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Corvette Performance Data Recorder lets owners brag, and back it up

Thu, 09 Jan 2014

The last time Cosworth partnered directly with Chevrolet, the world saw the Cosworth Vega. "I had one of those," said Hal Reisiger, CEO of Cosworth. "In 1978 I put a 327 in one of those. Didn't go well. Twisted the frame. Tried it with an Opel GT, too."

Cosworth's recently announced Performance Data Recorder for the Corvette Stingray, which draws motorsport experience from IndyCar and over a decade of Corvette Racing, is a far cry from Chevy Vegas (but not Las Vegas). It is also the closest interpretation to video gaming yet, a succinct reflection of life imitating art.

Shades of "Gran Turismo" appear in its video playback -- both the game itself and GT6's GPS Visualizer, the most ready example that comes to mind. Like a racing game's HUD, a recording of the Corvette's track section overlays vital data like engine RPM, acceleration and braking levels, g-forces, steering angle, and gear position -- even lap times and a track map. Those who grew up playing "Need For Speed" and now have enough cash for big-boy pursuits will love this.

The system includes a camera mounted on the rearview mirror that records in 720p, with a cockpit microphone strong enough to record engine sounds as well as all your swearing when you miss the apex. This is wired to a CAN Bus module as part of the ECU, which is what records the detailed and comprehensive vehicle telemetry. GPS tracks your car's position while lateral g recorder can determine what's a corner and what's a fumbled apex.

All of this information is downloaded to an app called Cosworth Toolbox, which can overlay your racing line over satellite images supplied by Microsoft's Bing. The system can create a "track" for anywhere in the world: press a button at the start line, then another when you cross it again. Famous racetracks aren't stored in a database but pulled from the data just like anywhere else. But a preloaded track database is an option that could come soon.

Cosworth Toolbox is only for Windows Surface, but an iOS app is coming. The data can be downloaded onto an SD card in the glovebox, while the video is compressed into MP4 files for easy sharing and bragging rights.

And yes, people will brag. "We want to hit 99 percent of amateur drivers," explained Steve Wesoloski, who recently joined Cosworth after being with Chevrolet Racing for over 20 years. "And now they've got bragging proof that they did a 1:50 lap at Mid-Ohio." 50 percent of Corvette drivers attend at least one track event a year. That's a lot of bragging.

When the system goes on sale in the third quarter of this year for the 2015 Corvette, the aspiring Andretti will be able to hit the PDR button on Chevrolet MyLink and just start recording laps -- whether they be Sebring, like the demonstration, or around town on the way to get groceries (scientific purposes only, thanks). We're going to record a test loop called the "N

By Blake Z. Rong