story by chris berg • illustrations courtesy iracing

Today’s Racing Simulations Teach Real-Life Driving Skills to Veteran Hotshoes and Novice Gamers Alike–but Is Virtual Racing a Motorsport in Its Own Right?

The lines between virtual reality and actual reality are getting blurrier by the day, and the world of auto racing offers a fascinating look at this phenomenon. And we aren’t just talking about the increasingly lifelike graphics and game physics in today’s racing simulators.

The paychecks of professional-level virtual racers are also beginning to resemble some of their real-world counterparts. Some sim racers are even making the jump from computer rigs to real cockpits. Meanwhile, top talents from the real racing world have been turning to iRacing and other highly detailed sims for training and testing.

Kenton Koch, who drove to a first-place finish in the Prototype Challenge class at the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona, is one of those drivers who uses simulators as a means of mental training between races.

“When I was getting into racing cars, I had never raced at any of the tracks that the series visited,” Koch says. “With companies like iRacing, who laser-scan race circuits, it gave me the opportunity to get a visual experience from the driver’s seat. It helps me get up to speed more quickly, so I can spend the most time in trying to find the last couple tenths of a second available instead of spending the opening session figuring out where the track goes.”

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Huckleberry MegaDork
6/6/17 1:24 p.m.

Does it contain the word "Simulation"? The question answers itself.

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
6/6/17 1:34 p.m.

We just had this thread a couple months ago.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
6/6/17 1:41 p.m.

This is the article that thread was about.

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
6/6/17 2:03 p.m.

In reply to Ed Higginbotham:

Yes but the article was linked in the other thread as well.

LuxInterior HalfDork
6/6/17 4:12 p.m.

HapDL New Reader
6/6/17 4:34 p.m.

If a real race ran like races run on iRacing, about 6 cars would finish, the others would be littered about the track in varying states of destruction. The number of asshats in simulator racing is right off the charts and it's the biggest drawback to getting involved. However, it can still be a very useful tool for learning tracks, as McGee says because you don't have to race with the idiots, you can practice in private to your hearts content. As far as learning racecraft though, that's a lost cause on sims, it's more about pure dumb luck and survival. The attitude expressed out loud at iRacing is that if you got wrecked you likely caused it yourself which is BS as often as not.

And for those who think Sims are a joke, why does every professional team out there have an in house simulator and usually a dedicated sim driver?

LuxInterior HalfDork
6/6/17 5:12 p.m.
HapDL wrote: for those who think Sims are a joke, why does every professional team out there have an in house simulator and usually a dedicated sim driver?

Not a joke. Not real. But a useful tool. An entertaining pastime. But I'd guess that the pros don't hang out on online racing "Asshat Central" systems

dean1484 MegaDork
6/6/17 7:03 p.m.

I enjoyed the article Ed. I had no idea that there was that much money in it!!!! As for getting wrecked on line yes it happens. But settle in with a good group and that tends to go away. I race a lot on line and some days you are the bug and other days you are the windshield. In between you find some dame good competishion.

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