Driving School Data Acquisition Equipment– Part 1

Are you aware that you may already have a powerful data acquisition system in your possession that can be used at your next driving school or track day event? With the purchase of a relatively inexpensive application, your smart phone can use its GPS location and accelerometer data to capture, document and help you analyze your performance. And, if your device is mounted so that the camera is viewing the track, you’ve got an all-in-one system that can produce a video that overlays the captured data on top of the video image! With the addition of a couple of moderately priced accessories, you can increase the accuracy and update rate of the position data and add vehicle data such as throttle position, tachometer and current gear selection. As an example, take a look at this video from a recent driving school event at Mid-Ohio:

While there are several different applications available for both iOS and Android platforms, this article will be centered on Harry’s Lap Timer, currently available for iOS and just starting beta for Android. The iOS version has been through multiple rounds of improvements and feature additions—it’s now on version 17.x! There are currently three different iOS versions of this application with varying levels of functionality, starting at $8.99 and running up to $27.99.

To get started, all you need is an iPhone and a mount that will hold the device in a position where you can access the controls and it has a good view of the sky to obtain a GPS position. A windshield or dashboard mount would be ideal, and if the camera can capture decent video as well, that’s a bonus!. An iPod Touch will also work, but since that product does not incorporate an internal GPS, you would need an external GPS source—more on that in a later article when we talk about some of the accessory devices.

Before mounting the device and while you have the necessary data connection, load your track from the online database. With more than 450 tracks available, I’ve yet to attend an event where the track definition is not available. If you’re running something like a rally or autocross, there are other options available to define and/or capture the necessary course information. After downloading and activating the track data, you may want to turn off the phone function if you want to avoid the distraction of any calls while you’re out on the track!

Once mounted and with the application running, there are displays available to show that the internal accelerometers have been calibrated for the mounting position and you have a valid GPS position. While there is a learning curve for this application, there is also a simple “Start Driving” button to press and you’re ready to go with no more attention required to the device until you return to the paddock.

With this minimal equipment set, you can now capture data for each lap and the application will provide images like the include examples (and much more) for review and analysis.
In the next article, we’ll discuss the additional capabilities that come with the inclusion of video and other added accessories.

Spring Drive to Pella

Our spring drive event this year started off with some competition for parking with an Easter egg hunt contest, taking place on the square in Pella.

After loading up with baked goods and discussing how much it didn’t seem like spring, and regrouping after an initial start that was scattered traffic, we made our way off through the countryside around Lake Red Rock and through the towns of Pleasantville and Runnells on our way to Karl’s Performance Center in Des Moines.

After a lunch generously provided by the folks at Karl’s, we toured their very impressive facility and many of the projects underway. One surprise (BMW) project seen during the tour was an Isetta in for an interior restoration!

The tour wrapped up with a demonstration of an M6 on their four wheel chassis dyno—a chance to see a V-10 running at 8000 rpm under load! This is apparently the only four wheel chassis dyno in the state. If you are interested in a club dyno day at this facility let the club’s leadership know, as the crew at Karl’s would definitely be interested in hosting such an event.

For more pictures, please visit Photo Gallery.

Spring Drive to start in Pella

Our Spring Drive this year is planned for Saturday, March 23. Due to the large number of bakery items purchased at the event last year, we will once again start on the square in Pella, Iowa. Plan to meet on the square at 10 a.m. (earlier if you’re making your own arrangements for breakfast and/or baked goods) followed by a departure at 10:30 a.m.

From Pella, we currently plan to make our way up to Des Moines for a lunch hosted by Karl’s Kustom Corvettes, then on to Ames for a visit to Skunk River Restorations. Iowa weather being what it is at that time of year, this will be a rain or shine event on paved roads.

For any other questions, or to assist with the event, contact Mike Myers at An RSVP to the preceding address would also be appreciated to get a good attendance estimate for lunch.

A First Timer’s Report from Oktoberfest

While I’ve been to, and organized, my fair share of local chapter events over the past couple of years, last month was the first time I’ve attended the club’s national annual event, Oktoberfest!
Due to the time and travel investment, I tried to get the most out of the event—here’s what my week looked like:


Arrive around noon, check into the event hotel, register and unpack. Enjoy Spaten hospitality in the beer garden at the hotel. Make sure glass is full before heading to the first timer’s meeting for a briefing, orientation and introductions, then on to the welcome banquet!


I volunteered to help with the concours. This was something I had no prior experience with, but was accepted and paired with a more experienced person to judge the “race” clean entries. Turns out volunteering also got me a free shirt and an invitation to a Wednesday evening reception. Dodged rain while the competitors prepared their cars. Also took test drive in a brand new 5 Series – nice. . Rain stopped before “rags down,” then went out to rub Q-tips and white gloves over a couple of race prepared cars. Evening was more Spaten hospitality, after which things get a little fuzzy.


First driving school day! Three sessions on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, followed by the volunteer reception, and even more Spaten .


Autocross, and the first time I’ve done it without needed to replace a fender liner! Course was laid out such that novices like myself were unlikely to get lost among the cones. Unfortunately, I’ve about as much sophistication at autocross as a hammer. Was fun though—eight runs for the day!


Out early for a second day at Mid-Ohio, followed by the awards banquet in the evening .


Last day at Mid-Ohio, with a BBQ that evening near by .

Drove home Sunday, and felt like I needed to sleep for three days! For someone my wife characterizes as “socially indifferent,” I also used up a lot of my socialization reserves! If you decide to attend O’fest for the first time next year, you can make your own decisions about how many activities you want to cram into the week, but I don’t know as I’d have done my first time any different.

As for next year, Laguna Seca is a long way away, but driving there is a bucket list kind of event… we’ll see!

Technical Session at J & J Motorsports

On Saturday April 4, members from the Cedar Rapids area got together at J & J Motorsports where Jack Kramer hosted a technical session. Using both Jack’s and the assembled member’s cars, Jack pointed out issues common to various models of the marque. Two cracked intake boots were found during this part of the session—one on Jack’s M3!

Jack then demonstrated his Autologic diagnostic equipment. It was connected to all of the participant’s vehicles in turn, with the codes read, decoded and cleared to determine if any were currently active. As the electronic control modules in our vehicles become more numerous and sophisticated, this appears to be a very valuable and indispensable tool for any independent BMW maintainer.

Large Group for This Year’s Karting Event!

Our second annual karting event kicked off on Sunday, May 20, with an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet at the Decker House Hotel in downtown Maquoketa. The group in attendance there numbered 20 members and guests, and included several new faces.

After eating our fill, we departed for 61 Kartway, where we met up with additional participants bringing the total number to 28. With the large number, we were challenged to get multiple runs in for everyone, so we’ll need to do some fine-tuning for future iterations of the event—ideas and feedback on this will be welcome at the event planning meeting we’ll be having this fall. I’ve also discussed the situation with the track operator and they are willing to do what they can to continue to accommodate us—four run groups of six an hour is right about at the maximum they can accommodate us. A repeat of the event before the end of the season in October is also a possibility if there is sufficient interest.

Regardless, we put in a long afternoon on the track in near perfect weather. Between runs, fastest lap times were compared, with the best time just under 1 minute—an average speed of over 36 mph! Not too bad for something with no suspension to speak of and about 6.5 horsepower!

Spring Drive to Airpower Museum in Blakesburg

The Iowa Chapter’s Spring Drive on March 24 was definitely a celebration of the season!

About 20 members, including several first time club event participants, and roughly a dozen vehicles met on the aquare in Pella.

Those that arrived from cetral Iowa had sunny weather all the way thre, while my drive over wet roads from the Cedar Rapids area left my freshly polished and waxed Z4 with “rally decorations.”

The weather for the remainder of the event provided top down temperatures with partly cloudy conditions – about all you can ask of Iowa in March!

After several of the group’s vehicle were loaded with large amounts of baked goods, we departed for Ottumwa. Major roads were avoided, and as a results we were provided with perhaps a little more in the way of typical Iowa springtime conditions than I had intended… think agriculture and roadkill. But, at least none of it was committed by our group! Nevertheless, we all arrived safely at the Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company where we picked up some additional participants and were very nicely taken care of for lunch.

After lunch and the distribution of door prizes, we left for a short drive out into the country to the Antique Airpower Museum near Blakesburg, where we were provided with a tour of the facility, the unique memorabilia and the rare aircraft hangared there. One of the aircrafts was even powered by a BMW motorcycle engine!

In closing, I’d like to say “You’re Welcome” to all of those that have thanked me for organizing the event!

Link to Event Photo Gallery.

Karting Event in Delmar Iowa

The Iowa BMW Club is going to host another Karting event this May. Those of you that participated last year know that this was a fine way to spend a Sunday. As a matter of fact, last year’s karting event at the 61 Kartway in Delmar, Iowa was such a success, the Porsche Owners Club has asked to join us this year! They were also quite clear that they are just as enthusiastic about joining us for the brunch at the Decker Hotel in Maquoketa as they are about spending time at the track.

Once again, we plan to meet for brunch in Maquoketa and then spend the afternoon at the outdoor karting facility just south of Maquoketa in Delmar. This six-tenths of a mile track is full of twists, turns, chicanes, sweepers and brutal elevation changes, including a 45 foot uphill change in less than 100 feet at the end of the longest straight!

Best lap times will be available for comparison after each run group completes. My personal bests have been the results of average speeds approaching nearly 40 mph—believe me when I tell you that this feels very fast.

We’ll begin by meeting for the Sunday brunch buffet at 11:30 a.m. Price for brunch last year was $8.95 plus tax and tip, payable at the hotel. Updated pricing will be available when the event opens for registration.

After brunch, we’ll depart for the track, about nine miles south on Highway 61, arriving around 1 pm. For those of you that worry about these kinds of things, it’s all hard surface roads until you get to the track parking lot.

The kartway is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we are being provided rentals at a group rate of $20 per participant for the first session and $10 for each additional 10 minute session (price is
subject to confirmation at the opening of the rental season). You will be responsible for payment at the track at the end of your day. Helmets and neck braces are provided with the rentals, though personal equipment can be used it as long as you also have a visor or goggles for eye protection. Long sleeves and pants are also recommended. Kart rentals are also available to those under 18 once a parent signs a consent form – see the track website for additional information. We’ll be going out in run groups of six for 10 minutes at a time, so I’d like to limit the rentals to around 24 participants to avoid significant waits.

For those that would just prefer to watch, digest and just enjoy what we hope will be a sunny afternoon, bleachers and picnic tables are available. If you are able to bring a canopy for shade, I’d recommend you do so. A cooler stocked with (non-alcoholic) beverages is also a good idea. Restroom facilities are portable toilets.

Please RSVP to Mike Myers at or 319-504-1025. Look for an additional announcement with confirmed prices and updated information when registration for the event opens at

Spring Drive 2012

Our Spring Drive this year will begin Saturday morning, March 24 at 10 a.m. on the square in Pella, Iowa. We’ll depart at 10:30 a.m., heading south out of Pella, eventually making our way to the Airpower Museum at the Antique Airfileld in Blakesburg, near Ottumwa.

We’ll make our way through the countryside to Ottumwa for lunch at the the Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company, then make the short drive to the airfield.

Maps of the routes are available at the following links:
Pella to Ottumwa:
Ottumwa to Blakesburg:

The museum features a large collection of aircraft, many of which are regularly flown. The facility is host to the Antique Aircraft Association’s annual event at the end of August, known simply as “Blakesburg,” that brings aircraft from all over the nation.

Iowa weather being what it is at that time of year, this is a rain or shine event on paved roads. Dressing appropriately for the weather is recommended, as some of the aircraft are not located in a climate controlled areas.

For any other questions, or to assist with the event, especially if you live in the Pella or Ottumwa areas, contact Mike Myers at An RSVP to the preceding address would also be appreciated to get a good attendance estimate to the restaurant for lunch.

Karting Event in Maquoketa

Karting Event in Maquoketa

On Sunday, May 22nd, about a dozen chapter and associated family members braved the threatening weather forecast and met at the Decker House Hotel in Maquoketa for brunch. The hotel provided a very tasty and amplespread!

Once our bellies were full, we departed for the track at 61 Kartway, about 9 miles south of Maquoketa near Delmar, where we were met by a few additional chapter members. This karting facility is just south of Maquoketa in Delmar. This track has over a half mile of twists, turns, chicanes, sweepers and intense elevation changes, including a 45 foot uphill change in less than 100 feet at the end of the longest straight!

After a short briefing and walking tour of the track, we split into three run groups for the rental karts. There were also some ringers among us that brought their own karts, including a wickedly fast shifter kart. Once all three rental run groups finished their first session on the track, everyone’s best lap times were reviewed, and used to distribute doorprizes. Once everyone’s competitive fires were stoked, we returned to the track, with lap times improving through the afternoon.

The track facility and staff was very welcoming and appreciative of the chapter’s attendance and would be glad to have us again. Check out additional photos from the event in the chapter website photogallery at

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