Racing a real car is completely different from racing a car in a simulation is something every real race car driver will tell you if you ask them. Sure there are many similarities as well, though fear and gforces aren’t one of them.
After recently acquiring myself a Direct Drive steering wheel and feeling the sheer power go through the wheel I asked myself “Is this how hard it is to turn a wheel of a real race car?”. Of course the internet is a great way to start a search and I quickly found an article about
how hard it is to drive an Indycar.
I configured my wheel settings to produce the same forces through my wheel and gave it a spin. Having lots of experience in lengthly running simulation race cars the first couple of sessions lasted less than 10 laps before feeling sore in the arms 🙂 . I used to be making fun of people who use gloves with their simulators, but after the first 2 sessions I quickly looked up a pair of old motorcycle gloves not to get any blisters!
Beside the strength required to get the car through a corner (yes, the last corner of Long Beach is pretty darn heavy!), the load you can feel build up when having elevation changes at the track is amazing. There is another new mental aspect to racing with a wheel configured at this strenght; the fear of hitting the wall!!!.
Imagine screens walking over your desks when you go through a bumpy section of the track… ouch, but the steering wheel going for a spin after you run into the wall can be quite painful… How quickly I adapted to letting go of the wheel shortly before slamming into the wall after having a sore thumb for a couple of days 🙂 .
How hard would it be to race with settings like these. A 45 minute race at Montreal was a good place to give it a go as there was many slow corner with only 2 corners that would produce well over 50nm’s of torque.
8 laps (10 minutes) into the race I checked how long I still had to go, since well… I wasn’t prepared to give up and fought myself into a rithem. The fear of hitting the wall remained, but the growing confidence in the car brought me closer and closer to the wall. When the tank was empty after 30 minutes I pitted for 15 minutes of fuel and some fresh tires. At that point I was repositioning my hands at the hairpin helping me to keep the corner tight. I was still putting in great lap times although starting to make tiny errors, possibly due to fatigue.
I finished the race and quickly hit the escape button to prevent people from running into me after the race finished (sometimes a habit in the league I run in). I felt the servo motor was pretty hot after 45 minutes. I was soaked myself since lap 5 and needed a drink. The glass was a little heavier then before and the day after my muscles still kept me aware I raced for 45 minutes at an easy to steer track.
Next up is finding out what the operating temperature limits of my servo motor are, since I would love to race again with these immersive settings if I don’t put my servo at risk!