Reader Submission #29 – From a Noob’s Eyes PART II

At the beginning of the summer, received a Reader Submission from Shane S., describing his time playing racing simulations as someone on the lesser side of the experience spectrum. Shane felt a bit defeated due to how difficult these games can be from a newcomer, and wondered if it was worth continuing his journey. I tried to give as much advise as I could, as I also started out playing these games really young.

We’ve got an update from him.

iRacingSim64 2013-03-07 21-23-29-74Two months ago I wrote an article about my teenage noobish sim racing qualities and how I asked about whether or not I should quit. Well, all I gotta say is thank you very much for the advice and tips, I think it helped me out a little bit in terms of confidence and I’ve become a bit more competitive in some of the online league races since I wrote that article, so I guess something is working.

Anyways, at the end of June I decided to say fuck it and give iRacing a shot. It was surprisingly easy to convince my parents of letting me try out a game with a subscription service, their reasoning for allowing me to try it was that motorsports is expensive and that we would never be able to afford the necessities of doing actual professional racing, so iRacing was basically the only way I’d ever be able to even have some kind of “career” in racing. I guess that makes sense, and I know other friends my age who have had similar situations with their parents like that. The closest thing to real racing in my area is indoor karting, but I’ve only gone twice because it’s expensive just to log laps, but let’s move on…

So it turned out my “state of the art” steering wheel, the Speedlink DarkFire Racing Wheel actually wasn’t too bad as I thought it would be with the game. I mean, as long as I could hold the street stock together on ovals, then I thought I should be fine. I spent a few days logging laps at Charlotte and USA International as someone told me once about the ovals in this game: “do not do a single race until you can do 30 laps at least by yourself without an accident”. Well after I got to that point, I mustered up the courage to sign up for a race at Charlotte.

Now keep in mind I’m well aware of the shenanigans of rookie street stocks. already gave me a written scoop and various YouTube videos also was an eye opener for me. So, I knew what to expect. My goal for the most part was to stay in the back and pick off positions and try to avoid wrecks to the best of my noobish abilities.

The race went better than I thought it would, but I knew I still had some work. The only accident I caused was when I was battling an Australian who had a tendency to block and I misjudged the front of my car and spun him out. After that happened he replied in good ol’ Aussie fashion with “Shane, you’re a cock”. Five laps later he retaliated and took me out. I limped the car home 5th and that was the only time I caused someone to spin the entire month, so lesson learned… I guess…

Experiencing first hand of the cesspool known as Rookie Street Stocks will be an experience I’ll never forget, that’s for sure, and honestly I was looking forward to USA once the week had concluded as that track was a lot more fun to me than flat out Charlotte. I already despise wide open tracks as it is in NR2003, so I was curious for more skill based racing. During my fifteen races on Charlotte, I managed to get a best finish of 3rd about four times. Most of the wrecks I got involved were bad luck, believe me I used my brakes and used the smoke for clues when wrecks happened, but there is only so much you can do. My safety rating would get as high as 2.73 and then plummet to 2.57 after a bad streak of races  

Once we went to USA International, I was starting to perform quite well. Street Stocks at USA is a blast, not too difficult to drive and with the right people, provides some really good racing. I wasn’t very fast, about four tenths off the pace, but I still managed to find some good battles with people with my skill level and I became a big scrapper when it came to finishes.

Many times I started 14th and wound up in the top ten or top five just by keeping my nose clean and focusing on keeping the car straight and tidy. Soon my safety rating started climbing big time and now all of a sudden the addiction started setting in, I rarely play a game this many times, usually three hours in I stop playing the game and never touch it again for months. I was having fun, frustrating and satisfactory fun but still fun nonetheless. I think I was pretty fortunate compared to others as I got into a lot of rooms with people who weren’t assholes and were generally nice to one another. Though I will say the best battles on track I had were against girls/women, which I think is kinda sad but hey as long he/she races me fine then whatever.

After a lot of races I managed to win my first race against a rather lackluster field. There wasn’t a single Class D driver and I got put in the Top 3 in qualifying because no one qualified I guess. The field of strength was very low, like around 900 I believe and it was the lowest I’ve ever been in. After I won the race in somewhat dominating fashion, I was promoted to Class D oval and I was very proud of that moment. I did buy the NASCAR K&N car but this is where I started to see for myself about how expensive iRacing gets once you’re out of Rookie class. So after I got promoted I for the most part stopped playing and let my 1 month subscription run out. I guess getting to Class D was enough for me for now until I decide to pay a few more months.

So all in all, I got what I was expecting and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be I’ll admit, but….the big kicker for me is the price tag obviously. My family is pretty stable compared to others, but I really can’t see why everything is so expensive. I mean some of these tracks are like 2-4 years old , you’d think they would lower the prices after a while as most of the people who wanted a certain track would have bought it by now because it’s been on the schedule countless times. Sorry if I sound like I’m bitching, and maybe I’m just being selfish and inconsiderate of their business strength, but it’s still quite insane. The prices for the cars are fine I guess but I wouldn’t mind them being a bit cheaper. Perhaps I should try out ARCA Sim Racing X again some time, that game was alright just couldn’t get used to the handling. However…..I did make an upgrade.

Using birthday/Christmas money I never bothered to use, I bought a Driving Force GT. Well, I will say this wheel has definitely helped me out a little bit, this wheel unlike the others is actually fun to use and I can actually race a lot more tracks with no assists because of it. i have only used it for NR2003 and kinda tested it on iRacing as well, but I found it to my liking. It hasn’t really made me that faster and yes I know the notion of “A racing wheel doesn’t make you better” is very much true to some people, but I like it.

Though, I think I’ll need to find a way to race with it not on my lap…..

NR2003 2014-04-20 15-09-51-82I ran my first NR2003 league race when I was thirteen years old. I think this was back in the spring of 2005 – NR2003 was huge at that time and NNRacing was buzzing with activity; guys were starting up leagues every other week. My first race was at Texas driving as a teammate to a guy named Mike Henry Jr., and I think the league was run by a guy named Rob Belles. Qualified second and a couple wrecks dropped me down to fifth. By the end of the season when we went to Charlotte, I avoided three or four wrecks to finish second, and because it was the final race of the season, it was a packed house. So I definitely get what it’s like to be really goddamn young in a field full of people twice your age, playing a game not intended for your age group. Half the fun of running the Jailbait liveries on iRacing was a nod to that – I was young enough where those girls weren’t actually off limits to me.

iRacing is great for people like you, because it has online organization elements you won’t find in any other game that encourage you to get better, and you won’t be fast enough (not a knock, just telling it like it is) to poke holes in the driving physics. The reason you’ll see myself and others on shit on iRacing is because when you’re competing at the highest level, you’re not just an incredibly quick driver, you’re finding new ways to exploit the game because that’s the only way to separate yourself from the competition. It’s no different than playing community sports. The higher you progress through the ranks of minor hockey, the more actual strategy and coaching matters, and the more aggressive your opponents get. The only difference is that with iRacing, the strategy almost always revolves around shortcomings in the tire model or broken suspension geometry rather than running a smart race and using tactics you’ve picked up from watching the real thing on weekends.

You are indeed correct about the pricing being a bit absurd. With allegedly 80,000 active members, all the people who had even a passing curiosity in iRacing have already signed up by now, and there’s really no reason to have such ludicrous prices for the remaining few trickling through the doors. Starting out as a new guy with no content, the price of running a single twelve week season on iRacing in a car you don’t own can, at the minimum, cost $143. You can pick up three console games from Best Buy for that amount, four or five console games from GameStop, and if you’re a hipster like me, fourteen PS2 games (all of which retailed for $60 at launch) from a store that sells older generation games.

That’s an insane amount for only a partial amount of content in a game that’s on-par or worse than NASCAR Racing 2003 Season. Aside from the now horribly outdated Force Feedback and wheel support, NR2003 still kicks all kinds of ass.

I personally use a Driving Force GT with G27 pedals (you can mix and match all kinds of products with the Bodnar cable). The Driving Force GT is a killer wheel and has held up for a little over three years now – and I bought it used for $70. The big thing to remember with that wheel is to keep the Force Feedback lowered to something on-par with a passenger car. That way, the internal components will last a lot longer and when you eventually start driving in real life, it’ll feel the same as all the PC sims you’ve been playing and you won’t shit your pants when getting your license.

As for mounting, get your dad to rig up something like this:

2015-08-08 11.06.40The desk barely comes up to my knees, and it’s literally just a board screwed into the bottom of the table that extends the DFGT out into your lap. This lets me use the lawn chair as a Canadian Tire-tier sim seat, and the overall posture kind of replicates the seating position of a sportsman Stock Car. Long races are super comfy in this thing. It just looks like ass. Also, I can put my feet on the subwoofer if I’m cold.

I think that takes care of everything, hopefully our readers will be able to drop even more advice for you. I still need to eat breakfast.


18 thoughts on “Reader Submission #29 – From a Noob’s Eyes PART II

  1. James, I know you dig oval racing, and you’ve made it abundantly clear that you don’t get your oval fix via iRacing, so where do you race? I see your name on the leader boards on ARCA, are you planning on hopping back in?

    I value your opinion, believe it or not, as you’re a fast fucker with a head on his shoulders that can see through all the PR bullshit that most modern sims shit out daily nowadays….

    I spend most of my time in ARCA nowadays for MY oval fix, based on YOUR recommendation. I dig it, but where are you?

    There’s a few other leagues I’ve dipped the ol’ proverbial foot into that show some strong promise (namely XSTSR – “Extreme short track sim racing” series based on the 2015 Super modified mod for rFactor), but I’d like to know what Mr. Cynical (meant in the most endearing way possible) himself recommends…

    Where do you spend your free time as of late?

    Maybe an article on what series you race and why is in order?


    1. ASX is good on short tracks and road courses. Pretty damn disappointed with the Superspeedway and Speedway physics.

      Next league will be with Reiza’s V8 Supercars, probably on RD or TPS.

      Most of the time I’m like everyone else, jumping from game to game every other night. Been playing a lot of Dirt to Daytona on Dolphin, that’ll be my next full review. You’ll see why when it’s published.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fair enough… I hate Superspeedways in general, so I avoid them like the plague in any sim.

        I am SOOOOOOO wanting to do an honest play-through of D2D. I tried it on PCSX2 and just can’t get it to look as pretty as some of the youtube videos I see, so I kinda gave up on it. I’m unfamiliar with Dolphin so I’m psyched to see your settings and whatnot.

        Why the fuck can’t a developer put out a game like that nowadays? If D2D “remastered” was released on PC I could easily see myself spending all my free time for the foreseeable future in it… Hell I’d even buy up all the (inevitable) DLC packs…


        1. Hmm, let’s see if I can remember off the top of my head without consulting the statistics.

          Won two races at Sonoma, one in Cup, one in ARCA.

          Quit out of a Truck race at Richmond (track model is just awful). Quit out of a Cup race at Iowa (nearly wide open at Iowa? Why?). Ran practice laps in a Cup car at New Hampshire, put the car at the top of the leaderboard, didn’t run the race because I didn’t have time. Wrecked out of a Truck race at Daytona (welcome to plate racing). Quit out of an ARCA race at Daytona (lost the draft after a round of pit stops, wasn’t going to catch up, why be a moving pylon?).

          7 starts, 2 wins, 5 DNF’s. Probably could have won New Hampshire to make it 3 wins but ehhh.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I have to say, I prefer the v8 supercars in GSCE beta over anything I’ve tried in rf2.

        There’s something funny about rf2 imo… It feels like everything is running soft sidewalls and has worn out suspension and subframe bushings. When I try to recreate the feeling of a car with decent suspension and stiff sidewall z-rated, I end up with ridiculously high tire pressure and a bad contact patch.

        I’m sure this opinion would be unpopular with a good number of people. Perhaps it’s simply down to my input hardware, though I even visually see what seems to be an excessive amount of play/give. Everything feels too much like a road car imo. I’m just glad Reiza hit their goal and keep getting more funding.

        Anyways, if and when you do some more league races, try to get some recordings on here for us.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Can’t wait for that James. I played D2D back in the day but can’t get my wheel working via a PS2 emulator to play it on PC. Is that how you’re playing it? Sorry, not familiar with Dolphin


  2. James, don’t go into defensive mode here. Just don’t do it, it’d easier than you’d think. I suffer from BPD myself, and have had some “issues” (don’t we all, BPD or not?) as of late with going into full blown, FUCK YOU mode….

    Trust, me, we love you either way. That’s why we’re commenting on your hate-filled blog (love ya buddy).

    You’re a good guy, one that we look up to. Honesty is key here. You run the blog, YOU’RE the man in charge, and we’re all commenting on YOUR articles. That’s enough win for me to nod my head in approval 😉

    Now… I just wanna know where your racing so I can beat your ass 🙂


  3. That said, ARCA does have some bad tracks. I raced at Las Vegas last week and it was ridiculous. Half the field quit out because of motherfucking abnormal push… I was almost one, but I hung in there for a P5 finish (10th in qual)…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t recall any chronic understeer, but that general “wow this isn’t very good” mentality the field displayed in your Vegas race is basically how I felt in a lot of races. Short tracks and road courses it’s fine though.


  4. That dickhead blocking shouldn’t complain if he can’t hold a bump/mild pit.

    That retaliation was pretty funny, looked like he ended his own race while you held it and kept going.

    You’ll be fine in any sim you decide to race in. Some of the other iracing drivers? Not so much.

    I would expect the new wheel to make you a bit faster and definitely more consistent. There’s a big difference in input range. Add the g series pedals as James suggests (again, a simple matter of input range) and you’re set.


    1. He wasn’t really blocking, it’s standard to drive the inside line there so he wasn’t making an ‘extra move’ or something, just turning in as usual. The SS at Charlotte can’t run as fast on the outside, so people are pretty aggressive with the inside, one of those things you have to get used to.


  5. James, James…

    What the fuck is Canadian Tire? I followed the link and it looks like an anomalous combination of auto parts and general department store.


      1. Hmm, looks considerably more developed than o’reilly.

        They just showed up here recently and seem to offer basically the same stuff as every other auto part store did before them. No parts for me, no 3M wax… Just a bunch of knockoff refurb parts with noticeably inferior aluminium casting.

        As you probably know, I’m in the Raleigh, NC area. Maybe we are getting a rubbish version of O’Reilly or something. The only decent autoparts stores in this area are independent.


  6. Tried ARCA after PRC ravings some weeks ago and after a brief spell at Sonoma deleted it. The graphics looked like Minecraft to me and as a result did not give it much time as the look and feel was out of 1990’s. Got NR2003 and GPL deja vu – great sims which gave me immense pleasure over ten years ago – but we have moved on… To me ARCA appears to be stuck in the NR2003 era and honestly there is better stuff out there – GSCE V8 Stockcars are superb if you into tintops or the (little known?) McLaren M23 mod for Assetto – both are good graphically and blast to drive


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