When we first drove the 2014 Corvette Stingray last summer, we noticed an opening in front of the rear-view mirror, as if something was meant to be placed in front of it and face outward through the wind screen. Turns out, we were right. For the 2015 model year, the Corvette Stingray will debut a high-tech Performance Data Recorder, or PDR, which might just be the most useful track tool we’ve seen since the stop-watch.
The 2015 Corvette’s PDR system was developed in conjunction with Cosworth, the British motorsports-engineering company that supplies the Corvette Racing team’s data and telemetry electronics system, and is yet another example of track-to-street technology. It utilizes an integrated 720p, high-definition camera mounted within the windshield header trim, which records the driver’s point-of-view through the windshield, while audio is recorded through a dedicated microphone in the cabin. Yet anybody with a GoPro could do this, so the Corvette team also installed a telemetry recorder using an incredibly powerful GPS unit, one that works five times faster than the Stingray’s dedicated navigation system, operating at 5 hertz, or cycles per second.
The genius here is that the recorder is also hard-wired into the Stingray’s Controller Area Network, or CAN, in order to access vehicle information, ranging from engine speed and transmission-gear selection to braking force and steering-wheel angle. It also allows for highly precise precise positioning and corner traces, showing every line the driver takes per lap on the track, making Gran Turismo 6 look like Mario Kart.
The PDR system can record video with three data overlay options, as follows:
- Sport Mode – shows fewer details on the overlay but includes key data including speed and G-force.
- Touring Mode – simply records and displays video and audio of the drive with no data overlay.
- Performance Mode – records performance metrics, such as 0 to 60 mph acceleration, 1/4-mile speed and elapsed time, and 0-100-0 mph runs.
- Track Mode – shows the maximum level of data on the screen, including speed, rpm, G-force, a location-based map, lap time and more.
What’s more, drivers can record their performance via a dedicated SD-card slot in the glove box for recording and transferring video and vehicle data. Recording time depends on the capacity of the memory card, but an 8-gigabyte card can record approximately 200 minutes, while a 32-GB card stores up to about 800 minutes – more than 13 hours of driving time. This allows for drivers to more closely study their performance, such as their lines, speed, braking, and what have you. It would also be possible for drivers to then upload their footage on social media, such as YouTube or Facebook, if they so choose.
The footage can be viewed on the Corvette Stingray’s eight-inch color touchscreen when the car is parked. But for those looking to more closely study their work on the track, the Cosworth Toolbox app that brings professional-level motorsport data analysis with an easy-to-use graphic interface. The software overlays recorded laps on a Bing-enabled satellite map of the track, and compares selected laps in detail for any requested point on the drive. Comparisons include corner traces, vehicle speed, and cornering force to help drivers improve their driving consistency and ultimately their lap times.
“The ability to review laps between track sessions can identify immediate adjustments for quicker laps in the next session,” states Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter.
The PDR system will be available with the start of regular 2015 Corvette production, which begins in the third quarter of 2014. Pricing for the optional system will be announced closer to launch.
And at the same time, members of the NSA are rubbing their nipples in jubilant self-indulgence, as the performance data recorder can also be used on public roads. Just like Russian dash cams. That said, it’s hard to think of anything first hand that the Corvette team missed with this PDR system. It really something serious.