VirtualGT Racing Simulator Test Drive
By Khiem Dinh
Khiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing. All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.
Our MotoIQ resident stunt driver extraordinaire Sera sent me a text message, “Wanna drive a bitchin racing simulator at Barrett Jackson this weekend?” Um, YES! She put me in touch with Ian Alexander of VirtualGT. Ian was a driving instructor at the famous DirtFish Rally School and started racing cars about ten years ago. Virtual-E Corporation who makes the VirtualGT simulator brought Ian onboard to help market the product. So off I went to Barrett Jackson to meet up with Ian and VirtualGT creator Paul Stary.
|This is the VirtualGT mobile simulator demonstration truck at the Barrett Jackson show. Yes, you can have them visit you.
I drove the Cruden driving simulator about two years ago (a big motion based simulator on a moving platform controlled by hydraulic actuators) at PRI, and in my honest opinion, the VirtualGT is better because of its design; VirtualGT has unique features that makes it an excellent racing simulator. Paul’s background in car audio, home theater and loudspeaker design is a major contributor to allowing the VirtualGT to replicate the feeling of driving which makes this simulator so good. In order to replicate the real driving experience, the human senses have to be stimulated as closely as possible to how the senses would be stimulated by real driving. One of the most important senses is sound.
|Here you can see a few of the satellite speakers used for the sound system. There are three options for shifting: paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, high-mounted sequential shifter, or the low-mounted H-pattern shifter.
Paul’s background in audio engineering comes into play here. When you are in the driver’s seat of the VirtualGT, you are in the middle of a sound field that completely envelopes you and sounds extremely close. You can also feel the car’s vibration on your feet, hands, and body. A custom Audio Processor is the heart of the system. This feeds a special 9-channel, 500-watt amplifier that drives four satellite speakers, an 8″ carbon fiber subwoofer under the seat and four vibration transducers. The quality of this sound system makes you think you are in the actual car. This thing has more power than any sound system I’ve had in any of my personal cars. This custom engineered sound and vibration system is better than any other simulator that I know of. The quality of this system adds a dimension of realism lacking from other simulators. Just standing next to the VirtualGT gives you some sense of what’s going on. But until you get into the driver’s seat, you can’t appreciate how much this system sounds and feels like you are in a real race car.
|Here is the amplifier rack on the backside of the chassis. Yes, that’s a stainless steel 3″ exhaust for the amplifier fan. Less restriction, more performance! On each corner is a D-BOX actuctor; the actuators help create the sensation of motion by moving the entire chassis.