A Nice Sim Racing Setup Actually Makes A Huge Difference

Illustration for article titled A Nice Sim Racing Setup Actually Makes A Huge Difference
Photo: Clive Rose (Getty Images)

My husband got into iRacing as something of an afterthought. He wanted to race with his friends, and we’d finally gotten an internet connection (and a computer) capable of streaming a video game. He set up an old wheel and pedals from about a decade ago, and voila: he was racing.

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I think he initially just imagined it being a fun thing he’d do every so often, but the nature of iRacing is competitive: you’re racing against people from all over the world, and your performance has a huge impact on both your safety rating and your iRating—both of which need to meet a specific level in order to improve and maintain your license, which allows you to race certain cars and certain tracks. It’s a whole deal.

So, my husband got sucked in. He joined some leagues, started racing with his friends, and wanted to figure out how he could improve across the board.

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The only problem was, he hit a plateau.

He tried a little bit of everything to make it work. He was constantly calibrating his wheel, making little tweaks to try to find literally any performance, but it just wasn’t happening. His friends were telling him to just push down the pedal more... but he was depressing the accelerator all the way to the floor. Turns out the ol’ Playstation kit from the early 2000s just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

His goal is to have a proper iRacing setup at some point in time, with a nice fancy chair and the big rounded screens. But because we still haven’t bought a house that can accommodate all that shit, I made him a deal. I’d buy him some mid-level stuff for Christmas. So, from a decades-old Playstation wheel set up on a vintage wooden table, we’ve upgraded to:

So, we’re talking about a good thousand bucks Canadian for the whole deal, but that’s about what we’d spend over the summer to attend races, which we haven’t done this year. And considering how long my husband made his previous wheel last, I can imagine this will end up paying for itself over time.

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The benefits have been immediate, though. It took him a few days to figure out how to work his new setup, but once he got it down, he was way more competitive. Instead of qualifying near the rear of the field in his league races, he was up in the top five. He picked up a handful of wins in the Indy Pro series and found his input was reliable across the board for everything else. To put it simply: his sudden increase in speed actually hurt some feelings because the people he regularly raced with expected to find him at the back of the pack.

So, if you’ve been racing on old equipment and wondering how much of a difference some new stuff would make, take this as you sign: it helps quite a bit. You’re probably not making a 10-year-old wheel work like my husband, but still. You can see a tangible difference when you move from that super-cheap wheel you got to just try things out to something actually designed for the task at hand.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

And that right there is the issue with pc games.. after spending a mere 1000 bucks her was able to move up to the front of the pack. Hard to say what a 3 grand setup could get him... come on