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Kit cars and Autosolos – a man and his adrenaline fuelled passion

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I recently had an interesting chat with our Head of Development and Operations, Stephen Byatt, about his passion for building stuff and winning. Whenever we have a Teams call, you can always see Lego projects that Stephen has built in the background. We quickly moved from Lego to track days, building cars and a thirst to win (Stephen is VERY competitive). I thought others might find these hobbies interesting so decided to share them with you (with Stephen’s permission, of course).

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What is a “Autosolo”?

It’s short competitive racing around cones. A bit like gymkhana.

It’s different to circuit racing though. It’s much more of a planned methodical sprint. You walk the track beforehand, so it’s also a feat of memory. Each race takes between 30 and 60 seconds through a couple dozen “gates” marked out with cones. There are 8-12 races at each meet over different circuits. Max speed is rarely above 60mph. It’s good for agile cars that can handle being thrown around. And, the circuit is different every time, even if you go to the same venue.​

Do you always go to the same venue?

No. The events are organised by different motor clubs all over the country so not necessarily. Anglian Motor Sports Club invites clubs from all over the East of England to hold events. The timings from each event are collated by Anglian Motor Sports Club and they give out trophies etc based on the results. You must be a member of one of the motorsports clubs that’s involved to be able to compete.

Each meet has 20 to 40 cars. When I went in my road car last year, I was either 3rd or last. I could get around the track really fast, but my problem was I tended to make a lot of mistakes. You get penalties for making mistakes and it’s often the penalties that decide the places.​

What got you interested in it/how did you start doing it?

I discovered that it satisfies my need to build stuff (I use a kit car that I built myself to race), my need to drive competitively and my need to win (I’m VERY competitive).​

kit car being built

kit car being built

kit car being built

Are there any significant rules people might not know about?

The car you use in the event has to be road legal – you have to have driven to the event in the same vehicle that you use in the race. This is good in that it means people who race are more level/equalised.

If you break any of the rules then you can get disqualified from the event. It means you can still race in the other events but you’ll lose out on any potential points from that event so it would have a big impact on your potential final place.

What’s your favourite/worst memory on the track?

Favourite – first time I did anything competitive. I had done lots of track days for fun but in a competitive setting, it just brought it all to life. There is something to compete for, a target. I noticed that your neighbours in the paddocks are much more chatty – willing to share what times they get, braking points etc. Even though it’s competitive there’s a lot more sharing.

Worst – turning up after spending a lot of money getting there, hotels, fuel, new tyres etc only to mess up and ruin the car. At an event at Teesside karting track, I broke the diff because the car had too much grip on a very tight and twisty fast course. I was very disappointed that day.

Have you ever ended up in a situation that has scared you while out on the track?​

Race circuits are so much safer than on the road. They have lots of run-off and space, and all the cars are going in the same direction. The last thing they want to do is close the circuit if there is a crash so they’re also really quick to recover you and clean up.

The one place I’ve been truly scared was at Nordschleife at Nürburgring racetrack in the Eifel forest in Germany. It’s such a big track (13 miles) that it’s impossible to remember the whole track. It catches out the inexperienced. I came off the circuit once and ended up on the grass and thought I was going to end up in the trees. That was scary.

SRB driving in kit car

If you could pick any car, what would be your dream car to use?​

I don’t think I can answer that, I want to try them all.

What car do you drive when you do the autosolo?

An MEV Exocet. It’s a kit-car based upon an MX5. I had all the parts delivered to work so my wife didn’t see how much I’ve been ordering!! I built it in my workshop at home. It will do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds (on a good day, with favourable winds). It weighs almost nothing and has more than 300bhp. It’s very driveable though and works well as both a road and race car. Except if it rains, as there’s no roof, windscreen or heater!

SRB driving kit car

Do you have a black box fitted when you’re driving round the track?

Yes. There’s always at least one box fitted. Primarily, as a tracker just in case it gets stolen. Secondly, telematics can help in motorsport. Looking at gyro and accelerometer data after the race can shed light on racing performance. I need all the help I can get to win trophies!

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SRB-track-day-black-box-data

Isn’t it a bit of an expensive hobby?

Yes, but it’s worth it!

What would be your number 1 tip for someone who wants to get into autosolo or track days?

That’s easy – driver tuition. People automatically assume they’ve got to do something clever with their car but, in reality, a rookie is only ever going to be as good as the training they get. Lessons in track driving are far more important than the type of car you’re using.​

What the biggest mistake a rookie should avoid?

Taking it too seriously. Just enjoy yourself and “be prepared to spend a s**t load of money”.

SRB driving in kit car

‘GTM’: the KOBA/REDTAIL version – Go To Market

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Another acronym.  I know what it means for me, but was mildly amused by results from GTM – Definition by AcronymFinder, which include Great Tibetan Marathon (sounds hilly), Garfield the Movie (Bill Murray funny), and pervasively (and perhaps unsurprisingly) top of list Google Tag Manager.

For me, and for our ‘fairer motor insurance for Australia’ partner KOBA, it means Go To Market.

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More importantly, it means genuine collaboration on a detailed action plan to fulfil market needs in a timely and (crucially) cash-conscious manner.  A little more detail:

Market

Starts with an idea, a hunch – in this case prompted by ByMiles success with a low-mileage proposition in the UK – new and promising in Australia.  Can be corroborated with primary or desk research into appetite and competition, and of course a sense of the economics of the thing.  And I’d like to think REDTAIL added a little insight in discussion with KOBA CEO Andrew Wong on multiple early morning/early evening chats.

To

Having qualified demand, how to get there? Clearly where the KOBA/REDTAIL partnership intensified was around the device/data solution. We (and I mean we) understand the options for miles tracking device, and its necessary connectivity with appropriate network provider. REDTAIL (Cambridge UK) and KOBA software folk (Mike, Rock Creek and Jon, Anaheim, both USA) defining API access and configuration to generate journey data of value

And then engaging with Erica, KOBA Brand Communications Director on minutiae of device packaging, branding, and consumer communication around product and service.

And then sorting fulfilment logistics with and through our Clarion Malaysia manufacturing facility through to KOBA partner Intellitrac.

And then liaising with Andrew W. on launch plans and demand build up and forecast and readiness and timing and cashflow (vital for start-up)…… all amidst a global pandemic. Same for all of us, right?

Go

Soft launch mid-August, hard launch early October. Devices are delivered, test journeys evident, early adopter marketing underway (PRE-REGISTER NOW at KOBA Insurance – Pay Per KM Car Insurance), and now the exciting part:

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WE ARE READY !

Keep you posted………

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Can telematics & cameras improve school bus safety?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics’ partner to improve the safety and efficiency of student bus transportation for Central Pennsylvania School District (CPSD) utilizing onboard telematics and camera solutions

Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics’ partner to improve the safety and efficiency of student bus transportation for Central Pennsylvania School District (CPSD) utilizing onboard telematics and camera solutions

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Benefits include:

  • Provide real-time traffic support
  • Knowing each time a vehicle’s ignition is on or off to determine mileage, after-hour usage, idling and more
  • Efficient mileage data capture – save time on data entry and reporting to authorities
  • Maintaining a healthy vehicle battery and creating alerts to notify the driver if battery voltage levels drop
  • Assessing and improving driver behavior; heavy braking, acceleration, speeding, incident notification and crash assessment

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In addition, CPSD and their operations team can utilize route efficiency algorithms to maximise fuel consumption, achieving an estimated 18% saving year on year.  Utilizing the unique REDTAIL/Zen-tinel technology, CPSD can monitor when students board and leave the vehicle, and receive a gas reimbursement for mileage when a student is aboard.

Commenting on the success of the partnership, Len Kapp, supervisor of operations and transportation, CPSD said: “Zen-tinel and Redtail Telematics has been a game-changer. Redtail’s fleet management service has benefitted us in so many ways, with a reduction in fuel consumption across our fleet being the most significant, along with time saved on data reporting. This helps us provide a better service for the schools in terms of both safety and efficiency”.

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CONTACT US – Redtail Telematics

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TEL: 619-546-9061

sales@redtailtelematics.com

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CONTACT US – Zen-tinel

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TEL: 724-357-9709

 

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Partner is as Partner does, and says, and………

Reading Time: 4 minutes

REDTAIL works with both small and large businesses. In all those relationships, we strive to work with humility, empathy, and fortitude in order to, well, succeed together. The sum of which is that working with the right folk in the right way is imperative to growth.  This has consistently brought to the fore the meaning of ‘partner’ in our business relationships.

We’ve all seen it: Partner Programme, Partner Contract; Partner Relationship, Partner Pricing (pricing a subject all on its own!) – all ripe for abuse and exploitation – and of course opportunity. Very recently I was in a meeting in which the (large) company representative stated clearly and warmly: ‘We like to work with people as partners, where it’s about relationship.’ Nice. Conversely, I was in a meeting in which a (small/medium) company representative stated clearly ‘You are not a partner you are a commodity.’ Less nice.

I am happy to confirm that in my first example, the large company Partner has backed up their statement with collaborative behaviour.  Likewise, rather unfortunately, my second example has continued to… abuse expectations, shall we say.

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But what should ‘Partner’ mean, and when should this over-flexed term be used?

I offer three areas for discussion on partner behaviours:

  1. Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context
  2. Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes – interdependencies
  3. Respect

All very collaborative, positive behaviours that you’d want to experience in any relationship you find yourself involved in. But what do they mean? How can they be achieved?

Mutual understanding of market(s) and business context

This is not a history lesson. It is a dialogue (important word) on where a business has come from, its DNA, where its key people have come from, and where it hopes to get and how, and even when. Share (under NDA) to care, as they say. Dedicate the time and intellect. Question and listen to the answer. Understand and accept.

Mutually beneficial directions & outcomes

Perhaps the most difficult. It is a moving target of course. Understanding of today’s ambitions takes no account of market dynamics that may impact both direction and outcome. Acceptance can be tested by a seemingly inconsistent knee-jerk reaction. Relationships can be impacted without transparent communication. Having said that, to continue to enable growth, for outcomes to be celebrated mutually, surely a worthwhile investment in every sense of the word.

Respect

‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements’;

‘due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others’

Nuff said?

So when should we use this term? Difficult to be prescriptive, and I would certainly urge a considered approach. What I am sure of is that when you mean it, say it, and when you say it mean it.  Act accordingly and with consistency, resolve, and not a little humility, empathy and fortitude.

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How many FLEET vehicle summer maintenance checks do you follow?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a fleet manager, do you perform annual summer maintenance checks on your vehicle fleet?

It’s pretty common to hear people talk about preparing their vehicles for winter and the cold weather it brings.  However, it seems to be less common to hear or expect the same during the summer.  Unusual since it’s often the hotter temperatures that cause more serious damage to our vehicles.  Perhaps because cold weather feels harsher to us, we forget that warm weather is just as, if not more treacherous to our vehicles!

Regular maintenance checks reduce the risk of your vehicles being out of service while they get costly repairs, or worse, being involved in an accident.  This can save you money, the environment and also increase road safety.

I suppose the next important question is… What checks are needed to prepare your vehicle fleet for summer?

Luckily, we have some tips on how to keep your fleet running optimally, even in the warm weather.

Check your tyres!!

    • This is probably the most important one to remember. It may surprise you, but poor tyre pressure is a primary cause of accidents in the UK, according to a recent AutoCar article.  It is also a leading cause of vehicle downtime or accidents (15%) for fleets, according to a report by Software Advice.
    • Hopefully, those stats identify just how important it is to perform that all-important summer maintenance on your tyres!!
    • The takeaway? Schedule routine tyre checks for your fleet monthly, so you can spot any potential issues quickly. Tyre pressure increases when it’s hot. Why is this relevant? Well, over or under-inflated or worn-out tyres can be dangerous when driving.

Air conditioning

    • Another key consideration is the vehicle’s air conditioning unit. Be sure to perform regular checks on the air conditioning units of the vehicles in your fleet. An issue left unfixed could cause costly damage to your vehicles (not just in repairs but also in time spent out of service). These are easy to perform maintenance on but not so easy (and much more costly) to repair if something goes wrong.
    • Air conditioning failure is another leading cause of vehicle downtime or accidents (19%) for fleets.
    • Furthermore, changing your air filter every 12000-15000 miles makes sure the vehicle’s electrical systems get the fresh air they need. Important on those hot summer days and, bonus, can help increase the gas/mileage ratio!

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Belts

    • It’s recommended to replace straps every 60,000 to 100,000 miles, so check your vehicles’ belts at regular intervals! Again, not performing these checks regularly enough could be costly in repairs and time where the vehicle is being repaired. Additionally, worn belts add a safety risk that you don’t want to take!!

Oil / fluids

    • It is usually advised to change your oil approximately every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, it should be done sooner if your drivers take very long journeys, carrying heavy equipment or shipments. Make sure to also check underneath the car for leaks. Leaving your oil unchanged for too long can seriously damage a vehicle, leading to costly repairs!

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Engine check

    • Lastly, you must make sure vehicle engines don’t overheat. I suppose this is one that’s more for the vehicle users to keep an eye on. If an engine starts overheating, STOP!! Keep the engine off long enough for it to cool down to a safe temperature. If it’s consistently happening, get it checked out as there could be a problem with it.
      If you leave an issue like this too long then it could result in a case so bad that the vehicle has to be written off, so watch out for this one! To help put it into perspective, this was the highest cause of vehicle downtime or accidents (20%) for fleets.

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So, how can you manage all of the above for your whole fleet in a time and money-effective manner?

By using fleet tracking devices and fleet management software, like Redtail’s fleet management system!

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Redtail’s fleet management system allows fleet managers to perform functions such as:

  • Set routine maintenance reminders to keep track of everything ahead of time
  • You can use the system to alert for unnecessary idling to reduce the extra strain on your vehicles that can cause
  • There’s the ability to receive battery monitoring alerts to identify to you when a vehicle battery is having issues
  • Accident and claim management. If one of your vehicles is involved in an accident you can use the device data to assist with the claim process
  • Track your vehicles so you know where each vehicle is at any and all times
  • Geofencing and alerts. This allows you to set up “geofences” (specific areas your drivers must stay within or outside of), and alert notifications if any vehicles go outside or inside of your criteria
  • Maintain individual data on each vehicle that can be easily searched

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Furthermore, the greatest achievement of having the vehicle properly maintained is you will be able to reduce the risk of accidents and breakdowns.

You’ll be saving your wallet, the environment and improving road safety!

Have you thought about all of the above?  Is your vehicle fleet ready for summer?  If you need vehicle tracking and fleet management services, contact Redtail to find out how we can help you achieve your goals!