An Introduction to Data Systems: Buyer’s Guide

Track Addict

Track Addict is also packed with features for data and video. It comes equipped with preset screens and types of Motorsports to make it more user-friendly and quick to set up.

Track Addict may be a more recent player to the game, but it’s quickly caught up to be a serious contender in this market. Like other track-oriented apps, it brings lap timing, video, and various sorts of data (including OBDII) to help you toward breaking personal records. It offers many options for post-session analysis with your regular data graphs, but also statistics and driving line analysis. Available on both iOS and Android devices, it offers a free version as well as a Pro Edition at $8.99. The Pro Edition lifts limits on recordings and includes live telemetry through RaceRender live.


Standalone GPS Timers

This category stands as the most popular, as it fits the needs of most casual track day drivers as well as grassroots racers. These timers are built around the concept of simple form and function by pairing GPS and accelerometer capabilities with a compact display. They can work totally independent of other hardware, while some allow for expansion to take in ECU data or video. Their robust standalone form factors allow them to handle racing conditions and to easily be moved from car to car (very helpful for driving instructors). The GPS functionality allows the timer to monitor lap times, split times, and speed with great accuracy. Some of the available options improve upon this by utilizing a built-in accelerometer that logs g forces in all directions. Some of the more affordable options limit you to reviewing the data on the device itself, which is convenient but not quite as intuitive. The pricier timers let you download the logged data to a computer, where you can study the information in-depth, build graphs and scatter plots, and put together detailed lap comparisons to pinpoint areas of improvement.

This sort of hardware can set you back anywhere between $150 and $700, depending on what you’re looking for. Even in the simpler, stripped down timers, you have the advantage of strongly built systems that will happily take the abuse of track environments. If you want to add features beyond just lap times and predictive timing, you’ll quickly find yourself at the upper end of the price scale but not without good reason. At this end, you’ll find features like data analysis on your computer, customizable displays, expansion for custom sensors, and OBDII/CAN compatibility. This changes it from a simple timer to a data logger that measures forces, speeds, and potentially channels like steering angle, independent wheel speeds, RPM, gear, and anything else that the vehicle ECU can throw at it.

This category of timers and data systems carries the best bang for your buck if you’re at all serious about finding more speed. There is a bit more of a cost barrier than a simple app, but each option here is significantly easier to install and work with than a permanently installed logger. 

AiM Solo 2 DL

AiM Solo 2 and Solo 2 DL are the second generation products of an extremely versatile and compact timer and data logger.

Due to its high functionality and ease of use, AiM’s Solo and Solo DL timers were a major hit with track day drivers as well as racers. The latest iteration capitalizes on the Solo’s success with even more to offer. This system collects data from its internal GPS and accelerometer sensors, plus an external CAN/OBDII connection if you opt for the DL variant. With the help of quality-grade internals, the data is more reliable and accurate than ever. It offers all of the standard features like predictive lap timing, customizable lighting, and displays, a massive database of tracks with the ability to create new ones, external video options, and data logging to review on the device itself or on the powerful Race Studio Analysis software. It’s simple to use it on its own, but there’s a lot of room for customization and expansion if you want it to act more like a full-fledged data acquisition system. The standalone Solo 2 lap timer retails at $399, while the DL version with CAN/OBDII compatibility sells for $699.


Racepak Vantage CL2

Racepak’s Vantage CL2 interfaces your mobile device to function as a display and even telemetry broadcaster for the hardware included in this kit.


  1. I’m very interested in the Fueltech FT series Dash/datalogger/ECUs, I like the idea of an all-in-one system both for the simplicity and for the ease of installation/debugging/tuning. The only thing holding me back is support, its a Brazilian company with little representation or support outside south america. If AiM offered a similar product I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  2. The secret to being a great driver has much more to do with understanding slip angles. When you understand how tires work to produce maximum grip, then you can start improving your laptimes.

    The key, is understanding what ‘being on the limit’ really means. First, you must know what the best temps are for your tire. Make sure that temp is evenly distributed across all tires, and then you must drive in a way to keep the tires at those temps without exceeding high/low limits.

    After that, you must understand that tires produce maximum traction dependent on the normal force (weight+downforce), ideally you want maximum downforce, at all speeds, and to distribute weight to minimize CoG, and polar moments (of course, it depends on FWD, RWD, AWD.)

    Considering all those factors together, you also need to have the courage to drive all tires at the edge of the traction circle, determined by slip angle. That’s why Anti-Ackerman works for race tires, and also very slight drift angles (the rear tires need slip angles 3-5 degrees to generate maximum cornering force.)

    In summation, you need to understand all these concepts intuitively (like Senna) AND you must be willing to drive at those limits. It’s very rare that somebody can put all those elements together, but when they do, the driver’s ability becomes far greater than the sum of the parts.


    The list below should read as a development schedule. So, it starts with the basic stuff, and gets more advanced. I do believe that you must first build a solid chassis before you start on Engine/Horsepower modifications, so that’s how the list is arranged.
    Driver Essentials (Before Vehicle Modification)
    Read as much as possible on driving and vehicle development before modifying your vehicle.
    Develop goals/targets for vehicle depending on street, track, or full race goals.
    Steering Wheel (Leather, Aftermarket Race Wheel, etc.)
    Race Pedals (Optimize for heel/toe shifting.)
    Driving Gloves/Shoes/Sunglasses (Improved feel and performance while driving.)
    Race Seat/Race Harness (Depending on street vs. track vs. full race)
    Blacked Out Dash/Felt/Flocking (To reduce glare.)
    Aftermarket Instrumentation (Tachometer, Oil Pressure Gauge, Water Temp Gauge, Boost Gauge, OBD2 ELM App (DashCommand, etc.))

    1. Chassis Geometry (Street Car vs. Track Car)
    (Obviously, you can’t change all of these variables, so they should be considered before you purchase a particular vehicle platform.)
    Track (Wide track for maximum cornering grip vs. Narrow track for lower aero drag to maximize top speed.)
    Wheelbase (High speed racing (HPDE & Drag Racing) vs. Low speed racing (AutoX))
    Ride Height (Necessary wheel travel dependent on road surface variation.)
    Suspension Type (Optimization of MacPherson vs. Double Wishbone vs. Multilink)
    2. Mass Optimization (Reduction, Relocation, CoG & Polar Moment)
    Unnecessary Part Deletion, Hole Drilling, Mass Relocation (Battery, Ancillary parts)
    CoG & Polar Moment Optimization (Moving mass closer to the ground plane and reducing/increasing polar moment depending on racing category. (Reduce polar moment on AutoX, Time Attack, but increase on Drift.))
    Part Material Replacement (Lexan Windows, Aluminum, Titanium, Carbon, etc.)
    3. Chassis Stiffness (Dependent on Tire Grip/Spring Rates)
    Bushings vs. Spherical Bearings (Street vs. Track)
    Strut Tower Bars (Strut bars should be light and stiff, and doubled bolted to handle bending/moment loads.)
    Custom Structural Bracing (Triangulation between frame members.)
    4. Spring Rates (Dependent on Street vs. Race Tire)
    Spring Rates Depends on FWD, AWD, RWD
    Corner Weighting (Balance Optimization)
    Air Springs (Non-Linear spring rate needs specific damper tuning)
    Progressive Coils or Tender Springs (Dependent on street vs. track surfaces.)
    Spring Preload Optimization (Street vs. Track)
    5. Dampers
    Twintube vs. Monotube (Monotubes are better for low travel suspensions considering higher volume fluid displacment for given displacement.)
    Fixed vs. Adjustable (Street vs. Track Car)
    Electrically Controlled/Dynamic Damping (Ideal for street cars that see various road surfaces.)
    6. Tires & Wheels & Alignment
    Street Rubber (Grip vs. All-Weather Performance)
    Race Slicks (Heat Cycling, Tire Stretch, )
    Race Wheels (Forged vs. Spin Casting, Offset, Width)
    Street Wheels (Lightweight vs. Durability)
    Slip Angle Optimization (Sidewall Compliance vs. Ultimate Grip & Steering Response)
    Tire Temperature Optimization (Possibly necessitating staggered tire sizes.)
    Camber (Dependent on Suspension Type)
    Toe (Toe-in for vehicle stability, Toe-out for rotation)
    7. Braking System
    Upgraded Pads (Street vs. Track)
    Upgraded Rotors (Premium Damped Iron, Electroplated, etc.)
    Brake Master Cylinder Brace
    Aftermarket Stainless Steel Brake Lines
    Aftermarket Calipers (Dual Caliper Sliding Piston, Fixed Caliper 4-Piston, etc.)
    High Temp DOT5 Racing Brake Fluid
    Aftermarket Two-Piece Floating Rotors (Slotted, Crossdrilled, Carbon, Carbon-Ceramic, etc.)
    Aftermarket Race Pads (High Temp. Pads for aftermarket rotors.)
    8. Aerodynamics
    Stock Sheet Metal Optimization (Front first/Rear last due to boundary layer separation: Hood Vents, Plugging Unnecessary Bumper Openings, Reducing Panel Gaps, Fender Cutouts, etc.)
    Front Airdam/Splitter (Street vs. Track)
    Custom Wheel Strakes/Air Curtains (To reduce airflow into wheel well.)
    Aftermarket Body Kit (Widebody, Aero Optimized, etc.)
    Aftermarket Rear Wing
    Aftermarket/Custom Front and/or Rear Diffuser
    Aftermarket Vortex Generators

    (This list is highly dependent on NA, Turbo/SC)
    1. Engine (Essential Maintenance)
    Cam Belts, Water Pump, Engine Bearings, Valve Lash Adjustment, etc.

    2. Oil System
    Premium Synthetic Oil & Filter
    Cerratech, LubroMoly Oil Additives
    Oil Plug Magnet + Neodymium Magnets (On oil filter.)
    Oil Canister Hose Clamps (To reduce canister wall flex under high oil pressure.)
    3. Thermal Management
    Coolant Flush/Replacement
    Coolant Additives (Water Wetter)
    4. Engine Mounts
    Hard Rubber (Street), Polyurethane (Track), Aluminum (Extreme Race)
    5. Exhaust System
    Aftermarket /Custom Catback Exhaust (Mild Steel vs. SS vs. Ti)
    Headers (4-2-1 vs. 4-1, Exhaust Wrap)
    Race Pipe and/or Race Catalytic Converter
    6. Intake System
    Flat Panel Type vs. Cone Air Filter (Street vs. Track)
    Aftermarket Intake System (Short Ram (+HP) vs. Cold Air (+TQ))
    Race Pipe and/or Race Catalytic Converter
    Intake Manifold Spacer (To reduce heat xfer from the head to the manifold

    7. Fuel System
    Fuel Pump Rewire (To maximize voltage at pump.)
    Fuel Pump Upgrade (Dependent on NA or Turbo/Supercharged
    Fuel Rail (Turbo/SC)
    Full Fuel System Replumbing (Turbo/SC)
    8. ECU Tuning
    ECU Reflash/Chipped
    Aftermarket ECU (Necessitating Engine Dyno testing)
    9. Transmission / Differential (HP Dependent)
    Upgraded Shifter (Poly/Bronze Bushings, Short Shift vs. Long Shift (Street vs. Track))
    Synthetic Transmission/Differential Fluid
    Aftermarket Clutch (Street vs. Track, HP Dependent)
    Aftermarket Flywheel (Street vs. Track)
    Transmission/Differential Cooler
    10. Engine Internals
    Aftermarket Oil Pump / Oil Pan
    Windage Tray / Improved Oil Scavenging / Full Race Dry Sump
    Aftermarket Rod Bolts/Rods
    Aftermarket Pistons/Pin/Rings
    Aftermarket Camshafts/Springs/Retainers
    Aftermarket Valves/Valve Guides
    Race Porting/Polishing
    Engine Blueprinting/Deburring/Balancing
    Aftermarket Engine Sleeves/Crankshaft
    11. Transmission/Driveline (Advanced Modifications)
    Optimized Gearing (High Speed vs. Torque)
    Aftermarket Differential (Viscous, Clutch, Torsen)
    Aftermarket Driveshaft (Aluminum, Carbon)
    Race Type Transmission (Sequential Shift, etc.)

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