Going Sim Racing 101
Former SKUSA SuperPro driver and Pro Am Motocross racer goes sim racing. Getting my first taste of sim racing in July of 2022. Staring with basically a G29 Logitech setup; with a MVH formula mod steering wheel and pedals, was quite special. Please enjoy the read and hope you enjoy your sim racing experiences. Take your time there is a competition level from the rookie to experienced sim veteran.
Steering Wheel & Pedals
Check your specs when buying your wheel and pedals as not all will work with your console, as sometimes they are console specific. Most will work on PC however that may not always be the case.
COMPETITION IS TOUGH
My first experience with sim racing was on F1 2021 on the PS4 Pro. Wanting so much growing up to race formula cars; this was a dream come true. A couple surprises. Even though I've competed with motocross champions and a F1 Driver in my karting days, and beaten some Indy Drivers as a team at indoor national karting event; the level of competition can't compare to online. There are 100K to 250,000+ drivers competing at any given time trial. I've since switched to the F1 2022 sim/game. My best single lap so far is just edging inside the top 1,000 on the time trials. F1 2022 is a tougher drive because the cars spin out a touch easier and the cars are little slower then F1 2021.
Hard to describe how tough the competition is. "Demoralizing for some, just too tough!"
However, this may give new users or those thinking about getting into on track racing to think about going sim racing first. In on track racing I set three track records, had the quickest time at full road size course in any type of vehicle, and at my first SCCA solo event I captured the time of the day. Now in sim racing I struggle to get into the top 75% right out of the gate. With practice, I can work my way up to the top 20% and maybe at times at certain tracks edge into the top 5% or even top 1%, which literally still leaves thousands quicker then my times. SIM Racing is tough! If you think you are going to be the quickest it might be frustrating. Working on improving personal lap times can bring great enjoyment for most!
NEAR ON TRACK EXPERIENCE
Second surprise is how realistic it is. Ranging anywhere from a desktop setup for $500 to four figure, five figure or even a six figure setup on Youtube. The realism and immersion you can get in sim racing is very similar to on track racing in many ways.
The amount of feedback you get through the wheel and the force it takes to turn the wheel is very life like. You can feel when the car is pushing or even losing the rear end through the wheel. If you have a motion rig then you can really feel the car get loose before compared to a setup without motion, allowing you to get a few saves you maybe wouldn't get without a motion rig setup.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT SIM RACING
How much time do you have to sim race.
Nice thing about the consoles like Playstation 4/5 or XBOX ONE/S you don't have to change many settings and everything generally works right out of the box. With PC things may not work right out of the box on all your components. However the advantage with PC is you could get better frame rates (depending on your PC), also settings can be tailored more to your suiting. You can have exterior lighting that matches the game, can have a motion rig, more sim titles, like iRacing. It takes a lot of time and study to setup a PC with a sim racing system. This also can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on each individual.
Basically it comes down to convenience vs performance. Console or PC.
On console the ceiling of immersion is much much lower because the lack of support for peripherals. PSVR2 is going to change the the battle of choice a bit as you will have a fully immersive option from a visual standpoint with Grand Turismo 7 now which really helps close the gap as on of the big upsides of PC is triple screens or more/vr support. Generally you can get more seat time with console then pc because the amount of time you save tinkering with settings.
Another game changer, having motion with GT7 without a PC. The gap of console and PC is closing.
One person said they kind of liken the experience to android (PC) vs Apple (console). With the former being way more customizable and the later being easier to use & generally more stable. As android much like PC has to work across countless platforms where Apple only has to work across select purpose built phones / hardware much like Sony & Microsoft with their consoles.
On the low extreme you could buy or build a small desk or have a desk at home already and mount your steering wheel to it and pedals can at times be placed on floor, preferably you want them so they won't move under force like braking or on the throttle/gas. You may at times find some steering wheels occasionally at your Goodwill or thrift stores. Usually very low end which could lead to a pleasant experience or frustrating depending on your level of driving capabilities.
Most sim rigs are generally setup by the driver anywhere from pre fabricated rigs that you assemble to home built out of PVC, wood, aluminum, steel you name it as long as it's sturdy. Pictured here a full motion rig setup with quad screens with a VR option.