Racing Simulations

Growing up in an 'F1 family' where waking up at 02:00 to watch the races in Japan or Australia seemed normal, it wasn't a bit stretch to find myself playing racing games. Things really started out with Nigel Mansell's World Championship, which although certainly not a simulation, led me onto F1GP on the Commodore Amiga.

After progressing through and spending many years modding the Geoff Crammond Formula One simulations for myself, I started to run IndyCar Racing and NASCAR Racing from Papyrus Racing Games. In 1998 Papyrus released Grand Prix Legends, this had a huge impact on my entire life; I founded a Web site about it, began racing online with it, and it actually led me to where I am today; working for a racing sim developer.

Grand Prix Legends (1998):

Apart from the occasional rFactor mod, I didn't run anything other than iRacing (who I worked for) for a long time. In 2010 I started to work for Image Space Incorporated, deep into development of rFactor 2 at the time. That's all I run these days, I just don't have the time to run anything else!


16STRL Summer 2010 Round 8 – Chicagoland

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After reading about 16th Street on IndyCar’s blogs and seeing long time associate Ryan Murray (who I have known for probably more than ten years now) win the championship last season, I decided to join the league when the opportunity came along and my first event was Tuesday night at Chicagoland.

’16th Street’ isn’t really a regular league as it is run by someone within racing and has many racing stars actually racing. The fact that you can go wheel-to-wheel with Will Power, Justin Wilson or anybody whatsoever with a name like ‘Foyt’ is simply amazing as a race fan. The real-world drivers become so aware of the sim racing talent that when I was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May for’s ‘Indy 25’ with Justin, Mike Conway and Tomas Schekter it was sim racer Tim Holgate who provided the car setup all three of them used when racing.

I worked for about 30 minutes before joining the server on what I thought was a fantastic setup; much faster and more stable than the iRacing Advanced setup included with the simulation. Unfortunately after joining the practice I found myself as much as a second off the pace and knew I was in trouble… Much to my delight after expressing my bewilderment in the text chat, Tim “Mr Setup” Holgate came through for me this time and gave me a setup that allowed me to enjoy the race immensely.

I used Tim’s race setup – unmodified – for qualifying and this probably put me a little further down the starting order. I managed a 25.425 and while this was only 0.6s slower than pole I found myself way down in 23rd! This was a fast group!

The race gets under way and I'm waaaaaay back there...

The race gets under way and I'm waaaaaay back there...

Things got off to a strange start when Simon Pagenaud spun while warming his tires on the backstretch on the pace lap. They didn’t improve a lot more when in the first turn on lap one Rhawn Black managed to spin out due to tires that were too cold! As we restarted on lap five I already found myself in 19th-position and a couple of laps later I had moved to 17th and joined a group led by Todd Bettenhausen. On lap 12 the car of Daniel Ensch touched the apron and this allowed me to make my way around him and eventually into 13th-place.

By lap 14 Simon had begun to charge back through the field and I let him go low as soon as he got close enough to pass. The car of Bryan Heitkotter followed him through and I had now dropped back to 17th. A couple of laps later I also let Cary Bettenhausen by on the low side and I could start to feel my car pushing a lot more as I entered the turns, on lap 17 it caught me out and I ran very high, letting Gary Clark and Daniel by while I slipped to 20th.

There was a group of cautions between lap 20 – when I pitted – and lap 40. By lap 47 I was running 15th and starting to feel comfortable in a drafting pack with Todd and Sean Graham, but again got caught out by a sudden push in the turn and ran high, letting Robert Bohanek, Larry Foyt and Bryan drop me to 18th. Robert and I battled for position until lap 72 when Eric Palacio spun on the frontstretch and brought out a timely yellow flag… This yellow caught out most of the leaders who had recently pitted and allowed me to pit during the caution for the final time.

After the leaders got their wave around I found myself restarting in ninth on lap 78 ahead of a lot of fast cars, and after the car of Billy Wease spun on the restart quickly gained another spot for the next one. My lap 83 restart was absolutely abysmal and after restarting eighth I got freight trained on the low side by the former leaders and dropped all the way down to 17th. It wasn’t long before that huge group started to race each other and eventually there was a crash on the backstraight which brought out another caution and lifted me to 14th.

Hung out to dry...

Hung out to dry...

We restarted on lap 97 and Daniel spun ahead of me, gifting me 13th-place but bringing out another yellow. My abysmal restarts continued on lap 101 when I immediately lost touch with the cars ahead of me and felt like I was holding those behind me up, so I pulled high and let Cary, Daniel Ensch and Gary go through, hoping we’d be faster with Cary leading our pack. On lap 105 Cary was unfortunately hit in the back when he slowed for a crash ahead of us; I made no contact with anyone and held 13th-place for the restart on lap 112. My only good restart of the race was wiped from the record books after another spin reduced my gains to just one position.

For the final restart on lap 118 I got another bad one, but did manage to hold position from Daniel as we crossed the line to finish the race.

Very nice to be able to see the race leader cross the line, hopefully will finish a bit closer next time....

Very nice to be able to see the race leader cross the line, hopefully will finish a bit closer next time....

Fin Sta Driver Interval Led Fast Lap
1 2 Vincent Sciuto 120 laps 53 24.540
2 22 AJ Foyt IV -00.152 0 24.736
3 26 Sean Graham -00.866 0 24.661
4 15 Simon Pagenaud -01.436 0 24.657
5 7 Ryan Murray -01.520 0 24.588
6 25 Larry Foyt -01.640 0 24.734
7 1 John Paquin -01.826 65 24.675
8 17 Bryan Heitkotter -01.869 0 24.648
9 18 Daniel Ensch -03.235 0 24.549
10 19 Robert Bohanek -03.356 0 24.765
11 12 Gark Clark -03.398 0 24.752
12 23 Timothy Wheatley -04.046 0 24.779
13 13 Daniel Olszewski -04.114 0 24.598
14 27 Jack Turner -06.079 1 24.876
15 16 Todd Bettenhausen -06.104 0 24.644
16 28 Scott Thrasher -06.318 0 24.775
17 24 Cary Bettenhausen -3 Laps 0 24.713
18 3 Tim Holgate -12 Laps 1 24.737
19 9 Ben Bretzman -13 Laps 0 24.613
20 6 Niles Anders -29 Laps 0 24.549
21 14 Billy Wease -43 Laps 0 24.622
22 8 Eric Palacio -48 Laps 0 24.583
23 20 Scott Manifold -73 Laps 0 24.877
24 21 Arnold Sribhen -86 Laps 0 25.415
25 4 Tim Doyle -94 Laps 0 24.788
26 11 Brian Simpson -94 Laps 0 24.624
27 10 Kyle Krisiloff -100 Laps 0 24.531
28 5 Rhawn Black -119 Laps 0 n/a

So what are my conclusions? Well, I think I did OK. I was probably a little too nice (if someone had a run I always pulled high and let them pass) and I definitely need to work on my restarts. I fully realize that without Tim Holgate’s setup I would have been nowhere. I’m pretty happy to have collected no incidents, that means there’s a good chance I also didn’t piss anybody off too much!

Of those things above, I think the biggest change to the Dallara Indy car from what I would normally race is the restarts… I think this will come with experience but I’m used to being able to make up for a bad restart and in these cars you just can’t do that.

Watch on Youtube.

It was awesome to be racing with some of the people out there, not only those involved in the sport in some way, but some names I have seen or known for many, many years. It was terrific fun and next week we do it all over again at New Hampshire Motor Speedway… Gulp!


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Tim is British and lives in the United States with his wife and kids.

He works for software developers Image Space Inc. and Studio 397 on their racing simulations, and is a fan of Gaming, Motorsports, and photography.