The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

In seven days I’ll be in Watkins Glen, NY. The following morning after an early breakfast and a driver’s briefing at 08:30 I’ll be on one of the most storied and beloved tracks in North America. Infinite Motorsports has us booked in for two days on the track.

It’s funny but I’ve always been big on mental preparation. Forewarned is forearmed. I studied video of guys on the Translab for months before I hit the surface of the road for myself. Lucky for me, there’s plenty of onboard video of laps at Watkins Glen and one of the most helpful is of somebody in their Mini GP. Even so, there’s always nerves before you actually tackle the thing for yourself and find your rhythm. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done a thing either, there’s always a brief moment of uncertainty before I pull the trigger and commit.

Everything about this new pastime has been a learning curve. Driving a car around and around a track might seem kind of nuts to some people but then the same kind of sights and smells that get me going probably don’t do too much for them.

There were a couple of things that needed doing to drive on this track. For one, I had to purchase a SA2015 rated helmet, which is essentially a helmet designed for auto racing. I went full face because as much as I like open face helmets, I like the security of full coverage. I also bought a TOW hook as per instructions though it turns out my JCW comes with one stock. So if anybody wants to buy a TOW hook, I’ve got a brand new one for sale. I’ve also purchased Track Day insurance. It’s not cheap but for the peace of mind, it’s worth it.

All of this also raised the question of lap times. It’s not easy to be consistent on a lapping day as you’re working with and around other drivers on the track and a slower driver in front of you can hold you up until you hit a passing zone or conversely if you need to get over to let a faster driver and car by you don’t do it under acceleration. It’s one of the reasons I try to be first in the chute to get on the track when your session comes up.

So by my calculations I should be able to get within range of a 2:35 lap at The Glen. A full minute slower than the real race pace but I’m in a JCW Mini, not a Ferrari 488. I’m also sure it’ll still be pretty damn exciting.

It was in looking at ways to log my lap times that I started looking at a technological way to make it happen. Garmin Vibe cameras have the ability to log speed, position and G-Force but they’re also around $600. Garmin also has a dedicated smart watch with hundreds of race tracks logged into its memory but at $1600, pretty much a non starter. Plus I haven’t worn a watch in over a decade, so there’s that. Still, it got me to thinking, I bet there’s an app for that and there are a couple. One of which you can couple with an OBD2 reader and put live telemetry right on your video. That one’s logged for later but I did get an app that has the same functionality of the Garmin Watch but only cost me $20.

I’ve also invested in some camera mounts for in the cockpit of the car. So the next post should have some better video than what’s been provided so far.

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