Racepak Vantage CL1 Review: Racing Data Acquisition Through Your Phone

What if we said that you could have true on-track data acquisition running conveniently through your phone? The Racepak Vantage CL1 makes that happen.

While walking the floor at the 2017 SEMA Show, the Racepak CL1 Vantage system first caught our eye. It’s a complete data acquisition system that uses a cell phone as an in-car display.

Data is relayed from a global positioning system–plus any other sensors also installed, like ones for coolant temperature and oil pressure–to the driver’s phone. This phone is then mounted within the driver’s line of sight. Meanwhile, all of that data is also relayed to Racepak’s cloud service, where live telemetry can be viewed by any team members using the app and their own cellular device.

Now we’ve gotten our hands on the system to try out for ourselves. The application? We installed it on our turbo Miata endurance racer to test out during an American Endurance Racing event at Road Atlanta.

Unpacking

The Vantage CL1 kit is actually pretty simple. The main unit mounts anywhere in the car and combines all of the chosen input data. The kit comes standard with an extremely accurate GPS system. A high-quality 20Hz GPS sensor—your phone's GPS probably operates at 1Hz—and a large amount of patented code promise to make it accurate within inches. An OBDII dongle also comes standard to make it a true plug-and-play option for newer cars.

Note: The tablet and phone in this photo do not come with the kit.

Installing

Before plugging in any of our inputs, we secured the Vantage CL1 unit to the floor of our Miata.

Don't have OBDII? We didn't on our test car, either. In order to get a tach reading, for example, we just consulted a wiring diagram and tapped into the wiring harness.

That was actually the most time-consuming part of the whole installation. Everything else easily plugs in. The GPS sensor happily sits on the package shelf behind the driver. Any additional sensors can be added and plugged directly into the Racepak unit. We later added a sensor for coolant temperature, too. Keep in mind that any additional sensors and cables will need to be purchased from Racepak.

Once the Vantage CL1 unit was securely in place and our first inputs were plugged in, we powered up the phone that would be used in the car, signed into Racepak's app, and paired the phone whit our Vantage CL1 unit via Bluetooth.

And just like that, we were in business.

Overall we give this system high marks for ease of installation.

Racing

Now that the system was all set up, it was time to hit the track. The system senses when the car has rolled onto one of the thousands of race tracks already in its system and automatically starts the lap timer.

The in-car display shows engine rpm, vehicle speed, current lap time, and the difference between the projected lap time and the best lap time. That last piece of data is a very handy bit of information to have in a long race as it can show when fatigue might be taking its toll.

Where the Vantage CL1 system really shines, though, is in the pits. Any crew member on a mobile device signed into the racer's Racepak cloud account can see the same data that the driver does–and more. Crew members are treated to a live view of the driver's location on track, all lap times from the current session, and all the recorded telemetry.

During the evening of our two-day race weekend, all of our drivers used the Racepak app’s data analysis tools to see where time could be make up. Looking at each driver's profile, we could see who was fastest at any point on track and then try to find out how all the other drivers could improve on that same section.

The system is compact, easy to use, and provides all the relevant data that the amateur racer craves, whether they're competing in sprint races or enduros. The Vantage CL1 works in autocross applications, too. Interested in claiming your own? You can find them on Racepak's website.

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Comments
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Jaynen
Jaynen UltraDork
7/24/18 6:18 p.m.

No mention of price? (on sale its just under 600) without the phone or tablet or the cloud service account

I wonder how this compares to the Apex Track Coach which has a 10hz GPS 9 axis IMU gyroscope and accelerometer. 

That might not get the car sensor data from OBD however, but will build a model to actively in real time help train the drivers "butt dyno"

However it also supports a crew view on IOS to share live lap data also

trucke
trucke SuperDork
7/25/18 7:00 a.m.

That system appears to be pretty amazing.  For a price reference my G-Analyst cost $400 back in 1991.  That is about $735 today adjusted for inflation.  Technology is truly amazing!

 

Stock image of G-Analyst.

CompetitionComponentsLLC
CompetitionComponentsLLC New Reader
7/27/18 3:10 p.m.

As a comparison, check out the Apex Pro.  It offers a tremendous amount of capability and real time information, is autonomous, and can be easily used in different vehicles.  

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
7/27/18 3:50 p.m.
Jaynen said:

No mention of price? (on sale its just under 600) without the phone or tablet or the cloud service account

I wonder how this compares to the Apex Track Coach which has a 10hz GPS 9 axis IMU gyroscope and accelerometer. 

That might not get the car sensor data from OBD however, but will build a model to actively in real time help train the drivers "butt dyno"

However it also supports a crew view on IOS to share live lap data also

Someone who is clever can build an Arduino that has the same accelerometers and a 20 Hz gps. 

I guess I need to make that project I started 7 years ago. 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia Reader
7/27/18 5:24 p.m.

Design an Arduino one ,  it would be fun to play with :)

in a few years there will be a better GPS that will get down to inches , that is what they will use for self driving cars........and tractors etc

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