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!


2010SE Race 3 – iRacing 120 Minutes of Sebring

closeThis post was published 7 years 28 days ago.
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It has taken me two weeks to post my thoughts on this race. I can say it’s because I’ve been busy, I can also say it’s taken two weeks to forgive myself for my performance.

One of the hardest things to accept in racing is not living up to your own beliefs on what you can do in a race car (whether it’s a virtual or real one). I’m sure Mark Webber had similar feelings after the Formula One Grand Prix in Australia and I’m sure there’s plenty of iRacers feeling similar things every week. Sure, I have my usual excuse that I didn’t have time to do any testing whatsoever, but most of the time I manage to put in a decent performance even when the first time I turn a wheel is when the race starts – so I don’t feel this fits. I also have a bit of a hate-hate relationship with Sebring – I think this fits more…

During my time in simracing I’ve had that same hate-hate relationship with a couple of other tracks, both of those became my absolute best tracks eventually: The Nurburgring in Grand Prix Legends (GPL) and Virginia International Raceway in iRacing. With both those tracks I felt I had an enemy, I felt the track was trying to beat me, I had a nemesis. With both these tracks I had terrible, terrible races many, many times.

It sounds like a cliché, I know, but what helped me to crack both these tracks was a lot of practice. I was in 11 private leagues at one time with GPL and I remember running a league race on a Saturday in the Ferrari Advanced Trainer (F2) car and feeling a ‘click’ in my brain, I won that race and then on Sunday – in an F1 Murasama (Honda RA273 – they couldn’t get licensing to name it) – dominated, doing consistent (and yes, I mean consistent) 8 minute 17 second laps at a time when the simracing ‘world record’ was an 8:10. I can still now – at least seven years after I last drove on it – tell you what direction and gear I used in every turn around the 174-turn 14.1-mile monster that was the 1967 Nurburgring F1 circuit.

I had the same thing back in 2008 when we first started to race the Skip Barber Formula 2000 at Virginia International Raceway prior to the public launch. I remember blogging about VIR being my nemesis and how many mistakes I used to make, I think I gave myself a complex! What was amazing to me at the time was how I kept going, kept trying and within a month I felt myself first improving, learning, then winning, and winning again the following season. So the thing that is hardest for me to accept is the time required to get from one stage to another – to have that patience to learn.

When you add Sebring to the Corvette C6R, you have probably one of the most difficult combinations in the history of simracing. The fact that in the 12 Hours of Sebring this combination has been raced for 12 hours rather than iRacing’s 120 minutes gives me an appreciation, just like pushing a 1967 F1 car around the Nurburgring did, for how immensely talented and courageous race drivers can be.

I’m going to say with absolute certainty that if you are frustrated, if you are doing badly at a track there’s only one person and one thing that can change that: You have to practice. Whenever you have a free five minutes join a practice session, launch a test session and just get yourself out onto that track you hate. Even if you have bad races somewhere and you feel it’s always someone else’s fault, wouldn’t it be great to be ahead of them when they wreck instead of behind them? By putting in that practice you can and will get better.

So, here comes the perfect example of how a race can turn out when you have done no practice whatsoever and dislike a track…

15 minutes before the race start I grabbed a setup from the forum, did a quick test and thought it felt pretty good. I went into a qualifying session and never set a clean lap in five recorded attempts. I also had eight incidents and lost 0.13 in safety rating. This left me quite frustrated going into the race server.

iRacing 120 Minutes of Sebring race start. I'm in the #28.

iRacing 120 Minutes of Sebring race start. I'm in the #28.

I started 31st out of 37. The start was very clean and I managed to move up to 21st by the end of lap one, on lap two I let some faster cars pass and dropped to 24th. I also set my fastest lap on lap two.

The third lap I had a half spin and dropped to 29th, grabbing a spot back to finish the lap in 28th. On lap four I was gently feeling my way around the circuit but in the final turn I got involved in someone else’s accident, causing minor damage to my car and spinning me out on the frontstretch – crossing the line in 27th.

A blocked track left me (blue car in distance) nowhere to go.

A blocked track left me (blue car in distance) nowhere to go.

On lap five, my final lap of the race, I spun twice – the second time going into the tires. I am not really sure if it was the damage which caused my spins or not, but the effect was the same: I quit the race, utterly frustrated.

Pos Driver Start
Interval Laps
Lap Time
1 Kevin Gries 2 Running   20 1:57.595
2 Ryan Raffuse 1 Running -10.367 38 1:57.247
3 Ryan Otis 35 Running -1:31.337 0 1:57.503
4 Antoine Martin 12 Running -1 Lap 0 1:58.931
5 Daniel Oriola Juan 5 Running -1 Lap 2 1:58.399
33 Timothy Wheatley 31 Disconnected -56 Laps 0 2:07.950

The #28 Corvette C6R spins off into the tires on lap four.

The #28 Corvette C6R spins off into the tires on lap four.

This race did not have to be this way. If I knew the C6R, if I knew the track, if I had qualified ahead of those who I crashed into in the final turn, if, if, if…

That is what racing is all about and really that’s what the iRating and safety rating are all about: You have to take your knocks and keep on racing! All in all that was a pretty frustrating race and one that I would not like to repeat without practice, but like I said above, it won’t have to be that way in the future, I am as determined to beat Sebring as I was with the Nurburgring and VIR.

Remember: Keep your good tracks close and your bad ones closer.

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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.