How Comfortable Does a Video Game Make You for a Track Like VIR?

Hopefully, you have been following along, but if this is your first read I will bring you up to
speed. I had this plan this year to visit the beautiful Virginia International Raceway (VIR)
with my daily driver BMW E92 M3. Then I realized, though having track experience across
tracks in the northeast, VIR would be the first track that is in a video game, so why not
drive in the game as homework leading up to the event?

Tradd Photos

Doing Homework in Forza Motorsport

If you haven’t seen it, I have been documenting my homework in Forza Motorsport 6. My
plan was to drive 10 laps in Forza Motorsport on the track map VIR Full in a digital BMW
E92 M3. It was a big-time investment, but I truly wanted to know just how much it would
prepare me for the track. Prior to track events, I would watch YouTube POV videos and try to
remember track maps, but I never had the ability to drive a course every day leading up to
an event.

I did a Day 1 wrap-up describing what I was doing and tried to set my fastest lap in the
game to start chipping away at which was a 2:16.018 lap. Next, I did a halfway checkpoint
showcasing just how much time was cut in 15 days. I became faster on the standing start
than I was on my fastest flying lap from Day 1, the fastest on the video was 2:9.274. Finally,
I did a night before the checkpoint and recorded one final set of 10 laps to show just how far I
came. I obviously hit a performance wall somewhere in the 2:9 to 2:10 range as my best
lap was 2:09.366. I also filmed my fastest lap from doing 10 laps a day for 30 days, so after
300 laps on VIR I managed to do 2:08:940. Check out that lap below:

Skill vs Video Games vs Real Life

I just told you I drove 300 laps in a month in a video game before I planned on attending
one of the best race tracks in the USA with my car in real life. Let me start by saying that
holding a controller in your hands does in no way translate to driving skill on a track.
What doing that many laps were doing wasn’t making me better in a real car, what it was
helping me remember corners. Chipping away at the in-game lap time meant I was
remembering the best lines on the track more and more.

So did it translate to anything in real life?

vir e92 m3
Tradd Photos

Driving VIR for Real This Time

So I spent a month determining how much faster I was getting by lap times in Forza, but I
will immediately tell you I was not going to be comparing any lap time to real life. My article
idea is how comfortable the game would make me for the track not how fast am I
compared to the video game and there are several reasons for this.

First of, this was an open track session. Tons of traffic and I can only pass with a point-by.
On the same importance level, there are no trophies for setting the fastest track lap at an
open track session. I know some people seem to drive like there is a trophy to earn, but I
drive at 7/10ths my skill level max at any track day. So now that you know just how hard I
drive during a track day, the question you are looking for an answer to. Just how
comfortable does a video game make you for the track?

I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that driving laps in a racing game that has a track
you are going to drive on are one of the most valuable things you can do. When your track
isn’t in a game, of course, you have to rely on track maps, and in the more recent years
YouTube videos. I highly recommend booting up your favorite racing game like say Forza
Motorsport and driving some laps.

Even though I said I wasn’t gunning for the best lap time, I did want to know generally how
fast I was going. I was running the BMW M Laptimer app through my BMW iDrive, that is
how you see the VIR track map displayed on my navigation screen. The lap times it
provided me didn’t much compare with the actual video time of say one corner and
coming back to that corner. The BMW M Laptimer was saying my best time was in the 2
min 30-second ballpark, while watching this footage even with traffic and not going
10/10ths it is more in the 2 min 15 seconds to 2 min 20-second range. Check out the
footage anyway regardless of what the speed was, you can see the vibe of someone
comfortable driving the track and I attribute that comfort level to the homework I did in a
video game:


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