DRIVER DEVELOPMENT: Learning Processes
Data Sheet Lap
A typical graph for driver analysis includes: speed, rpm, throttle position, brake pressure, steering position, and G-forces (lateral and longitudinal).  Most data systems have a time variance line that displays where time is gain or lost between two laps or more.

Data analysis is a bit of a science and it may be very abstract for some people, while others will take to it much quicker.  While it’s not too hard to look at lines and understand the differences between them, it takes years of experience to know what to look for and to be able to draw proper conclusions from the data.  After using data systems for close to 15 years now, I still catch myself making mistakes by not looking at data from multiple laps and from different angles to notice trends and draw the right conclusions off of the big picture, rather than from partial information or a narrow window of laps.

Data systems are far from flawless.  There can be problems with GPS shifts, software glitches and updates which make it difficult if not impossible to compare different sessions, using GPS vs. track-side mounted beacons which give different track lengths or start/finish lines, etc…  These problems are more abundant with lower priced data loggers and these issues can render data pretty much useless.

The most common issue I have seen over the years is drawing wrong conclusions from either bad data or poor analysis, which is very counter-productive.  When reviewing data, it is very important to look for trends from multiple laps and not attempt to change your brake point later for a corner just because you saw you broke early on your best lap, which may have been due to traffic.  It is also important to recognize problems that may appear in the data and not draw conclusions off of these inaccuracies.  If a fast lap says you broke 300ft later than your norm but common sense tells you otherwise, go with your gut and don’t sail the car off the track and into a wall just because the data (incorrectly) told you to.

When choosing a data logger, it’s important to read reviews on the different brands to see if there are any known issues or shortcomings.  It would be a good idea to choose a logger that many people at your local track day use and learn the software from those more experienced than you, that way you won’t be lost if you have a problem.  Remember that for all forms of data: junk in = junk out.  So it’s important to get the best system you can afford that is known to be reliable.   But like most things in motorsports how fast do you want to go often depends on how much you want to spend and your talent may eventually outgrow the accuracy of a lower-end data system.  At this point in time, Cell phone apps are not quite up to par for those truly serious about going faster.

Video Data Sync
Here we see the Motec Video Sync function in the I2 Pro data analysis.  Video to data syncing is the way of the future.  To be able to overlay the video with the data and even compare multiple laps to one another takes instructing and self-analysis to a whole new level.

The next step in data analysis is the synchronization of in-car video to the data itself.  This is the way of the future because it directly overlays the video on to the actual data graphs, displaying the exact point on track visually with all of the logging metrics in the data.  This greatly reduces the time it takes to separately analyze the data and in-car video to try make sense of why one technique or lap was quicker than another.  Many entry-level to top level data systems already have this ability or are coming out with updates to enable it.  This combines the best of both worlds and is a crucial tool where professionals and amateurs alike will eventually spend the rest of their careers analyzing in attempts to improve themselves and their cars to get an edge on the competition.

Race Team Engineers
Professional race teams have one or more engineers looking at various data points and statistics to improve the performance of the car.  But as a driver or privateer, having the basic skills of data analysis will always be a competitive edge over those who don’t or are less proficient at it.

Analyzing data by yourself or with a coach, race engineer, or Data Analysis Guy (DAG) is very important since this is objective information that can be used to improve both the car’s setup and one’s driving skills.  Having a good coach set a benchmark lap is one of the best ways to see the potential of the car (to their ability) and what corners you are good at and which corners you need to improve on relative to them.  The synchronization of video to data analysis is the future where all coaching will end up for the amateurs to professional alike.  While being proficient at data analysis is not mandatory, as technology improves it will become more important for the competitive driver to be able to analyze what they did on track, learn from it, and become faster.  As racing continues to become more and more data-driven, if you don’t get with the times, you’ll be left in the dust.


Like video and data loggers, racing simulators have come a long way in the last 10-15 years in terms of how realistic and affordable they are.  Simulators are the perfect training tool because you are able to practice without burning fuel, tires, or wearing out expensive components, renting a track, paying a crew, waiting for ideal weather conditions, or putting your car or yourself at risk.  However as you require more accuracy, realism, and benefit from the simulator, the more it is going to cost.

Basic Sim
A common home simulator setup includes a TV, computer, steering wheel and pedals, and some sort of seat, often a racing seat.  You can build your own or buy one of these ‘chassis’ that take the realism and immersion that much further.

At a fundamental level, any simulator can help with track familiarity.  In 2003 when I attended the Formula BMW Shootout in Valencia Spain, I have never driven the track before.  There was no simulator that I had access to other than a MotoGP PlayStation game.  While it wasn’t a car, the graphics and scaling were off, and it was a mainstream video game, lapping the track over and over helped condition me for the shootout to know what corner was coming up next, and whether to focus on the entries or exits of the corner.  This proved to be invaluable since it reduced the track learning phase and got me up to speed quicker and no doubt helped contribute to me winning one of the six BMW “Junior” Scholarship spots to race in the Inaugural 2004 season of Formula BMW USA.


  1. What is ur takes on karting to cars? Is practicing karts help racing cars? And what are the skills transferred from karts to cars.

    1. Karting is excellent for racecraft and seat time. However, Karts don’t have suspension, and the dynamics of a car moving around on springs and dampers bring a lot of complexity that Kart’s don’t really help prepare for. Most professional drivers started in Karts and moved into Formula style cars, which is a more natural transition than from say, Karts into sedan racing.

      Overall, it’s very helpful (especially racecraft) but not a necessity.

  2. Great article Billy! Your support of motorsports at the amature/hobbiest level is much appreciated. Ive been watching my own videos recently and am picking up things I never realized, mostly a lack of consistency in braking. Understanding that all the aspects of driving the car are interdependant, I am nonetheless trying to prioritize the things that need correction. It seems I would gain more speed focusing on corner exit and thus entry and braking prior to the turn. Am I correct in working backwards? Your thoughts are appreciated and thanks again!

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