Decisions for 2020 – Back to Basics

The plan for 2020 is to get a lot more track time. I need to work on my technique. Over the last two years with my GTB1, I have only been driving practice sessions, and races. I am looking to see if I can find the holy grail, a completely race ready car that is streetable, probably too much to ask. I want to be able to drive down to Harris Hill, COTA, Driveway, MSR Houston, or Cresson do DE’s or work with an instructor, then drop off the car to do an arrive/drive for long distance races. I want something that has a clear class definition with all of the sanctioning bodies (SCCA, NASA, WRL, AER). Additionally, I am interested in learning the racecraft associated with running in a Spec class. The GTB1 class I have been running with in PCA is a modified class, and can feel a bit like an arms race.

So far my research has led me to two possible choices, which have similar price points, and are philosophically aligned to my goals: Spec MX-5, and Spec E46. Both have reasonable price points both in terms of the up-front cost, and TCO. Both are well defined, with lots of cars on the market. So part of the decision will be build vs buy. I am leaning toward my previous approach which was to buy something proven.

Along side the desire to go Spec racing, and have a streetable track car, I am also going to pursue renting a seat in a couple different classes within the SRO, or possibly even the upcoming Creventic 24hour race here in Austin. There seem to be a number of seats available in TC, TCR, or GT4 cars. I am interested in learning how to drive a touring car, there might be a good opportunity for this, more to come on this topic at a later date.

The GT4 program that Danny, and I were planning is not going to happen, we could not close the funding gap, which was significant. Here are a few stats on what we were able to accomplish between Jun, and Oct of this year. We prospected over 125 opportunities, of that number we disqualified 35 (with the goal of: “get to no, fast”). We closed contracts with 10 partners, and have an additional 3 contracts pending, we progressed 17 deals into contract/negotiation, and built a number of very strong partnerships along the way. These partnership will bear fruit over the course of 2020.

Our goal was a 1-2% conversation rate on 1000 opportunities, at just slightly over 10% of the total opportunities prospected our conversion rate was 12.5%, not too bad. The real challenge was prioritization. I have a full-time job, a start-up, a family, racing, and my health. Adding the sponsorship/partnership activity on top of all that was very challenging from a time management perspective. I am happy with what we accomplished, and learned a lot about the business side of motorsports. I plan to continue down a more focused path for 2020.

Soufi, Yard, Et Al

The GT4 Program is coming along we are working on our partnership strategy, I am currently tracking over 50 active opportunities. I have negotiated sponsorship arrangements with a couple key partners, and will start running contests, and giveaways to test out some cross promotion, expect to see offers for OGIO, Spy, Neff, Skullcandy, Highbrew Coffee, and Clif Bar, and Co.

We decided to make a landing page for the Soufi / Yard collaboration, and are working to get the site up, and running, we will let everybody know when its ready to launch. Our next event will be at COTA Under the Lights, really looking forward to driving at night again, it reminds me of the exhilaration I had when I first started driving.

On a related topic, I was selected for patient of the month by Optifast, and am being featured on their facebook, and instagram feeds, I joined them last year in New York and spent the day with the team.

Continued Progress

As is always the case, I have a lot going on, here is the latest. I was able to get the trackNotes app into enough shape to do a quick pitch and demo, which resulted in some early interest. I am ready to get some more feedback, and will be opening it up for a couple Early Adopters, if you are interested, drop me a note in the comments, and will send you the details.

One of my other projects is based heavily on computer vision, I decided to have some fun with it, and test my skills. I now have all the bits to build a Donkey Car it should be a pretty fun little project where I can learn, set myself up for the next steps of doing more suspension analysis work. I am now doing an extensive amount of model training using distributed inception approach, leveraging multiple GPU’s with a pre-emptible Kubernetes node pool. Good cost/performance, and translates to all of the cloud providers: AWS, Google, and IBM.

I have been working really hard with Phil, and continue to work my way toward my health goals. I have achieved 125Lbs of weight lost since October of 2017. I decided to add OPTIFAST back into my diet as a post workout drink, the high protein works to increase muscle growth, and helps with the recovery from a hard workout.

On the funding front, I am exploring a couple equity free options, there is currently a contest open with Google Cloud, and SAP called Circular Economy which is focused on United Nations sustainable production, and consumption goals. I am working out the broader implications of my current research, and plan to apply. Another equity free option is the SBIR route, which I have discussed briefly before. I have received feedback on my application, and have decided to pursue one of the current open solicitations with the DOT.

Practice, Product, and Progress

I’ve been spending time in iRacing learning the line, got both of David Murry’s excellent Sebring, and Car Suspension webinars, as well as reviewing playbacks from the VRS datapacks. I really look forward to working with David directly on the Test/Tune day before the weekend at Sebring. I was also able to spend some very productive time this week out at Harris Hill with Andris of Gradient Racing. More seat time, and getting everybody familiar with the car is always a good thing

David Murry in the BGB #38

Over the holiday, I got a lot of work done on the trackNotes app, it is nearly ready for an alpha release. I am using creator, for the front-end, and firebase for the backend. I put together some wireframes for another app I am developing called setupBoard, that will work either standalone or together with trackNotes. Regarding my work with Kubeflow, it has gone very well, I was able to train against my dataset with multiple models, distributed across three cloud providers: GCP, AWS, and IBM. Inception v3 is the current leader with predictions of 85% accuracy against the ground truth in testing. I am going to test a couple more models: Random Forest, a TF Boosted Tree, and a DNN Classifier. Once I have another round of training, and testing I will start working through AI assisted hyper-parameter tuning to see if I can get the error rate any better. At that point I will switch gears and start working on the front-end.

setupBoard wireframe in creator.ionic.io

On the health front, I was having a hard time finding someone who could help me with both my nutrition, and training. I was referred to Phil Gephart who immediately exceeded my expectations for his knowledge, and professionalism. Phil is awesome! He worked with me to switch around my macros, added some supplements, changed up my training program, I am already seeing some incredible results with a 3% drop in body fat within the first week!