During the past few years import racers have gained new respect. What was once considered to be a niche market has grown in size and sophistication to the point that it has now garnered the attention of the so-called mainstream performance industry.

Much of the credit for this has to go to those individuals who paid the price in time and money to develop the state-of-the-art import racecars that are now seen on drag strips throughout the country.

Today's electronics also deserve a good deal of credit for accelerating this rapid advancement of import car technology. One of the technological shortcuts that has made it possible for import pioneers to speed the development and evolutionary process of quarter-mile performance is data acquisition. By monitoring the functions that were critical to their car's performance, import tuners were able to identify the areas that needed the most help, focus their attention on the modifications that produced the greatest results, and avoid those that paid little dividends. The fact that this acquisition of data also helped them steer clear of potential problems, while verifying their efforts, was an added bonus.

You don't have to be a heavily sponsored racer to reap the benefits of data acquisition. Racepak Data Systems of Lake Forest, Calif. wants to offer this technology to weekend warriors and even serious high-power street cars. In the past equipping a car with a data recorder was often beyond the budget, and sometimes abilities, of the average racer. That is no longer the case. More than 95 percent of all professional drag racers use a Racepak data recorder. Recently Racepak has developed a new line of recorders that not only satisfies the needs of the most demanding pro, but also covers the budget-minded weekend sportsman racers as well. This series of data recorders came about as the result of new technology that the company calls V-Net.

In essence, the V-Net (an acronym for vehicle network) integrates many of the vehicle's electrical components into a network system, much like a computer network. The result is an amazingly simple system that is capable of performing a multitude of tasks. The primary function of these V-Series recorders is still to log data, but now they do it with a greater degree of efficiency. The user gets more channels of information, for a longer period of time, at faster sampling rates, and all from a smaller and lighter package. In addition, they are capable of using the acquired data to perform functions by out-putting the signals obtained from single or combined sources. Another feature of the V-Series recorders that will immediately grab your attention is the lack of wiring that is required. This is a byproduct of the V-Net.

The V-Net has the unique ability to transfer the signals from all sensors, regardless of whether they are analog or digital, to the recorder over a single cable. Running individual wires from every sensor to the recorder, which can result in some massive wire looms, is thankfully a thing of the past. Now all of the sensors simply clip onto a single main cable that runs from sensor to sensor and on to the recorder. Finally, you will be surprised to find that you can now integrate the gauges in your car with these systems. Racepak makes some unusually talented gauges, called Intelli-Gauges, that also snap right onto that single V-Net cable, allowing the gauges to make use of the wiring network and data acquisition quality sensors to source their signals.

The heart of a V-Net system is so cleverly integrated that it is almost overlooked at first glance. Each of the blue connector modules that link the sensors into the V-Net cable appears to be nothing more than a simple connector.