Q. We last spoke about six months ago. What are the latest developments with your app? A. It’s been a busy six months! A couple of big things.
New Developments To Track Attack App
by Ziva & Michael Allen
Gamaliel Aguilar-Gamez (Gama) is a marketing manager with Microsoft, a NASA club racer and an app developer. Back in March 2014 we reviewed video and data logging smart phone apps and Gama’s was included. His app is called Track Attack. Gama has been hard at work perfecting his racing technique as well as Track Attack and since, in just a few months there has been a lot of progress on both fronts, we felt it was time to revisit the app. The possibilities are quite exciting for track day participants who are looking to use data and coaching to improve their skills.
Q. We last spoke about six months ago. What are the latest developments with your app?
A. It’s been a busy six months! A couple of big things:
100% offline mode: We made big investments in making sure Track Attack can work 100% offline when users go to remote race track locations or cross borders. Starting next week, when we expect the iOS latest update to ship, each new version of Track Attack will include the full database built into the app from the start. Users can then update the database whenever they want, if they expect to be somewhere with no data connection.
Support for external GPS accessories: This is another key component of our foundational pieces for our bigger vision of enabling advanced analytics and comparisons across drivers. We now support the use of external GPS sensors that can sample at 5 and 10Hz on Android. This will be available on iOS in August and Windows Phones shortly thereafter.
Auto-Start: Lastly, in terms of fine tuning the experience and making Track Attack as easy as possible to use on the track when drivers are nervous and hurried, we have implemented Auto-Start. This gives the user the ability to designate the app to start recording video and lap timing/session timing once the driver gets to X speed. Check out this video we just released to show how it works:
Q. Tell us about your work with Ross Bentley and the integration of remote coaching while using Track Attack as a data logger. What will the arrangement be and how will the coaching work?
A. There are two main components to coaching on the track with Track Attack that Ross thinks is super valuable. One thing for today and another for in the future.
Rich post-session debriefs: From beginners to even club racers, instructors and coaches help the driver identify things they should focus on for each on-track session or even for the day. Have a plan and then work the plan! With Track Attack, the instructor or coach can debrief with the driver and do more than just ask questions that enable the driver to become more aware. The coach can immediately review the actual session, with data. Whether the goal is to brake later, get back on the throttle sooner, get the car turned sooner, be more assertive with the turn in or let the steering out sooner on exit, with Track Attack you can immediately see if the driver followed instructions and the differences it made for the lap times. No more “I think I was on throttle right before the apex” or “I think I stayed flat through the kink.” Now you can know for sure and use the session reviews to have more detailed and actionable notes.
Remote coaching: Ross and a number of coaches have students who they can’t join on track for each session. In many cases, they have debriefs the evening after a race/track day or a few days later. Today with Track Attack, the user can immediately share lap times and if they have a good data connection (or want to use their mobile data plan), share the video so the coach can review almost as if they were there, at the track. They can then have more rich post-session debriefs in between sessions or that same evening.
In the near future we will be rolling out a couple key scenarios for remote coaching:
Simplified advanced analytics – it’s one thing to see video, with speeds, track location, etc… to shave off whole seconds but as drivers get better, it gets more difficult to shave off hundredths of seconds. This is where advanced analytic software solutions from the big players are important, but they are incredibly difficult to use, let alone figure out what the most important views are to help the driver to get faster. We’re working with Ross and several drivers/coaches on the 3-5 most important views for drivers to have and coupled with 5 and 10Hz sampling, we’ll make it happen without having to spend thousands of dollars.
Coach view: We are going to enable a scenario where a driver on Track Attack can designate their coach (who is also on Track Attack) and the coach will have access to all of their student’s session data and analyze it through the new views we are going to roll out. This will be the ultimate way for coaches to keep track of, monitor and coach their students.
Real time analytics – Assuming the user is somewhere with a good 3G or better data connection, we’re going to enable the user to stream their data real time to our cloud solution and then back down to their tablet or better yet, their coaches tablet. This means the coach will be able to see real time (or very nearly real time) telemetry of the driver and all of the coach’s students. This will be powerful for remote coaching and even on-site coaching. We’re bringing top level motorsports technology and ease of use to every track goer with a smart phone.
Q. How do you know Ross Bentley and how did he come on board for this project?
A. We met Ross in early 2014 at one of his Speed Secret’s seminars and in talking about learning, visualization, etc. He saw the app and it’s been downhill since then. We also happen to know a lot of the same people in motorsports in the Pacific Northwest as he is now based out of Seattle as well. Ross is a coach with invaluable knowledge and experiences and his goal is to help drivers learn in as many ways and as efficiently as possible. He likes what we’ve brought to the market thus far and even more, the direction we’re heading in. It is a great way for him to share his knowledge and it will enable his practice as a consultant/coach to do more, while traveling less.
Q. Talk to us about your leaderboard idea. How will that be integrated into your app and app website and how can a driver use it to improve?
A. The leaderboard will look simple but be a launching pad to accelerate learning. On our site and the app, we will show all of the official race tracks in our track database, some high level information about the track and most importantly, the lap time leaderboard. Initially it will just be the lap times and type of car driven but over time, we will enable:
Ability to filter by car make and model
Ability to filter by driver level
Based on sharing preferences by the driver of the lap, ability to see the session details for that lap (which means view the data and video).
Most importantly here is if the driver’s allow sharing of their data, other drivers will be able to use a faster lap time as their reference lap in the analytics view and video comparisons. This is how we can systematically enable drivers to accelerate their driver development.
Q. You have about 15,000 users now. How did you reach so many people so quickly? What is the potential market? Is Track Attack for racers or for HPDE drivers?
A. Yes and we’re incredibly grateful! One of the reasons we have been able to continue to grow is that we moved to make Track Attack free for users to download, try it out with the full functionality and then decide if they want to buy. Although $15-20USD is a crazy deal for the functionality we are providing, it’s still quite a bit compared to what most apps charge, so letting people feel confident about what they’re getting before buying has been key. We’re consistently adding new users across the world and expect to be around 30k users by the end of the year.
Potential market? That’s a tough question to answer with facts because there aren’t a lot of data points on the market but, however big it is, we are looking at it from a global standpoint. Not just the US and not just road racing. Track Attack is available worldwide and for just about every type of motorsport. I don’t know if the HPDE market is expanding, not because I don’t believe it is or don’t want it to, I just don’t have any facts, but I do want it to expand and we want to make those experiences better by enabling users to share and make them faster, faster!
What percent of our users are HPDE drivers versus racers? The majority right now have registered as HPDE level drivers and as we do quality checks on videos that are uploaded to make sure there aren’t issues, etc. The vast majority of what we’ve seen are non-racing videos. Mostly track days, autocross and canyon carvers.
Q. How has data helped you as a driver? Please give some examples.
A. My background is market research so, data has helped my entire life! Related to motorsports, I base every single time on the track, with access to GPS satellites, on data. At minimum, it is to measure how I am doing (lap times) but in my personal driving, it is to be the best possible driver.
Most recently, I have been focusing on getting competitive lap times with some of the front runners in the PRO3 racing class. The class features a huge field, with over 70 built PRO3 cars in the Pacific Northwest and each race weekend having 30-45 PRO3 cars in mix-class races. There are also several drivers who have or do actively race professionally in IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) classes. After numerous discussions with drivers, accessing their data in competing platforms and having them use Track Attack, I was able to identify a few key things I knew I could do to improve my lap times at Pacific Raceways, in the dry. Below are three of those things:
3 second count to hit the brakes before Turn 2: After watching some of the front runner’s sessions on Track Attack, I was able to see that they were braking between 3 and 4 seconds after passing the Turn 1 apex for Turn 2. I started using that as my reference note for ‘late braking’.
Minimum speed through Turn 2: Similar to above, in reviewing my sessions on my own and others, I noticed two things:
I didn’t hear the tires squealing too much in corner entry and mid-corner which told me, I could carry more speed.
Some of the front runners were not dropping below 65mph at mid-corner and in many cases, not dropping below 68-70mph.
What I was able to do was work, little by little, on getting off the brakes a little sooner and softer, to carry more speed into the corner. This meant trail braking deeper into the corner.
Carrying speed through the most important corner: At Pacific Raceways, Turn 8 is the most important corner. It is the last corner where you brake, prior to the main straight away (which is almost 3/4 of a mile). After reviewing front runner’s videos on YouTube, session data on competitive (but much more expensive) data loggers and on Track Attack, I was able to feel really comfortable with the ideal line, steering input and speed that should be carried through the corner, and most importantly, on the exit which will determine how fast you can get down the straight away.
Putting all of these things together, I felt confident that I could be within 2 seconds of the front runners due to differences in horsepower of the cars. The end result was this race where despite not being able to put down many clean laps due to fighting to overtake and running some protective lines, I was able to meet my goal. I was less than 2 seconds away from the front runners.
Here is the session:
Moving forward, I know there is still at least 1 second on the table and can clearly see it when just looking at my own data.
The coolest thing was the quality and detail of the post-session debriefs. During the race weekend at the session above, we had a plan of what to do and we were able to validate execution of the plan and find more areas with Track Attack. It’s that ability to come off the track and see video and data together, immediately that is powerful!
Q. What else do you have up your sleeve in terms of future developments for Track Attack?
A. Well, we’ve revealed quite a bit so far!
There are a couple of other things we have planned to help users share their experiences even easier. These will be on the apps and the site. Lastly, we’re going to do some cool things with video quality and different/multiple video sources. We are looking forward to getting them out and receiving feedback from our users!
Ed. These guys are building more and more features into their app. It is becoming increasingly powerful as a driver improvement tool. The opportunity to share data with a coach at the track or even remotely makes for many learning opportunities. And all this in a convenient and affordable package. Sounds like the best track day deal in town.