Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SCCA Spec Miata Festival race video - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Just finished uploading my video of Sunday's race (June 19, 2011).
SCCA Spec Miata Festival race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

I will make a further post tomorrow.  I have another video from Saturday that I'm trying to edit and post.

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grassroots Motorsports stickers are on! Let the winning begin!

What's a race car w/o stickers?

Better question - What's a race car w/o Grassroots Motorsports sticker?!

The car is now equipped to win. 
Mazda stickers?  Check.
Mazdaspeed sticker?  Check.
Toyo Tires stickers?  Check.
Thunderhill and Sunoco money stickers?  Double check.
SCCA, class and number stickers?  Check.

My poor race car had been lacking Grassroots Motorsports stickers.  Crying shame it was...  Worse yet, my subscription had run out when my NASA membership lapsed.  I fixed that issue this last week renewing my subscription and ordering GRM stickers and a GRM hat. 

Grassroots Motorsports is the best racing magazine for us grassroots, DIY guys and girls racing on a budget.  Lots of good, useful articles.  Tons of great advertisers.  The Grassroots Motorsports forum/discussion board is also a fun, laid back place to talk about the racing and car addiction with like minded people.  Plenty of Miata fans and racers.  Etc etc.

 Sadly, the hat doesn't fit.  I ordered a size Medium hat since I wear a medium helmet.  Going to have to order a large.  This weekend is the San Francisco region SCCA's Spec Miata Festiva.  There is going to be a raffle, BBQ, double races for Spec Miatas.  I am going to offer up the hat as a raffle prize so someone else's head will be racier.

Anyway, pics of the GRM stickers.  Can you spot them? :-)

You can get your GRM swag here:  http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/store/

Monday, June 13, 2011

Video systems - Go Pro Hero or Contour or camcorder for video?

So, there was a long delay between my last race at Thunderhill in March and the last race at Laguna Seca.  This gave my budget some time to recover.  I have been pondering what to do about video for a while.  I had a few budget friendly options:

  1. Cheap Camcorder setup
  2. Go Pro Hero
  3. Contour
Cheap camcorder setup - I have been reading about track car and race car video on various forums for years.  Many people use their home video (camcorder) cameras with some kind of adapter for their track cars.  A couple of years ago Aiptek had introduced a small video camera that recorded to flash memory.  A lot of racers and track junkies experimented with that option with a reasonable degree of success.  Here is a link to a long thread on bimmerforums.com about this setup:

I actually bought the camera for free using my credit card points last year.  I was seriously considering this option but it required some mods and hacks in order to work properly in a race car environment.  I just didn't feel like investing the time and energy into it.  I will probably sell it off on craigslist or ebay soon.

So the choice for me was between the Go Pro and the Contour.  Decisions, decisions....

I googled around for a while looking for reviews on both.  There is plenty of info out there and lots of people have opinions.  Opinions are like body parts.  People usually have at least one and some of them stink.  So I took what I read with a grain of salt.  I wound up ordering both from Amazon.com using some of my credit card points accumulated during the build.  I wanted to see and feel them both so that I could make a better informed decision.  I figured I'd return which ever one that I didn't want.

I'll skip you the boring details but they both basically do the same thing.  The video quality when viewed on YouTube or Vimeo is basically the same.  Both have decent microphones.  Both are small.  Both are about the same price. 

Two things I liked about the Contour over the Hero:
  1. I liked the fact that the Contour had laser sights which can be used to aim the camera w/o much fuss.  You basically press the button and the lasers shine out through the windshield making it super easy to adjust.  I got it positioned perfectly the first time.
  2. The power switch on the Contour was also a little easier to use than the Hero with my gloved hand.  The Contour is a large sliding switch that you basically push forward and back to power on/off.  The Hero's power button is a bit smaller and takes a bit more dexterity to use but still doable.
I wound up selecting the Contour.  The one thing that I absolutely hate about the Contour is their idiotic Storyteller software.  It just plain sucks.  I started googling and searching various car forums and everybody agreed that it sucks.  I wish they would just give us a simple app that we could use to configure the camera.  Instead, they give you Storyteller - a poorly designed app that does nothing well and is supposed to also be used for video editing and is a pita to install and crashes regularly.  I wasted so much time with their application that I'm still pissed off about it. 

The Go Pro doesn't come with video editing software and you can configure it using the built-in menu which is a nice plus.  The Contour requires you to have your laptop handy to run the Storyteller software to configure the camera.  Thankfully, you shouldn't have to configure the camera often once you get the imaging and contrast set properly.  Oh, there is no instructions anywhere on how to configure it so just guess at what works....

Lesson Learned
Now there is a lesson in this long rant.  Be aware of your vendor options and buy from a place that will give you support if you need it.  Pricing being similar, the support of someone who can save you time and has already learned the lessons is very valuable.

I discovered that fellow Spec Miata racer Juan Pineda of Art of Road Racing fame is a Contour dealer.  If you wish to buy a Contour and want someone to tell you what you need to do to get it working w/o fussing around on support forums and such, I'd recommend getting it from Juan.  Here is a link: Contour GPS - Motorsports vendor and support.

I'm still trying to figure out what to use for video editing on a Windows laptop.  I'll think about it after the next race at Laguna. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Racing Video from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Memorial Day 2011

I'm still wiped out from the weekend but here is a link to my racing video on YouTube.  This is my first time running video.  I bought a Contour GPS camera and mounted it a few days before the race. 

You may want to skip ahead to the 10 minute mark where the race starts.  I'm still learning about video and need to get some editing software.


Spec Miata Laguna Seca Memorial Day 2011