March 1, 2021

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

Can Track Nav Make You Faster?

Image: Garmin

Reading a paper map today is kind of like handing a rotary phone to a Taylor Swift fan. Hello? What am I supposed to do with this?

GPS is just a way of life now. We’ve all gone soft thanks to orbiting satellites, but at least we aren’t as late or as lost as we were in the 1980s.

OK, so if you need to drive across the state to look at a car for sale, your on-board assistant can get you there in the quickest way possible — even avoiding traffic along the way. 

That’s all great. But what about on a track? Can the eye in the sky give you a performance edge over your friends?

Garmin, longtime maker of GPS systems, has both asked and answered that question already with the Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer — your very own on-board personal race coach.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Using your driving data and pre-loaded information about the track, it’ll give you real-time driving tips via a headset or the bluetooth connection in your car. It uses something called Garmin True Track Positioning Technology to figure out where you are on the track, and then uses built-in accelerometers, an HD camera, and high-res positioning antennas to figure out your racing line. It uses all that info to help you tighten up where you’re loose, gives you prompts for braking and turning-in, and where to put the car on the track — all of which drop your lap times.

It comes with pre-loaded road courses from around the world, but it can also generate new course maps, too, so it’ll work anywhere. It doesn’t need a computer, either — the built-in touchscreen is all you need to get rolling. It does, however, come with an app that will export your information to a smartphone or computer. 

Want to try one? Summit Racing has them available at $999. The reviews are good:

I put this on my GT-1 Corvette to race in the SCCA American Road Racing Championships at Road Atlanta. Also put two more in my kids GT-1 Corvette and Mustang. These are custom tube-frame race cars. 850 hp, top speed 185 mph. We compared data all weekend. A whole lot more practical than a Motec system for $25k each! Great system!

I don’t think actual race coaches will ever end up in the same corner as all those folded-up maps or rotary phones — but we may be looking at a game-changer here.

Learn more at www.garmin.com.