Toyota Racing Teams Open NASCAR Season with Windows 8

You may recall a recent business story that I shared back in December around how TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) is leveraging Windows 8 to gain a competitive edge in the racing industry. Our Microsoft team is with TRD this weekend at the season opening NASCAR races in Daytona, Florida, to see how things are shaping up on the race track with their Windows 8 Trackside app running on the new Surface Pro.

#99 Alex Bowman Toyota Camry in practice session at 2013 Daytona International Speedway.
#99 Alex Bowman Toyota Camry in practice session at 2013 Daytona International Speedway.

TRD created the Trackside app for Windows 8 as a way to more efficiently monitor and deliver race performance data to the crew chief, and also allow the driver to input data based on his first-hand experience on the track. At the race track, it is imperative to spend more time driving and less time in the pit reviewing performance data. The Trackside app on Surface Pro delivers the best of high performance computing with a touch based mobile tablet, putting race data at the team’s fingertips and ultimately translates into shaving time on the track. Click hereto read more from the Surface team on why TRD chose Surface Pro.

Darren Jones, Group Lead for Software Development at TRD best explains the importance of efficient and clear communications: “The driver is wearing a helmet, the crew chief is wearing a headset, and everyone is shouting in a wind storm while cars scream by at speeds of more than 175 MPH. If we need to go to the trailer to review data and discuss strategies, we lose 15 minutes. In this business, races are won by hundredths of a second so every second counts, on and off the track.”

From left to right: Darren Jones, group lead for software development at TRD, and Steve Wickham, vice president of chassis operations at TRD, discuss TRD's Trackside app running on Windows 8.
From left to right: Darren Jones, group lead for software development at TRD, and Steve Wickham, vice president of chassis operations at TRD, discuss TRD’s Trackside app running on Windows 8.

The TRD Trackside app on Windows 8 is a vital part of TRD’s racing strategy. It allows the driver to pull into the garage, review timing, scoring data and determine where the car is having performance issues on the track with the tap of a finger and hand it to the crew chief, who can share it with the crew in real time to immediately make adjustments to improve the performance of the car. This level of mobility and agility previously not possible enables the car to get back on the track faster and allows the team more time to enhance the performance, which can improve their chances of winning.

Hear from TRD about their Trackside app running on Windows 8:

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Why Windows 8?

TRD most recently had a Windows 7 version of the app called TRD Race Strategy. It was a timing and scoring-based app that TRD used during practice runs to compare lap times. The app worked great on laptops, and stationary monitors, but it wasn’t touch-enabled and had to be used with a mouse and keyboard, making it difficult for drivers to access information while sitting in the car. TRD needed something more mobile for the track environment that could improve communication between the driver and crew.

Windows 8 fills that mobility void with a small and convenient touch tablet that the driver can easily use while sitting in the car and then hand to the crew chief, without any data getting lost in translation. To design the Trackside app for Windows 8, TRD was able to repurpose its original code from the Windows 7 Race Strategy app, and re-skinned it with a Windows 8 user interface to deliver its mobile touch based experience. The ability to reuse code saved TRD significant time in development and testing, and allowed them to build the Windows 8 app with a proven foundation.

The Rollout

TRD began testing the TRD Trackside app last year during the final four races of the 2012 season, and Jones says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. TRD will make the Trackside app on Windows 8 available to Nationwide Series teams at the start of the 2013 race season. TRD is excited to have RAB Racing with Brack Maggard be the first Toyota Nationwide team to put this technology into production running on Surface Pro. Throughout the 2013-2014 race seasons, TRD will expand its support capabilities to rollout the app on Windows 8 to remaining teams across all three national touring NASCAR series to improve communications and save time on the track.

From left to right: Alex Bowman, RAB Racing with Brack Maggard #99 Nationwide driver; Darren Jones, group lead for software development at TRD, and veteran driver Kenny Wallace, discuss TRD's Trackside app running on Windows 8.
From left to right: Alex Bowman, RAB Racing with Brack Maggard #99 Nationwide driver; Darren Jones, group lead for software development at TRD, and veteran driver Kenny Wallace, discuss TRD’s Trackside app running on Windows 8.

Congratulations to the team at TRD on a great app and racing strategy – we’ll see you at the finish line!

For more information about how Windows 8 can be useful to your business, please visit the Windows 8 for enterprise site. Learn how to design line of business (LOB) apps for Windows 8 here. Visit our Customer Stories page to see more examples of businesses that are using Windows 8 to improve employee and customer experiences.