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What makes a SimRacer?

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Greetings everyone,

My name is Sean "Saieno" Chano and I've recently taken an interest in simulation racing. I wouldn't call myself a simulation racer as I haven't really raced in a simulation with a wheel, but I love to race and have a passion for going fast. When I was younger I used to race karts and dirt bikes with my father, but when he stopped caring I moved onto video games.

I remember the first racing game I played on the NES called RC Racer, which was really a simple RC Car Racing game. I played everything I could, and the faster the better. F-Zero, Wipeout, Need for Speed, I played them all constantly while Gran Turismo just didn't interest me very much. Now many people would classify me as a gamer, as I play video games and racing games instead of simulations, and with a controller to boot. I would have to wonder about this sentiment and it's probably because I'm not a simulation racer, I'm just a racer in general.

I guess I really started getting into simulation style games when Moto GP on Xbox and XBox Live came out. I didn't really know it was a simulation at the time, as I pretty much treat all racing experiences the same, but it was probably the most time I've spent online talking with other racers and just having a blast. Of course this was still done with me using a controller, but still I had a blast and won lots of races during that time. Fast forwarding to today and there's Gran Turismo 5, iRacing, Forza 3, and Shift 2 among others that are really making simulation racing more general audience friendly, but the only thing holding it back now is the cheaper hardware in my opinion.

Many times I've heard "you're going to need a wheel to play this" and "this is so much better with a wheel". This might all be true, but if you just go out and buy any old cheap wheel you aren't going to enjoy the experience very much. I had purchased a wheel when I was younger, I believe it was from MadCatz, and as you can imagine I didn't have a very good experience. Using a controller or a cheap wheel on a simulation just left a lot to be desired. The simulations ended up being too strange, and not very eventful with the control methods I was using. I found myself having more fun and even being challenged more on Star Wars Episode 1 Racer using the dual controller steering method. It's hard to describe what it was about racing in a simulation with a controller or cheap wheel, but something in the back of my mind was just telling "This doesn't seem right, something is off."

I've watched every ISR episode to date, and Jessica (you're quite lovely by the way), Darin, Shaun, and Tom have really given me the information and experience needed to feel comfortable with the purchases I've made. I'm going into this pretty much blind, as the only wheel experience I have besides an actual car (Not a racing car) is the Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Experience, which I only raced with for about an hour and threw it out. But I figure either go big or go home, and since I'm already home I only have one other option; go big.

I've done months of research and had originally decided on the Logitech G27, but looking at it I figured I would fall into the 'uncanny valley' of sim racing. So I placed an order for the Fanatec Porche 911 GT3 RS wheel, Porche Shifters, Clubsport Pedals, and the Rennsport Wheel Stand along with some accessories. I don't expect these things to make me a better racer, I think you've either got the training and talent or you don't, but I do think (and hope) that these will help simulations feel more realistic.

I want to race, and it's my dream to be in a car on the track in four years, so I've taken a pretty big leap right into the fire. I don't remember where I first heard about iRacing (perhaps Top Gear), but right when I saw what they were doing and the technology behind it I was hooked. I never played NASCAR 2003, and I stopped watching NASCAR when we lost Dale Earnhardt Sr., but iRacing brought me back to the series and got me excited for NASCAR again. That's when I knew that's where I wanted to be, on the track trading paint with Jimmy Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and everyone else on the track. So I decided it was time to get serious.

I'm sure it's a strange concept, and even stranger since I'm just rambling on about plenty I'm sure no one is interested in, but it's something I feel strongly about. Having a wheel doesnt make you a sim racer, and driving a car around a track doesn't make you a racer. The passion and fire to race is what makes you, me, and all of us racers. I hope to use iRacing and the Fanatec products to help me train and one day make my way to NASCAR. And if you have similar dreams as I do, I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors.

I really have to thank SRT for doing what they do, and the hard work they put into the site and show. Without them I really don't think I would have taken the chance to live out my dreams. Thanks Darin Gangi, Shaun Cole, Jessica Lopez, Tom Haake and Shawn Purdy, and of course my girlfriend Destiny who puts up with my crap haha. I'm currently waiting for my equipment to arrive, a bit impatiently which is what spawned this post haha. I really hope I haven't offended anyone in any way, but if I have I deeply apologize. Thanks for reading and hope to see you on the track.

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Welcome to the club! I'm a new simracer myself, having caught the bug bigtime with GT5. Its smart to have researched things before dropping some serious money on this hobby. Over the past 4 months I've bought a G27, Gamepod GT2 rig and a Buttkicker. While I still have a very long way to go before I'd consider myself "good", having the right tools definitely makes the games a lot more enjoyable. With every lap I'm improving little by little.

I've also been reading and watching various race/car programs for tips. Every little bit helps and my times keep improving.

Have fun and maybe we'll see each other on the newbie circuit before too long.

Shawn

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Well I started about 9 years ago with test drive 5 on a keyboard before I owned Nascar Thunder 2003 and 2004. I used NT 2004 racing on a keyboard for about 4 years with assists until getting my logitech momo black. It was like starting over from scratch and then slowly getting away from the assists and adding such sims as GT legends and GTR2! Oh boy!!! It was a big difference from breaking some track records on NT 2004 with a keyboard to basicaly relearning how to drive the right way. I just within the last couple of months purchased the Fanatec GT3 wheel Clubsport pedals and Shifter set and for a couple of weeks it was almost like starting all over again but now I am very happy with my Fanatec products!!! I also have purchased many other sim titles and became totally obcessed when I finally learned about Mods and doing some light editing of my GTR2 sim. There is a universe of material out there and I am a proud supporter of a couple of the sites that offer these materials for download. While I have had much enjoyment with arcade titles such as Race Driver 3, or CRC 2005 your pretty much stuck with the content of the developer. I recommend to any newbies or to you who may be starting over and taking your gaming experience to the next level get good sim gear and sim titles and if all possible bite that lower lip if you can and try simulation settings without assists.

Good Luck and Race On

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Great thread and original post .. No offense at all and as a matter of fact is a great story of you becoming a sim racer.

Looking forward to hearing more from you once you get your gear..

Welcome to sim racing !!

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Nice read and a fun topic too. Much easier than the same old "what is a sim" question that gets boring. LOL

I'd say what makes a sim racer would be:

Game fidelity---the player wants to have what they believe the real car to feel like, from the programming side. Almost as important, access to the controls that the real car has, like paddle shifters where appropriate, H shifter & clutch where appropriate, no assists/blips/autoclutch if the real car doesn't have it.

Technique--you want to learn and hone how you handle each car and track to do it better as a real race driver would.

Suspension of Disbelief--it needs to "feel" like you're driving, not just manipulating a game. A virtual reality of being a racer driver.

I'd say a sim racer's biggest opponent is himself/herself, since betterment is the goal. It doesn't even have to be a race with other cars but constant laps---not for a win or points, but for the satisfaction of honing. Other racers want to win, get points and beat others. Sim racers want to beat themselves, be their current "best" ....but a win at the same time is a great bonus to show progresss.

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Thanks everyone for the great replies! I finally setup everything up (still want to mod the pedals a bit) but here's the current setup I have:

FANATEC Porche 911 GT3 RS

Clubsport Pedals

Porche Shifter

Rennsport Wheel Stand

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It's a heck of a setup, and my next step is to save up for a triple monitor setup and a cockpit (probably an obutto, I just can't afford the GamePOD). Really happy with it and FANATEC, as the packages got here in under a week! Only problem is the Porche H-Pattern Shifter has a sensor problem with the 5th gear, but not sure if its worth sending it back just to get it fixed.

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