I hope you are all safe and well out there? Or, to be more specific, I guess – in there.
With all racing cancelled due to Covid-19 (you might have heard of it), if you haven’t switched on to all the brilliant sim racing that is being broadcast, you really are missing out. Many ‘real drivers’ have switched to sims for their first time ever to try and get some of that buzz back. And you know what? It works!
Me? Well, I last did a blog on iRacing years ago. In fact I let my subscription run out and hadn’t played it for around 3 years.
Mainly because my internet connection wasn’t good enough, so I’d get my laptop hooked up to the TV, plug in the wheel and pedals, fluff up a few pillows, and then on the first lap of the race my connection would drop out, no times would be recorded, and my game ratings just took a dive every time…
Add to that a not insubstantial monthly fee, and that was that.
But despite having most of the other racing sims, I still knew iRacing was the one I really wanted to be playing. The one that was most rewarding to race against others on.
I signed up for one month for $15, as tax is now included. That’s a crazy increase!
My first impressions (after a few hours of downloads and updates) were that the tyres felt much more realistic – especially on braking where they’d nailed the floaty feeling before it locks up.
I’d also forgotten how to drive the sim, and my safety rating took a clattering, along with some more disconnection issues…
But I reset my brain again. I started driving like Miss Daisy and put the racing line back on. I did a load of Time Trials with just me on track, so I could lap consistently without going off track without overdriving the car everywhere.
I concentrated on the Skip Barber and Mazda MX5 only. The Skippy is the closest the game has to a Formula Vee, and feels great. The MX5 is much less forgiving, and will swap ends frustratingly quickly, but the actual racing you get is brilliant.
I’m trying to get my C Grade licence back, so will literally start the race slowly and keep out of everyone’s way to let them pass me through the first few turns. Assuming they’ve still not taken me out, I then drive a few slow laps, and half the field will crash on their own or in tangles. I then just cruise through and normally end up in the top 5 just through consistency.
If someone is catching you by 2 seconds per lap, just let them through. You’ll gain a lot more by avoiding the incident points for contact and following them to see how they’re faster.
Honestly, all you want to do is stay out of everyone’s way and even if you finish last as long as you have no incident points your rating will climb and you’ll be put into races with more careful drivers.
Do that a few times and you’ll find yourself leading races and THEN you can start to enjoy it all.
I’ve definitely got the bug again, so will be taking out a full year subscription.
I also remembered a few essentials for people using their laptop and basic equipment:
Plug into your router with a top quality (class 8) ADSL cable, and do not use a WiFi connection.
Use the lowest graphics setting. I have a very high spec laptop, but it’s still only barely good enough…
Lower the screen resolution slightly to get more FPS (frames per second).
You need a custom desktop PC if you want it to look pretty, but you can still do it if you have limited space and just a laptop and your TV screen.
So I’m still building my skills up again, but loving it for a few hours a day. I might even try some oval racing – or the new dirt oval and rallycross that’s now in the game.
If you’re on it, feel free to add me as a friend – I’m called ‘James Cater’ weirdly enough.
I bet you’ll enjoy it, once you’ve slogged your way out of the crash-happy Rookie series!
Did you know that Motorsport UK licence holders get 3 months of iRacing for free? Click the link in the Members Benefits section of your account and they’ll send you a code in an email.
As someone already paying for iRacing, I tried this and the code did not work – I’ve queried this with Motorsport UK to see if it’s for first time members only, or if it will work when my sub runs out…
Also, there is an e-racing championship being organised by Motorsport UK and iZone for all licence holders, with analyses and stuff all free for you! You need to sign up to the league before Monday 25th May (tomorrow!!!) ideally, or you won’t be guaranteed a space. The link in the last mag is wrong, so go here to sign up: www.bit.ly/izone-esports