I get asked this a lot online and at the track. “Bill, what has been the best mod you have done on your race car? Is it the engine swaps? The alignment? Aero?”
My answer is always my Aim Solo lap timer.
At the 2013 VIR 24-hour race I was driving Troy Trugleo’s Biohazard V6 Toyota MR2. Kevin Tulay is the king in Biohazard. FTDs all over the country in that car. But I was lapping an easy 30 seconds slower then Kevin per lap. I could not figure out why. I know I will never be as fast as him, but hell, I should at least be within 10 seconds of him!
On the dash of the Biohazard MR2 sits this lap timer. It is a predictive lap timer. It lets you know what your time will be at the end of the lap at sectors on the track. So if I screw up a corner, my lap time increases. Or I get that apex perfect my lap time decreases on the display. It shows what my session FTD is as compared to the event FTD. Oh, FTD stands for “fastest time of day”.
So I am struggling with Troys car. Ham fisting it around the fast course. Each lap I am trying to assess why I am going so slow. Then I realize that I am not relaxed. Kevin makes driving this car look so easy. You can see it in the videos. Relaxed, composed, even with the car sideways or in traffic. And even after 2 years of racing since that time, I remember the moment as if it was yesterday…
I told myself to relax.
And boom! 10 seconds faster.
So now I am relaxed. I am watching the Aim Solo on the dash as I take corners, or go down the straight. I discover little things can make a big difference in my lap times. In my head i thought that taking a certain line was faster because I could maintain momentum. But I was wrong, less distance traveled made a huge difference in lap times. At the end of the session I was still slower than Kevin, but I had gained a huge amount of time on him, and felt better with driving Troys awesome MR2.
So I looked at them on the web. Pricey. $399.
I then asked my team to give me lap times in the car, but they just told me to shut up and drive. lol. So I did.
I drove for Troy another time and after that told myself I was going to save the money up and get my own.
So when I went on my own with the Racing Strong Motorsports Endurance Racing Team, purchased an Aim Solo. It took a couple of races before I got it installed and working, and a few more to actually understand what I was looking at. The Aim Solo also an excellent data collector. The Solo collects track map GPS data, lap times, G-forces, braking forces, acceleration forces, total laps, distance driven and speeds. They have this Windows software that you can use to analyze the race to see where you are doing well or where you suck at racing. And a really cool feature is that we can compare drivers in the same car at the same track. As we collect data, we can even see how well the chassis is doing from race to race, year to year.
My drivers love it, and before I am even home they are begging for the data. And as a car owner, trying to sell seats, it is a valuable value add for the paying drivers. And I have seen huge improvements in my drivers. They drive smoother, better lines, and we have had less crashes and have done way better at collecting trophies then we did prior to the lap timer.
Now the Aim Solo is not perfect. I wish it had other features. And guess what? Aim Sports has it in the SoloDL. At $699 it is an awesome data logger that also does the normal predictive lap timing stuff. But this guy plugs into your OBDII/CanBus port and can record everything the ECU sees, which is a huge amount of useful data as a car owner.
Now one thing I do suggest if you get an Aim data logger/timing unit. Go to an Aim sponsored class. Or at least go visit the Aim YouTube website for how to videos. Even my less powerful unit can do some incredible performance envelope data to show how our drivers are doing.
Aim Sports YouTube Channel
So the predictive lap timer is the best single drivers performance aid we have seen so far. It has allowed my drivers to make my car faster and safer.
So what is next? Saving up my cash to buy a Aim Sports MXL dashboard for the new MR2 chassis. Ballenger Motorsports is a AIM Sports Dealer that also sells any needed sensors to optimize that data recording. http://bmotorsports.com/shop/
I forgot… You can take this data, and use it with software to combine an overlay to your in car Go-Pro or ChaseCam videos like I did here. This is Troy driving my yellow #79 MR2 at this years VIR 12-hour race.