iRacing, rFactor, Dirt3, Fanatec, F3… welcome to SimRacing

A week ago, I’d never heard of the term “sim racing”. Sure, I’d have made a reasonable guess at what is was, but if someone had asked me to estimate just how far simulated motorsports has moved on since I was an avid TOCA racing driver on the PC back in 1997 (!), and had they asked me to put money on it… I’d have lost a lot more than I’ve spent since stumbling across insideSimRacing.tv.

Yeah, thinly veiled confession in there: I’ve spent more money on toys. 😦

I’m finding the whole area pretty interesting at the moment. This could be a life-changing event in the grand scheme of things or it could just be another expensive fad… the odds are 50/50. Either way, it’s time for the obligatory “record the moment before it disappears forever” post.

The story starts with Dirt3. I pre-ordered the game ages ago, almost cancelled it after being thoroughly disappointed with Need for Speed Shift 2 but then decided Dirt 3 was at least worth a shot as the reviews looked promising. Dirt 3 arrived on release day – a Friday. I forgot about it and left it at work! Collected it on Saturday as I was in the area (notice: no special trip – I really wasn’t that bothered). Got home. Deliberated. Opened the game. Sat. Sighed. Fired up the PS3. Insert the disc. Play… OMG!

Dirt3 was REALLY good fun, looked good and felt surprisingly realistic! 🙂 I had so much fun playing Dirt 3 that I recommended it to colleagues and bought the Logitech Driving Force GT wheel (from Argos – substantially cheaper than Amazon in this case) to get an even more realistic experience. Here’s the wheel in a distinctly makeshift “sim racing rig”.

Driving Force GT wheel in use playing iRacing game Lotus 79 cockpit

I didn’t do much research before buying the wheel – I bought it mainly ‘cos a petrolhead at work recommended it. It came with PC drivers so I thought I’d try it on the PC. Bought the PC version of Dirt 3 – it was okay but I found the game much harder with the steering wheel on the PC and besides, I didn’t want to play through it twice.

My mouth started watering at the thought of more driving sims.. I dusted off Gran Turismo 5 and sure enough the Logitech wheel breathed a whole new lease of life into that game. In the excitement I rushed to order Forza Motorsport 3 Ultimate Edition (which, by the way, hasn’t arrived yet) and this is where the wheels of my utopian dream began to wobble.

The Logitech Driving Force wheel doesn’t work on the Xbox. None of the Logitech wheels work on the Xbox due to a licensing issue!!

I started searching high and low for solutions to this self-created problem and in the midst of this exploration I happened across insideSimRacing.TV review of a Fanatec GT wheel and BOOM! the doors of the SimRacing world burst open. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve added cliff notes as a separate post.

And now…

I’ve been driving in the iRacing sim for a few days, watching their driving school videos and reading posts on the forum. I might just watch the televised race tonight  that starts at 10pm. I spent 4 hours today learning the Mclaren Atlas Express software and working out how to read basic telemetry data. Using the tool I managed to shave .2 seconds off my  time on a tiny .5km oval course (Oxford Plains, driving the Lotus 79) so that’s a start!

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