We immediately regretted having the guys from Cosworth pull up a video of one of Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner’s laps around Sebring International Raceway in a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to compare against one of our hottest hot laps. We knew we’d get embarrassed, and we did. Milner’s lap times were well below ours, his speeds were much higher, and his racing line was much, much cleaner. And there it all was, in high-def video with graphic overlays showing throttle, braking, steering, and our ineptitude. It perfectly demonstrated Chevrolet’s new Performance Data Recorder (PDR).
The PDR system is a video, telemetry, and data acquisition package that will be optional on the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe and convertible. Chevy developed the system together with Cosworth, the British motorsports and engineering company that gives the Corvette Racing team its telemetry and data acquisition systems. The first major piece of PDR is a 720-pixel, high-definition camera mounted behind the rearview mirror that records video through the windshield. There’s also a dedicated microphone in the cabin for audio. That way you can be reminded of which curse word you blurted out when you missed an apex.
The second major piece of PDR is a self-contained telemetry recorder that’s located in the passenger-side front wheel well. It has a 5Hz GPS receiver that’s five times faster than the car’s navigation system, which makes for more precise positioning and corner traces as you go around a racetrack. (For reference, our testing equipment runs at 20Hz. The PDR system, then, is not as accurate as our testing equipment, but the boys at Cosworth say a more precise telemetry recording system isn’t out of the question somewhere down the line.) The recorder is hardwired into the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s Controller Area Network (CAN) stream, which gives it access to a wide array of vehicle information. You can look at things like engine speed, throttle position, braking force, and steering angle. You can’t look at every channel in the CAN stream. Chevy decided to focus on only thirty or so of the most popular channels, and, really, you don’t need to see your air/fuel ratio.
The last major piece of PDR is the SD-card slot in the glove box that’s used for recording video and vehicle data. Recording time depends on the capacity of your memory card. An 8-gig card can record about three hours and a 32-gig about thirteen hours. Unless you’re an endurance racer, a smaller card should do just fine.
Head to the racetrack, run the PDR as you turn a few laps, and then review the footage on the car’s eight-inch touchscreen as your Vette cools down in the paddock. You can configure the display to show graphic overlays of speed, lateral grip, lap times, and the like. If that’s not detailed enough for you, though, you can take the SD card out of the car, put it into any Windows-based computer, and open the data in a simplified version of Cosworth Toolbox, a software application included with the package that lets you do a more in-depth data analysis of your driving so that you can really bore your friends at the bar later that night.
Pricing for this factory option isn’t available just yet but will be before 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray production starts sometime in the fall. There’s also no word on whether Chevy will offer a retrofit kit for 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray owners or not, but we think there should be. Chevy is also toying with the idea of posting PDR laps done by professional racers so that you can compare your driving style to your favorite racer’s, and we say that’s also a great idea. That way you can compare your laps against Tommy Milner’s and feel inept, too.