By trace 2 Comments
Day 97: August 29th, 2013
The only thing separating me from Seattle and PAX Prime is a short night of sleep and an early trip to the airport.
My schedule’s been somewhat busy as of late, filled with trips and sequence breaks from the usual Monday to Friday work week. While it’s no excuse, and it certainly hasn't kept me away from iRacing entirely, it has forced me into some rather hasty, last-minute races.
Somehow, I’m still emerging from these events without absolutely ruining my safety rating or even iRating. It’s a bit surprising.
I had no right to run an incident-free race at Watkins Glen, much less a race where I almost finished in the top five. I had run about six laps earlier in the week, fraught with spins and crashes. They were messy and overly aggressive, attacking turns I had yet to witness anybody run properly and paying dearly for foolhardy mistakes.
Somehow, I convinced myself not to give up the week, but rather take on the last time slot for the weekly race. A quick video of a fast lap was my retraining for the race, along with a recommended setup. Two sketchy test laps later, I entered the race and expected the worst.
I’m not sure how I managed to piece together what I had seen into twelve clean laps, but it happened.
Despite my limited experience, when the Skip Barber Formula 2000 is tuned reasonably well, it’s responsive. Once it’s there, the handling profile remains roughly the same: Smooth inputs, careful steering, and quick corrections in both the wheel and pedals for any slides in the event a corner is over-driven. It’s a case of patience with the car, and while it’s tempting to want to push for faster lap times, often this aggression leads to the sort of spins and wrecks I found myself dodging early on in my race.
Somehow, I’d found a happy balance between cautious driving and attacking the turns. It might not have been a winning effort, but it felt good.
In the meantime, another effort’s been brewing in the world of iRacing.
Spreading the Sim Infection
I mentioned it in my last log, but the Giant Bomb Racing League now has 46 members. That’s way larger than I ever expected, and it creates an interesting situation where we have the potential to go beyond small league races into large fields of drivers not usually seen in official races.
The lack of an official designation helps ease any tension in these races, too. Safety rating and iRating aren't on the line in league races, so there’s less fear of penalties for going off-track or losing control. While this occasionally leads to more aggressive battles on track, it also allows a pleasant amount of experimentation outside of the usual boundaries. Less popular cars can be brought into events and paired with beginner-friendly cars, and oddball weather conditions, including more realistic weather, can be implemented.
My favorite part of these events is how condensed they are from start to finish. For official races, you have a week to practice, qualify, and pick a race that runs every one to two hours. It’s a lot of time to panic and fret about whether you’re good enough to compete or not. In league and hosted events, there’s a few hours to utilize for practice, qualifying, and a single race. Typically, unless you’re the type to enjoy endurance events or long practice sessions, you stick to the minimum two hours. Having just 40 minutes to practice, 20 to 25 minutes to qualify, and a 30 to 40 minute race all in one stint really grinds out the practice and the laps for a track. If you’re not used to a car, it’s an intense way to become familiar. Not used to a track? It’ll help, at least. iRacing may not be as malleable as games like Forza when it comes to customization and options online, but it’s a damn fine way to devote a few hours to a track and car.
For someone who’s falling way too deep into the sim racing hole (again), this is a grand experience. It will be explored further…and perhaps with a little chaos thrown in. Can’t be too serious about our racing, after all.
Here’s a few recaps of our test races in the Giant Bomb Racing League, if you’re interested.