iJump Back on the Wagon – iRacing Battle Log, Day 159

Day 159: October 30th, 2013

I certainly haven’t abandoned iRacing, but in a sense, I fell off the wagon for a while there.

Between vacations I had already scheduled and devoting free time to the Giant Bomb Racing League, I let my first full-length official season in fall apart. It doesn’t even matter when I finished in the Skip Barber Race Series points, since I ran a fraction of the races I should have for a proper season.

Anyways, that needs some correcting. Before then, though, I feel it’s necessary to discuss what went right and wrong before renewing my battle with iRacing:

What Went Right

  • I’m a C license now

Thanks to an extraordinarily safe time in the Miatas at the start of my career, followed by a handful of slow-yet-adequate races in the Skip Barber last season, I've earned a C license with relatively little effort. This gives me access to a couple of new series that are rather interesting, including the Star Mazda championship, V8 Supercars, and what was once my end goal, the Grand-Am Series.

There’s also Grand Prix Legends with the deadly Lotus 49, but that’s a level of insanity well beyond my tolerance.

The logical next step beyond the Formula 2000 is the Star Mazda, since it’s a modern open-wheel car with more power and grip than its little Skippy brother-from-another-mother. It doesn't have iRacing’s newest tire model, though, and frankly, I didn't complete a full season in a D license series. That eats away at me somewhat.

Still, I’m beginning to think my goals in iRacing are changing.

  • This Giant Bomb League thing’s actually kind of working out

The most significant sign that iRacing is no longer just about me on this site can be seen pretty easily in our League roster. We have 63 site members signed up.

Seriously. I know the Forza clubs have had hundreds, and there’s thousands in the Steam groups, but this is iRacing. It’s like racing DotA 2, except you have to buy the stupid hats and swords to progress. I expected we might have about 20 people join our ranks, and we've tripled that number.

Not only do we have a bunch of people, they’re incredibly talented. Not counting the wonderful logos B0nd07 and aurahack have donated, our members put together great videos and guides. I’m still floored every time I watch DavyC412’s Formula Duder promo video:

  • I’m getting hooked on this streaming thing

A nice side effect of both this blog and the flourishing league is that I’m becoming more experienced with using XSplit, streaming to Twitch, and talking into a camera pointed at my skull. While I don’t ever expect it to take off on any grand level – my highest viewer count was 22 after an unexpected Rorie TweetZone plug – I do hope I can build my streams and videos into a nice resource for people who don’t care to spend the crazy money on iRacing but still want to see what it’s all about. Plus, XSplit allows me to throw together a bunch of graphics and video to improve my production quality, and that’s a thrill for me in itself.

Hell, I’m listening to music these days and thinking, “Hell, I bet I could use this as a theme for a series without getting in copyright trouble.” It’s dangerous thinking.

One unfortunate limitation of my current situation: My “turbo” Internet is awfully slow. My upstream bandwidth is 1.15 Mbps, which severely limits the quality of what I can stream, most especially when I have to ease off the limit so that my car doesn't warp around the track for my fellow competitors. I’ll hopefully be able to fix this in the next month or so, but I’m not looking forward to visiting my cable company and reminding them that I already own a cable modem that can handle your fastest bonded speed just set it up already I have the money geez

  • I have an awesome livery for my Formula 2000

Oh, and DavyC412 didn't just make an awesome video for the Formula Duder series, he made this really cool livery for my Skip Barber Formula 2000.

It’s just the bee’s knees, you know? I’m definitely fond of it, and I’ll be using it for all of my Skip Barber races from now on. A full season’s worth, even. Seriously.

What Went Terribly, Terribly Wrong

  • Somebody forgot to practice

Practice leads to confidence, and confidence leads to results. Unsurprisingly, my lack of gusto in putting forth the necessary laps each week killed me. It’s not fun arriving at a Saturday, Sunday, or even a last-chance Monday race and not knowing the track well enough to run a decent lap. That leads to panic about safety rating, since the easiest way to destroy my new C license is to spin or crash several times in a race.

Partway through last season, after dropping a few weeks, I realized just how problematic this was going to be. I jumped into a late-week practice session at Mosport, having never driven the track in any game before. I figured I could pick it up well enough and run reasonable enough lines to run mid-pack in a split somewhere in the middle of the skill range.

Then you crest a hill like this not knowing what’s beyond it, and realize you have absolutely no clue what you’re doing.

Yeah. It’s a fast turn, but learning to take this quickly and safely in the span of an hour before a race? It wasn't going to happen, and my inability to jump into practice in a timely manner gutted my chances of having an opportunity to race. I’m not going to put myself out there and screw over my safety rating because I don’t know what I’m doing, after all.

With that in mind, I’m going to have to keep reminding myself to practice as many days as possible. Devoting full nights to practice isn’t necessary, either, so it’s not like I’ll have to take away time from other games I have to play. Instinct for tracks and breeding familiarity with braking points, racing lines, and car control nuances tends to solidify somewhat over nights of sleep, anyways.

Just don’t make it too many nights of sleep like I did last season. That’s a great way to solidify an excuse about being rusty.

  • The league could still be more active

I’m being picky, but despite 63 members, our biggest race so far has only featured around a dozen participants. I know that there’s no way we’ll get everyone together for one gigantic and amazing race, and I may be starting slow in the number of races we’re offering, but I certainly feel that I owe everyone in the league a chance to enjoy themselves among fellow duders. I’m going to keep working on increasing participation, regardless of the cost.

Hosting five races a week is still cheaper than most fast food meals, anyways.

  • I spent way too much money on cars and tracks I don’t need to use…yet

I’ll leave this discussion for another time, and the specifics of what iRacing has cost me thus far.

What Lies Ahead

For now, my mission is intentionally simple:

Repeat the Skip Barber Race Series, run a full 12-week season this time, and keep the Giant Bomb Racing League rolling.

Once I’m back to using the Skip Barber regularly and have my safety rating over 4.00, I think it’s best for my purposes to jump into a C-level vehicle like the Star Mazda and run time trials. These aren’t great fun, but successfully completing four trials while above 4.00 would boost me up to a B license and open up just about every official road event available. If time and luck are willing, I could repeat this process to reach an A license, which is just about the best I can possibly hope for at this or any other point.

That’s not to say I’m going to rush up the pseudo-career ladder in iRacing. Rather, I intend to take my time working up through the various series, and I’m hoping to record various practice and race sessions live, even if I don’t stream them. I think showing off what I’m going though in the moment of action is far more interesting than attempting to narrate a race afterwards.

I’m ready. I’m back on the wagon. My battle with iRacing is nowhere close to over.

Let’s keep fighting.

18 Comments
18 Comments
Posted by fleabeard

I feel super bad about not being able to join the races, hopefully my Fridays and Saturdays clear up in November.

Posted by SkullcrusherMountain

@pseg: My offer of the raffle car for 15 or more finishers in a FD race stands, and if I get this new job I interviewed for this week, I'll definitely offer other things, too. But I'd also be willing to run hosted races if we can get good attendance so you don't have to spend all your money.

Posted by datarez

Nice update. Yeah step 1 of the guide rears it's head... Practice. But really I'm A license and still love running the skippy, it a blast of a car as you know with the FD races. It's the easiest car to get into some awesome side-by-side battles that usually have good results for all parties.

Posted by midnight_cook

@pseg "Hosting five races a week is still cheaper than most fast food meals, anyways."

Whaaat? I'm stunned that you have to pay for that, surely you are just increasing the interest in iRacing and they can take the trade-off in subscription fees they receive? Ridiculous. Well a big thanks then pseg, not only organising it but paying for the privilege.

As a side note my lack of attendance last week and sadly this week (at the Duder events) is due to daylight saving kicking in, shifting the time of the event from 10:30AM to 11:30AM (closer to the time when I have to actually do stuff). Still I will participate where I can, it is a fun bunch of people whom are all handily better than i so there's lots to learn!

Finally, it is good to read another blog entry on your journey. Your words and videos kept me satisfied earlier this year whilst I was waiting for my wheel to arrive and my newly minted iRacing subscription gathered dust. I'm up to D class too and am currently logging time practicing at Suzuka for next week, forgoing a shot at the Glen.

Cheers.

Edited by Trace

Definitely want to clarify that pricing out hosted races like that isn't to bemoan the cost of paying for each session so much as I'm finding it surprisingly affordable compared to other life expenses. I'm sure I'll pick up on the total cost of iRacing for me thus far in a future blog, and when that happens, those $0.75 fees are going to look downright paltry.

@skullcrushermountain said:

But I'd also be willing to run hosted races if we can get good attendance so you don't have to spend all your money.

Don't worry so much about that! I'm still willing to host ideas other people have on my dime, and we're nowhere near a point where I'm concerned about my monthly expenses. Not that I'd stop you if you want to go ahead and set up events -- that'd be rad.

I think I said this a while back, but it still stands: If anyone has a series idea they want to brainstorm and/or run at times we're not currently using, just let me know. I see nothing wrong with loading up the league calendar at this point, since I don't think it'll draw people away from the weekend stuff.

Moderator
Posted by SkullcrusherMountain

@pseg: I'd really like to do an F1 series. I probably won't be at A level any time soon, but REALLY want to run them. I think we've got at least 5 or 6 people who have the car, and I'm sure a few others who'd get it. Maybe even run a mini series, with half a dozen tracks or so that are good for F1. Could even open it up to the general public to get a decent race count, but do some SR filters or something to keep dildoes out. Would be a good way to maybe grow the league proper.

Edited by IroN1c

I don't own the A license or F1 car yet but I would definitely buy the car for a GB league. Why not do a one-off F1 race in the next weeks to test the waters?

Edit:

Maybe a race at Interlagos on the final F1 weekend?

Edited by maxx77

I'm more or less in the same boat. I intended to play a lot more iRacing this past season than what I wound up doing. I bought the Skip, all the tracks (and then some) for that series... and then neglected to do any official races other than the occasional time trial (and Friday Night Thunder). When I was a rookie I played this game a lot. Soon as I got to D license I kinda fell off the wagon. I don't intend to let that happen this season though. I enjoy this game way too much, and spent far too much money, to not be playing it. Still not sure if I like oval or road racing more, but I own nearly all the road courses, so might as well focus on the Skip Barber series.

@SkullcrusherMountain: I'd be right there with you on an unofficial F1 series. That car is so much fun. I'll take any excuse to race it again prior to hitting the A license. As long as I can figure out how to make it go in a straight line on ice cold tires anyway.

Posted by SkullcrusherMountain
Posted by maxx77

@skullcrushermountain Well that explains a lot. I guess if I'm going to drive F1 I need to actually use the clutch pedal.

I tried the clutch pedal with iRacing only once so far. I could not figure it out. I drive a 5-speed Shelby Mustang in real life and love driving with the manual transmission. When I tried using the clutch in iRacing, I couldn't even get it to acknowledge that I was going from 1st to 2nd gear half the time. Don't know if the timing in the game is just that out of whack with reality, or if it just doesn't work correctly with my Fanatec pedals and H-shifter. Honestly I haven't spent any time troubleshooting it or looking through the forums for help, but now I probably will seeing as it's pretty much necessary to drive F1. Thanks for the link.

Edited by Khann

@maxx77: The only time you need a clutch pedal with a modern F1 car is for the launch, though. And really, unless you're racing at the same level as the guys in that thread, you can probably just get away with feathering your throttle and not even worrying about the clutch on launch. It's impossible to stall in iRacing, so that's not a concern. One thing that is absolutely essential (in my opinion) is left foot braking. Having that instant on/off, and being able to easily trail brake makes the car much more stable.

re: the clutch, it's definitely not iRacing out of time. What car were you using when you were having difficulties?

Posted by maxx77

@khann said:

One thing that is absolutely essential (in my opinion) is left foot braking. Having that instant on/off, and being able to easily trail brake makes the car much more stable.

I was actually thinking about removing the clutch pedal from the base and sliding the brake pedal over in its place since I never use it in iRacing. I like using it in Forza, but I haven't touched that game since I got into this game. I hadn't considered that left foot braking would make the cars more stable. I was thinking of doing it mostly because there's nothing for my left foot to do in these races.

I don't recall which cars I tested with, but I'm sure I tried the Mustang. I may have tried the MX-5 too. I'll play around with it later today and see what it does. If I still can't get it to shift like a real car, I'm taking that clutch pedal out. And if it does start functioning like it's supposed to... I might take the clutch pedal out anyway just to at least test left foot braking.

For what it's worth, I use the Fanatec CSR Wheel with the CSR Shifter and CSR Elite Pedals.

Posted by SkullcrusherMountain

@maxx77 said:

@khann said:

One thing that is absolutely essential (in my opinion) is left foot braking. Having that instant on/off, and being able to easily trail brake makes the car much more stable.

I was actually thinking about removing the clutch pedal from the base and sliding the brake pedal over in its place since I never use it in iRacing. I like using it in Forza, but I haven't touched that game since I got into this game. I hadn't considered that left foot braking would make the cars more stable. I was thinking of doing it mostly because there's nothing for my left foot to do in these races.

I don't recall which cars I tested with, but I'm sure I tried the Mustang. I may have tried the MX-5 too. I'll play around with it later today and see what it does. If I still can't get it to shift like a real car, I'm taking that clutch pedal out. And if it does start functioning like it's supposed to... I might take the clutch pedal out anyway just to at least test left foot braking.

For what it's worth, I use the Fanatec CSR Wheel with the CSR Shifter and CSR Elite Pedals.

Before I got my TH8RS, I had a hell of a time with the CSR shifter. It would mostly work, but about once every 8-10 shifts, it would miss 4th gear. No idea why. One of the reasons I switched to the thrustmaster. I would check to make sure your pedals are calibrated right - I do know that at one point, I wasn't pushing the clutch pedal in as far as I thought since the clutch pedal didn't actually catch for the first 1/2 inch of travel or so.

Posted by Khann

@maxx77 said:

@khann said:

One thing that is absolutely essential (in my opinion) is left foot braking. Having that instant on/off, and being able to easily trail brake makes the car much more stable.

I was actually thinking about removing the clutch pedal from the base and sliding the brake pedal over in its place since I never use it in iRacing. I like using it in Forza, but I haven't touched that game since I got into this game. I hadn't considered that left foot braking would make the cars more stable. I was thinking of doing it mostly because there's nothing for my left foot to do in these races.

I don't recall which cars I tested with, but I'm sure I tried the Mustang. I may have tried the MX-5 too. I'll play around with it later today and see what it does. If I still can't get it to shift like a real car, I'm taking that clutch pedal out. And if it does start functioning like it's supposed to... I might take the clutch pedal out anyway just to at least test left foot braking.

For what it's worth, I use the Fanatec CSR Wheel with the CSR Shifter and CSR Elite Pedals.

You don't have to go quite so far as removing your clutch pedal ;)

Posted by maxx77

The reason I was going to remove the clutch pedal was because I wasn't using it. It detaches fairly easily thanks to the modular design of the CSR pedals. I was then going to slide the brake pedal over in its place and then race with my left foot on the brake. I could drive with my left foot on the brake pedal with all three pedals in place, but it would be awkward thanks to the center post of the Playseat I use.

I have it set up right now to where I can reach the gas and brake with my right foot, but that center post doesn't make it too comfortable. I'd like to replace this seat but I haven't found a good replacement yet that will meet my needs and not cost too much. I'd like one that's small and light enough to be able to be moved out of the way (I sit in front of a tv when I race), but also be able to accommodate a flight stick and throttle. But that's neither here nor there, I probably won't invest in another rig until sometime next year at the earliest.

I'm about to hop into iRacing right now and see how it goes with manual clutch again. Do any of you know if it's possible to do a test session and have cold tires? I'd like to practice launching the F1 with race-day conditions.

Posted by maxx77

So this time my testing was a success. For the most part, it was letting me shift just fine. I only had one incident where the game got stuck in neutral and wouldn't let me put it into any gear. That's the behavior it was doing before, only it was happening every other shift. Tonight, that only happened once.

So, I don't know. Works fine for now it seems. iRacing is funny sometimes. On our last Friday race, push-to-talk wouldn't work at all. Tonight, I pushed the button and it transmitted just fine. I didn't change anything.

The only thing I didn't really get to test with the clutch was the F1 car. iRacing is doing some kind of auto-clutch when that car is at a full stop. Maybe so the engine doesn't die? When I give it gas, it automatically lets out the clutch. Doesn't matter if I push the pedal or not, it ignores my input. And then once the car is going, I can flip through all the gears without touching the clutch pedal, as if the car were fully automatic. Is this normal, or just something the game does in test sessions on that car? I don't have the options set up specifically for that car. I checked and it's not on auto-clutch.

Edited by Khann

@maxx77 said:

The only thing I didn't really get to test with the clutch was the F1 car. iRacing is doing some kind of auto-clutch when that car is at a full stop. Maybe so the engine doesn't die? When I give it gas, it automatically lets out the clutch. Doesn't matter if I push the pedal or not, it ignores my input. And then once the car is going, I can flip through all the gears without touching the clutch pedal, as if the car were fully automatic. Is this normal, or just something the game does in test sessions on that car? I don't have the options set up specifically for that car. I checked and it's not on auto-clutch.

iRacing puts the clutch in for every car when it's at a stop, to prevent stalling. Dunno why that isn't implemented.

It's somewhat realistic with the F1 car as they do actually have anti-stall systems. An F1 car also doesn't use the clutch for anything other than launching, so you can freely go up and down the gears without it.

And yeah, I get those PTT issues sometimes as well.

Edited by maxx77

@khann said:

It's somewhat realistic with the F1 car as they do actually have anti-stall systems. An F1 car also doesn't use the clutch for anything other than launching, so you can freely go up and down the gears without it.

Ah, that explains that then. I wondered why it was behaving that way, but it makes sense after all.

I guess I'll have to set up a hosted race sometime to practice launching the car without pre-warmed tires. Might wait until we actually get F1 races scheduled though. No point practicing too much right now.

-BTW

I did my first official Skip Barber Race tonight. I skipped qualifying so that I would start in the back. I wound up finishing 6th. That's nothing to really brag about, but I finished best in my class. Only one incident, in which I went so wide on a corner to avoid a car that I was passing that I touched the grass and spun around (didn't hit anyone or anything though). Who knows how much better I might have finished had I qualified and not had that screw-up. I'm very pleased with the result. I was actually passing other cars, which is a miracle for me on road courses. Got a huge boost to my safety rating as a result.

Anyway, not that I think it significantly contributed, but I used the clutch pedal in this race. The pedal is gonna stay now. Thanks for the advice guys. And sorry to hijack your thread PsEG, wasn't intentional!