Experiments in Coaching, Part 1

I have the opportunity this month to have two events on the same track. At the beginning of June I instructed with PCA at the Shenandoah Circuit, Summit Point Motorsports Park, and at the end of June I return with BMW. I’ve always wanted to see if I could gather data to answer two common questions: How much faster will I be on track tires? And, how effective is coaching an experienced driver?

So the answer to the first one is fairly straight forward, but since this track can have several different layouts, let’s establish some controls. We will not use the banked Karussel, but instead take the inside line. We will run the Old Ram cut-off instead of running through the hot grid, and we will drive the Range Straight instead of the Range Esses.

I have 75+ days on this track and data on several hundred laps, that until now, were always on max performance summer tires (treadler 200 or greater.) My best recorded time was 1:44.73. At the start of this first weekend in June, I did a few sessions on Falken 615Ks (treadwear 200) and then switched to Toyo RRs (treadwear 40.) The best on the Falkens was 1:44.87 (so 0.14 sec off of my best). The best on the Toyos was 1:42.96, an improvement of 1.77 sec over my best, and 1.91 sec better than the Falkens on the same day. Average the two together and that’s a 1.84 sec improvement or just about 1.75%. So, just by spending money on better tires, I was faster, but that doesn’t mean I was better.

Armed with my new faster tires, I then asked one of my fellow instructors, Paul Bylis to ride along and coach me. I listened to his advice for a session, and then went out on my own again. This time, my best lap was a 1:41.97. A further improvement of 0.99 sec. So now I have a rough comparison of the value of coaching (which for me is free since I just have to ask for it) vs. spending money on more expensive tires.

Part two of this experiment is to let the Garmin Catalyst Coach me and see what further improvements can be made. The Catalyst tells me I’m still leaving a three fourths of a second on the table. To account for differing conditions at the end of the month, I’ll set a new control time, and then let the Catalyst coach me. Stay tuned.

Catalyst Cage Mount and Options

Most track event organizers (myself included) require in-car cameras and mobile devices to be securely mounted and tethered. This is to prevent the device from coming loose on track and possibly getting under the driver’s feet. This video looks at two solutions for securing the Garmin Catalyst: The Garmin Cage Mount as well as a 3D printed clip mount.

So whether you’re using the stock Garmin suction mount or have attached a fixed ball mount to your car, you need to think how to secure a tether. This video can help.

Click here to purchase the Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer.

Click here to purchase the Garmin Cage Mount. (Which should be back in stock mid-November 2021)

Click here to download the files to 3D print your own clip.

Garmin Catalyst on the Jefferson Extended Circuit

Lap from recent HPDE with NCC BMW CCA on the Jefferson Extended Circuit, Summit Point WV. E46 M3 on Michelin Pilot PS2 tires with full tread. Only my sixth track day in this car.

Video is interesting because you can see my struggles as a former front wheel driver. I’m leaving about 3/4 of a second on the table as I try to find the right way to deal with the road crown on turn-in. Watch the red time in the lower right of the frame. That’s the delta to my optimal lap. I loose time on the turn in for Turns 1, 4, and 14. I do get a good launch out of T14 at the end, where I’m immediately up on the next lap which was ultimately not completed due to the end of the session.

My best lap ever in the MINI on Pilot Super Sports was a 1:27.5. Previous best in this car was 1:26.2. New best is 1:24.9. I continue to be impressed with how easy and effective the Garmin Catalyst coach is to use.

Garmin Catalyst Blog Entries

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Garmin Catalyst First Use

Track season is finally upon us here in the mid-Atlantic. I had the chance to spend three days at Summit Point Main with PCA at the end of March. Here’s a 12 minute video I put together talking about how I used the Catalyst to improve. Please let me know in the comments if you have any features you’ve found especially useful.

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DIY Tether for Garmin Catalyst

We recently reviewed the Garmin Catalyst Cage Mount and started thinking that perhaps there was a simpler DIY solution to tethering your device. The cage is a great solution if you want to permanently mount the device in your car, but what if you just want an option to tether it securely and still remove it when needed. This might be a good solution for you. (Note: It isn’t supported by Garmin and nor necessarily recommending in all cases. Check your rulebook first.)

The video explains the process and more detailed photos are available below.

Start by locating the mounting point for the removable lower panel and remove the silver screw.

Compare the size of the tether end to the available space and shape it accordingly. We had to shave the sides and bend to fit the contour of the device.

And just screw it in place.

Close the lower panel and test.

Now place it back in the magnetic mount. We used a longer tether to hold the mount to the car, and then a shorter tether to hold the device to the mount. Both tethers are using a small clip we mounted into the window mount.

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