Quick check. Raise your hand if this applies to you. How many out there record their tracking days to post online so you can show off to your co-workers and buddies?
Ah, I see a lot of hands up. Now keep them up if the next questions apply as well: How many turn the camera away from the track and focus it on you? Lots of hands going down. How many use a data collection system to review and understandhow they are driving? Hey — where’d the hands go?
Video and data analysis are powerful skill sets to add to your track day or racing toolkit. Whether you are just a Porsche Club of America track day fan or a pro driver, this will help you become a better driver. The payoff for becoming a better driver is lower lap times, as well as dead-on consistent and precise lines.
You’ll have people asking you for your autograph and hints on how you passed them and left them in the dust. OK, maybe not the autograph part. But you will get attention when you are the driver nailing every corner with a perfect line.
There are systems out there that fit everyone’s budget. On our 911 GT3 Cup, we use Race Keeper,but there are plenty of cellphone apps and wired video/data loggers to choose from.
Just taking the first steps and focusing the camera on you will pay dividends. Watch yourself, and study how you are reacting, where you are looking, what you are doing on the track. You might discover that you have what I call the “mad man red fog” driving demeanor — singular eye focus only in front of you, death grip on the wheel, sweating, resting your hand on the shifter, fidgeting, elevated heart rate, etc.
Don’t worry — “mad man red fog” is a curable condition. Get some white tape and a marker. Place a piece of tape on your wheel and write down: relax hands, breathe, stay calm and scan track/mirrors. Leave yourself prompts to adjust what you are doing in that driver’s seat.
The goal I teach my students is that you want to look as if you are on a Sunday drive in the park. Cool, calm, effortless. No sweat, no mess. Just a relaxing drive. You want to look as if you are bored. Keep your heart rate down. I’ve found just these prompts have made a good driver a better driver.
What are your hands doing in a corner? The more you have to turn that wheel in front of you, the slower your lap times. In the ideal corner (baring an increasing or decreasing radius), your hands will only move one major movement for the corner with trimming to adjust for traction at maximum g load.
If you find yourself turning into a corner and then either continuing to turn the wheel in the corner or having to unwind the wheel before exiting the corner, then you are possibly choosing an apex that is too late or too early. You’re either having to scrub speed down and turn more to get back to the corner or to drive out of the corner to keep on track.
Adding data analysis
Basic data that will help you: mph, lateral g-forces, and inline g-forces. The shape of each can give you clues and information you can use to work on becoming a better driver. Have the data reviewed and learn how to review it yourself.
From working with my coach (yes, coaches have coaches), we noted that I had more braking ability into Turn 4 (China Beach). We switched to a different set of slicks, and they gave me more braking ability that I was not capitalizing on. Meaning I could go further, faster and brake harder with the help of the aero package.
Plainly spoken, I left time on the track. You can see this in the braking graph above. T4 should generate the most braking forces for Mid-Ohio. The aero package is working and the brakes can sustain a higher peak load longer. The peak in the outlined circle is a 1.8 g load on the brakes. The result is the mph graph will have a steeper descend, and I will cut my lap times even more.
So next time you are at the track, turn that camera around and check out some of the available data-logging systems or get in touch with some data experts. Adding video and data analysis to your repertoire will help you become a better driver with faster laps, tight lines and the admiration of your track day friends.