So you’re thinking of taking your car out to the track and burning some rubber? Let’s take your track game to the next level and record you doing laps. This way you can time yourself, see your faults and most importantly, show off on social media. Filming videos is a side hobby of mine and I enjoy finding the best dash cam for track days.
Finding the perfect setup will yield clearer video and highlight driver mistakes. I have a habit of taking turns too tightly which causes my back tires to spin. While drifting fulfills my Fast and Furious fantasy, it does nothing to improve my lap time.
We will go over the best dash cam setups that serve dual purposes for both the track and the casual street driving. Get your engines started!
Track Dash Cam Features
When looking at a dash cam setup for taking your car to the track, you need to keep in mind certain track-only features. For example, you most likely will not care about night vision or parking mode. Focus your energy into dash cams that fulfill your purpose.
To me, image stabilization is the most important feature to look for in a dash cam. I don’t have to go into detail on what shaky cam looks like, think of the movies, the Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. You do not want your dash cam to have shaky footage!
Though you won’t be driving on potholes or bumpy roads, there will be quick acceleration and braking and you don’t want your footage to have a rolling shutter or the jello effect. There are several ways to combat this.
EIS and OIS
Many dash cams, especially action cameras come with EIS or Electronic Image Stabilization. It has internal software to cancel out the car’s vibrations and deliver a crisp image. Software is always improving, a few years ago EIS was subpar, but now you can expect noticeable results. There is also OIS or Optical Image Stabilization which is stabilization on a mechanical level. It physically moves the camera lens to compensate for camera movement. No dash cam has this feature so no need to worry! Focus on EIS!
Having a dash cam suction cupped to your windshield is a perfectly fine setup. But don’t discount other methods. Stabilizing a camera is all about reducing nearby vibrations and having a steady mount. Especially for racing, we recommend using a headrest mount . Very stable, and the camera angle gives you a view of the steering wheel along with the track. It doesn’t obstruct your view at all as there is nothing occupying your windshield or wires to get in your way. A standard dash cam will have a wire going to the power outlet so taping it so it doesn’t obstruct your shifter or buying a USB Cable Extender might be an option for you.
There are some other standard places to mount such as on your windshield, or on your car mirror. There are some more creative ways such as on the side of your car, or on the hood. But typically, depending on your setup, you will be restricted by the length of your power cord.
Image Quality/Viewing Angle
Two important features that can hand-in-hand are image quality and viewing angle. Image quality is self explanatory, but if you are using this cam as a street dash cam, you want to be able to read license plates. Having a lens that is able to handle lighting internally and externally is vital. This comes down to how the camera handles exposure. Don’t worry for all our recommendations, we’ve reviewed footage to ensure pristine picture quality.
Viewing angle will almost always be some sort of wide angle. Especially with the headrest mount, you want to capture as much as possible. Our recommendations ensure the viewing angle is sufficient to capture your shifter, steering wheel, the driver and the entire road.
Depending on your need, you may want to consider portability. If you are reading this article purely in search of a track camera, then a dash cam with a battery is a must. It will allow you flexibility in terms of mount position, and not have to worry about connecting to a power source. Be sure to purchase extra batteries! You can mount a GoPro on the outside of your car and not worry about it falling off. It gives me the chills thinking of a dash cam doing the same thing. If my dash cam fell from my knees to the floor it would break. It’s not meant for that type of handling.
High Frames per Second (FPS)
Debatable whether or not high FPS or frames per second is worth it. Having a high FPS feature on a camera allows you to shoot in slow motion, and creates smoother shots. The downside to this is that the file size can get bigger, thus limiting the amount of time you film. A standard FPS is 24 or 30 fps. Whereas high FPS is generally 60 fps+. Bottom line, if you think you’ll be doing slo-mo, getting a camera that has high FPS is smart.
Harry’s GPS Laptimer
Anyone serious about lap times knows about Harry’s GPS Laptimer App. This is an app that records your lap time, edits/overlays your video and has the ability to use external footage. This app has the capability to add OBD2 information, as well as footage from a GoPro or a dash cam.
The easiest way to record your run is with the phone and the app. If you want to add GoPro footage, it is fairly simple as you have to sync the finish lines. Adding dash cam footage is similar. Check out the documentation for more information.
Top Picks for Best Dash Cam for Track Days
GoPro Hero 7
I’ve been alluding to it this whole article, but the GoPro HERO 7 is the industry standard for amateur folks like us. Super durable, tried and tested, the GoPro can easily pair with Harry’s Laptimer app. It has its own brand of EIS: HyperSmooth. It has the ability to film in high FPS and has great image quality. I really like action cameras because you can become more creative in your camera angles. One run might be recorded with a headrest mount, the other with a helmet view.
Truth be told, it really isn’t a dash cam, check out the other options below for more street applicable setups.
SpyTec is a traditional dash cam that will be used 90% of the time in the streets, but every once in awhile, you will take it to the tracks. The great thing about SpyTec A119, is that it can record in high FPS 1080p @ 60FPS. Buttery smooth footage! It features a 160 degree wide angle lens and also comes with loop recording, perfect for casual driving. I also like its small form factor.
The THINKWARE M1 is a hybrid of an action cam and standard dash cam. It definitely is pricey, but this one of the dash cams that comes with EIS. No more rolling shutter! It is also waterproof like the GoPro, so if you ride a motorcycle or ATV, this would be the perfect fit. Part of the reason why the price is so high is because this is the only Dual Channel Camera I’m recommending, meaning it has front and backwards facing cameras. Two views! It also has Built-In Wifi, making downloading and sharing painless.