Can virtual coaching turn into real-world winning?

Steven Cole
By Steven Cole Smith
May 26, 2024 | iRacing, Virtual Racing | Posted in Features | From the Aug. 2020 issue | Never miss an article

Photograph Courtesy Porsche

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Grassroots Motorsports. Patrick Long has since retired from sports car racing.]

At 38, racer Patrick Long is the only American Porsche factory driver, still has plenty of years left as a sports car racer. After all, his mentor, fellow Porsche shoe Hurley Haywood, scored a podium finish in the 2012 …

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Comments
theruleslawyer
theruleslawyer New Reader
1/22/24 3:00 p.m.

I know that sim racing greatly accelerated my learning in real life. I might be lucky to get 15-20hrs of seat time a year on track. In the sim I can easily do 5-10x that amount over a year and that's not a super dedicated program either. Just a casual league night or two. I went from not having had done any performance driving  in 20 years to winning my class in autox in under 2 years. At track days I rapidly went up groups. I got to experience working on racecraft and driving close in a way that you wouldn't be exposed to for years in a more traditional  program. The biggest thing missing is the pucker factor. I'm still quite a bit faster in sim just because I'm not willing to take risks in real life that are just at reset in game. 

DavyZ
DavyZ New Reader
1/22/24 5:05 p.m.

In reply to theruleslawyer :

Your last sentence makes complete sense to me; you and the car are not easily "reset" in the real world.  The gains to be made from SIM training appear to be huge.  Plus, the price has come down on a lot of the equipment for home use to learn tracks, etc.  I despise a lot of technology, but this is actually stuff I like.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
1/22/24 11:06 p.m.
theruleslawyer said:

 I'm still quite a bit faster in sim just because I'm not willing to take risks in real life that are just at reset in game. 

And another great example for why real race cars actually run on money. If you're rich enough, EVERYTHING has a reset button. They say you should never track anything you can't afford to crash and walk away from, but there's folks out there who could crash their car into the factory that built it then careen through a field of Fabergé Eggs on the way back to the pits, only to say "Fix 'er up I think I can get another tenth."

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/26/24 10:49 a.m.

I'm completely convinced that Sim skills translate well to real cars but they don't always go the other way.  I'm a competent race car driver but a terrible Sim racer.  It's possible that with enough seat time I could get past the missing feedback but it hasn't come close to happening so far and frankly, I'm not convinced that's the best use of my limited racing and race prep time.  I think that I'm better off watching videos, exercising and tweaking the car(s).

theruleslawyer
theruleslawyer Reader
5/28/24 11:35 a.m.

In reply to APEowner :

Yah, i hear that a lot. You are driving half blind in terms of feedback.  Some F1 drivers say they don't like it because of the difference in feedback.
 

Fwiw you've probably spent years to get fast in car. Expecting to perform the same off the bat in sim isn't a good assumption. You'll have a leg up on someone with no motorsport experience, but you won't be at the same level either.

theruleslawyer
theruleslawyer Reader
5/28/24 11:35 a.m.

In reply to APEowner :

Yah, i hear that a lot. You are driving half blind in terms of feedback.  Some F1 drivers say they don't like it because of the difference in feedback.
 

Fwiw you've probably spent years to get fast in car. Expecting to perform the same off the bat in sim isn't a good assumption. You'll have a leg up on someone with no motorsport experience, but you won't be at the same level either.

CrashDummy
CrashDummy Reader
5/28/24 12:02 p.m.
APEowner said:

I'm completely convinced that Sim skills translate well to real cars but they don't always go the other way.  I'm a competent race car driver but a terrible Sim racer.  It's possible that with enough seat time I could get past the missing feedback but it hasn't come close to happening so far and frankly, I'm not convinced that's the best use of my limited racing and race prep time.  I think that I'm better off watching videos, exercising and tweaking the car(s).

This is absolutely true. You see it with the pro drivers all the time. The guys who grew up sim racing (like Max in F1 or William Byron in Nascar) are brutally fast on the sim and in real life. The guys who never did sim really suck at it (you saw a lot of this in the 2020 pandemic racing that was done with iRacing). 

This makes sense; everything from a good sim still applies in real life and additional feedback from the car doesn't hurt. So if you learned on the sim you're good to go. If you learned to race IRL and you go to the sim, suddenly some of the things you rely on to drive aren't there anymore and you're f-ed. You need to re-learn to drive without some of those sensations. 

I think there's a second factor too. When you start simracing at 8, 10, or 12 years old or whatever you have a lot of free time to throw at it. When I was in middle school I enjoyed coming home and spending hours with NR2003 and GPL, even if I binned it every 5 laps. Most adults don't have enough free time to enjoy sucking at something for 500+ hours as they're getting the hang of it. 

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