Spanish racecar driving school Escuela Española de Pilotos needs a mobile computing platform that stands up to the rigors of trackside tuning. The school uses Panasonic Toughbook tablets running Windows 8 Pro and touch-enabled versions of complex
racing software to accelerate productivity in the pit. Team members share devices, tapping and swiping to analyze race videos and data, minimize downtime to tune the car, and update winning strategies.
Escuela Española de Pilotos trains racing drivers and operates a GT endurance car racing competition team. Every successful racing program requires a dedicated team of skilled drivers, mechanics, engineers, and strategy experts. “We are all about winning,
and to win, you need to provide your team with the best tools and technology,” says Fernando Camino, Owner of Escuela Española de Pilotos.
||Windows 8 Pro on the Panasonic Toughbook is a great combination in the pit: fast, reliable, ruggedized, and portable. We are saving precious seconds that could make the difference in winning a race.
| Fernando Camino
Owner, Escuela Española de Pilotos
The team at Escuela Española de Pilotos relies on data acquisition systems, racing analysis programs, and engine control systems hosted on a remote server. Advanced electronics built into the cars collect data during a race. When the driver pulls into the pit
lane for refueling or service during a race, engineers connect the car to a computer and upload the data to the server for analysis. The team had been using laptops running the Windows XP operating system.
“We look at the different applications and analyze many data points, from engine temperature to fuel burn rates to the quality of gear changes,” says Matt Faulks, IT Director at TDF, a company that provides electronic support for Escuela Española de Pilotos.
“There could be 15 people accessing data from the server, right there on the circuit or in our labs in the United Kingdom, Singapore, and the United States, where we solve issues and generate lap-by-lap analysis that’s emailed back to the track.”
Camino is always looking to improve the computing platform for Escuela Española de Pilotos. His requirements for technology are akin to those for a winning team: fast, tough, accurate, reliable, intuitive, and multifaceted. “In the pit, there’s lots of noise
and the crew is working at top speed in a dirty, dusty environment,” says Camino. “Everyone needs instant access to their applications and data. They need tough, portable machines to pass around and give to the driver so we can make fast decisions to improve
performance and win races.”
Escuela Española de Pilotos found the computing platform that it needed to stay at the forefront of racing technology: the Windows 8 Pro operating system running on ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1 tablets in the pit and several workstations in the
office. With Windows 8 Pro and the rugged Panasonic Toughbook, the team gets a fast, fluid, mobile, touch computing experience perfectly suited to the pit environment, along with reliable interoperability with the team’s server infrastructure to keep everyone
connected within an international support network.
“I wanted Windows 8 Pro because I saw the advantages of an operating system that could run our complex software and offer touch computing and mobility with new devices,” says Camino. “We had no problem upgrading everything straight from our existing Windows
XP operating system.”
It was easy for Escuela Española de Pilotos to introduce Windows 8 Pro into its existing IT infrastructure thanks to management features such as domain join, which the school used to join the Windows 8 Pro devices to its business network. The school also
uses Group Policy to set IT policies for data access, and the built-in virtual private network (VPN) client to connect to racing software from the pit.
“Windows 8 didn’t force us to change how we worked in IT, and I saw a big improvement in how we accessed data from the server,” says Camino. “We protect confidential information using passwords and setting up multiple user profiles, so people can access
their own data even on a shared tablet. I use the solution to sync about 20 gigabytes of files, so I always have current information no matter what device I’m using.”
Although Camino has been using Windows 8 Pro since its launch, Escuela Española de Pilotos gave Windows 8 Pro its first test run trackside from May 31 to June 2, 2013, at the Paul Riccard Circuit in the south of France. The new computing platform outperformed
“Windows 8 Pro on the Panasonic Toughbook is a great combination in the pit: fast, reliable, ruggedized, and portable,” says Camino. “We are saving precious seconds that could make the difference in winning a race.”
Escuela Española de Pilotos has already seen the following benefits from Windows 8 Pro:
Fast performance with targeted data access. At the Paul Riccard Circuit, Windows 8 Pro kept pace with the race, expediting data delivery to team members through immediate start ups and improved performance. “The whole system works faster,
with data going through one channel but targeted to individual team members, and we easily access everything with the touch of a finger,” says Camino. “We’re passing the tablets around, checking our information, and brainstorming winning strategies faster
Mobility and reliability. When the team is on the road, there’s no time for downtime or replacing faulty devices. “The gear we take has to work, period,” says Faulks. “The Panasonic Toughbook and Windows 8 Pro give us a stable platform.
With less downtime, we lower costs.”
Ease of use. No one on the team has the time to learn new computing skills, but using Windows 8 Pro was intuitive and easy. “I’m traveling at 270 kilometers per hour, so when I come off the track I can’t slow down to fiddle with a mouse
and keyboard,” says Ben Clucus, who drives a Mosler MT900 for Escuela Española de Pilotos. “Now, someone hands me a tablet. I swipe. I check my data. I swipe. I check a video clip. I talk with the crew. We make a change, and I’m back out there.”
Rugged tool. At the Paul Riccard Circuit, Windows 8 Pro on the Panasonic Toughbook stood up to a challenging environment. “When I saw one of our mechanics with his tablet lying in the tool trolley with the hammers and wrenches, I thought,
‘This is a tool.’ And we are only just realizing how much we’re going to benefit from it,” concludes Camino.
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