To start with, in-car video is pretty darn cool. I found myself going to an event, and not an hour after getting home, sitting down and watching the video of what I just did. My wife just looked over at me and said “didn’t you have enough of racing? Now you want to watch the race you just participated in?” Heck yeah! What’s better than a day of racing? A day of racing, finished with watching the in-car video of that day of racing! If you think that sounds pathetic, just wait – I guarantee that you too will do it when you race with in-car video.
In addition to the racing video being fun to watch, there are several other benefits of having a decent in-car video system. Use the video you have captured as a learning tool. One of the great things about video is that it does not lie. Sometimes it can be a bit depressing when you watch the video and see the various areas that could use improvement, but these are great opportunities to shave time off your laps. This is true regardless of whether your autocrossing or on a road course.
Maybe you learn that you are missing some apexes by two feet, or that there were turns where more speed could have been carried through since it was not necessary to track-out to the edge. Don’t be too hard on yourself about these mistakes; use your awareness of them as a tool to perform better the next time you are out on the track. While watching the video, also pay attention to what you and other drivers are doing well. Maybe you see someone make a nice pass in front of you or better yet, you make a nice pass. Now you’ve just witnessed practices you want to adopt into habit. It’s possible you hit a cone during an autocross event or overdrove the car causing mistakes. A lot can be learned from watching in-car video.
Another area where video can be very useful is if something goes wrong out on the track or if there is a dispute over a questionable move. A fact of racing is that it is possible for an accident to occur. Having the ability to review what actually happened, and provide the proof to a steward or other driver can be extremely valuable. I know first-hand how beneficial this can be. During the American Road Race of Champions one year, an on-track incident occurred between myself and two other cars. One of the cars was an innocent bystander that happened to get caught up in the incident. After the race he approached me and was extremely mad. Since he was friends with the other driver involved, I immediately became the bad guy. Fortunately I had the video camera in hand rewound to the time the accident occurred, and showed the video from my car’s perspective. From this video he had the proof that was needed and no longer was upset with me. I was also able to show the video to the stewards as proof of what really happened.
When things happen on the track, everyone witnesses the incident from a different perspective, and it is not always easy to determine which point of view is most accurate. Often times what the driver thought happened is not reality. As I said before, video does not lie.
While obtaining a video system is not free, it does not have to be extremely expensive. I honestly believe that spending some money on a video system is a worthwhile investment. You don’t need anything overly fancy but, at the same time you don’t want very poor video quality.