Traffic on my fast lap!

The ChumpCar race at Watkins Glen was the largest car grid I've ever competed in. 105 entries started the race on Saturday. This created a new challenge for a 'data guy' like myself who relies often on charts and graphs to learn how to go fast.

The challenge was pretty simple; with 105 entries (and 95 on Sunday) every single lap would result in multiple passes, whether being passed or passing another car. This meant that traffic would affect every single lap. I can't recall a single 'clear lap' at Watkins Glen and as a result those adept at looking at their predictive timers would finish their session saying "I never had a clear lap" or "there was traffic on my fastest lap" or "I was looking at 19s but would always get held up at the wrong spot". I was a terrible offender of this.

I guessed I wasn't the only driver thinking this in the race and with so many AiM Solos in cars at this race I thought I'd remove the 'subjective' element and use data to find ways of learning from the data captured.

My approach was to break the track into manageable segments or sectors. The auto generated AiM Map would give too many, however, using a standard race track '3 sector' approach too few. So, at Watkins Glen I opted for 6. 

Then I took each drivers session and studied their collective lap times in each of the 6 sectors. At this point you could start to piece together what each drivers best 6 sectors were to find their overall best lap performance. 

Then, once we'd identified what a single driver's performance was like, I then used the comparison feature on AiM to find who was better in which of the 6 sectors. By studying where there was consistency in performance in a sector I could then look at the measures graph(s) and GPS overlay to find out what was happening. At that point it was a conversation to have with each driver on what they should do in each sector. 

This sounds complicated so I've prepared two videos for everyone. The first is getting the files into the right setup, the second is the analysis itself.

In about 30 mins, I'd been able to take a look at each of the 4 drivers, find areas of improvement and pass that knowledge on. Most importantly I did this for my own driving and from driving on Saturday to Sunday I found 5 seconds in my lap time!