Highlighting Race Heroes at Canadian Motorsport Expo

Race Hero booth at Canadian Motorsports Expo in TorontoWe’ve just returned from the wintry, snowy, cold Canadian Motorsport Expo where we showed off the latest development version of RaceHero ahead of our official March launch.

Using data recorded from actual races, we created a looping demo to demonstrate live timing features like up to date position, best time and lap as well as a complete lap time and position history for each racer.  Results for runs along with entry lists and event schedules are all driven directly from the timing and scoring software, in this case MyLaps Orbits 4, however our service can work with any T&S software that exposes a suitable data stream.

Our goal is to capture the story of race heroes.  Whether that is the battle for the lead or a scrap for 15th, we are highlighting the best racing of the event in a way that is personal and contextual.  But if you don’t know any of the people involved in the race, it can be hard to get excited about a new personal best or track record.  Besides, who doesn’t love cheering and jeering for the Pros?  So for our launch we’re pulling in data from a well-known series to showcase the analytics and stories with names and teams that are familiar to everyone.  Keep an eye out for some tweet-worthy stats and screens!

Startup Notes

For startup enthusiasts, we learned a “how to work the crowd” lesson from PRI where we had remote-controlled trucks with MyLaps decoder boxes and transponders running live around a miniature course.  It was a lot of fun but the size of the booth restricted the number of simultaneous participants. In a two-truck race, there can really only be one race hero and that’s not much fun!  This time we used an Apple TV with Airplay mirroring to let anyone play with the iPad and see the results on the big screen TV.  When explaining how we identify and display race heroes to groups, it was far more effective to use the TV where everyone could easily see what we were talking about.  For one-on-one conversations the iPad was perfect.  Plus, anyone could pull out a phone and connect to our wifi spot to check it out on their own.  As a bonus, this took half the number of people as it did to keep a bunch of racers and their R/C trucks on course and in control!  Thanks go to Developer Dan for packaging it in time for the crowds.

What does it mean to win?

Ever since the second vehicle with a motor rolled out of the factory, winning has been primarily defined as:

“To achieve victory or finish first in a competition.”

As racers, this is certainly the one that we are most familiar with: the top step of the podium, the biggest trophy, photos with the girls and maybe even some cash.  But there is another definition:

“To achieve success in an effort or venture”

For everyone else on the grid, this is the one that keeps us coming back.  Success is what makes a heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty1.  Can we set a new personal best?  Can we beat our buddy (or our nemesis)?  Are we more consistent than last time?  And of course, is our average finishing position getting better or are we exclusively turning those Benjamins into noise?

Lap and position chart for 25 Hour endurance sports car race

There are some answers in the numbers.  We’re living in an era of “big data” where we learn (sometimes surprising things) by sifting through massive amounts of information, looking for patterns, and turning it into intelligence.  RaceHero can tell you a lot about your performance, your competitors’ performance and how both change over time.  We can highlight your successes with achievement badges and offer suggestions on where you can improve so each time you take the green, you’ll be winning, however you choose to define it.

Achievement badges screenshot

All of this information is generated automatically when timing and scoring personnel runs our AMB / MyLaps Orbits plugin, which automatically turns numbers into fun and informative intelligence that you can learn from, share on Facebook or simply use to talk smack with your buddies.

If you’re looking for more from your live timing and race results, point your timekeeper our direction.  Look for an official launch in March for the 2014 race season.

[1] – “Racing makes a heroin addiction seem like a vague longing for something salty” is attributed to Cycle World columnist Peter Egan

 

Twenty Five

For the eleventh time, NASA held the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in Northern California.  Unlike a Daytona or Le Mans, this race has a reputation as a challenging one-off year-end shootout.  It has a unique charm all its own with cold December weather and a mix of grassroots amateurs and high-dollar professional efforts.  The winning Audi TT-RS this year, flown in from Germany, circulated 705 times covering 2016 racing miles.  Green-flag lap times around the 3-mile road course range from the high 1:30s for sports racers to the low 2:20s for production cars demonstrating the diversity of equipment on track.

An hour longer than most mega endurance races meant one extra hour to test our RaceHero software. As four-time participants at this event, the value of data in endurance racing have been on our minds for a long time.  We’ve been inspired by custom tools based on the AMB/MyLaps Orbits RMonitor feed and knew it could be done better.

While the teams braved sub-20F weather overnight, we worked from a dry, cozy room with the NASA timing and scoring staff on the second floor of the control tower.  From the green flag, we began sending lap times and positions to the RaceHero servers and recorded thousands of passings.  Lap time and position histories made it easy to watch teams claw their way through the field and suffer setbacks.  Long lap times with corresponding position loss showed pit stops and mechanical repairs.  Monitoring constantly-updated gaps between teams showed the close battles on track.

While we aren’t buliding RaceHero specifically for endurance racing, the Endurance-Radio.com broadcast team had us on the edge of our chairs throughout the night.  Each time they would debate a strategic decision, or ponder whether a team had the pace to make up a gap, or wonder how long a car had been in the pits, we turned to each other and said, “they need RaceHero to answer that question!”

Pretty soon, we’ll give it to them and to everyone else who can’t get enough of racing.  Whether you’re the racer, on the pit wall or sitting in a dry, cozy room somewhere, RaceHero will track, analyze and share your racing.

Let’s stop wandering the paddock

Race weekends still operate like it’s 1999 and we’ve had enough.  Enough of standing in lines, of dealing with paper, of waiting for results to be posted on a wall somewhere.  Let’s change the way this works.

Let’s stop wandering the paddock looking for entry lists, schedules, grid sheets and results.  Let’s start using technology to help us track, analyze and share our racing on any device.

Let’s stop juggling stopwatches to track our competition’s lap times.  Let’s start using the timing and scoring system that already has accurate data to the millisecond and can show us every lap ever turned.

Let’s stop celebrating only the podium finishers.  Let’s start recognizing the great battles, personal bests and hard charges that happen throughout the field and make it easy to share with our friends and family on Facebook or Twitter.

Let’s stop trying to remember our fastest lap time or the track record for our class.  Let’s start getting that information automatically when we arrive at the track encouraging us to improve.

Let’s stop guessing where we stand in the championship or waiting months for points to get posted to a website.  Let’s start receiving results instantly with points calculated on the fly.

RaceHero brings everything about your racing to your pocket in a fun, social way. Use it to learn and improve or simply to bench race with your buddies.  However you use it, your days of wandering the paddock are over.  Hello 2014!