Windows 8 and Toyota come together to build a faster race car

Alex Bowman reviews data on his Surface Pro with TRD Trackside app before qualifying run

When it comes to racing, we all know that speed wins. It’s quite trivial when you break it down as the team that is able to go the fastest, for the longest sustained period, wins the race. While the principle sounds simple on paper, race day is the culmination of hundreds of hours of preparation and Neowin recently got to see how team RAB and Toyota prepared for the Daytona.

Toyota recently set out to create an application that would allow one of its racing teams to debrief and diagnose the needs of the driver in a way that was previously a cumbersome process consisting of epic amounts of paper. Seeing that we are no longer in the stone age and now have tools like Windows 8 and the Surface (both the RT and the Pro), Toyota and Microsoft created a solution for their team to give them a competitive advantage off the track to allow them more time on the track.

To combat the evil ways of paper documents and huge binders, Toyota’s Racing Development division (TRD) created a Windows 8 application that allows the team to efficiently monitor and deliver race performance data to the driver and the racing team's crew. To put it simply, the TRD Trackside application is allowing team RAB to shave time off their overhead activities by utilizing the Surface Pro and Windows 8 in ways that was not previously seen in the NASCAR environment.

Here is how it plays out: Alex Bowman (race car driver of the 99 car in the Nationwide series) goes around the track and is constantly receiving feedback from the car - when it is loose into the turns or has an overly tight exit- and as soon as he gets off the track, his team will hand him a Surface Pro to input the data into the application. The app allows him to use Bing map imagery to highlight where on the course he was experiencing issues using map indicators that is then passed on to the team.

This update process only takes a few minutes but as soon as Alex is done updating the application, the team then digs into this information to help correct the vehicle to improve performance.

It’s a simple idea really, and the way the TRD team developed the application, it provides a means for fast data entry, easy analysis, and allows the crew to be all on the same page. In short, it reduces the “telephone game” syndrome where the driver information is diluted as it passed through the channel.

The TRD trackside application is helping its users reduce the downtime and overhead of racing, allowing them to process data faster, make better decisions on and off the track and - because of the versatility of Windows 8 and the Surface Pro - they are able to compile a package of products that deliver a quality end user experience.

Neowin was able to see the product in use first-hand at Daytona speedway in Daytona, Florida. While it may seem trivial to introduce a statistics and app based solution into NASCAR, the TRD application and its uses are relatively new to the sport but are already showing their worth by making team RAB more efficient. In the game of speed, it doesn’t matter if it comes on the track or in the garage, when a team can make a decision faster and get back out onto the track for testing, it gives them more time to tweak configurations to give them the fastest car possible.

Alex Bowman and his crew chief review data before qualifying run

If you happen to tune in to the Daytona 500 this weekend, know that Windows 8 and TRD have made team RAB a faster car through the innovative use of touch input, data composition, and the sharing of content across the team in a seamless and intuitive fashion.

You can learn more about the TRD Trackside app by visiting this link here.

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22 Comments

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A tablet for a race car? I had no idea of the complete lack of tech in NASCAR.

Although, they don't really need all that much skill compared to decent race car drivers. F1, Indie, Rally, V8 supercars etc.

Maybe they should switch to something else, or focus more on their cars, because I watched the race today for about 30 minutes, and in the time I was watching something like 5 Toyotas had engine blowouts that took people out of the race.

What is shown here would be possible on a low spec Android tablet, too. Not very impressive, seems like they just forced them to use a heavier windows tablet by paying them.

Oh, so because it's Microsoft, they were forced and paid to use it. But if it was Android, we'd understand that's what they've been waiting for all these years.

adam7288 said,
What is shown here would be possible on a low spec Android tablet, too. Not very impressive, seems like they just forced them to use a heavier windows tablet by paying them.

except the android tablet would be so laggy,freeze, keep giving you a forced close popup, and would send all your data to google so they can sell the team ads.

vcfan said,

except the android tablet would be so laggy,freeze, keep giving you a forced close popup, and would send all your data to google so they can sell the team ads.

Funny, my ridiculously cheap Nexus 7 doesn't do that. Must be faulty.

Enron said,
Oh, so because it's Microsoft, they were forced and paid to use it. But if it was Android, we'd understand that's what they've been waiting for all these years.

No. Because they chose a heavier, more expensive device instead of a more inexpensive and more portable device. When businesses make seemingly impractical decisions, there is usually another factor at play.

Seems like they had a win7 version of this app. So they ported it over to 8 for the touch UI. But why use Surface pro when Surface RT would have been a more sensible choice. for a metro app.

Not surprising, most of the complexity would be in the sensors and telemetry. I'm sure they already had this as an app for a long time on other operating systems. Now Microsoft comes along, takes a couple of the data streams, cobbles up a basic Windows 8 app, and declares "it magic, its windows 8, its got tilezzzzz"

dvb2000 said,
I'm sure they already had this as an app for a long time on other operating systems. Now Microsoft comes along, takes a couple of the data streams, cobbles up a basic Windows 8 app, and declares "it magic, its windows 8, its got tilezzzzz"

If you'd read the source you'll see that Toyota created the original version for Windows 7, but they modified it for 8 for the obvious benefits to the drivers of being much more touch friendly.. the drivers weren't happy with having to deal with a keyboard and mouse in the car.

Jub Fequois said,

Funny, my ridiculously cheap Nexus 7 doesn't do that. Must be faulty.

You honestly believe it doesn't send information to Google and they sell it to advertisers?

Seems like such a simple but powerful app/idea...makes you wonder why it took so long for this type of thing to come to NASCAR. Cool to see that the Surface Pro is used in racing to do good things.

This is trivial compared to the wireless sensors that have been used by Formula 1 cars for decades. F1 cars have over 200 sensors that feed back LIVE information to the pit during a race. There are an additional 20 sensors on the driver. They even monitor the drivers' eye movements in real-time.

McLaren developed a system that's so sophisticated it's being used to control building sensors in the new "smart city" being built in Greenwich, London.