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Race Driving Fundamentals: Onboard Video

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Onboard Video


00:00 - In this section of the course, we're going to have a look at some of the really useful techniques and exercises that can be used to drastically improve your driving, all without actually leaving pit lane.
00:11 These methods represent pretty unbeatable value because if you're doing the work and putting the time into improve before even getting the car off the trailer on race day, you'll be way ahead of the rest of the drivers who simply show up and spend their first couple of sessions getting up to speed.
00:27 Let's start with onboard video analysis which is a simple but really important tool for improving our driving.
00:34 Whether it's our own footage or footage of someone else behind the wheel, this is a great way to visually see whats going on while on track.
00:41 It's also an easy way to identify things that we never even realised we were doing.
00:46 Simple mistakes like incorrect hand position or constantly looking around in the mirrors.
00:51 It could even be something much more fundamental in our driving technique that we only notice with the benefit of video because realistically it can be impossible to keep track of every single thing we're doing at all times on the racetrack.
01:04 Video gives us the luxury of being able to cast a critical eye over our own performance in the third person and it's also the perfect compliment to data analysis.
01:14 But even if you're not ready to install a logging system in your car, video still makes a decent substitute that's going to help identify basic driving faults.
01:22 You may be wondering what type of camera is right for onboard video in your car.
01:27 Short of a proper motorsport action camera that has integrated GPS and G force sensors, any action cam or even your phone will do the job.
01:36 There are two key things to think about when setting up these cameras.
01:40 The first is to make sure it has an exposure metering mode, generally called spot metering.
01:46 This allows the camera to achieve the correct exposure for both the interior and exterior of your car.
01:52 You've probably seen it go wrong before.
01:54 Without this mode on, you tend to end up with a great shot of the driver inside the car and a completely blown out over exposed view out the windscreen which makes it impossible to see anything on the track.
02:06 The other key thing to consider when installing a camera in your car is making sure it's super secure and not going to shake around.
02:13 Shakey footage usually accompanied by an annoying rattle, is not a lot of fun to watch.
02:19 Worse still, if the camera becomes dislodged, it could become a dangerous missile, flying around the inside of you car which is the last thing you need to contend with.
02:27 When we say super secure, this means going above and beyond what you may think is necessary and if you're using adjustable clamps or arm mounts, it's a good idea to check everything is tight before each session.
02:39 It doesn't take much for something to work loose and all you'll end up with is half an hour's footage of the back of the driver's seat.
02:45 Most of the mainstream camera manufacturers like Go Pro and DJI provide a range of mounting accessories to make the job nice and easy and particularly for racecar installations, roll cage mounts that clamp to a cross bar of your cage are a quick, secure and easy solution.
03:02 These days we're lucky with the amount of footage available online that's free to check out and study before hitting the track but be very careful with exactly what you're watching and what you take away from it.
03:14 Just because someone has put their driving online for the world to see, doesn't mean that they should have.
03:20 Whenever possible, we really want to stick with footage from a professional driver and even better, if they're driving the same type of car as you.
03:27 That is a big ask I know and finding the right track, driver and car can be pretty difficult or often impossible.
03:34 The reality is that a lot of the time, pro level footage isn't made accessible to the public too.
03:40 So if you're coming up empty handed with good onboard footage, this is where we should then focus less on the car specifics and just look for decent footage from a pro driver at the track we're interested in.
03:51 You'll need to understand of course that braking points and even, to a degree, the driving line will be influenced by the relative speed of the car.
03:59 So if your car is substantially faster or slower than what is being driven in the onboard video, you may still need to make some changes to suit.
04:08 You'll notice I keep using the word study when I talk about looking at onboard video, and for good reason.
04:14 This type of footage is so valuable in helping us get ahead at a track we're struggling with, or maybe about to visit for the first time.
04:21 We should be spending at least a couple of hours watching onboard video, ideally with a printed out track map on hand.
04:29 As we watch the laps, we can note down things like line choices, obvious surface changes, usable curbs or visual markers onto our printout.
04:38 This isn't just useful to have as a reference for later but it's also going to help us retain the information and visualise it all much better than simply watching the video and then moving on.
04:48 If it's a brand new track to you and you're not even sure which way turn one goes then just sit and watch the video over and over until you can confidently visualise the full circuit in your head before you start looking at the finer details.
05:01 On that note we'll be discussing the importance of visualisation shortly.
05:06 Now that we've gone over how to use other people's video to our advantage, it's time to look at how we can make the most of our own video.
05:13 There are two ways to do this, by far the most effective in an ideal wold is to have a professional driver drive our own car and then compare our video to theirs.
05:22 That's not always an option though so the next best thing is just to watch your own footage, looking for obvious mistakes.
05:29 To help you better understand what we should be looking for when we're studying onboard video, let's get Andrew to review some in car footage to see what's important and what he can learn.
05:40 - So here I'm going to break down in a practical form, exactly how I'm going to use it and what things I'm looking for throughout a lap and then going to be noting it down on a bit of paper here.
05:48 So this just makes it a lot easier when you're heading into a race weekend knowing exactly what you're looking for, to just give yourself a headstart.
05:56 So I've got a lap here of a touring car around Phillip Island of a decent driver who knows exactly what they're doing and that's a really important thing because if you start going off laps that aren't used all the time as we've referenced before, then it gets a little bit awkward and you might be following misinformation so you're making sure that it's really really good information that you've got here.
06:15 So we're going to start straight away, we're going to head down to turn one and see what markers we can find and start jotting down a few notes here and there.
06:24 So straight away we can see down into turn one it's a very very fast corner so I'm looking for things, we're lucky enough we've got a bit of a brake trace here so I'm looking at the brake trace, seeing what type of braking they're doing, see if they're trying to get the car stopped or seeing if they are actually just doing a nice soft brake.
06:40 So obviously this is if you're heading into the weekend driving a touring car as well, if you're jumping in a little Honda Civic, you're not too worried about things like braking so we'll reference braking for this first corner but then after that, we'll look more towards the lines and curves and things that you'll most likely see.
06:56 So as we head down into turn one, it's pretty fast down here, you can see it's just a nice drag on the brake.
07:02 And one thing that's interesting out of there, there's not really a lot of markers for that first corner to pick up on.
07:07 You can see he's used a little bit of curb but the biggest thing I'm more interested in is out of the exit of turn one, is where he's going to place the car.
07:15 As we've talked about prioritising corners, making sure that we're prioritising the corners properly so let's see if he makes his way back to the outside or stays nice and narrow.
07:28 So here's my first true note here, you can see as we're coming on the exit of turn one, staying narrow, so we're just going to write that down that he's keeping the car nice and close to the inside of the corner, that's a really really important thing as you don't want to be trying to explore, you'll notice with this, if he's staying narrow, if you're here over a whole long race weekend, there's probably going to be marbles and all sorts built up on the outside of the track so that's a really important first note there.
07:54 Next thing I'm looking for is seeing how much curb he's using, I notice there's a little bit of a bump on the way into turn two here.
08:00 So that bump there, that's worth noting as well as that's just going to upset the car on the way into the corner.
08:08 And then because it's such a big long corner here, the next thing I'm looking for is where the car's going to be placed, if it's going to be placed in the middle of the corner, whether he's going to run nice and wide.
08:18 So we'll just have a bit of watch through and see where he's going to end up here.
08:22 So as we can see, he stayed quite narrow in this part of the corner here so there's no need to run really wide.
08:28 Again there's probably going to be marbles form up there.
08:31 So that's an important part to make sure you're staying close around there.
08:39 And then the next part of the corner is becoming a bit wider, just having a look out for bumps, any other references on the exit of there.
08:45 You would have noticed there was a Coopers sign, you could say that's a good point of where to get on the gas but that sign may not be there when you arrive for your race weekend so it's just not worth noting things like temporary signs for things like braking markers.
08:59 So we're heading down to the next complex of corners here, down into turn 3, having a look to see if it's full throttle and you can see reasonably easy, it was full throttle on a touring car here so there's no need to note that down because if it's full throttle in this, if you're in something that's not quite as quick, it's not important to have to note any of that.
09:18 You can see he's kept it reasonably tight to the left hand side of the track and it's a very heavy brake marking point here so we're just looking out for things that are going to make it easier for our braking.
09:30 So we can see straight away he's braking at the beginning of the curb down into turn four here so that's a really nice point to see OK it's a very fast car but it could be a reference, you've got braking boards as well.
09:44 Again they may not be there for the weekend but beginning of the curb is a good little marker there.
09:56 The next thing I'm going to be looking for here is where the car's turning in.
10:00 There may not be a point that we can see where the car's turning in, sometimes there's a bump, sometimes there's a break in the curb.
10:07 But here you can see that curb continues the whole way in so there's not one single reference I'm picking up there.
10:13 As I've said, there's not always going to be definitive references the whole way through, there's just obvious things that we're looking for.
10:18 The next thing we want to know, see if he's using any curb, see if it's worthwhile using any curb.
10:23 As you can see, he's using a bit of curb on the inside of turn four here so that's worth noting, the fact that the curb is being used through there.
10:32 You can see that there's also a bit of the grass missing on the inside of the curb so that's another really good indicator that you're using a lot of curb through here.
10:40 So it's something worth noting for sure.
10:44 So now we're looking towards the exit of the corner, see how much curb the car's using on the exit.
10:49 You can actually see there's a bit of astro turf out there as well so that's something that you generally don't want to get near is astro turf as it's very very slippery.
10:55 But you can see he's using a bit of the exit curb as well so again I'm not noting every curb you can and can't use, you just get a bit confused that way.
11:04 It's more the important ones of where you're going to gain some time so obviously that inside curb you're going to gain some time, that exit curb isn't as much worth noting for there.
11:14 So as we come out of the exit of turn four, you can see that the track actually starts to kink back to the right a little bit what I'm interested in here is to see if this driver here stays to the right hand side and follows the track which is going to affect the braking, or brakes down towards the apex so we're going to have a look at that to see what he finds is more important here.
11:34 So as you can see he's not following the track out to the right hand side, he's braking more or less straight down to the curb as I was pointing out.
11:41 So I'm going to write down here, straight braking.
11:47 So I know you might think this might be different on your car that you're driving but it never really is, it's a really good point to be able to pick up the fact that you're going to gain more time by braking straight rather than trying to stay to the right hand side of the track and lose braking efficiency.
12:04 So the next part through the middle there, he's using a little bit of curb on the inside there but it's not really worth noting too much through that one there.
12:11 It's the tighter corners where it's more important to have a look at which curbs you can use.
12:17 As you come out towards the exit, again there's no real references out on the outside of that corner there so going through this you can see I'm not noting every single thing down, there's just bits and pieces that I think are worthwhile to be able to help you gain some lap time so with this, it's really really important to just sit down, nut it all out and you'll be surprised at what you can figure out.
12:39 So as you can see you now get the idea that you just rinse and repeat this for every corner around the track.
12:44 So I hope this helps you guys and you can see how much of an advantage it does gain when you next head to the track.

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