Why Sim Racers Take It So Serious
By, Ryan Williams
Somewhere it's race day for a select few. Those few pour their hearts out each and every opportunity given to prove them to be better than their competitors. From gutsy late race dive-bombs to green, white, checkered, the drivers on any given race day are extremely committed, yet they aren't exactly risking life-and-limbs to compete. This is because these driver's aren't behind the wheel of an actual car but rather sitting behind a computer desk in their underwear hogging down cheese puffs and racing a simulator online against others.
Every day, thousands of sim racing leagues across the globe are hosting structured and organized online races in numerous platforms ranging from Iracing to rFactor to Grand Prix Legends. The competition is fun and challenging, proving more than just racing against a few AI cars in a video game. But why exactly is sim racing such a serious and addicting hobby? The answer is simple: it's cheap.
Sure great gaming computers and various steering wheel controllers can add up, but compared to actually competing behind the wheel of an actual car it's the only way to realistically exercise the desire to become a racecar driver. The experience may be hard to compare, but there's not that many people who can afford an extra car along with parts and various other fees to go racing every Saturday night at the local short track. They can, however, shell out a hundred bucks on a steering wheel controller and join a league for the sim of choice and race every Saturday night there. It's a form of satisfaction where those bit with the 'racing bug' can pretend to be racecar drivers every week. But prospectively, sim racing highlights a bigger problem with racing today: money.
It'd be hard to find a sim racer who does not want to be a professional racecar driver. To think that there's not a diamond in-the-ruff out there within a league who could be the next Jeff Gordon or Michael Schumacher isn't being very open-minded. Studies have shown sim racers to have both better motoring skills and overall reflexes than the average person by a long-shot. Apparently remembering various braking points and the spacial awareness around your sim car relates directly to real life. The point is, unless you have a famous last name, a good deal of money, or sponsorship backing you, the chances of the average Joe making it in professional racing is not very good.
But luckily municipal funding is not a requirement in sim racing, nor is age or gender. While the rich continue to get richer, and the poor stay poor, sim racing provides that rare satisfaction for people. Whether it'd be a serious league with prize money, or just a for-fun league, sim racing is the perfect hobby for those who desire the feeling of competition involved with racing. But that's not to say sim racers can't make it.
Known as the Alien on Iracing, Gregger Huttu constantly demolished the competition in various sim racing open wheel events for quite some time. His domination was enough for him to be given the opportunity to drive an actual open wheel car at Road Atlanta. Surely, without sim racing he would have probably never had the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of a racecar and do laps as fast as he could, but that's the beauty of sim racing.
So sure, some don't take the hobby as serious as others, but everyone gets their satisfaction. From racing on the high banks of Daytona to the 174 bends of the Nürburgring, sim racing gives people a chance that would otherwise likely never come otherwise.