iRacing

Forget Go Karts! Go iRacing Instead

The gateway for youth racing for those of us born in the 80's and early 90's was mostly go kart racing. Today, forget that stage and go right to a simulator.

Whether it’s legends, go karts, micro-sprints – any form of racing that costs you $15k or under – you should be iRacing like a pro instead.

I totally get if those forms of racing are the only thing you can afford and you want to race in “real life,” but even then you should probably focus on iRacing. It’ll save you tons of dough and you’ll get the same rush/thrill (speaking from someone who raced 10+ years and iRaced the last couple). This article is especially for parents or pre-teen/teenagers who are aspiring race car drivers. If you can afford to do both, do it. If you’re tight on funds, focus on iRacing and save your money for when they’re/you’re 100% prepared and successful in a simulator.

Whenever I race in iRacing and get in a wreck it takes me back to all the times it cost my dad as a kid when I’d wreck. Not to mention the hours following in the garage or under a gas generated light at the foot of our trailer. Man, I felt bad. Always. I remember racing in Winchester, New Hampshire at a dirt track (which is now a Motocross track) in the early 2000’s. I had probably a 1/2 lap lead on the field with two laps to go and knocked the front end out of it when I clipped the wall. It was my first race in a 600cc Mini-Sprint and I was going all out Wild Child style and wasn’t paying attention to my momentum, my marks, I was 15 and getting ahead of myself. All balls.

My dad was more bummed about not winning the race, but it’s never fun to tow in a wrecked car. With iRacing, wreck it all you want, there’s no serious consequences (unless your reckless – your fellow drivers will let you know). The point is… you can try an endless amount of times for no extra cost… and even better, a limitless amount of seat time. Something none of us got the benefit of “back in the day.” The only practice we ever got was running hot laps before we started racing! Well, that’s all changed in today’s racing…

Hemric_Atlanta.iRacing3
NASCAR Xfinity Driver Daniel Hemric showing us a lap around Atlanta Motor Speedway on RCR’s iRacing with the Pros video.

For most race car drivers over 30, iRacing is a really cool new approach to practice, to have fun racing at a smaller cost, and you appreciate it on another level for all the years you didn’t have it. For those under 30 – at least 25 – iRacing is most likely a part of your racing career.

If you race in real life today, and don’t use iRacing, I’m sorry you’re behind the ball. You’re missing seat time, practicing scenarios, and getting yourself prepared. If I did it all over again, I would get into iRacing, and take it seriously before spending the big bucks to race in “real life.” I would be practicing tirelessly, and regardless of what you drive, they have what you need to provide a similar car/surface to assist you.

Why is the simulator so important to master before moving into a real race car?

Because today’s racing is all about technology. When I was a kid go-kart racing we reviewed our lap times (which we thought was progressive), now it’s all about telemetry and studying steering, gas, and brake (clutch and gear for road course) inputs. I spoke with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Stewart Friesen on my first episode of RacingDude.com’s Podcast this past week. In the episode he spoke about the technology that’s now accessible in dirt track racing to study telemetry, and most importantly for him in his new venture in NASCAR, studying teammates inputs and telemetry around the track, comparing it to his own efforts. In iRacing – you can do all of this right from your computer, at hardly any cost. You can thrust yourself into racing school, knowing exactly what it takes to race at every level from a intellectual standpoint – gaining maturity around the sport – something I and so many from a previous generation lacked when we first hopped in a go-kart or car.

Using things like the Z1 Dashboard or Virtual Racing School, you can study your telemetry each time out, or from team mates you have formed on iRacing.

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 12.15.34 PM
Virtual Racing School is software for iRacing that allows you to study the best drivers on the service as well as your own practice sessions, qualifying, and race efforts.

There hasn’t been an iRacing only driver who has been sponsored or funded by an actual race team to come from iRacing into the physical world to race for them. I have a feeling we’re not far off from that. It’s been close with a few examples, but everyone that’s come off the service to drive in a major series also has real life experience. I believe there is a possibility in the near future of someone funding a young, major talent on the iRacing service to come into real life racing.

 

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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