Project Sim Racer: Part 2 – Let’s Go Racing!

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rFactor was excellent about flags, honestly. Just like in real life, when faster drivers were approaching from the rear I got a blue-flag notification on screen, and occasionally saw a corner worker with a blue, or a yellow (when I messed up).

I qualified mid-pack and the race involved a standing start. I was surprised by the start because there was no real indication that the green had dropped. Then, as is to be expected with a mix of skill levels, I got collected in the hairpin (turn 11) and bounced off the wall.

This particular series had race damage turned down, so what would have likely been a weekend-ender in real life was just a minor fender bender.

Unfortunately for me, I did not understand the pit strategy for this race series at all, and, due to my slowness and other fun stuff, I ended up finishing well down in the standings. But, let me tell you, even though this was a “game”, I was in full-on adrenaline mode. It could have been real life for all my mind and body were concerned. I was sweaty, panicked, excited, and focused. In fact, leading up to the race event, I found it was a really bad idea to practice at night even several hours before bedtime. It just left me too wired.

It took intense concentration and dedication to keep the car on the track, especially during the race. The curbing was like ice with the Megane, and I found myself pointing the wrong way on track more than once despite my best efforts. But even that was a form of realism that was greatly appreciated. It felt real. There was a penalty for a mistake. The Logitech G920 steering wheel told you what was going on. Banging the gears with the paddle shifters was a thrill.

While the online racing experience with rFactor 2 is quite decentralized, there are a lot of options and choices out there from formula cars to endurance racing series and more. A lof of the series are free to participate in, or ask for a small donation. Some require payment or a subscription. It may take you some effort to find something you’re interested in, but, once you do, you will be rewarded. Or, just get some friends together and host your own server — you can do that, too.

Overall, rFactor 2 is an extremely immersive and heavily customizable simulator. There is something for everyone. I tried to use the Corvette C6, a mostly “normal” car with similar-ish characteristics to Project SC300, on tracks that I have been to in real life. Barber Motorsports Park, Lime Rock, and others all felt extremely familiar to me.

The one drawback, if there was one, is that my poor little Geforce 660 Ti graphics card was not capable of driving the amazing Predator X34 monitor at its full resolution with the highest graphics settings. I had to turn the dials down quite a bit to be able to play the game at the full 3440×1440 resolution. Or, turn down the resolution. Or, in the future, change my display setup.

If only Project SC300 could be in the simulator, I could really see how this would be an extremely valuable training tool. Maybe I can pay someone to model it…

 

Next: iRacing

 

The iRacing.com home page.

iRacing is the product of several decades of team experience in building and shipping driving simulation software. Constructed out of the development groups that built titles like NASCAR Racing 2003, the iRacing team is no stranger to performance driving “games”. Interestingly, iRacing has some of the most “gamey” elements (when compared to rFactor), but that is for a reason which you will soon see.

In stark contrast to rFactor 2, iRacing is a “pay to play” experience in every sense of the phrase. iRacing charges a monthly access fee to use the software. Prices start at $13 for a month-to-month subscription, with discounts for longer terms. Sales are frequently offered.

With your basic subscription you get access to a few cars and tracks.

 

13 vehicles including some circle-track cars and a range of road cars of varying performance levels.

All vehicles in iRacing are fully licensed. The selection is quite interesting, from the MX-5 Miata (NC/ND) to protoypes and open-wheel racers and more.

 

14 tracks are provided in the base package as well.

A wide array of additional tracks and vehicles can be purchased for one-time nominal fees. Cars are $11.95 and tracks are from $11.95 to $14.95. The selection of both circle-track and road-car content is very interesting. iRacing has recently introduced both dirt track racing as well as finalized an official Porsche licensing deal to offer the 911 GT3 Cup car.

A really great array of world-class racing circuits are available for use in the game, and the racing series (detailed shortly) visit quite a few of them.

Want to drive in a new series with different cars and tracks? iRacing makes it easy to load up your cart with content and get it all purchased. Volume discounts for purchases like these are available, as well. 

 

My personal racer profile page.

Again, in stark contrast to rFactor 2, iRacing is an extremely centralized experience. In fact, not only does everything go through their central servers, but they also keep track of every single time you drive or compete. And, as a product of that, every racer is given what is referred to as an iRating as well as a Safety Rating. What are the significance of these?

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