Technology is a wondrous thing, and if you ask me, it’s helped usher in the second Golden Age of hot rodding and racing, as we find ourselves at the glorious intersection of technology and wisdom. Technology steers us as a century of hot-rodding and performance vehicle experience guides us. And the results are astonishing: 700 hp factory-stock muscle cars, modified 1000 hp streetcars that get 20 mpg and a robust aftermarket that can literally turn a gearhead’s dreams into reality.
But what do the marvels of easy horsepower and the Racelogic VBOX Sport have in common? Simple: they’re both cutting edge and packed with tech. In fact, thanks to the marvels of technology, gearheads can affordably performance-test their vehicles with the utmost accuracy. Gone are the days of long trips to the drag strip or using the ol’ butt-dyno to measure what your new mods were worth. Instead, the Racelogic VBOX Sport now brings GPS-based performance testing once reserved for professional race teams and OEM manufacturers to the consumer level. Not long ago, the only avenue for GPS performance testing cost upwards of $15,000 and was only feasible for the most elite of enthusiasts or professionals, but the recent release of the VBOX Sport brings pro-quality performance logging to the palm of your hand with a portable unit that costs far less than one might think.
As many of you know, getting to the track can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, and often even the timeslips leave us wanting for more information. If only you could accurately test 60-foot times, 0-30, 0-60, quarter-mile and other given speeds like 30-80 and 60-120 on a lonely, private road…Oh wait, thankfully, now you can!
Before delving into the details of this high-powered device, let us dispel the invariable doubt; the VBOX Sport uses a powerful 20Hz GPS engine that’s on par with the professional data-loggers that cost thousands of dollars. Secondly; no, your smart phone’s performance logger can’t compare since its GPS engine is roughly 1 Hz, which means it’s fine for navigation, but hardly accurate at measuring acceleration, braking, cornering and lap-times since it doesn’t have a fast enough refresh rate. What is refresh rate? It’s how quickly the unit measures speed, position and direction. Even the phone apps that use GPS in conjunction with the internal accelerometers are less than ideal since properly mounting the phone in order to insure accurate results is nearly impossible. Not to mention the fact that the aforementioned apps lack proper programming to decipher said information into accurate results. You get the point, it’s another equally flawed attempt at achieving accurate results with a smartphone.
To really prove this to myself, though, I tested the VBOX against two local drag strips: Sacramento Raceway and Sonoma Raceway. As long as I synced the 1-foot-rollout with the timing lights at the track, the VBOX was nearly identical (I’m talking under a tenth and 1 mph), no matter if I was testing a 14-second street car or a 9-second dedicated drag car. It was consistently accurate and offered a ton more information than the timeslip could ever hope to display.
Beyond the high-powered GPS engine, there’s an internal GPS antenna and an input for an external unit. The internal battery has a 6-8 hour run time and is easily charged with the included USB cable and cigarette-to-USB adapter. The VBOX Sport logs information onto the included SD card and is also Bluetooth compatible with most iOS devices and even Android and Windows mobile devices with applicable apps, so performance stats can be watched in real-time on your smartphone or tablet. Don’t have a smart phone or tablet? No worries, simply use the external buttons to record data to the aforementioned SD card and read it on your Windows computer later. The case is made from a rubberized material, which makes handling the waterproof unit easy, and the included Herbert Richter suction-cup mount securely holds the unit in place against windows even under serious G-forces.
On the software side, Racelogic offers several free apps via the Apple Store. The VBOX Sport Performance Test App allows users to test acceleration, braking, zero-to-zero, top speed and G-force. The unit can measure time or distance (in feet or meters), which means 60-foots, 1/8th mile, 1/4th mile, etc. are measurable, as are the standard 0-60, 0-100 and any custom test an owner should like to measure in regards to distance or time. I like to measure various rolling acceleration times like 30-60, 60-90 and 90-110 so I can measure where the brunt of my acceleration gains are coming from after adding modifications–did the parts help out of the hole or on the big end?
The VBOX Laptimer App comes pre-loaded with tons of tracks and even has a custom circuit creator, which means you can turn an abandoned parking lot or even your daily commute into a racetrack and record the results. The software and VBOX Sport can predict lap times, records current and maximum speeds, lap times, sector times and when paired with the Racelogic Circuit Tools software, can dump enough data on your computer to make even the techiest people shed a tear.
There’s even a VBOX Diagnostics App, which allows users to check the health of the hardware along with GPS related parameters like the number of satellites in use, the coordinates, altitude, heading and a ton of cool information. Lastly, for those who prefer non-Racelogic Apps, the VBOX Sport also works with Harry’s Lap Timer App, which is available for iOs, Windows and Android users.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve found it invaluable for testing performance gains from modifications without a lengthy trip to the track. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying the VBOX Sport gives anyone free-reign to performance test on public roads, but if you have access to a private drive or an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere, then performance testing once reserved for the track is now in the palm of your hand. And with a retail of $429, it brings pro-grade GPS data-logging power to a vehicle near you.