There’s a lot I don’t understand about car culture, motorsports, and racing. Help me out.
Last week, when I was coaching at Thunderhill, I overheard a conversation where two drivers were talking about lap timers. They were mulling over the $5 phone app vs. the $500 dedicated devices. I barged in on this conversation because this is a subject I know a little about having owned 5 devices (TraqMate, RumbleStrip, AiM Solo DL, Racebox Pro, Apex PRO) and 4+ phone apps (Harry’s Laptimer Petrolhead Edition, TrackAddict, CMS Pro, Hotlap, and several that are discontinued).
There are 3 reasons to have a lap timer.
- To log your lap times
- To get immediate feedback on driving “experiments”
- To examine your driving after you get off track
My stance on this is that phone-based apps work great for logging lap times. Even though your phone updates its GPS only once per second, you can get accurate lap times to the tenths of a second because the software interpolates your position. I still use CMS Pro and TrackAddict from time to time.
If you want to ask questions such as “if I enter start braking at marker 3 instead of 2, how does that affect my corner?” then a phone isn’t so great. For these kinds of driving experiments, you need a delta/predictive timer that updates several times per second. 10 Hz is common, but some older devices update at 5 Hz and some newer ones are 15-20 Hz. My favorite delta timer is the RumbleStrip DLT1-GPS, which updates at 10 Hz. That’s good enough, and while I’ve never used a 5 Hz device, I’m betting that works fine too.
To examine your data when you get home, you’ll need a data logger. The AiM Solo is a really good product. You’re partly paying for the device and partly for very mature software. I’m very happy with my AiM Solo DL and I use it in the racecar all the time. It also works as a delta timer, but I prefer the giant red LEDs of the RumbleStrip.
During the conversation, one driver said he has never timed himself. If this was a rookie driver, I could understand it. But this is a driver who had been attending HPDEs for a few years. And never timed himself? I don’t get it. How do you know if you’re improving as a driver? How do you know if your new tires are better than the old ones? How do you know if weather affects performance? How are you going to answer driving questions without data? I guess by not asking questions. I can’t imagine driving without experimenting. I never go for a drive just for fun because the street is no place to conduct experiments. I guess I’m not a very enthusiastic driving enthusiast.