Feedback, whether opinion or fact, can be an important part of how we live our lives, and racing is no exception. A race driver can only see and hear so much while trying to guide their ride to victory, thus crew members, friends and even spectators can add their opinion of what they witnessed. However, one person’s observation could vary from another’s, leading the driver or team to wonder what actually happened. Thus, professional teams and weekend warriors alike turned to the use of hand held video cameras. This gave unbiased feedback, and allowed racers, wanting to analyze their performance, the option to review it and make changes to stay ahead of their competition. It also opened up the world of racing to those that had never made the trek to a race track or viewed coverage on cable TV, possibly getting another person to join the racing way of life.
Onboard cameras took the concept of “another point of view” to the next level. Introduced by television networks to show their audience more of the action, specially made cameras would take up real estate on the outside of the vehicle or within the interior and provide an alternative look while a racer did their best to win. As handheld video cameras began to shrink in size, a few companies began to offer interior roll bar mounts, allowing racers to get the same feedback as the networks, without the price tag. Recently, the trend has grown to include a new market of specifically designed cameras and mounts to capture video and pictures from angles and areas never before seen, while keeping an affordable price tag. What does this mean for a racer? Adding one of these cameras to your arsenal could provide an extra edge on the competition, as well as being able to share racing adventures with an audience as wide as your imagination.
Today’s racers pack more than just tools for their track visits, as weather stations, infrared temperature guns, and even laptops with tuning software are considered an important part of a winning formula. Video cameras can also provide another source of feedback to make an educated decision. Mounting one to the roof of a car can relay how the surface and the groove looks going down track, while providing a glimpse into what the air resistance could be doing to fiberglass or lightened panels. Many a racer has wondered why their vehicle wants to move around at the top end; is the track to blame, or are specific body parts creating drag or require additional reinforcements. Many fiberglass hoods have been lost in the lights due to a lack of attachment points along the front edge, and reviewing video footage could show the areas needing attention and prevent the problem from occurring.
Video cameras like the Replay XD are able to be used in locations never before explored, including suspension and chassis setup. Does your front end travel change throughout a pass? Attaching one to the frame or floor pan can give you a glimpse into what is working or something that needs adjustment to provide a more consistent effort. How about strapping one to a wheelie bar? This can give you a viewpoint into what wheelie bar preload and height are doing at launch as well as throughout the run, where on the track you might encounter a quick spell of tire shake and see the slick marks left as a result, and how the air stream might affect parachute deployment and the car’s height as it moves down track.
Of course, tuning to win doesn’t just apply to the car, as the driver should also take note of their actions during a run. From the beginning of the burnout to turning off the track, watching a minute or two of footage can reveal points to improve upon, as well as strengths you never knew you had. Of course, hitting shift points on time to keeping the car straight might seem like a forgone conclusion, but you never know what the monitor will show until you hit record and see it for yourself.
Finally, videos and photos from on-board cameras have an entertainment value. Even if you can’t make it to a race, coverage beyond a series of magazine shots and box scores can be provided by your car. It can feed the masses, views as close to actually being in the driver’s seat as possible. Manufacturers use it to test products and show the results, giving the consumer a chance to see real results before spending a single cent. And with a marketable ride, video and photo footage could even land a racer sponsorship support. In summation, the new breed of video and still shot cameras adds another cool factor to the world of racing.