Hot Laps on a Cold Day

The weatherman was wrong, again. There is snow on the ground, the wind chill has a bite to it that only a wampa could handle, and your rear-wheel drive toy is stuck in the garage. So, what do you do? Instead of risking your life, potentially other peoples’ lives, and reckless driving tickets, you grab the steering wheel in front of your computer and start setting hot laps on iRacing.

That’s right, I said computer. iRacing is not a video game, it is a simulator. It is designed to replicate the actual racing experience, and I can vouch for its superb replication of the actual racing experience. Don’t get me wrong, Forza and Grand Tursimo are great fun. But for true accuracy, practice, or side-by-side racing action, iRacing is the choice of many racing enthusiasts and professional drivers.

There are a couple of things right out of the gate that make iRacing so accurate. The first is iRacing’s interpretation of the tracks. I would go as far to say that the word “interpretation” is an understatement. I regularly spend time at Summit Point in West Virginia, and I know the track pretty well. When I got behind the wheel of a Mazda MX-5 pro cup car and started my warm up laps, I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. Bump for bump, curb for curb, and flag station for flag station, iRacing’s tracks are dead on. The same visual reference points that I use in real life, I was able to use in the simulator. Following suit, the cars are just as accurate. The Miata was nimble and relied on momentum to get around the track quickly. The Mustang’s solid rear end reminded your right foot to dance softly on the throttle when exiting corners. The Williams Formula One car… Well, that made you develop a whole new respect for Formula One drivers.

How do you get started? You’ll need a computer that can run the software, a subscription to iRacing, and a good steering wheel/pedal/shifter set up. It is important to have a steering wheel that provides good feedback; after all, you want to take full advantage of what the software is capable of. Some iRacers get really elaborate with their set ups and include cockpits and hydraulics to simulate motion.

Let’s face it, there is something intriguing about hitting apexes, power-on oversteer, and bump drafting in your basement. For guys and girls like us, it restores some sense of sanity during these cold stubborn months. Try to keep warm, and hopefully some of you find your automotive substitute for the winter. Now, I’m going to go make some hot cocoa and drive a 400 horsepower mustang.


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