Toyota Racing Development (TRD) is using Windows 8 Enterprise and the Surface tablet as the centerpiece of a new trackside strategy to win races. When drivers asked for a mobile computing platform, TRD reimagined its racing software to run as
a touch-enabled application on Windows 8. During practice, drivers and crew chiefs quickly tap in racing and performance data to speed up trackside tuning and share information to develop winning race strategies.
Toyota Racing Development (TRD) differentiates itself within the hyper-competitive racing business through technology innovation. During testing, a typical Toyota stock car is equipped with more than a million dollars’ worth of instrumentation that monitors
car and driver performance. Since 2007, TRD has been developing racing software for teams to analyze this information to improve performance and win races.
To stay ahead of competitors, TRD continually evolves its racing software. “For Toyota teams to finish first on the track, we must also be the first to adopt new technology,” says Darren Jones, Group Lead for Software Development at Toyota Racing Development.
TRD stays at the forefront of racing technology by working with Microsoft. “One of the biggest differentiators between TRD and our competition is that we have invested heavily in Windows software,” says Steve Wickham, VP of Chassis Operations at Toyota Racing
Development. “Recently, however, we’ve been getting pressure from teams to improve communications and to introduce a more mobile computing platform that can be used trackside.”
During practice, drivers run dozens of laps and make frequent stops at the garage to review the car’s performance with crew chiefs. Everyone is under pressure to spend more time driving and less time talking. Clear, concise communication is critical. “The
driver is wearing a helmet, the crew chief is wearing a headset, and everyone is shouting in a wind storm while cars scream by,” says Jones. “If we need to go to the trailer to discuss strategies, we lose 15 minutes.”
TRD provided teams with applications that run on laptops, but the drivers found them difficult to use. “I’ve just come off a 175-mile-an-hour run. I’m strapped in, my adrenalin is pumping, and the car is being jacked up and down,” says Kenny Wallace, who
drives the #99 Toyota Camry for RAB Racing with Brack Maggard. “I can’t be fumbling with a mouse and keyboard to tell my crew chief that we have to figure out why I’m losing a couple hundredths of a second in the third corner.”
To deliver a more intuitive, mobile computing platform for trackside information exchanges in the garage, TRD upgraded its racing software to run on the Windows 8 Enterprise operating system. It deployed its new, touch-enabled application, called TRD
Trackside, on the Surface Pro tablet.
||With TRD Trackside on Windows 8, the driver pulls into the garage, enters data on the tablet, hands it out to the crew, and they get to work. We’re back on the track faster, which improves our chance of winning.
| Steve Wickham
VP of Chassis Operations, Toyota Racing Development
“Competitors are working all around us in nearby garage stalls, so protecting our data is critical,” says Jones. “We chose Windows 8 instead of the iOS because we get enterprise-ready security, the familiarity of the Windows development environment, and a touch-enabled
TRD evaluated outdoor visibility, battery life, robustness, and flexibility when choosing its hardware. Surface Pro delivered the flexibly and the fast, fluid interactivity that the racing teams needed. Drivers can use the tablet inside the car by tapping
the screen to input data and then passing it to the crew chief, who can snap on the Type or Touch keyboard and use the tablet like a laptop.
In March of 2012, TRD developers began working with Microsoft Services to architect and design the TRD Trackside application to run as a touch-enabled application on Windows 8. “The Microsoft Services team immersed themselves in our world to help design
a great application, with wireframes, that our race teams love,” says Jones. “We had the team at a racetrack one day for 15 hours straight!”
TRD Trackside functionality includes the Driver’s Spotlight that ranks drivers’ performance statistics; Run Comparison that compares competitors’ lap times; and Drivers’ Notes that uses Bing maps to depict the track so drivers can tap the point where their
cars’ handling needs to be improved.
“Everyone wants to use TRD Trackside,” says Jones. “We will make the application available to our Nationwide series teams in 2013 and increase our support capabilities to make it available to remaining Camping and Spring Cup teams in 2014.”
Toyota Racing Development is continuing its track record of innovation with its Windows-based racing software. By running its TRD Trackside application on the Surface Pro tablet with Windows 8, TRD is delivering the following benefits:
TRD teams are racing ahead of competitors when it comes to efficient communications that improve decision-making on winning strategies. “Other teams are writing notes on paper, and I’m thinking, ‘that’s old school,’” says Wallace. “With Windows 8 and
TRD Trackside, TRD is way ahead. I just tap on the Surface Pro to tell my crew chief what he needs to know—it only takes a second. And he uses the application to compare my time and performance against the track layout so I can see where I have to improve
to beat the competition.”
Maximized Value of Practice Runs
Using TRD Trackside to clarify communications during practice helps everyone see what needs to be done to improve a car and driver’s performance, ultimately improving the chance of winning. “Running TRD Trackside on Windows 8 improves practice sessions
because it enables a precise and instant information exchange between drivers, crew chiefs, and engineers,” says Wickham.
“The team uses the app to expedite mechanical adjustments to get the car back onto the track quickly so we can maximize the value of our practice time.”
Improved Understanding of Drivers’ Performance
During race weekend, the team can use TRD Trackside to improve drivers’ performance by monitoring timing and scoring metrics. “It’s absolutely critical to compare drivers so we can get a baseline for performance and work on improving from there,” says
“With Windows 8, it’s good to know we are offering our race teams an app that will actually help drive performance,” concludes Wickham. “It’s an exciting new software tool for us. Now I’m just waiting for that email after a race weekend that says, ‘Thanks
for the software; it helped us win the race.’”
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