Unlike many mass participator sports like fishing, poker and darts, motor sports is a lot
harder to participate in. Any one can fish, as long as they buy a fishing license. Any one
can go to a poker room and play poker if they can afford the entry fee and I believe the same
goes for darts. However, motor sports is slightly different. To race you must attain a
racing license for safety reasons as generally motor sports are a lot more dangerous than
fishing, poker or darts. You also need to have ability and usually you also need to be able
to provide your race team with either money from your own pocket or some form of sponsorship.
If you wanted to be an F1 driver, you would need to have supreme driving skills, great media
skills and also usually a financial backer. Most petrol heads and motor sports enthusiasts don't have these luxuries.
Which is why I guess a lot of passionate motor sport enthusiasts take part in sim racing. But I still get asked the question
why sim racing?
all the time.
Sim racing offers a much cheaper alternative to real racing - there is no cost when you crash your virtual race car,
apart from to your pride and dignity. Using a motor sports simulation like iRacing you can pit yourself against drivers
from all over the world that have the same passion as yourself. Also iRacing offers a form of ranking which is called
irating. This allows for races that have members with similar irating to compete against each other which
helps to level the field out and make sure you are racing with people of similar speed and ability.
Most sim racers realise they will never be good enough to be a professional driver, but with iRacing's official races
like minded people can race against each other in races with up to a maximum of 60 people in hosted sessions or 36 people
in multi class road racing events.
Racing isn't just about driving around a race track as fast as you can. That is a massive part of it but people who have
never participated in a race with other people before may not realise just what is involved.
- mind games
- race craft
- endurance sim racing
So you've practiced all week at a specific track, you've qualified in a reasonable position on the grid and now you are
sitting on the grid waiting for the race to begin. You'd think it would be a case of as soon as the green flag drops you
drive around until the end of the race and then it's done. If only it were that simple. When racing you have to deal
with mind games inside your own head. You know where to brake, when to accelerate in virtually every situation as you've
come across them in practice sessions before, but once in a race the pressure can make things change somewhat. If for
example you are under pressure from a driver behind you can over think things, when really the best thing to do is just
drive and try not to think and let your reflexes and gut instincts take over. However, there is the tendency to think in
your head, "don't brake too late for this next corner" and then before you know it you have out braked yourself and let
the opposing virtual sim racing driver past.
So you made an error and let another sim racer past. You know that you are technically faster if you go by grid
position (assuming they actually qualified and didn't start from the back of the grid). If you can convince yourself
that you are faster than the driver infront then it will make it a lot easier to get past. Being faster than the driver
infront of you won't automatically mean you can pass them, especially if they are using defensive race craft and
positioning their car well. Good race craft can let you create opportunities to make clean racing passes, force the
issue (not dive bombing) or force your fellow sim racer into an error. There are different forms of race craft, feinting
your opponent, lining your opponent up for a braking zone, setting your opponent up for passing on exit of a corner and
generally just making them think about you and driving in their mirrors, or should I say virtual mirrors?
Endurance Sim Racing
Many newcomers to sim racing, most who have progressed from arcade racing on consoles often find that the endurance
factor can be something that they need to get used to. A lot of arcade racing is over very short distances sometimes
even as short as just one lap. A ten lap race would to some be deemed long. Sim racing tends to have longer races from
say twenty laps up to 1 hour weekly events or special events up to 5 hours in length or sometimes longer endurance events
with planned driver swaps. Concentration can be a major factor to virtual racers that are not used to it. I tend to eat
biscuits or chocolate on the straights and drink energy drinks when racing to help keep my concentration level high, I
also try to blink once in a while when I can...
Mind games and the endurance factor can both be linked to concentration. To alleviate the mind games you need to almost
not think and let yourself just drive without thinking. Just let yourself go onto auto pilot as such, you've practised
all week, so just hit your braking marks without thinking about things too hard. Don't over complicate it, as mentioned
before, don't think in a negative way as in - don't brake too late, think - hit your marks. If everything is going well
just keep doing what you are doing, don't look at sector times, just drive. If you have a moment and need to regain
composure when you get on a straight have a little drink, a little something to eat just to keep blood sugar levels up
and then relax and get into a rhythm.