the iOS version of Track Attack was approved by the Apple App Store.  Here’s what is included on both versions of Track Attack (Original Paid and Lite with In-App Purchase):

1. 100% offline mode

Starting with this version of Track Attack, we are shipping Track Attack with the full track database included in the application.  This means you can download the app, lose data connection immediately and use Track Attack without any issues.  This works well for users who cross international borders or go to race tracks with no data connection.  A lot of times, they are lucky to get a hotspot to download the app but then have no other connection.

This also works for users who have data connection but want to make sure that an incoming call doesn’t disrupt their session so they take the SIM card out.

NOTE: Putting the phone in Airplane mode disables GPS completely.

2. Auto-start

This is one of our most requested features.  It is annoying to have to hit start right before heading on the track, so with Auto-Start, you simply set at which speed you want Track Attack to start lap detection/session timing and recording video and it will go from there.

Once you select the track you are driving, no more buttons to press.  Just hit the designated speed and it will start automatically.  Note, you still have to hit stop at the end of the session.

Set your auto-start threshold in Settings

Set your auto-start threshold in Settings

Auto-Start at pre-set speed threshold

Auto-Start at pre-set speed threshold

 

3. Average Speeds and Distance Traveled

You may have seen the fields for these values in lap-based sessions below and most of the time they had zero values but we got that fixed.  Now you will know the average speed and the distance you traveled in each session to help you dissect your performance and get faster!

Average Speed and Distances per Lap now displayed!

Average Speed and Distances per Lap now displayed!

4. Bug Fixes

There were a number of areas that we fixed based on feedback and crash logs.  You likely won’t see most of these but they will help the app run faster and smoother.

 

That’s it!  Make sure you have the update and tell your friends about Track Attack for iOS!

Today our latest update to the Android version of Track Attack was released and should be hitting your phones over the next 24-48 hours.  Here’s what is included:

1. 100% offline mode

Over the past couple of months, we received feedback from users that sometimes they were at a race track and the tracks in the database would not show up in the results and thus, they couldn’t record their session.  That is a frustrating experience, especially considering how precious those few opportunities to get on track really are to each of us. There are two root causes to the issue:

Weak or no data connection

Many race tracks are in remote locations or in different countries so when Track Attack queries the server, sometimes no track results can be returned.

Cold starting the GPS system

All GPS systems, even the $1k+ motorsports solutions take at least a few seconds to get warmed up after they are initialized and find your location.  With Track Attack, we want the app to immediately tell you which tracks are nearby and sometimes are our query process goes too fast and the GPS systems haven’t had time to get going and lock in on enough satellites.

So we are doing a few things to help solve the issue:

Track Database ships with the app

Starting with this version of Track Attack, we are shipping Track Attack with the full track database of official tracks included in the application.  This means you can download the app, lose data connection immediately and use Track Attack without any issues.  Further, the button found in settings will now function as an update to the track database locally stored and bring along the user-created tracks.  You will notice that the first time you launch the app after the update, it will take a few seconds to set up the track database.

Track Attack Track Database

The track database now ships with the app & the Cache Tracks button now updates the DB and downloads the user-created tracks.

Improved Track Selection screen

We’ve also made some serious improvements to the Track Selection screen.  Now you can:

  1. View the most recent tracks you’ve driven
  2. View the Official and User-Created Tracks near your location
  3. VERY COOL – Search Tracks!  Now you can search the whole track database right from your phone to see what is available.  This is something people have asked for and we’ll continue to make improvements to the track database view.

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With these new features and improvements, using Track Attack with no data connection and avoid GPS issues will be super easy!

NOTE: Putting the phone in Airplane mode disables GPS completely.

2. Support for External Memory Cards

Most Android smartphones have and support external memory cards but to date, Track Attack has only used the internal main memory.  With 1.1.7, Track Attack will now make use of an external SD card if it is detected.  In short, a portion Track Attack will always be in the main memory.  But now, it ill detect if there is an external SD card loaded and if there is a large portion of available memory, it will store session files there.  Now you can record HD videos all day and use up as much memory as your SD card can handle!

3. Improvements to Auto-Start

This is one of our most mentioned features but we had some inconsistent performance with auto-start starting prematurely.  We’ve made significant improvements and will continue working on it.  Auto-start is super important as we know, it is annoying to have to hit start right before heading on the track, so with Auto-Start, you simply set at which speed you want Track Attack to start lap detection/session timing and recording video and it will go from there.

Once you select the track you are driving, no more buttons to press.  Just hit the designated speed and it will start automatically.  Note, you still have to hit stop at the end of the session.

Set your auto-start threshold in Settings

Set your auto-start threshold in Settings

Reach the threshold speed to start recording and lap timing

Reach the threshold speed to start recording and lap timing

Check out all of these features and improvements being used in real time from our past weekend of racing:

4. Bug Fixes

There were a number of areas that we fixed based on feedback and crash logs.  You likely won’t see most of these but they will help the app run faster and smoother.

So go ahead and make sure you have the latest Track Attack build and tell you friends to get it on Google Play!

 

Our story begins in a strange situation I had never imagined. Our team was going to Formula D Atlanta. Out of all the rounds in FD that I had not driven Atlanta was the track I was most excited for, as I heard the fans were great and that the track was epic. Both things I would come to find as 100% truths.
For this round we wouldn’t have the full support like we had for long beach. The car was being transported by another competitor so we didn’t have all our tools or really any control over the car until it was in our possession. We also had a smaller team that consisting of my Father aka Papa Primo, Ray from Garage Autohero, and my GF Lindsey. Ray and my dad would handle the mechanical and maintenance on the car while Lindsey would be my spotter and driver manager. Although it wasn’t the most ideal situation I was incredibly comfortable with the team and was ready to drive.
We flew out Wednesday with a scheduled arrival of Thursday around 1 am in Atlanta. From there we would have a 1 hour drive to the hotel and hopefully some sleep before we head to Road Atlanta the next morning. I had been speaking with the other driver who was transporting my car and had been told he would likely roll into the track with my car right around the start of Thursday paid practice. I was ok with that timing as the car was ready to go for the most part.

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Thursday

Unfortunately in the morning before practice I got the news that the other driver transporting my car had issues with his car. Therefore he would not be making the paid practice on Thursday and as such my car wouldn’t make it either. It was a serious blow to the entire team. Let it be clear I don’t hold anything against the other driver as he is a great person and tried everything he could to make ATL on
time.

It’s just an unfortunate side of this sport we are all so dedicated to. It was a no win situation all around.

While it was unfortunate there were positives that came from this dire situation. Road Atlanta is a huge facility and as such it was recommended by other competitors to rent a golf kart for the track. So while we didn’t have a race car. We did have a race kart. Our team rode the kart up to the judge’s tower and proceeded to start watching the 4 hours of paid practice. Lindsey and My dad stayed by the judges tower while Ray and myself moved around all over the track watching from different locations. While it would be ideal to drive the course and learn by doing, I know it was successful for me to study the drivers like JR, Forrest, Tuerck, Essa, and others who would slay the course. The best part of Thursday was something personal to me as I got to hang out with Ray for a number of hours when we didn’t need to rush to fix something or work endlessly on a car. We just sat there, talked, and enjoyed each other’s company while we watched the other drive. I should also mention that Ray is expecting his first child in the next month and he and his awesome wife were kind enough to allow him time away to support me. This was pretty cool and I truly enjoyed the time. Once practice was over our team left the track and got some food and rest while we focused on the next day.

Friday

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Our team woke up early enough to go get the complimentary breakfast at our motel. It’s a staple to make the free breakfasts when you are on a race budget. I spent the other part of the morning answering emails while I kept checking my phone looking for an update on the car. Practice and qualifying were going to start at 4:30 pm. After breakfast, work emails, and some coffee our team headed to the track where we would spend some time waiting.
Finally at 1:00 pm the car showed up! Our team snapped into action and unloaded the car ASAP. I had to get to a drivers meeting and sign autographs all while Ray and my Dad would be prepping the car.
Again it was uneasy for me to do this but I don’t trust anyone more than those two guys with the car. I was now focusing in on what I needed to do and trying to come up with a plan for me to succeed. After the autograph session was over I got back to the car. While everything we hoped to do was not done it was as good as it would get for now. It was finally time to hit the track.

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I drove up the big hill of Road Atlanta and immediately got in line. I wasn’t going to waste any time getting to it. It was time to jam. I got to the start line and thought about all the things I saw from the day before. I came bombing down the hill and entered late and went off track into the “kitty litter” aka lots of rocks. I was full of frustration and anger. It was not the idea of me going off that made me angry, but more of how rushed I had to be and how much pressure I was feeling in the moment. I had a very short time to get a course down before qualifying where I would need to outdo the best drivers in the world for one of 32 spots.

But I wouldn’t be held back and my team was there to support me. Right back in line I went. This time I entered earlier as I am now finally realizing how fast this car is with the new Garrett GTX4088R and very sticky Achilles 123s tires. I drifted the entire course and for the first time seeing the whole track did pretty well. I proceeded to hot lap the course a few more times before a very quick tire change. I got a few more runs after that where I continued to progress on the unfamiliar course. I was off a few of the clips but for the limited time on the course I was feeling confident. I even managed to get my entry speeds up to 104 mph which is pretty quick. There were faster drivers but not many. It goes to show that our S14 has a lot of potential. I just need to further develop the car and myself as a driver.

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While it was dry thus far through the event, that was going to stop at this point as the skies opened up and started to pour once the top seeded drivers headed out for practice. The track changed significantly. It was really an unfortunate situation for all drivers as the monsoon began. But as qualifying started we were alerted by Formula D that all drivers would get a practice run just before their qualifying run to get a feel for the newly modified track.
On my first practice run I went down and essentially threw the car just like I did in the dry. This ended up in me pulling a 360 on entry and looked more like something from a movie than a drift competition. I went back up to the top of the hill for my first qualifying run. I came down the hill and initiated, this time allowing the car to float out vs throwing it. I was set up well and navigated my way through the very wet and slippery course. As I ended the run I knew it wasn’t the cleanest however I was on or near a majority of the clips and thought I would at least put something on the board considering the tough conditions. My spotter came over the radio saying “Good run!” As I got to the top of the hill I was then made aware that I got a zero on the run because I apparently straightened out at some point. I have been wanting to see the run but the footage hasn’t been uploaded at this point. So I really can’t say whether I agree or disagree.

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Leading up to my second run I was a bit concerned as the track was wet but in the process of drying. This is probably the toughest circumstances to drive in as it’s hard to predict what the surface will do as you navigate the course. However like the previous run Formula D chose to allow every driver to make a practice run on the course before they made their second qualifying run.
On my second run I made a run down the hill and entered drift. Again my entry was on point and as I started climbing the hill into the keyhole I was good. However I made the crucial mistake of getting off the gas too early as I thought the top of the hill would be a bit more slippery and wouldn’t have as much grip. This caused me to dive in early and zero out my second run.
I had no one to blame but myself. Formula D did a great job managing the rainy conditions and allowing each driver to make practice runs. It simply came down to me not doing what I needed to do. As I drove to my pit area behind the start line I was silent and didn’t say a word, and when I got to my area I sat in the car just reflecting on what happened. To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the century. But I know for a fact that there were a good number of other drivers just like myself in the same area feeling the same level of disappointment. So I picked myself up out of the car and gave each of my team members a hug and a thank you for the hard work. Our team then packed up our area and returned to the pits. Where shortly thereafter we would head back to the hotel for a rest.

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Saturday

The next day the team spent time talking with all the Atlanta fans and preparing the car for Miami. Wash and cleaning, fluid change, spark plugs, tire prep, installing of the new awesome Carbon ARP mirrors, refreshing the taillights and finally loading the car on the trailer. Doing this while talking to all the fans made for a very busy day and our team didn’t get a chance to actually watch the competition until mid-way into the Top 16.
I’m really glad we finally got to make it up to the course as it was an awesome Top 16. The highlight battle for me was JTP vs. JR both in Ford Mustangs. Watching those two drivers go at it made me realize how far behind I was in this level of FD and the only way to get better would be more practice.

Don’t get me wrong I believe in my skills, but looking at the top level drivers and teams you really see how far ahead they are in the series. Therefore at that point our team decided to make somewhat of a shift in our season plan. Due to a lack of team members for round 4 in Jersey we are going to forgo that round and instead spend money on season fees for the Formula D pro 2 series. Therefore for the remainder of the year we will be running Formula D Pro and Pro 2 events at Rounds: 3, 5, 6, and 7. Excited for some fun opportunities to come. Thank you all for the awesome support and I hope to do you proud!

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