The Community Assisted Q&A Session

As part of our 215,000 hits celebration, on Friday we opened the floor to all readers, trolls, and haters of and let you bombard us with questions. Some shit obviously got omitted at the eleventh hour, but Chris, Myself, and the rest of the gang tried to answer as many questions as we possibly could.

We told you we’d have it up by Sunday night after the Sprint Cup race, so here it is:

NR2003 2014-03-29 17-09-43-69If there was one thing you could change about the Brazilian V8 Stock Car, what would that be?

 James: Well I can’t really suggest changes since Reiza did a solid job of replicating what’s essentially a knock-off DTM car built to be affordable for Brazilians. My main complaints are that it was too light & twitchy, so I guess it would be nice if the car was made a bit heavier, and it flat-out sucked driving behind someone because the lack of air going over the car made it hella twitchy – so I guess increasing weight would solve that problem as well because it would stabilize the car in all situations. Push to pass needs to die a fiery death though. It’s fun among a group of people when you’re all just learning the car, but it’s shit in a competitive environment. You know what happens when you use P2P to get by someone? They use P2P to re-pass you once your boost period ends, and then you’re both in the same positions as you were in a minute ago. No strategic value, absolutely pointless.

Any track suggestions for a Brazilian Stock Car first-timer? They look cool and sound awesome, but I have a habit of swapping the front & rear quite often on corner exit, even with your “super setup” for gMotor games.

James: Cascavel has like, seven turns and you can memorize the entire track in about five laps. It’s where we did the bulk of our pre-season testing. Every corner is challenging and forces you to really work on your throttle control skills. So I guess head to Cascavel once you get a handle on the car because it’s the ultimate test track and will throw every curveball at you possible. As for a n00b track to get acquainted with the car, both Cordoba and Curitiba don’t have any challenging corners, and I think Curitiba has a NASCAR-like layout. Johannesburg Historic is also a really simple layout but is more suited to 70’s Open Wheel cars.

Any plans of pursuing that iRacing ban? Or just giving that up and moving on to something else?

James: I may or may not have discovered that it’s cheaper to get a legitimate NASCAR competition license than deal with iRacing and their hemophiliac emotions when faced with genuine criticism. There’s really no point in trying to get unbanned because we’ve displayed quite clearly that what iRacing claims their sim is, and what their sim actually is, are two very different things. This probably won’t change anytime soon.

You have a gift for coming into contact with stupid bullshit within the sim racing community. What is your secret?

Chris: The community does it to themselves.

Mike: It’s a gift.

James: It’s all perception. You gotta have the “don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining” approach to everything. I mean, before us, who was able to call out Slightly Mad Studios for their bullshit? Nobody. Ian Bell was blatantly insulting his customers and people were passing it off as “oh it’s just cynical British humor.” Some people just needed to wake the fuck up and stop looking at everything through rose coloured glasses. Look man, we play these games to relax and sometimes the day’s events make cars exploding into the air hard to tolerate. If you’re cool with paying $60 for a game where your tires simultaneously explode for no reason after a pit stop, that’s fine, but I’m not cool with it, and I’m not afraid to talk about it. If you’re cool paying $600+ for a game that calls itself the most hardcore racing simulation ever, and the newest update breaks the game’s dynamic weather feature, that’s fine, but I’m not cool with it, and I’m not afraid to talk about it. I’m a strong independent black womyn who don’t need no man.

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What is the worst track in any racing game you have played, and what was so bad about it?

James: I’m not gonna be that asshole who shits on a mod track that was obviously someone’s first effort, nor am I gonna use an early NASCAR Racing title and cry that Daytona was too wide in NASCAR Racing 3. Giving it some thought, Forza Motorsport 4’s Nordschleife is an abomination for how inaccurate it is (allegedly so online races weren’t shitfests), and I think the worst track ever in terms of layout is the modern version of Le Mans. It’s boring. The Greece stages in DiRT Rally are fucking terrible. I hate hairpins.

Chris: Um… Probably New Hampshire is like an instant “no.” No road courses that I can think of off the top of my head. Nothing jumps out at me as being overly shitty. I think for ovals, New Hampshire is about as boring to drive as it is to watch in real life. I used to despise old Silverstone a lot, but I really like the new layout. It’s quickly become one of my favorite tracks.

Mike: I hated the fucking snake tracks in Forza 2.

Vince: I hate Suzuka.

What real-life racing do you follow, and who are your favorite drivers?

Chris: Pretty much everything. If I had to pick my top three, it’s NASCAR, V8 Supercars, and F1. MotoGP is amazing though. Global RallyCross is fantastic. As for my favorite drivers, it’s easily Dale Earnhardt Jr, but there’s a lot of guys who have a ton of talent that I’ve got a lot of respect for. Guys like Nico Hulkenburg, Tommy Milner… I think Fernando Alonso’s one of the best Formula One drivers ever – I don’t think he gets enough credit for that.

James: I’ve grown up on Drag Racing, and I think the NHRA is the only auto racing series I’ve consistently followed for as long as I can remember. Like, I’m that guy with the National Dragster account who listens to the Friday Night Qualifying audiocast when I get off work. A lot of people think I’m a huge NASCAR fan, but I basically stopped watching during the Car of Tomorrow era and only got back into it during the latter part of 2011. My favorite driver has been Courtney Force since Driving Force was on A&E in 2007, and before that, it was Mike Dunn. When I was a kid I used to follow Monster Jam a whole lot and was a huge Tom Meents fanboy, but the state of Monster Jam in 2015 is depressing.

What happened to the podcasts? If the podcast returns I’ll click on the Fanatec ad, I promise!

James: Straight up, Chris comes on TeamSpeak every night at 10PM EST. I work a 6AM – 230PM shift, so I physically couldn’t keep myself awake long enough to do a podcast with him regularly. Like I was legit passing out minutes after he’d join the server with the rest of the PRC guys. And it just sort of stopped. We’ll try to bring them back, though. Caffeine is a wonderful invention.

Do an in-depth review of Rally Championship 2000.

James: Hook me up with a working link and I’ll do one.

What’s your opinion on Power & Glory? Why haven’t you done an article for arguably the best mod for GTR2?

Mike: Greatest mod for any game ever, period. They basically re-made GT Legends for GTR 2 and improved it in every way. All you gotta do is, as awesome as GTR 2 is, drive P&G, and you’ll know who did the tires and who did most of the physics. That’s the game that, if it wasn’t for Assetto Corsa, I would probably be doing most of my sim racing still in Power & Glory.

Chris. It truly is. The car variety and physics were out of this world. The models, the sounds, everything was top notch.

James: Yeah, I guess I’ll have to check this out.

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What do you guys think about drifting? Do you follow Formula D or D1 or whatever? Would you like to try it out in real life?

Chris: It’s cool, but it’s not something that interests me, primarily because there’s a lot of ricer culture built into it by default.

Vince: Says the Jetta owner.

Mike: Your mom follows my D.

You should check out GPBikes. It’s still a beta, but the physics are really good.

Mike: Can’t get into bike sims. There’s no good controller unless you spend what it would cost to have a real bike. I haven’t found a bike sim that, at low speeds you turn left to go left, but at high speeds, you turn right to go left. That’s how you basically steer a bike, and it would be weird to try and simulate that. Without a proper set of handle bars, and well with the handle bars now you need a proper bike… And by the time you spend money on that kind of a setup, well fuck it, might as well have went out and bought a bike.

James: It’s been five years and I still can’t figure out MX Simulator. I think I gave my activation code to Brodie Kostecki.

What do you think the most memorable car (for better or worse) that you ever drove in any game was?

Chris: Uh… Right now? It’s probably the RUF Yellowbird in Assetto Corsa. Also, the payware Cayman GT4 is pretty close. Those two cars feel the most like what I would expect their real life counterparts to feel like.

James: If you stuck with the AE86 from the beginning of Need for Speed Underground 2, with all the unique upgrades, you’d get something that would basically break the game and hit 240 MPH no problem. The trade-off was that Underground 2’s visual upgrade system forced you to put these godawful roof scoops, wide body kits, and full-body carbon fiber wraps on your car just to be eligible for the final events of career mode. Nothing will compare to the end-game monstrosities of the two Underground games. Runner up is the Subaru Impreza Gymkhana Wagon in DiRT 3. I was totally untouchable in that car online. Something crazy like 29 wins in a row at one point.

Mike: Best sim car of all time? The BMW M3 E30 in Assetto Corsa. The worst? iRacing’s Chevrolet Silverado on the old tire model. I got in it, made one lap, and was like “this doesn’t feel like any car on earth ever.” That son of a bitch felt like aliens had left it for us to discover, and didn’t leave us an instruction manual just to fuck with us even more.

I honestly can’t tell if you guys are trying to hide your identities or not. What’s the deal?

James: At this point, it’s a call-sign more than anything.

Is Project CARS any good?

Mike: Good for a laugh.

What real-life vehicles are you basing your FFB settings off of?

Chris: I don’t, it’s just whatever feels good and isn’t clipping but still has a decent amount of strength.

James: My 1998 Dodge Dakota. Every sim feels the same that way and I don’t have any re-adjustment period if I jump from game to game.

Vince: Nothing, it’s just what I think feels good.

Mike: I base mine off of 30 years of experience driving all types of cars. I’ve had real cars that I wished had more force feedback. I think the majority of sim racers way overthink things like Force Feedback, fucking Input Lag, degrees of your steering wheel matching exactly the one in game when you have a 900 degree wheel and it’s a street car that has 1080 degrees… God it’s amazing seeing people go nuts in the forums of these car mods where “oh no you need to do this equation where it makes the wheel think it’s a 1080 degree wheel…” just stop, you’re over-thinking it. You can clip some, but as long as you’re not clipping all the time, make it whatever feels good for you. You want every car to feel like it’s got 1970’s Cadillac Power Steering? All the power to you!

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You wrote an article a few weeks back on how a more expensive driving wheel and pedals won’t make you faster. Do you feel that there are any benefits of any kind to a higher-end setup?

Chris: It’s only consistency. It’s not going to make you faster.

Mike: Pedals. Not much, not much faster at all, in fact negligible. An H-pattern will buy you speed if you know what you’re doing, just because games like AC and iRacing penalize you for using auto clutch – of course it also opens up the possibility of making you a lot slower if you don’t know what you’re doing. A proper brake pedal with substantial travel will give you much more control over slowing the car down, but that’s about it. If you wanna get technical, a good video card will make you faster considering a locked-in 60FPS is a hell of a lot better than playing at 15 FPS on a potato, but I guess y’all wanted to know about sim hardware.

James: Posture is everything. You need to be as comfortable as possible. Those dedicated sim chairs with the metal frames, the ones they advertise on a bunch of different sites, those are a worthwhile investment. Even for me, just from switching from a traditional computer desk to a lawn chair with a low-slung custom table, made a world of difference. Long races don’t feel long anymore. IMO triple screens, VR, and TrackIR are over-rated. Set your FOV right and make some camera file adjustments and you’ll be fine.

What is the state of rF2 at the moment? Is it worth buying? Are you just waiting for the new Gen6 cars to drop to review it?

James: We used to host an rFactor 2 GT3 room every other night before Assetto Corsa came along. No denying it, there was nobody online. Like, it was dead. When we all got online to run laps, we increased the online population by 300%. The weather was nice, and the dynamic track was nice. Force Feedback felt okay. Then Assetto Corsa came along and it was just that much better. Haven’t touched rF2 since.

Chris: rFactor 2 feels really good. It’s like, it’s got a lot of the, um, qualities that could make it good. But it seems like it’s just one of those sims that are geared towards massive oversteer at all costs without making sense. And what I mean by that is that the oversteer isn’t tied to your throttle inputs, it’s just like “hey, this is the way we think everything should be”, which is just difficult.

Mike: Worth buying just to support the genre if nothing else, and there’s plenty of guys who claim it’s the greatest thing ever. As far as the online, unless you like front wheel drive cars, it looks like it’s a ghost town. Sad to say, if it wasn’t for Assetto Corsa, that’s where a lot of road course racing would get done – in the sim that hurts your eyes. We could say that rFactor 2 is shit though just to get TheAssociator and his buddies in the comments section re-educating everyone about rFactor 2.

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If you had the opportunity to go on a fancy diner date with Ian Bell, what would you ask him?

Chris: That seems like a James question.

James: I’d ask him what racing games he’s enjoyed in the past. Maybe I haven’t stuck around the WMD forums enough to see how passionate he is about racing games, but it just doesn’t appear he’s in game development for the same reasons teams like Sector 3 and Kunos are. When he talks about GTR 2, it’s only about sales numbers, not about how great the game drove or what his favorite cars or tracks were… Always about sales. Always about “look how great the reviews are!” Like, okay, that’s nice, but sales figures aren’t why people played GTR 2. You start to wonder what the driving force is behind Project CARS when the head of a racing sim studio prefers to talk about investment schemes and sales figures instead of actually playing the game.

Thoughts on {a} F1 Challenge 99-02, {b] Grand Prix 4, {c} Tokyo Xtreme Racer, {d} MotoGP games, {e} EA’s NASCAR titles?

James: My first experience with F1C was with the stand-alone ChampCar Challenge 99-04 mod, which was awesome. Grand Prix 4 was a pain in the ass to configure so I never played it as much as I really should have, but from what I’ve gathered it’s similar to NASCAR 2003 where only the guys who have spent hours configuring everything seem to enjoy it. Need to spend more time with Tokyo Xtreme Racer so can’t comment on them. Milestone’s MotoGP games aren’t as bad as everyone says they are, but you can bump draft with a buddy if you coordinate things right and I don’t think that’s possible on a bike. EA’s NASCAR games from Thunder 2002 to Chase for the Cup 2005 were absolute perfection, but quality rapidly decreased once all the good devs at EA Tiburon were snatched up and sent to the Madden team. Crazy to think that back in the day, people would bitch that there weren’t enough alternate liveries in the game, and now, we have to deal with shovelware NASCAR titles.

In your opinion, what is the best arcade (as in coin-op) racer?

Mike: Hard Drivin’. That was a sim before anyone knew what a sim was. It even had a fuckin’ clutch and an H-Pattern. The one I spent the most money on out of all of them was Pole Position. Back in the day, that’s where I spent most of my time on in the arcades. I’d head over to Pole Position and I was lucky if I got to the second checkpoint in that game. Man, I sucked at it, that game was horrible, but I spent so much money on it. Like I said though, Hard Drivin’, it was so advanced at the time, looking back it’s crazy at the things that game did that were so ahead of its time, things like cockpit view, an H-Pattern, and realistic physics, I don’t think I ever completed a lap on that test track, but damn. Night Driving was a bitch, too. I had that on my old Atari 2600 and wore the shit out of it.

Chris: Super Off-Road. That game was awesome.

Mike: That was a good one for sure.

James: I’m 22. Arcades weren’t a thing by the time I was old enough to cross the street by myself.


GT6’s new content have been Vision GT cars so far. What do you think about it?

James: GT6 isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, but the series as a whole has run its course. The vision GT cars were a cool concept, but stuff like the SRT Tomahawk is crossing into the absurd category and going against the whole driving simulator thing GT has been traditionally known for. If Kaz would stop hyping up features that failed to see the light of day, I think the game wouldn’t get a bad rap among diehards, but between the awful sounds and PS2-quality models, they basically left the door open for Forza to steal their thunder. No way in hell GT7 will be any good with the current course of development they’ve got. Had this blog existed during the release of GT5, we would have shit on it more than we’ve done with Project CARS.

Seeing as the Fanatec affiliate thing was a joke… can you please, PLEASE… get Peter Payne on phone now AND have an affiliate deal with J-List ASAP? I really want to see “Click for J-List!” banners here. On top of that, you’ll also need to make J-List as your sponsor when you race too.

James: I’d much rather pursue a relationship with JailbaitGallery considering I already run their logos on all of my liveries. Before you laugh (or call me some interesting names), just a daily reminder that FuelDoctor was a legitimate sponsor. Mirroring the business decisions of Moot is generally a bad idea considering 4Chan is now overrun with SJW’s and autists who think having a full-time job means you’re a wageslave and somehow detrimental to society.

What are your thoughts on Gamepad vs. Wheel?

Mike: If you’re using a gamepad, I’m sorry.

Chris: It has its place, and its place is…

Mike: …not in a racing game. Arcade racing game? Preferred. Anything that’s a sim? No.

James: Games like DiRT 3 drove phenomenally with a gamepad, but if you’re on a PC, you should probably invest in a wheel. You can make rFactor work really well with a pad and feel like Forza if you spend an hour or so tinkering with all the filtering and saturations settings, but the bottom line is that you drive a car in real life with a steering wheel, and you won’t get the precision that comes with a wheel if you limit yourself to using a gamepad for the more serious sims.

Now that the site is growing, do you have some sort of goal or achievement in mind?

Chris: I’d like to actually be the only legit sim racing news site because, as you can tell, everybody else is pretty much bought and paid for.

Mike: Get rich and get laid.

James: You can’t get laid off sim racing.

Mike: What do you think iRating is for?

James: True that. I’d personally like to cover more than just racing sims, and I’ve been trying to move towards that in the past few months, because I’m not just a sim racing elitist. I mean, throughout this weekend I’ve been playing the original NFL Street on my PS3. And a couple months ago I sat down and played through Need for Speed Underground. F1 2014 made it into the rotation. My GeneRally install is up to date. Played through Need for Speed High Stakes on a PSX emulator last week. I want the Forza, Gran Turismo, and Need for Speed guys to have a safe haven for uncensored discussion here just like the iRacing, pCars, and Assetto Corsa fans do, cause I’ve heard the Forza forums can get pretty nutty sometimes.

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What’s the worst race you’ve ever had in a racing game?

James: Look up NASCAR 2011 glitch videos, that entire game was insufferable. My buddy Tyler took a hit of salvia before a plate race at Talladega one night, and spent the whole race talking about being on a farm and seeing shapes. This was on Xbox Live, so you can only imagine how crazy the voice chatter got when the rest of the room figured out the leader was high as fuck. By some act of divine intervention, we teamed up and he held the middle line (who runs the middle line at Talladega?) for the final seven laps after an early caution (come on, nobody did a race longer than 18 laps) and went on to win.

Chris: New Tire Model Beta at New Hampshire. I lead the whole race, but we never got like, more than four or five laps in at a time. I mean, we’d go into turn one and it was just constant wrecks. Nobody knew how to drive. Anyways, Michael Conti decided to wreck me instead of pass me cleanly for the win with two to go. Just frustrating.

Mike: iRacing.

Sal: That’s easy. Any restrictor plate week on iRacing.

What’s the worst racing game you’ve ever played in your life?

Chris: NASCAR 08 on the 360 (and PS3) had a lot of glitches that were kinda disappointing. There was one glitch where, those games used to skip through caution laps to speed up the races… Well, sometimes it would force you to sit and watch the entire caution lap. There was another glitch where someone’s engine would constantly rev the whole time. Also a glitch where your car’s ride height would change and you’d bottom out all over the place. NASCAR 09 made up for it though.

James: I don’t think anyone aside from diehard NASCAR fans will ever comprehend how bad NASCAR 2011 by Eutechnyx was. For years the EA Sports games had declined in quality, and we then went two years without a game. Eutechnyx hyped up the 2011 game to levels that were completely unattainable, and after a few delays, the game shipped as a buggy mess on-par with what you’re seeing from Project CARS right now. Given how good the NASCAR Thunder and NASCAR Dirt to Daytona games were on vastly inferior hardware, for a game to land on shelves in that sorry of a state, was inexcusable. The only thing that made it worse was venturing onto the official forums and discovering an environment similar to, again, what you’re seeing from Slightly Mad Studios right now. And then they repackaged the same product four years in a row. It’s a shame that nobody at NASCAR really understood what was occurring.

Mike: Need for Speed ProStreet was pretty horrible. In fact I remember being seriously disappointed with ProStreet. Need for Speed games up to that point had been decently fun, and then that one, pretty much everything about it sucked. It was glitchy on consoles. It didn’t work for shit, didn’t look that good, just wasn’t a good game. The hopper system in Forza 3 was pretty terrible too. They ruined online. They promised they’d keep mixing up the combos to keep it fresh, but they went six months before the first change was made.

Vince: Forza 3 took server-based multiplayer and turned it into Halo-style matchmaking in a racing game. Brutal.

What’s your favorite underdog car to drive in a racing game?

Chris: So non-leaderboard car? Any rear-wheel drive car in Forza 3, and that’s what Mike will say as well.

Mike: The Lamborghini Muira in Forza 3. A rear-wheel drive car that could kick the asses of anyone who showed up in an All-Wheel Drive leaderboard car, which was a huge issue that wasn’t solved until a $60 patch called Forza Motorsport 4. In Forza 3 you could do an AWD swap to practically any car in the game, and you’d be unstoppable. Especially in the Viper.

James: The McLaren F1 LM in Project Gotham Racing 3. The Ferrari F50 GT was much faster and lethal in the hands of wheel owners, but the F1 LM was more stable and predictable.

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The 215K Hits Celebration Party – Opening The Floor to the Readers!

215I guess this is a thing that narcissistic YouTube girls do – they throw some sort of a party whenever they hit a “landmark” subscriber or view count number. Since it’s a slow news weekend and there’s literally nothing to report on, we’ll do what we can to keep this off-week interesting for PRC readers and haters alike.

Since starting in January 2015 almost as a joke, we’ve managed to get 215,000 hits among 81,400 unique visitors, and our terrible blog that nobody should ever trust managed to land on PC Gamer. And N4G. And PowerGamer. And Gameranx. EmptyBox has even though he doesn’t actually like us. We can monitor all of these instances in real time as well. WordPress is cool like that.

a12121At the moment, our numbers are slightly more successful than both Ke$ha’s recent university tour, and the Canadian leg of Lights’ Little Machines tour. More people visited on June 29th than attended IndyCar’s MAVTV 500 in Fontana! We’re moving on up!

So let’s do something crazy.

GSC 2015-04-13 23-13-35-51We’re going to open the floor to all readers, haters, and trolls of PRC. In the comments section below, ask us any question you’d like. Hell, ask multiple questions. Anything goes and no subject is off topic. Chris and I will answer as many as we can in an article on Sunday night after the Sprint Cup race at Daytona.

Go hard, and here’s to the future!

Would a “Sim Media Showdown” Work?

Most readers know about the International Race of Champions, a small invite-only racing series designed to take the best drivers from around the world, put them in identical cars, and hopefully get a really stellar on-track product that could evolve into something much bigger. Of course, that never happened. The series failed to gain any real notoriety, was heavily biased towards NASCAR during the final decade of its existence, and folded in 2006.

PWF_IROC_ZmodAs someone who both writes about driving games, and spends an equal amount of time playing them online, one thing I’ve noticed is that all online racing leagues, regardless of the sim used or caliber of drivers being featured, barely get any views during broadcasted events. I remember a couple years ago I showed up for a few broadcasted 16th Street IndyCar Series events on iRacing, and upon wrecking out early, only saw eleven people viewing the stream – including myself. The Stock Car Extreme races that RaceDepartment held in may attracted just under fifty people. The full race replay of their first ever Assetto Corsa event, uploaded three weeks ago, only has 1,900 views on YouTube. The numbers don’t lie – people almost don’t care about watching pretend auto races.

On the flipside, guys like and have their own YouTube channels, where they simply talk about driving games. One of Gangi’s newest videos, where he basically tries out a new toy steering wheel, . The comments section of a Project CARS article on VirtualR has over 800 comments. Alan from Team VVV uploads of a preview build of F1 2015? . Matt Orr will literally just sign up for random races on iRacing and – and this generates a much better reception than a group of individuals trying to properly broadcast a league race.

1The general sim racing population appears to prefer a good personality rather than fantastic coverage of an online league. So what would happen if you threw every major personality into a league?

There’s enough of them to fill out an IROC-like field:

  • Matt Orr (Empty Box)
  • Darin Gangi (Inside Sim Racing)
  • Shaun Cole (The SimPit)
  • William Marsh (Sim Racing Paddock)
  • Bram Hengeveld (RaceDepartment)
  • Rob Prange (VirtualR)
  • Austin Ogonoski (PretendRaceCars)
  • Alan Boiston (Team VVV)

Throw ’em all into Lotus 49’s in Assetto Corsa and send them to the Nordschleife or a couple of the historic tracks. Start advertising for the mini-series a couple weeks in advance. Get ’em all to film a preview video for their channel or write an article for their site anticipating the series. Schedule the races in a friendly time where everyone can watch live.

I’m down.


Playing the Spoiler at Infineon in ARCA Sim Racing

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-24-46-79Sev wanted to try out a proper NASCAR sim to understand what all the fuss is about, and with ARCA Sim Racing being totally free, we spent last night giving him an hour-long crash course in oval racing, which included stops at both Chicagoland and Salem Speedway. The floaty cars with fragile tires piqued his interest, and he wanted to try a proper online race tonight against a full grid of real people. ARCA Sim Racing may have a small community, but the game’s launcher does a really great job of displaying where and when the next scheduled online race would take place – sending us to Sonoma Raceway at what would be around 2am over in Germany.

Bad decisions make the best stories.

arcaI’m not going to go into too much detail on how an American Stock Car drives; we’ve done that already. But to bring you up to speed, they’re big, heavy, stiff race cars with four gears and minimal downforce. Five laps later, when the tires start to wear, you’re basically driving your Grandpa’s 80’s Oldsmobile, with 850 Horsepower being sent directly to the rear tires. Near the end of a fuel run, the car is actively doing everything in its power to kill you; like forcing Marshawn Lynch to play the NFC Championship Game in Skateboarding Shoes, traction is an afterthought and slowing the car down is a twelve step program.

In the quest for eternal glory, I selected the #36 Toyota Camry of InsideSimRacing Host Darin Gangi. Sev opted for the ultimate noob car and took Dale Earnhardt Jr’s #88 National Guard Monte Carlo. The free version of ARCA Sim Racing X features a mix of fictional liveries and the most popular ARCA drivers from 2008, while the full field of ARCA cars I’ve seen teased in screenshots appears to be lost in the sands of time.

Yet, the version of Infineon Raceway we’d be racing at was ripped directly from NASCAR Racing 2003 Season. The tracks that shipped with the boxed copy of ARCA were built from the ground up by The Sim Factory, but in the quest to make a complete oval racing sim, tracks not featured in the title were quickly converted by the community from a pile of much older NASCAR titles. There is no sugar coating how bad this version of Sears Point was, especially after having driven the obscure Brazilian masterpieces found in Game Stock Car Extreme by Reiza Studios. The overall layout and basic track mesh weren’t horrible, but after R3E and iRacing both offering shockingly accurate versions of Infineon, we were stepping into a time capsule to a period when AOL trial discs still regularly appeared in our mailboxes.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-26-18-33The picture of the starting grid obviously spoils the Qualifying results, but I’ll go through it anyways.

In practice, I clicked off a 1:15.077, which was almost a full second faster than the rest of the grid, and two seconds faster than Kyle Larson’s K&N Series track record of a 1:17. Sev was third on the practice leaderboard with a 1:16.2. I’m going to blame this huge discrepancy on the fact that we were racing on a track modeled when I was still in elementary school.

Qualifying was hectic. As it was a fixed setup server, where the steering lock reset after each session, both myself and Sev foolishly burned up one of our two timed laps by leaving the pits with eight degrees of steering lock instead of our traditional 540/18 setup. With one lap to score a decent spot on the grid, I clicked off a lap on cold tires only a tenth slower than polesitter Brett Horner, who placed at the top of the charts with a 1:15.4. Sev put the noob car in fifth with a 1:16.3.

It’s important to note that this wasn’t just a casual race night for a group of Teamspeak friends who’d jumped from game to game over a period of years – each race on ARCA Sim Racing X that you can access from the launcher is part of a points series, and both myself and Sev were effectively playing spoiler for a season that had already ran three races. The 21 drivers that made up Thursday night’s grid encouraged us to join their Teamspeak channel, and both of us were given an extremely warm and friendly welcome by a like-minded group of sim racers. It was almost as if we were in bizarro-world; today we learned the clean, respectful, courteous personalities that are advertised as being the norm in iRacing are instead found in ARCA Sim Racing. One guy even recognized our names and complimented us on the site. No little kids, nobody whining about being wrecked in practice, heck, we even got through the pace lap without an incident.

Brett Horner led the field to the green flag, I was a sitting duck on the outside, and points leader John Richards would start third in the #6 Valvoline Fusion.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-30-56-38I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. We made it up the hill without anybody wrecking. Horner appeared to have the most composure on new tires, jumping out to an early lead. Richards immediately began working on me to try and steal second place away, because he had a championship to compete for. I was just there cause it was something to do after work and my buddy wanted to try NASCAR.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-31-53-40And the field retained its composure as we got into the more technical portions of Sonoma. Through the short chute, nobody killed the tire wall. Sev fudged the line a bit and dropped a few more spots after he was nudged by a competitor, but that’s to be expected. It’s crazy how rough and chaotic stock cars can be compared to traditional road racing series.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-32-50-03And then both myself and Horner blew the line into Turn 7, nearly ending both of our races mere seconds into the 35 lap affair. Thankfully, a combination of Horner braking late and me adjusting my line prevented us from making any meaningful contact.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-33-23-27After this minor slip-up, we spent the first four laps with the top eight cars under a blanket. You couldn’t ask for better racing, and for Sev, you couldn’t ask for a better introduction to American Stock Cars.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-34-55-64But then I lost a bit of my rhythm. John Richards stuck his nose under me in Turn 3A, and I fell back to third. He had a championship lead to defend.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-35-59-78While the three-way fight for the lead began to heat up and I took second position away from the Valvoline car, Sev found a way to calm himself down and started a pretty impressive drive up through the field after his early struggles. Everyone was starting to feel the effects of tire degradation, and with our season spent in the ultra-twitchy Brazilian Stock Cars, Sev seemed to only get faster as we got deeper into the fuel run.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-36-55-68Other drivers couldn’t deal with the drastic change in performance. Polesitter Brett Horner, who had led every lap until this point, gave up the lead in Turn 4A when he looped his #25 Chevy Monte Carlo.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-42-14-24My overall skillset let me use the rest of the fuel run and a clear race track to pull away from John Richards, who struggled to get the most out of the car as the tires evaporated from beneath us. As I monitored the infamous rFactor black boxes, I noticed Sev had clawed his way up to third place. The race was on its way to being a monumental success for both of us – we each had a chance at a podium finish in a race we attempted out of boredom. Sev’s drive was even more impressive; he’d basically had less than 90 minutes of track time in ARCA Sim Racing, and today was the first time he’d ever run laps at Sears Point. It was also 3AM over in Europe.

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This impressive drive wouldn’t last forever though, as a combination of fatigue and inexperience saw Sev launch a daring attack on the #12 car in Turn 7 while battling for third place. It didn’t work.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-30-01-13Miraculously, all four cars in the flock following the battle completely missed Sev’s stationary car, parked at the exit of Turn 7.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-30-32-88While Sev’s race was effectively over, the insane battle for the lead was in its early stages. Richardson was the first to pit, while I stayed out an extra lap as my tires hadn’t completely nuked themselves yet. In a drastic effort to avoid a speeding penalty, knowing I was too used to Brazilian Stock Cars and their super fancy speed limiter, I purposely drove 5mph under the 45mph speed limit on pit lane once I finally came in for new tires and two cans of fuel.

This paranoia caused me to exit the pits right beside Richardson, and we had half the race left.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-48-28-82The #6 car spent a handful of laps in the lead, but as our tires lost their grip, I slowly started reeling him in. With Sonoma’s challenging layout and how awkward it is to drive an American Stock Car on something that isn’t an oval track, passing opportunities were few and far between. Most times I’d just ride John’s ass because it seemed like the right thing to do, and I was never able to get the huge runs that would allow me to fully pass him. We weren’t far enough into the fuel & tire run yet where there was a big discrepancy between our corner exit speeds.

And while this is all happening, we’re pretty deep into lapped traffic; all of which graciously pulled out of our way, most of the time without even asking them. I think the only time I got on the mic, I said “beep beep” like a retard to some Coors car, and the guy moved.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-50-26-97John and I were about even in the first sector, but I was much better on the back half of the track. With fixed setups, it was all about maximizing your momentum. John would drive in really hard in the esses and scrub off speed when he’d hammer the rumble strips. I tried a different approach that involved pointing the nose with the brakes, staying off the kerbs, and being really aggressive with the throttle on exit. It seemed to work, as I was now tagging John’s bumper a few times each lap.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-52-18-40Each lap, it got a little more intense. With about ten to go, John started positioning his car based on where I was putting mine. Not entirely blocking, but I knew he was trying to make my life difficult and that we were going to have a killer race on our hands.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-54-34-59Our first major scare came from one of the backmarkers. Basically, there was one line coming out of Turn 10, and it’s right by the sand. John drove it in like he’d been doing all race and had to check up for the lapped car that was right where he needed to be. I cut down earlier to try and use the lapped car as a moving pick on John. He wasn’t in the mood for that and darted out of line right as I was shooting by him. The Valvoline car got real big.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-56-34-48This put us side by side going into the hairpin. This is basically when the gloves came off.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-58-35-72Richards retained the lead and I blew it big time in Turn 2. Took too much of the rumble strip and the rear end stepped out. A lot.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 20-59-36-15Embarrassed by my own incompetence, I took advantage of the space between us and obliterated the tires in an attempt to quickly catch the leader, as the laps were winding down. Having a few car lengths between myself and John during this period of time was a nice change of pace, as when you’re driving behind somebody, you can’t see shit. Like, for real, I was playing “guess where the Apex is”, a game that’s on the same level as “why is there a yellow flag in this sector” when it comes to determining the outcome of your race.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-01-30-66With five laps left, I noticed a trend in John’s line where he couldn’t take Turn 10 to save his life. On some occasions, he was downshifting to second gear and losing a whole bunch of speed, which meant the section of track in between the billboards and the NHRA tower would be the best place to launch an attack. By comparison, I was taking that section in third gear, almost flat out.

John saw the move coming from a while away and threw a fantastic block. I didn’t even have time to react, I plowed right into him.

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We almost died.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-05-34-40During our shared journey towards the tire wall, I vividly remember thinking to myself “I wonder how the tire wall’s collision detection is designed? Will it be jagged concrete like Lime Rock park tire wall in rFactor outside of the final corner, or will it act as a generic flat concrete wall?”

Neither of us got to find out, because we both pulled off saves of the millennium simultaneously. The weight transfer is insane in the live replay.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-08-22-86My save scrubbed off a little more speed than John’s and I lost some ground to him, but I wanted to win this race Goddamnit. ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-09-28-42I caught back up to John for like the third time in the past five minutes and launched a fake divebomb. I’m not sure why this move works, but anyways, you fake like you’re going to attempt the biggest retard move of the century, and the moment the guy flinches to defend, fall back into line. They will be so confused and so busy paying attention to their rear view mirror, contemplating why in the world you just faked a pass for absolutely no reason, that they’ll panic and completely blow the braking point.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-10-37-34It worked, but Richardson saved the car.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-12-03-36But this mistake allowed me to pull alongside the Valvoline car with two laps left. I was trying my best not to get pinched into the wall, which at this point was a very real possibility since Richardson demonstrated he clearly knew what he was doing behind the wheel, and all of the lapped cars behind us are just sort of shitting their pants watching this all unfold.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-12-47-55And this right here is the winning pass. The only move the #6 car could make was to pinch me into the wall. He missed by about a foot.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-14-05-50John tried to cross me over and give me a boost going up the hill. Didn’t work.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-14-53-20And then he tried the exact same move again in the very next corner. Still didn’t work. You can counter the bump & run by laying on the throttle and centering the wheel earlier than you normally would. On offense, the move works best on corner entry, since the unexpected forward momentum overpowers the brakes.ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-15-25-48That final counter gave me the win.

ARCA4GB 2015-06-25 21-16-57-80We will eventually get a much better oval racing game, with tracks not from 2003 and a physics engine not from 2005, but ARCA Sim Racing X seems to be the overall best American Stock Car sim currently available. That’s now two races where I’ve jumped in a random league room because I’ve had nothing better to do, and been greeted by a friendly, respectful community centered around a game that doesn’t require any exploits or elder knowledge to be competitive.

There will be people who whine at the understandably awful graphics (for real, it’s like, brutal), but in 2015, we apparently can’t have our cake and eat it, too. NASCAR 15 is more or less shovelware, and iRacing can’t get anything right.

ARCA Sim Racing X appears to be the best place to get your oval racing fix, and you don’t even need to be at an oval for the game to shine. We went an entire article without complaining about tire wear, the aero model, grip levels, force feedback, or anything that hardcore racing sims get put under the microscope for. Why?

Because ASRX does everything well. It just looks like complete ass.

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