Onboard recordings of circuit driving are always great to look back on and show your mates. So, here are the best dash cams for track days.
Do you take your car on track often? Or are you in the process of building your own modified circuit racer? Well, whether you’re just starting out or are a track day veteran, a specialized dash cam could be a great way to enhance your adrenaline-filled days out.
For some, a dash cam is a great way to simply look back at footage and revel in what you and your car have just achieved. Maybe you pulled off an overtake or set a lap time that your mates simply wouldn’t believe without seeing it with their own eyes. Or maybe you just want to keep those track day memories saved for yourself.
In fact, for those of you that are really serious about circuit driving, a dash cam can be more than just a novelty. If you go for something high-end, you could open the door to all sorts of analytics that might help you improve as a driver.
How we chose the products
We haven’t been able to test these products for ourselves first-hand yet, but nonetheless I’m well-placed to put these recommendations forward. I’ve tested and reviewed several regular dash cams for Fast Car, so I know which core tech specs you should be looking out for when searching for a camera that records good quality footage.
Plus, as a keen driver myself (and former FIA motorsport reporter), I’ve got a good theoretical understanding of what it takes to perform well on circuit. So, whatever it is that you’re looking for, I’m pretty sure that this list will cover it. Without further ado, here are the best dash cams for track days…
Best Dash Cams for Track Days
At a glance:
- Garmin Catalyst – RRP: $999.00, buy now. £899.00, buy now.
- VBOX Motorsport Video HD2 – RRP: $3500 / £3114, buy it here.
- GoPro HERO11 – RRP: from $399.99, buy now. £399.99, buy now.
- AiM SmartyCam 3 Sport – RRP: from $700.00 / £665.00 (+ VAT), buy it here.
- Akaso EK7000 – RRP: $79.00, buy now. £69.99, buy now.
- How to buy the best camera for you
Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer
The good folks at Garmin have developed a real gem here. Yes, it’s *a bit* pricey, but that’s what you should expect from a quality brand offering a quality product. The Catalyst Driving Performance Optimizer has to be one of the best dash cams for track days around, thanks to its clear HD resolution and informative overlays.
Endorsed by Motorsport UK, this little camera has the ability to play back your lap recordings on its main screen, offering up real-time performance data. It doesn’t just show you what you’re doing either, it also tries to guide you through areas where you could improve to go quicker. For instance, it can advise about early or late apex decisions (tailored for each individual corner of each track you visit), and can even provide audio prompts on the fly like some sort of robo-co-driver! To be honest, there’s way more functionality than we can fit into this little segment, but the overarching point is simple: if you’re a frequent flyer at your local track, you’ll absolutely love this dash cam.
VBOX Motorsport Video HD2
RRP: $3500 / £3114. Buy it here.
Reserved solely for the serious amateur racers and hardcore time attack drivers, the VBOX Motorsport Video HD2 kit is a track day dash cam worthy of professional-level racing. In the package, you get a wide array of features, but let’s start with the camera itself. You get a pair of them, and can expect a resolution of 1080p at 30fps, and given their waterproof design, you can fit them to either the inside or outside of your car. HD Sony video provides vivid reproduction of colors, and deals with darkness very well too.
As far as features go, you can log up to 80 channels of vehicle CAN data, such as throttle angle, RPM, and brake pressure, while a customizable real-time graphics video overlay provides gauges, bar graphs, circuit plots, lap times, and useful text.
Other cool functions include individual circuit analytics, lap comparisons and time predictions, and even the ability to livestream!
For most people, the VBOX is likely to be a little overkill, and it’s certainly outside the budget of the average enthusiast. So, let’s bring things back down to earth a bit with this, the GoPro HERO11. GoPro has become the de facto brand of action cameras over the past decade, enjoying a monopoly close to that of the Hoover company back in the day, or perhaps even Jacuzzi. As such, you do pay a bit of a premium compared to other small camera suppliers, but at the end of the day, there’s a reason why GoPro became the industry leader: quality, and reliability (and probably some mega marketing along the way).
The HERO11 is one of GoPro’s current flagships. It offers impressive capabilities such as cinematic 5K video with 24.7 megapixel video stills, and stunning 27 megapixel high-res photos. On top of that, you won’t have to worry about any vibration as the camera comes with GoPro’s HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilization feature – so good that it’s won an Emmy! Mind you, although that could be handy for giving you a good view of your lines et cetera, it may also detract from the visual drama of the lap. Luckily, GoPros come with plenty of ability to fine tune, so we’ll leave that decision up to you. If you’d rather buy a high-end action cam from left-field, try the HERO11-rivalling DJI Osmo Action 4.
AiM SmartyCam 3 Sport
RRP: from $700.00 / £665.00 (+ VAT). Buy it here.
Whereas the GoPro is designed for all sorts of action and adventure, the AiM SmartyCam 3 Sport is purpose-built for track days, much like the Garmin and VBOX systems. As such, it’s got all sorts of nifty features that automotive enthusiasts will love. For example, the SmartyCam can automatically identify which circuit you’re on, making AiM’s analytical software more intuitive. Plus, the camera has a start/stop function, so there’s no hassle with the camera at either end of you track session.
The camera’s quality is certainly comparable to the Garmin and VBOX, though if you want to learn more about the performance analysis side of AiM’s product range, we suggest you head over to their website and take a bit of a deep dive.
What if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars/pounds on a camera though? Happily, there are plenty of budget friendly action cameras on the market, but don’t expect any analytic software or GoPro levels of picture quality. If you just want a simple camera to record your laps – nothing else, nothing more – then something like this Akaso EK7000 will do the job nicely.
For just $69.00, you get 4K Ultra HD Video at 30fps, though you can turn the resolution down to 1080p for a better refresh rate. There’s also a 170° Wide Angle Lens, 2-inch LCD Display, and built-in WiFi to sync and share your recordings with the Akaso app. If that’s not enough, there are 15 different types of mount (sold separately). At this price point, it’s hard to argue with features like that.
How to buy the best track day dash cam
Naturally, when it comes to cameras, picture quality is the one trait to rule them all. When buying a dash cam for your car, don’t settle for anything less than 1080p. This is the sort of threshold where you’ll be able to pick out fine details and it’ll feel as though the camera is doing your driving justice. For ultimate replay performance, aim for even higher resolutions if your budget allows. Refresh rate is also important, 60fps will give you a nice smooth video, but 30fps at a higher resolution is a compromise that some people are willing to make.
With the basics covered, you then need to decide how seriously you’re going to take this. If you just go on track days for a bit of fun, you might not need any of the added extras. But, if you’re intent on improving your skill level as well as your car’s performance level, then you’ll need to consider which add-ons are worth the investment. Drivers with aspirations of making it to grassroots motorsport and beyond might find use in the four-figure telemetry packages, but realistically, the analytics and overlays priced in the three-figure range will be more than enough for most weekend warriors.
Now, if you’re needing some inspiration, check out the video below. For full disclosure, it’s not me or anyone related to Fast Car behind the wheel, but I came across it on a late-night YouTube spiral, and figured it was worth sharing. Enjoy!