Optional / Semi-optional costs

Ok, so I’ve given myself a break from costing for a while. However, it’s time to get back to it. This time though, these costs would be considered to be optional or at least, semi-optional. They won’t raise my estimated ‘minimum’ cost of racing in he Academy as you can perhaps live without them.

Bag Seat

Bag SeatAlthough the car is supplied with Tillett race seats, many chose to race with a bag seat – a custom made moulded seat.

Reasons for using a bag seat being one or more of the following: sitting lower in the car (or higher); making sure that the helmet is clear of the roll-cage by the amount stipulated in the regulations; comfort and driving position; safety (a bag seat can support the body better in an accident).

It is possible to do a DIY bag seat using a bin liner/survival bag and 2-part expanding foam kit (about 5kg kit). This is cheap – the foam costs about £20-£30. (Here’s some you can buy!) – you then wrap the resultant seat in duct-tape.

However, don’t be surprised if it takes a couple of attempts to get it right. You’ll also need bodies around to help you with the process.

There are more advanced techniques using better quality materials (foam beads and resin mixes inside a special flexible bag). However, these come with additional cost.

You can also get someone to do it for you. I believe that Caterham offer the service for around £250.  You’re more likely to get a good result first time and some good advice on position – but that comes at a price.

If you do stick with the Tillett, the I believe it is best practice to pack expanding foam behind the seat to make it stronger.

Lap Timer

Lap TimerIn the academy, you’re not allowed any form of data logging throughout official events. The one concession on this is a basic lap-timer. Racecentre made T100 (£90 ex VAT) and T200  (£100 ex VAT) are the only ones allowed. Caterham can supply.

Because these devices are so basic, they aren’t really used outside of the Academy. The rest of the Caterham ladder allows more advanced data-logging and therefore don’t be surprised if lots of these devices become available at the end of the previous season!

Onboard Camera

Go Pro HD HeroRacelogic Video VBoxThere are lots and lots of options when it comes to recording your achievements on camera. They stretch from the budget end – say £100, to the Rolls Royce end – £2000. All vary in quality, size and features.

A lot of drivers opt for the GoPro HD (and now the GoPro HD2). At £250 ish, it’s not the cheapest option on the market but it offers big picture quality bang for the buck. It’s also used EVERYWHERE – so there are an absolute tonne of accessories and mounts. It’s light weight and waterproof. The HD2 also offers the capability to live broadcast!

I’ve personally used 2 companies before and had good service from both of them. www.dogcamsport.co.uk – I purchased a Bullet Cam HD Wide (£129) (Here’s some helmet cam footage). www.sport-cam.co.uk – I have an HD Pro from them (£299) (Here’s some on-board footage). Both companies also sell the GoPro.

At the Rolls Royce end, there is the VBox family of cameras. Unlike the lower end cameras, these are real tools. As well as recording footage, they also have the capability to data-log using GPS. Having the video and GPS data means that post testing analysis can be done and directo comparison can be made between your laps and, say, an instructor. You can identify exactly where you are losing time.

However, all this capability comes at a cost. Prices don’t start until just short of £1000 and quickly rise to £2000. That’s a heck of an investment. It is also essential that the data logging is turned off if these cameras are used at official Academy events because the regulations strictly prohibit their use. If you’re tempted, you can find out what they can do and their heft price tags here.

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