Excited to get out and cruise, drive, or race your Ford Mustang in spirited fashion? OK, so maybe some of you get to enjoy your Mustang, daily, but there are some fans across the planet that are often hindered by salt, sand, and snow. Be it for safety, drive-ability, or preservation reasons, some of us just don’t drive or race our Mustangs year ’round. So what could we do to help blow off some steam and get the need for speed sated?
You take your real world hobby and find an outlet for it elsewhere. In this case, video games and the wonderful ole Internet provide for a fantastic medium to get the thirst for racing thrills quenched. One of our long-time StangNet staffers (Joe Pisciotta / VibrantRedGT) has got a few things to show you about iRacing–his (and many others’) personal racing outlet for rain or shine, sleet or snow.
Keep reading to check out Joe’s awesome experience and a few of his racing videos afterward. This is some seriously cool stuff, everyone–enjoy!
Joe’s iRacing Experience
In the early 1980’s, video game arcades started popping up on every corner. Video games such as “PacMan”, “Donkey Kong” and “Galaga” were all the rage, but visually very simple. I was into cars and the first driving game I can remember was “Pole Position” by Atari in 1982. It was an open wheel car, one track and if you went off course the car would blow up (you got 3 lives).
Now, 30 years later, video games are so popular they have tournaments that pay big bucks. For those into driving games like me, if you win “Grand Turismo’s” online Tournament they invite you to a real life car driving tournament that can earn you a spot on a professional GT team. All from a video game? Yep.
Since owning my first Mustang, I drag raced a few times per year. Then in 1996, a friend introduced me to AutoX and SCCA Road Course racing. I raced my Mustang for a few years until my kids were born, which then became too expensive for me to continue. I looked for my racing bug in the gaming world. However, the console video game World- Play Station, XBOX and Wii only offers arcade style gaming which is not for me. It’s just too easy to win with a game controller. I want a steering wheel and I want to bang gears with shifter in hand. A few years ago, a friend mentioned iRacing. I looked into it and found it was a racing SIM (Simulator). How realistic could an online simulator be? Having the racing itch, I quickly signed up for $99 a yearly subscription that provided 6 Rookie cars and 6 tracks. I ordered a G27 Logitech Steering Wheel / Pedal / Shifter combo, $209. Next up was a gaming computer. I had one built for $725. I attached all this to one 32” High Def TV from my son’s room. Now I was all set and ready to race.
iRacing offers Road Course and Oval fans a variety of cars and tracks. A total of 28 cars are offered as well as 58 tracks. Each car and track is digitally scanned in its entirety for accuracy. Now, if you’re thinking of jumping in any car iRacing offers and holding it wide open around corners, then hold on a second. Again, this is no arcade game. Although iRacing provides assist at Rookie levels the cars you race are equal. Meaning in some instances you have to set the car up with tire pressure, caster / camber, toe, etc. in order to be faster than the competition. So I began to practice a Mazda MX-5 in Rookie competition and learned how to set up the car. I’ll be honest, the first few days I felt way overwhelmed. Everyone starts off as a Rookie. After a few clean races you establish a license number and safety rating number. Those numbers go up on how well you perform. License levels range from R (Rookie), D, C, B, A, PRO, etc. For those very few who make it to PRO status have an opportunity to race other PRO’s in World Events which can pay up to $10,500 per season. Still think you’ve got the goods?
Professional race teams in NASCAR, Indy, Grand AM, etc. use iRacing as a practice tool. NASCAR drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Lagano, Tony Stewart and more frequent iRacing to race against the best from all over the World. I ran into Matt Plumb who’s a former Continental Tire Champion in a Rookie race at Summit Park road course. You never know who you will race against.
I remember the first time I realized I had the lead in a Mazda MX-5 Rookie race at Okayama, Japan. I was sweating trying to hold onto the lead, afraid of making a mistake. There were 8 laps to go and 2nd place was coming. In my mind, I had wished the race would end now while I was the leader. I went on to win my first race. I have the “First Win” certificate framed on my wall to this day.
As time went on and I got better, I tried my hand at running a series called InRacing News Challenge. As a noob, I started in Division 7 (Division 1 being the faster guys). You race against all Division’s depending on your iRating. I went on to win 4 races that season and won my first Championship. Again, framed iRacing Certificate on my wall. In total, I’ve won a few Championships and racked up 55 Wins in 220 Starts. Currently, I am running the Grand Am series in a 550HP Ford Riley. I’m also getting ready to run the Mustang Challenge in my StangNet.com FR500.
My son, who is 13 years old, has his own iRacing account and loves oval racing (big NASCAR fan). He’s won 11 career oval races in 118 starts. It’s a family affair. My youngest son, who is 7, who will probably be better than all of us, eventually. He’s been testing since he was 5 years old. You have to be over 13 years old to have an iRacing account. He can’t wait to get his own iRacing account in a few years.
Recently I’ve retired my folding chair, desk, and HDTV for a racing RIG. Our RIG consists of full aluminum welded platform with racing seat, H-Pattern Shifter adapter, 3-LED 24” Monitors and upgraded PC that can handle the extra screens. The SIM RIGS start at a few hundred dollars and can exceed tens thousand dollars depending on your needs and budget. Motion RIGS are the craze right now. For those who want to feel every bump and turn. These start at $2,000 up to $10,000+. Not all this is needed to be great. The iRacing Cadillac CTS-VR Champion 3 Seasons in a row uses a 20” Monitor, folding chair, desk and shifter mounted to an ironing board. You have to see the creativity iRacers come up with in making DIY RIG’s.
iRacing also offers:
• Customize- Paint Schemes; they provide several schemes to choose from or you can create a custom one. Paint your helmet and fire suit.
• Hosted sessions- if you’d like to race with iRacing friends (rates apply).
• Spotter- if a friend needs your assistance during a race session (headset required).
• Ghost & Spectator- if you’re not ready to join an official race, this is a great practice tool. They can’t see or hear you. Or you can just watch the session.
• Leagues- join one or create one.
• Stats & Homepage- Keeps track of your racing progress with charts, starts, wins, top 5’s, etc.
• Driving School- iRacing has put together tips and tutorials for Rookies.
• Forums- come chat with other iRacing members about anything.
• Store- get your iRacing gear. Show others you’re an iRacer.
After almost 2 years on iRacing, I can say I’ve met some great people from all over the World. I am racing with people from Finland, Germany, France, Russia, etc. Since most use headsets when racing, you get to talk during races and come to know these people. iRacing is more than just racing to me, it’s a racing community. If you want to race competitively in the privacy of your own home at any time you want, then join iRacing immediately.
Please visit iRacing at www.iracing.com and check out some of my videos, below!
Here is me driving a Williams Formula 1 car:
Here is me driving an Indy car at Road America:
My son running NASCAR Trucks and I’m kinda spotting for him: