Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekend Coding -- Iracing Driver Class Statistics

So this weekend, I wanted to spend some time on gathering some
statistical data from the Iracing interface via automated scrapping.

Here is the initial report, lets cut the suspense for the ones
who are reading :)

So the ones that are not familiar with Iracing license model it can
be explained as simple as:

When you join Iracing, you start with a rookie license, you can
get promoted to the next level license only if you complete
certain # of races, and meet a safety rating 3/4 or more.

As of right now, nobody had gathered and shared this statistic
of what % of users are in which license level as far as I know
and thats why i wanted to take on the challenge just to keep my coding/scrapping skills fresh as a small weekend hackathon :)

So How did I do it?

Well, when I started on the idea Friday night, i was quick enough
to find out, that you cant scrape using conventional scripting methods with python (mechanize and beautifullSoup). And yes I do enjoy scripting these types of things in Python :)

This is because mechanize does not support javascript, and without javascript support I can't even login. After a couple hours of researching it turned out the best way is to use a package called "Selenium RC" and invoke it via its python API.Selenium RC is just a simple remote control interface for firefox(it also supports other browsers for runtime but not debugging)... I can say ,after my short experience, Selenium is really good for these types of web UI automation&testing tasks.

I used to use a similar tool back in the day called OpenKapow. But it had a
very extensive ETL like browser IDE.I personally feel I have more control over with Python compared to using a bulky IDE...exception handling is also easier this way.

+1 for Selenium folks! :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I've been travelling lately a lot for work, but glad to be back! :)

Saying that, i am also really glad that Iracing just released the new MX5.
I have grown to respect this little nimble car over the years, both from
watching races around the world on youtube, and also seeing it in action in
autocross events I go to... These little cars dominate their class in every event!

The general perception of the Mazda MX5 is "its a chics car". But no
actually it is one of the best affordable, reliable and track proven
cars out there... Its very light weight (similar weight to my Elise)
a bit underpowered, which keeps you out of trouble, and forgiving
handling characteristics small/medium size driver mistakes ;)

This is a perfect rookie car for Iracing, and so far the race sessions
I've been on have been perfect door-2-door action. I have never seen
this many sessions full of people exchanging paint. The Iracing version
is very easy to drive fast (but hard to master), and can take a lot of
damage, contact and still drive like a champ... Perfect for full grid battles
on Iracing's amazing track combo's.

I actually captured a nice video summary of a hosted session of some
serious talent(Iracing top drivers) on Road Atlanta. I tried to go with
a acustic sound track this time, which fit the mood nicely.

The video also got some buzz as-well which i was not expecting.
Iracing showcased it on their facebook page as-well, which
draw a lot of "happy" traffic :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Infineon in Slow Motion

This week the 'Tangs where running on Infineon (old name Sears Point) with the "cup" track layout.

I personally have a love & hate relationship with this track, especially
T2 and T3 does not work too well for me... Too much risk...and i always get in some sort of trouble there :(

Perhaps because both turns have the same characteristic which is a combo of a slight uphill left turn, followed by a quick right turn as the elevation change wears off right at that point.

This upsets the balance of the car incredibly especially when you get on top of the hill and transition from left to a blind right turn the rear likes you slide under you... (The last scene on my youtube video captures this symptom).

The best way to avoid that during those turns for me has been do apply just enough amoung of throttle right on top of the hill, which puts some weight on the rear tires. The key is to be very delicate with throttle or the car starts to understeer a lot as the car is very light on the hills.

Either way I had a great time running a couple practice sessions this week, and captured one of my first full slow motion videos, enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taking the Lotus Elise for a "spin" :)

So a couple weeks ago i decided to take the car for a "spin"...well
lets jusy say I spinned out twice during my first two runs, the rest of my 8 runs where controlled madness :)

Although New England is known for its crappy weather, horrible roads, lack of good tracks (I mean come on Lime Rock Park is a glorified oval, with 5 right turns and 1 left turn, nothing compared to the crazy road courses in the west coast,, lets not forget they have nice weather too!)...anyways what was I saying..??,, yes,,, being a car freak, and living in New England is proabbly not the best matchup,, but we do have a very cool autocross site at a not so-used airport @ Devens...

While rest of you are doing 40-50 seconds runs, x5 during a autocross day
if lucky,, we usually get to do 100+ seconds runs. The first time i was lucky to do 14 runs (oh boy was i tired at the end of the day!), and last time i got 10 runs,, which is almost ~20 minute seat time,,, not bad for $55.

Also because its a airfield, you got a lot of open spaces, nice run-off space, very safe, and fast pace track setups... I was proabbly on the limiter a couple times on 2nd, and could have shifted to 3rd if i wanted.

So lets get back to the car & driver, a bone stock 2005 Elise... and not so
experience driver, who after watching his own videos has concluded that he has to be smoother next time :) Did i mention the car was "British racing green", it should help me go faster :)

Joking aside, i was actually pretty fast, but still have a lot of room for improvement. The lotus tends to first understeer, then oversteer...and if you ever lift during a turn, SNAP... you are spinning round and round. That snap oversteer is so quick/so fast/so brutal that you won't know what happened until the dust settles, and your hearbeat goes down to 160.

So being a mid engined car, and with the understeery stock setup, you have to commit to your turn, and keep your foot on the pedal until the car settles.

The common mistake with the Elise is:
1- You come into the turn too hot
2- Mid turn, car starts to understeer
3- You panic, lift off throttle to slow down to help with understeer
4- Back gets loose
5- Depending on your speed, you can proabbly catch it, or you are in for a nice spin :)

So, here is a video of one of my fast(but sloppy) runs where towards the
end, exactly what i listed above happens. I was fortunate enough to catch it on both @ 1:45, 1:55...

Thoughts & feedback welcome:

First Post :)

Yes, so after years of reading other peeps blogs, i decided to put mine together. Not sure
what my goal is,,, but i think i'll find out during the process... Hey thats why they call it a journey afterall :)

Saying that, i think its fair to say the topics that i plan to cover (which are a subset of my life)
can pretty much be categorized as racing, sim racing, geek stuff, geek racing, geek ? Yea, so expect a lot
of sim racing & geek stuff basically because i can't afford to race in real life(yet)...iracing is my weapon of choice, and if you have no clue what iracing is, well you are wasting your time on this blog ;)

Anyways, so I'm also very turned on by racing videos as-well, not sure how to put it...but i have a lot
of respect to the peeps who actually drive on the limit, inches a part, 100+ mph, one mistake away from massacare...and videos are the best way to capture those moments and give a glimpse of what it is all about... Putting those videos together, editting, telling a story with no words is not as dangerous as driving the machine, but can be as challenging (but less rewarding ;))...

So sim racing, does not only cater to my big appetite of racing (virtually) but also gives me tools
to make sim racing videos. I am still in the early process of learning this tools, editting, etc.. but
its a very fun process.

Saying that here is my first video post, from Summit Point with the Iracing Mustang's :

This video is from a official race, that i messed up, lost control and spinned, loosing a lot
of hard to gain rating points during the process.. but i wanted to capture the moment of my mistake and
the racing atmosphere.