Racing on computers is nothing new, from the first video racing games in the 1970s all the way up to the Next gen console games like Forza and Gran Turismo 7 in 2022 people have been imagining they can race like a professional. However these games bear very little resemblance to what it is like to drive a car with 40 other drivers at 200 miles an hour.
Sim racing first appeared with the introduction of Papyrus Design Group’s Indianapolis 500 simulation software in 1989.Sim racing is designed to simulate real racing scenarios and effects in a digital format. These include, use of furl, damage, tire usage, suspension, AI drivers and more.
So in steps sim Racing to attempt to bridge the gap and with the advances made they are providing a viable alternative to other more expensive forms of race training. Here we will look at what exactly Sim racing is.
What is Sim Racing
Simulation racing is that which involves interactive digital media that aims to replicate, with as much accuracy as possible, real-world racing conditions. It puts an emphasis on hyper-realism with regards to digital graphics as well as in all the intricacies of car physics.
Although initially designed for entertainment, with advances in both computing power and the ability to translate real world physics into software these are becoming a viable training aid for racing drivers both on physical tracks and in virtual environments.
What Sim racing Isn’t
Which leads us to a discussion of what simulation racing isn’t. It may be fairly said that simulation is a different arena than that of video games. Certainly, there are video games that straddle the line between the two, and in fact do so convincingly.
Games like Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, WRC Rally, and Project Cars – while all being fantastic games every one – are really what may be called “simcades,” for they are a sort of bridge between simulations and more casual arcade-style racing games a la the Need for Speed or Burnout franchises.
True simulations, on the other hand, offer a more demanding experience, and this is one of the major variables that separate the games from the sims, if one wishes to put it that way. Simulations tend to have a much higher barrier to entry due to the fact that they require much more skill from the user.
What You Need to go Sim Racing
This warrants an article on Sim Racing Equipment on its own. However just as an overview, we will cover the basics here. Sim Racing utilizes sophisticated software that requires powerful computer machinery to run, meaning you would need a very beefy PC in addition to a costly driving rig featuring at minimum the basics of a real automobile driving setup: accelerator and brake pedals, steering wheel, shifter, handbrake, etc.
These typically consist of metal bar frames built to house the driving apparatuses mentioned as well as a gaming chair and a monitor rack.
The more elaborate of these sim racing rigs go so far as to incorporate a complete “shell,” making the race car emulation complete. Needless to say, these can be exorbitantly expensive, going for tens of thousands of dollars USD, and are only for professional E-racers (we’ll get to that in a minute) and the hardest of hardcore gamers.
Perhaps most infamous is the one made by legendary British sports car maker Aston Martin (of 007 fame) in 2020: the AMR-C01. Coming with a $74,000 (about £54,500) price tag, it will haunt your Christmas dreams forever-after once you’ve set eyes upon it. However you could of course by a second hand Aston Martin for less and join a Solo Racing or Autocross event!
What are Some Popular Sim Racing Games
There are several popular sim racers out there. iRacing is one of the best-known; it is an online subscription-based simulation game that hosts digital versions of several real-life motorsports on its servers, with true-to-life schedules. These include Nascar, IndyCar, the Australian Supercars Championship, and many others.
Another popular simulation is rFactor and its sequel, rFactor 2. This is a highly sophisticated sim that is actually in part designed to be used by professional racing teams for driver training as well as R&D purposes related to race car development. It is used for the Formula SimRacing (FSR) World Championship.
On the off-road side of things there is Richard Burns’ Rally. Known for its ultra-realistic driving physics and subsequent steep learning curve, the game has gone on to become a sim classic since its 2004 release despite its reputation for being a very not-casual-player-friendly game. A dedicated modding community has grown up around the sim and kept it alive, even adding online multiplayer functionality to what was originally an offline game.
Also worthy of note is Assetto Corsa. This sim racing game brings the simulation experience to less hardcore players perhaps better than any other by allowing them to adjust realism settings to suit their needs and allow them to ease the difficulty curve with driving assists such as traction control and abs (anti-lock braking). In this way users can tackle the game’s challenge at their own pace.
What is Professional E-racing?
Believe it or not, professional E-racing is a thing, and quite a serious thing at that. There are several sanctioning bodies out there that stage esports racing events that are taken just as seriously as real-world motorsports. Don’t believe us? iRacing has paid out prize pools of up to $300,000, with a $100,000 prize for the winner! There are many who call themselves professional E-racecar drivers, who have never taken to a real-world track in their lives.
One such had been Jann Madrenborough, winner of the third Gran Turismo GT Competition. His prize for winning the competition was a ride with Nissan in the Dubai 24-hour race. He went on to compete in the Japanese Super GT and Super Formula Series, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championships, and has also competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It just goes to show it can really pay off to be good at Gran Turismo.
Or take for another instance that of James Baldwin, a sim racer and winner of “The World’s Fastest Gamer.” His prize was a $1,000,000 sponsorship in the 2020 British GT Championship. The E-racer made good on the opportunity by going on to shock the racing world by winning in his professional real-life racing debut at Oulton Park.
And it is no secret that real-world professional race drivers often compete in sim races, with many doing so for practice. This has led some to ask if E-racing may be the future, at least when it comes to finding and developing driver talent. It goes to show how far simulation has come.
So now that you are armed with all this information, do you think you are ready to take on the challenge of sim racing? With the high cost of entry and difficulty curve presented by simulation style interactive experiences, it demands a certain commitment right at the outset, which is what puts off so many who’d like to give it a try.
But for those who are set on taking the dive, simulations can prove to be a most rewarding experience.