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Sim Racing – Beyond a Game

There has often been a lot written about the cross over from Sim Racer to Professional Race car driver. Just how good a tool can Sim Racing be? I have been Sim Racing now for roughly four or five years and can honestly say I have never stopped enjoying it. I have had my bumps along the way (Hello GRC fans) but overall it has been a tremendous use of my downtime.

That last line may surprise some as it may come across as ‘geeky’ or ‘sad’ but I ask you, what is sad about being part of something that gets you closer to a sport that you have love and passion for? This is where I think Sim Racing goes beyond a game. While what we view on the screen may be classed as a game, the experience and desire we feel to succeed is just like any other sports person. The clue is in the title as well ‘Sim’. Essentially we are racing a simulated act of real life, does this not count as more than a game? There are not many games that can do that.

For me and I am sure many others, Sim Racing turns in to a dream of sorts. Sim Racing is the closest 90% of us mere mortals will ever get to a competitive racing car. The physics of the car, the data all entered in to a virtual environment for our pleasure and enjoyment. That is what we thrive off, that is what we embrace as drivers. It turns in to an extension of our personalities because of the idea that we can be number one. Many have already proven this, to name drop: Bono Huis, Greger Huttu, Richard Towler, Bruno Marques, Dennis Hirrle, and the infamous Lee Morris. Most of these granted have progressed through the ranks of Formula Sim Racing (FSR) but nevertheless they are ultra-fast competitors and have become very successful.

This blog post may seem a little extreme or over the top but let me explain why I have posted it. I have met some fantastic friends, joined some wonderful communities and created relationships that I will take far with me in life from what is, realistically, a very small community. But we all have the same common ground, Motorsport. Whether that is Formula 1, Touring Cars, Sports Cars or even NASCAR we are all fighting for the same common goal. I think that is a great quality in a person, to have the same desire and passion that we all see on a Sunday afternoon at the track or on the TV just played out in a virtual environment. Even the politics!

We are now seeing the benefits of Sim Racing in the real Motorsport world as well. Nissan GT Academy is and has produced some wonderful drivers, namely Lucas Ordonez. We have also seen the ever increasing popularity of iRacing, a Sim that many Motorsport drivers use as a tool to help them learn cars and tracks. Tony Stewart used it to learn Watkins Glen in an F1 car before the swap with Lewis Hamilton. On that note, I have had iRacing for over a year or so now but it is still yet to grab me like rFactor has done. Even though rFactor is five years old it is still the choice of Sim Racing for me. The core element of Racing is in the DNA of rFactor. iRacing has over commercialised itself and, especially Road Racing, I do not get the same enjoyment from it. iRacing I think is still more directed towards an American market and audience whereas rFactor has embraced the world over for its Motorsport. Some may disagree with me here and I have no problem with that. That said, I cannot disagree that iRacing is still a very powerful tool that is growing. Furthermore, look at other games that work off the gMotor2 engine, Game Stock Car and Sim Raceway to name a few. Those two especially are becoming very highly rated Simulators.

When I visited America for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta back in October I was fortunate enough to meet the guys of SimCraft. These guys put together Sim Racing rigs that simulate real life forces that are felt in the cars. They try and simulate and get as close to G forces as they possibly can. You can see the time and dedication they put in to these rigs and the benefits are starting to pay off. They now provide to accomplished race teams and provide demonstrations such as I experienced in the Microsoft tent, proving again that Sim Racing goes beyond just being a game. It has now become a powerful tool in an industry where every tenth counts. The best way to learn still is on the track pounding round the laps, but this is the most cost effective way in a tight budget world to learn.

While some may treat Sim Racing as a bit of fun and something to do, others are taking it very seriously and view it as a career path, especially those that are making some fantastic money out of it. No matter how you treat Sim Racing if it is a game or a Sim, enjoy it for its main purpose and that is to race. Being part of a community is something that modern life is losing, so let’s keep the communities alive and keep Sim Racing growing. Be part of something bigger and greater and reflect those benefits and lessons learnt in to life.

Bring on rFactor 2.

Follow me on Twitter: Nico888

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