This story originally appeared in SportsCar magazine's September 2013 issue. SportsCar is the official publication of the Sports Car Club of America. www.scca.com.
If you are like most of us, the data and video system in your competition car are not packaged together. Maybe you focused on a data system that worked with the engine management you already had, or you pieced together bits and pieces that individually did what you wanted. Maybe pricing mandated less costly components without all of the bells and whistles. Regardless, past purchasing decisions don't mean you can't get more out of your in-car video.
In the last few years, the world of in-car video has been reinvented. The latest in small, wearable action cameras make it possible to get almost any shot under any condition. With very affordable pricing, it's almost easier to pick out the cars at your local event that don't have a camera protruding from the roof, side, or any of the seemingly endless places they can be mounted.
While reviewing video of your laps captured from your GoPro, iON, or Drift camera can be a useful tool, it lacks valuable information that a more feature-packed system may offer. Products like the AiM SmartyCam, ChaseCam, Traqmate, and Race-Keeper package your video along with a variety of track and vehicle data, and they do it almost seamlessly. So, how can you bridge the gap between the wearable action cameras and the fully integrated systems?
If you have a standalone data system or an engine management system that logs vehicle data, you can often combine your video via third-party PC software offered by companies like DashWare, Race Render, or Track Vision.
“Just bring [the video] in to DashWare,” says Randy Chase of DashWare and ChaseCam. “DashWare can transcode any input. You can render a file in any format; it normally doesn't take more than a few minutes. Input your data, sync it, customize it, and publish it as you want. In some cases, people have a data system already in the car, and the cheapest thing is always using what you've already got. There is a long list of common systems that DashWare will automatically recognize the data format and then parse it correctly.”
Having the ability to overlay your data files on to your video from an action camera gives you a lot more information to work with when reviewing your races.
In addition to the third-party software option, a number of data acquisition manufacturers offer editing suites that will accept video from an outside source. At the urging of Rod Rojas, Sports Marketing Manager for GoPro, we took a look at Traqmate for its video integration. Traqmate allows its users to take footage from a GoPro or similar camera and sync it via its own editing software.
While these software options do make it possible for your existing in-car camera to sync with data and perform like a more complex, integrated system – and it's hard to beat the price of the modern action cameras – syncing two data sets is not without limitations. Attempts at syncing multiple cameras for a picturein-picture setup will add complexity to the editing; you have to start and stop the camera manually, and don't forget to keep your batteries charged up. But if you can deal with these few minor issues, it is possible to get even more information from your existing in-car camera without breaking the bank.
Looking to buy equipment? A list of advertisers on the following page are a great place to start your search.