If you want to increase your track game and speed faster, a lap timer is a great option. While a casual gratification of speed on a perfect twisting road or the accomplishment of approaching a difficult trail are enough for many, the more driven are concerned about the need to go faster.
You may improve your car with more power or better suspension, but the best (and cheapest) performance improvement that you can make is to the component between the seat and the steering wheel, thus making every lap a breeze. Most dedicated racing lap timers use GPS technology to automatically track each lap beginning and end, separating the time for each and permitting the user to see how changes to your racing line and braking points impact your overall speed and RPM. Examples also log and save your sessions digitally often along with vehicle performance test data or video
A variety of digital track coaching tools can help with logging data and lap timing, according to an artificial intelligence algorithm. Many times in real time, they will help you speed up each lap.
The Aim Solo 2 is a popular lap timer for novice racing and high-performance racing events, both with a color-display and a large, legible text. The unit is about as plug-and-play as they come: mount it, power it, and head onto any of the more than 2,000 preloaded tracks to get your laps tracked and logged using precise GPS/Glonass resolution.
The Aim Solo 2 can also display split times and predictive lap times outside of the circuit (Ill explain the difference in a moment) and can be used for performance benchmarks outside the circuit for point-to-point races, drag races or simply to get precise 0-to-60 times. When youre done driving, logged timing, GPS, accelerometer, and gyro data can be recalled on the device itself or on a PC via Wi-Fi.
The $700 Aim Solo 2 DL is ideal for beginner and intermediate riders who want to go running with precise timing on and off the track. It''s also possible to upgrade the model to include multiple external sensors, and also to include additional features such as a programmable shift light. Solo 2 can also be used in all of your performance situations: hill climbs, regularity, speed races, and point-to-point races.
Racelogic is a software development organization.
The Performance Box Touch, which is a product name for Racelogics Vbox, is also one of the brands'' most recent models. It is priced ($680) below the Aim Solo 2 DL, although it does not have the capability to connect to your automobile ECU or external sensors, and the feature set is similar to the Aim Solo 2.
The PBT isnt without its own features. The unit is built around a full-color 4.3-inch screen that isn''t only larger, but more customizable than the Aim units, not that you should spend too much time admiring the screen while tearing around the track. Vbox also claims that its proprietary Delta-T and Delta-V predictive lap timing algorithms are more accurate, making the PBT a potentially beneficial learning tool.
Aspire to be a success.
Aims Track Day is a powerful standalone product bundled with the Solo 2 DL with its Smartycam HD 2.1 microphone. The two devices can be mounted from your windshield on the same double-bracket suction cup mount, which allows you to view and record driver and vehicle performance statistics with video. This is because the DL model offers an additional advantage because of its flexibility and upgradability.
If there is one weakness, its that the SmartyCam isn''t very cinematic. It only captures at 720p and 30 frames per second, plus youll need to choose between a narrow (67-degree) or wide (84-degree) field of view at the time of purchase. So, it may be worth replacing a 5K GoPro Hero 9 with the Solo 2 DL, and learning to manually overlay your log data.
The Solo 2 DL and Smartycam combo have somewhat altered in their functionality and ease of use. Moreover, the camera can instantly add any of the numerous information provided by the Solo 2 DL, like a G-force meter, a live track map, virtual gauges, and more onto its captured footage, making it easy to share on-track accomplishments and victories without having to worry about missing a record or being unable to reach it because of a restriction.
Here''s the catch: On Aims UK, we can only find the Track Day bundle, but if you don''t want to pay in pounds and ship internationally, you''ll need to order the Smartycam and the Solo 2 DL separately at the links below, and connect them on your own.
Racelogic is a racing game.
The Vbox Sport, based on the size and shape of a small radar detector, is suited for all of the Performance Box Touch''s high-resolution GPS tracking and precision lap timing, although without the touchscreen. In fact, there is no screen at all! Although this may seem like a drop, the headless setup also has advantages.
No touchscreen means nothing to distract you while sticking it up on the track. GPS, gyro, accelerometer, and timing data are stored on an SD card for retrieval and analysis later, making it extremely versatile and convenient for use on motorcycles, boats, and airplanes, as well as large R/C craft and planes.
If you need a screen, Bluetooth connectivity allows you to still view live lap times or see logged data on a paired smartphone in the Racelogic app or one of the recommended third-party lap timer apps below.
Garmin is still alive.
When you go to the track, Garmins Catalyst displays your current lap and split times, as well as recording video with a 1080p or 30fps camera.
The Catalyst uses artificial intelligence and a built-in microphone to analyze data and video, repurposing your finest segments into a True Optimal Lap, based on your speed, the track, the vehicle, and your skill level. This, according to Garmin, is easier than a split time because it not only explains how much faster youre gets, but also how to be faster by suggesting improvements.
Catalyst can even provide audio feedback in real time to help you achieve the True Optimal Lap hints like apex sooner, brake later, or good segment which can be played through the devices internal speakers, the cars stereo system, or a Bluetooth headset or a comms system. Even better, as you improve, Catalyst safely inside the cockpit. The Garmin can also store multiple profiles for different drivers and vehicles.
Why isnt this the best overall lap timer? The Catalyst is capable of advising novice to advanced racers, but it lacks a few features. For starters, the $1,000 Catalyst is only capable of being used for circuit racing and HPDEs; point-to-point racing, drag racing, and 0-to-60 testing are also not supported.
Even with these shortcomings, the Garmin Catalyst is short of an experienced human coach riding pistol the best way to get faster on the track and will grow along with your skill cap.
TrackAddict has an extensive feature set that can transform the iPhone or other mobile in your pocket into an impressive racing recorder. With a straightforward to use interface, the app uses the phones GPS antenna to record track position and display lap time, split time, predictive time, and more. It can also record HD video using the phones camera and overlay data and graphics for sharing.
TrackAddict also includes point-to-point races suitable for autocross or rallying drag racing, as well as a low-speed 44 trails mode that includes pitch and roll information. It is also available on-app for only the most advanced features.
TrackAddict is able to extract precise GPS data from an external receiver like the Vbox Sport for more precise high-resolution positioning than the phones antenna can offer; it can also connect to Bluetooth adapters to store data from your car ECU such as engine speed, throttle position, and more.
Harrys Lap Timer
Harrys Lap Timer was voted the ultimate smartphone lap-timing app for a long time. It is extremely flexible, capable of log and display a wide array of racing data, and it is very intuitive in how it is displayed. Although Harrys previously used TrackAddicts for a more streamlined interface, many users are skeptical about the fact that it has more time to refuel and predict future events.
For the most part, the base $9 Rookie app is sufficient to start timing laps, but it requires a $20 upgrade to the mid-spec Petrolhead product, which includes incredible capabilities, including the ability to compare two video laps side-by-side, and even remote control multiple GoPro and Sony cameras. However, even at its best, the price is reasonable, although it is difficult to compete with free.
Most lap timers must be suction-cupped to the windshield or bolted to the dashboard, but the instrument cluster is the most efficient position to monitor your performance from the driver seat. Nearly every automobile already has an instrument cluster, but an aftermarket replacement means youre is not necessarily stuck with the factory-installed gauges.
Aim''s MXG 1.2 Dash Data logger includes a 7-inch TFT display that Aim has the highest offers and is designed to function as a full-digital racing instrument cluster. Apart from its included GPS antenna and internal accelerometer, the MXG can automatically track and display lap times and split and predictive times with all of the fidelity matching or exceeding the Solo models. This feature is compatible with Aims Smartycams.
A cluster replacement is complete overkill and a bit impractical for all but purpose-built race cars, but the Aim MXG 1.2 is the most no-compromise lap timer flex. This item is out of production, so it is a little harder to get your hands on one.
|Best lap timer overall||Aim Sports||Solo 2||$459||Matching plug-and-play simplicity with extreme precision, the Aim Solo 2 (or the upgraded Solo 2 DL) is the best GPS timer for most racers, novice to experienced, for all types of racing.|
|Best lap timer runner-up||Racelogic||Performance Box Touch||$765||The Performance Box Touch is pricier than its primary competitor, but also boasts a color screen and the promise of better predictive lap timing.|
|Best lap timer if money is no object||Aim Sports||Solo 2 DL / Smartycam HD 2.1||$1,149||This Track Day Kit can automatically log lap times, monitor vehicle systems and sensors and automatically overlay that data onto an HD video to analyze and share.|
|Best screenless lap timer||Racelogic||Vbox Sport||$420||It lacks a screen, but the Vbox Sport still logs timing and location data with extreme precision. Plus, its compact, waterproof design makes it ideal for use on boats or even R/C craft.|
|Best track driving coach lap timer||Garmin||Catalyst||$900||The Garmin Catalyst not only logs your laps with HD video and precise GPS, but its AI software also analyzes the data for you and makes suggestions that help you go faster next round.|
|Best lap timer app||HP Tuners||TrackAddict||Free||TrackAddict is a streamlined lap timer app that makes it easy to get setup recording sessions at the track. Most importantly, its free to get started.|
|Best lap timer app runner-up||Harrys||Harrys Lap Timer Petrolhead||$20||Harrys Lap Timer is a longstanding favorite. Its more expensive than TrackAddict and its a bit more complex, but its enhanced analysis tools make it a better pick for seasoned drivers.|
|Best dashboard replacement lap timer||Aim Sports||MXG Dash||$1,599||Replacing your entire instrument cluster with a lap timer/data logger is probably overkill, but for purpose-built race cars (and trucks) the Aim MXG is the best in the business.|
What should a good lap timer do?
While you race around a track, a lap timer should accurately measure, separate, and store your lap times, but it''s also a bit more complex than that. For starters, you''ll be too busy driving to manually mark your laps, so a good lap timer should make use of GPS to automatically track when you cross the start-finish line.
While on the track, the best lap timers will store your laps for analysis and comparison and should also provide some sort of performance feedback. This may be as simple as displaying a split time or more complicated.
The addition of a handlebar enables the Aim Solo 2 to be used on motorcycles as well.
What to look for in a GPS lap timer?
The greater the accuracy of the devices'' positioning, the more precise your measured times will be, so a high-quality GPS antenna is critical. Look for a receiver compatible with the Global Navigation Satellite System, which allows you to see both the GPS and the GLONASS satellite constellations for the most precise positioning.
For fast moving automobiles on a race track, a refresh rate (measured in hertz) for positioning data is just as important as accuracy. Extremely inexpensive timers (or older smartphones) can decrease as low as 1 to 6Hz, which causes uneven start/finish lines and unoptimised timing.
A good lap timer for racing applications should have built-in location information for popular racetracks. That doesnt mean youll be looking at a map, but having the same position for the finish line (as well as the same starting points for track segments) makes it easier to compare and share your time and performance with other drivers.
Although not as with the Vbox Sport, a large, easy-to-read display is very nice to have. If the grid is not the clock once the green flag drops, however, big, legible numbers means that you wont have to buckle down to look back at your split. Along the lines, a good lap timer should also be a data logger, since it is much safer and more straightforward to look at lap data from the pits.
With immediate feedback on changes to the racing line, the driver will improve due to clear timing.
What is predictive lap timing?
Split timing assists you in determining which sections of the track that you are having the most trouble and can assist in determining how long your lap time is.
Predictive timing, referred to as delta timing, takes this notion further, calculating in real time how your current performance stacks up with your previous best, as well as how long your current lap will take based on changes to your racing line, acceleration, and braking. This may be as simple as an LED that turns green when youre accelerates, or a live updating lap time prediction. Depending on how long your current lap will take, you may notice that your predictive time decreases instantly. This makes it simpler to define
What is a driving coach?
Experienced drivers are able to look at their lap times, possibly compare notes with other drivers, and see how improvements may be made. However, novice racers may require the help of a driving coach to make heads or tails of the data. While there is no substitute for an experienced human riding shotgun, digital driving coaches like the Garmin Catalyst or the Apex Pro can be quite useful.
On steroids, digital coaching is similar to predictive lap timing, ranging from showing when youre faster to explaining how to get faster. At the end of your session, the best segments of multiple laps are combined into a True Optimal Lap, a hypothetical best lap based on your performance.
The most popular feature of Catalysts is its ability to generate a True Optimal Lap based on your captured data and video.
Although this isn''t particularly special, many lap timers may calculate an optimal lap, but the Catalyst collects that data and utilizes it to provide feedback on your next driving session. The AI will provide audio prompts and notes, indicating that the driver may, for example, brake later here, and keep the gas longer. This also improves the recommendations provided by the Catalyst, as the optimal lap is based on your best segments.
How do you mount a lap timer?
Most standalone racing lap timers will ship with a suction-cup mount, but not always. Make sure you buy. A suction cup is the easiest mounting option, allowing the device to be attached to the windshield like a GPS navigator or radar detector, and then easily removed at the end of your lapping session. A lap timers GPS antenna gives the best satellite positioning accuracy.
Having a more secure mounting option is a bolt-in dashboard bracket. This semipermanent mounting technique is more secure than a suction cup especially in the event of a collision. It has the added benefit of keeping your windshield clear of obstructions. You may have to modify or drill into your dashboard to attach it in, and you will want to ensure that your chosen mounting position does not block the GPS antenna.
A handlebar mount is used to keep your lap timer securely in place for motorcycle and powersports applications. Aim even offers padded bar mounts for its Solo 2 and Solo 2 DL models. Full instrument cluster replacements like the Aim MXG are the most labor-intensive applications and should only be attempted if you absolutely know what youre doing.
The lap timer has the finest connection to the satellite constellations thanks to a windshield or dashboard mounting.
Things to consider about lap timer apps
The most cost-effective way to begin timing your laps today is by downloading a lap timer app and simply using your smartphone that''s already in your pocket. While several apps like Harrys Lap Timer and TrackAddict offer feature sets that differ from the best dedicated GPS lap timers on this list, there are also issues.
The performance of a lap-timer app is enormously dependent on your phone, since it involves GPS and accelerometers doing the heavy lifting. Newer devices are usually up to the task, but an older phone may be to blame for an uneven and unsettling lap-timing event. There are a few things you can do to give your phone a leg up.
First, you''ll need to pay for adashboard or a windshield mount; your pocket or a cup holder won''t. The phone will need a clear view of the sky to give its GPS antenna the best chance at proper positioning. Look for a robust, sturdy mount that locks into place and allows accelerometers to more precisely measure G-forces, ensures that the handset won''t go stuck around the cabin when you hit a bump and may even allow you to use the camera to record video of
While timing laps and improve GPS accuracy, a locking mount, like this Ram X-Grip Suction Cup, will hold your phone more secure than a cup holder.
The mobile phone GPS is designed with power management and navigation in mind, which can result in a drop in refresh rates. Many older phones may have GPS refresh rates as low as 1 to 6Hz, which is good for turn-by-turn directions but isnt the best for precise, high-speed measurements. This refresh rate might even decrease when the screen is off or the battery is low, even on relatively new phones. So, you may want to keep your phone locked in and awake during your laps.
If your phones are not cutting it, or you don''t want to jump to a dedicated timer, consider upgrading your device with an external Bluetooth receiver like the Vbox Sport or the Garmin GLO 2 to ensure more precise, high-refresh positioning. Both Harrys and TrackAddict support dozens of third-party receivers, but you''ll need to double-check for compatibility with your phones OS. You may also add an adapter that connects to your car diagnostics port to obtain ECU data, such