Fitness is a fickle friend. Spend your days sat on the sofa then try to run a marathon, and chances are you will not make the distance. All skills take time and meaningful practice. It’s no different for racing drivers — valuable knowledge of track layouts, car handling, and mingling in a fast moving pack all get better with practice
So here we are, in challenging times, facing at least weeks of home-based isolation for the greater good of the nation. How do you maintain meaningful practice as a driver? Enter the digital equivalent of a treadmill — sim racing. Racing games on computers have moved on a lot since the early 90s arcades and the mighty Sega Rally Championship and Dayton USA. Computer-based racing like iRacing are no longer just games, they’re simulators. Airline pilots spend many hours honing their skills in flight simulators, and now the technology is good enough for drivers to do the same.
Race tracks are laser scanned down to minute detail, enabling the online racer to feel surface texture changes like tarmac, concrete, kerbs and even the changes brought about by rain. Game developers have real racing drivers as consultants, so cars have handling characteristics like their real-life counterparts. Rating systems exist to place drivers of similar abilities in the same race, with additional driver safety scores to encourage good racing behaviour. Racing can be tight and exciting, with digital versions of the Porsche 911 Cup being just as challenging to handle as their real life counterpart. Mastering trail braking and weight transfer in sim will pay the same dividends as on track.
Getting started needn’t be costly either. Wheels and pedals by Logitech or Thrustmaster are great for starters, and although iRacing is subscription based, other titles such Assetto Corsa are a cheap onetime payment. Inevitably you will get hooked, and a dedicated sim rig with your perfect driving position, direct drive wheel, hydraulic pedals, and even virtual reality will all appear on your wish list.
If you get going with iRacing, or you’re already a keen sim racer, get in touch with us on the forum here. We’d like to bring together all like-minded club drivers for a PCGB iRacing championship.