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Vette Cam
By Larry Edsall

Vette Cam Camera lets you replay your drive in late-model Corvettes
Driving around racetracks was not a new experience for D. Scott Watkins. After all, he'd raced three times in the 24-hour sports car event at Daytona. But after what he remembers as an "horrific" accident at Mosport Park near Toronto in 1995, Watkins wanted to make sure he had in-car video from his next laps.

Those laps came about a year later, and this time he was driving a stock Pontiac Trans-Am, albeit around the Road Atlanta track.

Racers often drive with a camera mounted on the roll bars in their racecars, but a street machine such as the Trans-Am doesn't provide such mounting points, so Watkins created his own, mounting a camera to a bar he positioned between the front-seat headrests.

Watkins eventually obtained patents on headrest and seat video imaging apparatus and launched CruiseCam International Inc., which is based in Farmington Hills.

In April, 2007. CruiseCam launched another product, VetteCam, an in-car video system designed for the two most recent generations of the Chevrolet Corvette.

What makes the VetteCam system different is that Corvette seats have integrated headrests instead of separate headrests that can be removed or modified for the sort of in-car video equipment CruiseCam has been making for nearly a decade. VetteCam incorporates the camera system into what Watkins calls a "skull cap" that fits over the seatback and places the camera lens just over the driver's shoulder.

Included is a micro recorder that can log more than three hours of video that can be seen on the recorder's small screen or downloaded into a laptop computer. Watkins says one advantage of the Corvette seat setup is that the seat acts as a shock absorber for the camera equipment.

Watkins team hopes to follow VetteCam with similar equipment for the Porsche 911, Mazda MX-5 (Miata) and Honda S2000, other sports cars that often spend weekends at track days or autocross competitions.

VetteCam will come to market in April priced around $995 and will be sold through CruiseCam's website, dealers and automotive aftermarket catalogs.

CruiseCam's equipment provides a view of driver input, the vehicle's dashboard and the roadway and traffic ahead. In addition to weekend racers, CruiseCam's customers include, among others, school district driver's education vehicles, private investigators, even storm chasers.

Watkins says CruiseCam will have a special in-car system for law enforcement vehicles in 2008, and is working on technology that can send video from the car to a computer so parents can keep an eye on their children at the wheel.

For more information, visit the website or call (248) 471-9520.

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