RaceHero Debuts Leader Light Demo at 25 Hours of Thunderhill

IMSA-style system built with off-the-shelf parts brings pro technology and excitement to amateur racing

#6 Stammer Inc / Bavarian Performance BMW M3 hopes to cross the finish line with their RaceHero leader light showing P1

San Rafael, CA: The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance will be easier to follow this weekend with live timing app RaceHero and the introduction of a low-cost leader light system. Unlike proprietary, expensive systems that display a car’s running position using LED lights as seen in the TUDOR Sports Car Series and 24 Hours of Spa, the RaceHero light system is built with off-the-shelf parts and updates continuously around the 3-mile Northern California circuit using an inexpensive mobile phone connection.

The longest North American sports car race is also the darkest with more than 12 hours of nighttime driving. Participants and fans have a difficult time following the storylines and positions of the cars as they circulate in mixed-class racing for more than 600 laps. The RaceHero app keeps everyone – teams, officials and spectators – up to date by delivering real-time race data to smartphones, tablets and computers.

“The amateurs at Thunderhill battle just as fiercely as the pros at Daytona and we’ve designed RaceHero to capture and tell those stories with our advanced timing and scoring integration,” said founder Brian Ghidinelli. “With live timing, race results, entry lists and schedules in one mobile app, it’s the only thing you need during a race weekend to follow the action.”

The leader lights connect the racers in the app to the cars on track creating an exciting second screen experience for motorsport events. The system uses low-cost Arduino computers connected via Bluetooth to an in-car smartphone app that retrieves position data for each car from the RaceHero servers. The total system cost is $75 and was developed in the four weeks prior to the race as a technology showcase.

“I have so much love for professional racing and what their resources let them add to the experience,” said Ghidinelli, “but our leader light demo shows what is possible using smartphones and consumer-grade technology to make racing – at any level – more appealing to both the current and next generation of motorsport enthusiasts.”

The in-car smartphone app is not limited to displaying position on the LED board. It can also provide the racer with tactical and strategic data including lap times, gaps to racers ahead and behind, flag status and official race clock.

NASA co-founder Jerry Kunzman said, “The 25 Hours of Thunderhill has become a premier event attended by drivers and teams from as far away as New Zealand, Europe and Japan. The RaceHero app makes it fun to follow the action and the leader lights will add additional excitement to our TV coverage scheduled to air early 2015.”

The teams running the demonstration leader lights are:

  • ES – #6 Stammer Inc / Bavarian Performance BMW M3
  • E0 – #31 Hankook Tires / El Diablo Motorsports BMW M3
  • E0 – #82 BimmerWorld / Red Line Oil BMW 330i

The 25 Hours of Thunderhill begins Friday, December 5th at 4:45pm Pacific time with a one-hour combined practice/qualifying session. The 25-hour race begins Saturday, December 6th at 11:00am.

Entry lists, schedule, live timing and results will be available on RaceHero at http://racehero.io/orgs/nasa-norcal.

About RaceHero: RaceHero brings everything about race day to your pocket in a fun, social way. By looking beyond simple finishing position, RaceHero highlights big passes, personal bests and epic battles. Access entry lists, schedules, live timing and results from smartphones, tablets and laptops all driven automatically from the existing timing and scoring system. RaceHero is free to event organizers, promoters and racetracks and is available today at http://racehero.io.

Follow RaceHero at twitter.com/RaceHeroApp and facebook.com/RaceHeroApp

About NASA: The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) was formed in 1991 with the premise of delivering high-quality motorsports events to enthusiasts at major racing venues throughout the nation. NASA has created programs that allow owners of both racecars and high-performance street-driven vehicles to enjoy the full performance capabilities of their cars in a controlled professionally managed environment. NASA offers many different programs that will allow you to enjoy motorsports on a number of different levels, including our High Performance Driving Events (HPDE), Rally Sport, Time Trial, NASA-X and Competition Racing programs. For more information, log onto www.nasaproracing.com and connect with the community at Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Publish Race Results Before You Leave the Track

Has this happened to you or your timing team?

You finish another great weekend at the track as the Chief of Timing and Scoring. You load up your laptops, decoders and gear at 5pm and make the drive home safely.  You dump everything in the garage and go to bed exhausted but smiling. Monday is a blur of getting caught up and Tuesday is meetings all day long.  The “couple of minutes” you need to open up the timing laptop, generate the result PDFs and upload them to the website are scarce. Friends come over for dinner Wednesday and it’s Thursday night before you finally get a chance to unpack and publish the official race results.

The frustrating feel when No Race Results Found!

Unless you make your living in timing and scoring, you’ve got other obligations and interests Monday through Friday. Booting up the computer to spit out a bunch of PDFs and update a website is not high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, let alone your To-Do list.  So let us cross it off for you… permanently.

Introducing the RaceHero Results Plugin for Websites

Our Results Plugin automatically updates race results on your website without any action on your part!  Provisional results are automatically posted as each session ends.  Official results can be uploaded anytime: as they are certified, at the end of each day or the end of the race meeting depending on your schedule and officiating.  Adding it to your website requires a one-time cut and paste of a few of lines of HTML.

As soon as results become final, one click replaces provisional results with official results including penalties, adjustments and comments made in the timing software.  For most race organizations, your official results will be on your website before you leave the track.

Image of race results on SCCA club racing website generated by RaceHero plugin Our Plugin is a win-win – it eliminates the tedious job of generating and uploading PDF results to your website while also getting results into the hands of your racers, officials and spectators as soon as the checkered flag is thrown.  By giving something fun and timely to your racers and fans, you will see more sharing on forums and social media which is free marketing for your race series.

How much happier will your racers be without having to wonder when the results will be posted?!?  How much happier will your T&S team be without having to come home from a long day at the race track to face more tedious computer work?  Those were rhetorical questions, we already know the answers. :)

Current RaceHero users, you can get the HTML snippet here. If you’re not using RaceHero yet, see what else you’re missing out on.

Live Timing Relay for MYLAPS Orbits Updated

At least here in the Northern hemisphere, it’s the thick of race season.  And race season is always a blur.  We’ve been at the track nearly every weekend running RaceHero in private and public tests across North America.  Our live timing and results app was run at the Toronto IndyCar weekend, SCCA June Sprints and Pirelli World Challenge in Sonoma plus dozens of club races and kart showdowns like NASA NorCal at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Championship Enduro Series at Blackhawk Farms plus a 4-Hour Enduro.

Screenshot of relay for Race Hero

Just like battle on track helps sharpen racecraft, live testing with flaky Internet connections, busy timing and scoring chiefs and racers with weak transponders have helped us improve our relay software. We’re excited to announce a significant upgrade and the immediate availability of version 2.13.1.  The latest update brings the following benefits:

  • Finds all MyLaps Orbits timing computers on the local network and presents a list with name and IP address for easy selection
  • Automatically reconnects to Orbits if the timing computer is restarted or the connection is lost
  • Newly redesigned “Live Event” screen helps you stream your event to the world in just two fast steps
  • Still runs 100% hands-free once connected: identifies runs as they start, the type (practice, qual or race) and automatically uploads provisional results when each run ends.
  • Added highly visible notifications if connections are lost plus system tray bubbles when the application is minimized
  • RaceHero asks for the venue you’re racing at so we can compare results from weekend to weekend.  We improved this selection and matching process.
  • Ran successful tests against latest MyLaps X2 Decoders and Orbits 5
  • Download size reduced 25% and packaged with a proper installer to create a desktop shortcut and Start Menu icon.

Screenshot of lap and position chart with pit stops from live timing for Race Hero

It’s the new late summer hotness! Download it now and start streaming your next race live to the pits and the world with RaceHero!

Download RaceHero Relay v2.13.1 for Timing & Scoring Operators

Racers, ask your race director or timing chief to download our relay so you can use RaceHero at your next race!

Public Sneak Peek

Burn the midnight oil.  Nose to the grindstone.  Shoulder to the wheel.  Pick your saying because we are squashing bug after bug as we move closer to our official release.

We’ve run dozens of live tests with friendly timing and scoring teams but this weekend marks the first time we’re both running RaceHero and telling racers about it.  There are two high-profile events this weekend where you can see race heroes in action:

SCCA Chicago's June Sprints logo

The June Sprints, “Not Just Another Race”, is running for the 59th consecutive time at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The legendary 4-mile circuit is hosting a SCCA Majors race where 300 top amateur racers will be competing for a piece of the SCCA Triple Crown. Competition starts with testing on Thursday and practice, qualifying and races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Logo for VARAC Canadian Historic Gran Prix sanctioned by CASC

The Canadian Historic Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport) will be hosting 220 vintage racers from Thursday to Sunday.  Featuring an enduro and a special Can-Am Showdown, anyone with memories of a famous car from their past will probably see something that makes them think about the good ol’ days.

Point your phone, tablet or laptop to http://RaceHero.io and you’ll find these events complete with entry lists, schedules, live timing and race results as soon as timing begins.

While you’re here, drop in your email address and we’ll notify you first when we start taking signups for Racer accounts where all of your results will be collected for you automatically!

Real-time Electronic Official Results

Picture of a race car crossing the finish lineOne feature that sets RaceHero apart from the alternatives is our ability to capture and post official race results.  Typically electronic results are marked as unofficial because the timing and scoring staff have not certified them as complete and accurate.

During a race, the RaceHero Relay is no different: we grab and display what the T&S computers see for live timing and provisional results.  Those rankings are subject to change due to many issues such as a missed transponder, a trip through the pits without a separate pit lane loop or post-race penalties and adjustments.

As soon as the checkered flag is thrown and the last racer crosses the finish line, the timing and scoring team begins a detailed process of making adjustments and verifying accuracy.  As quickly as possible, they publish provisional results.  For most sanctioning bodies, there is some fixed period of time for competitors to file protests or for post-race technical inspections where scrutineers may check the legality of parts, weigh competitors or perform other checks.  Once the racers clear tech and the stewards settle any protests or penalties, results become official.

It is at this moment that RaceHero becomes a true race hero.  When the T&S team clicks “print” for official results, they also click “publish” in the RaceHero relay to post the official results online, complete with flags, announcements and scorekeeper certification.  It is a, pardon the pun, carbon copy of the printed version except it is immediately available online for everyone to see and we can notify in real-time any interested party that the race results are final.  No more wandering the paddock.

Photo of fast motorcycle speeding byWe’ve been hacking through a huge number of event files provided to us by friends from sports car racing and karting organizations.  Today we reached a new parsing record: eight years of events for a karting club comprising 70 race weekends and 3,034 timed sessions in two seconds!  Now that’s fast.

If you’re interested in distributing official race results on RaceHero to all of your attendees with a single click, subscribe to our launch mailing list or drop us a line.

Photo credits: Flickr, hugojcardoso

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!