Many motorsports and car enthusiasts crave an opportunity to test their driving skills in a race track car, but the expensive elements of such an activity limit them to only a select few. Fortunately, with the expansion of technology, you no longer need a track to race on a track. You do not even need a car.
Sure, you could just go to a sim-racing game center and pay an hourly fee to use the race setups there. But if you want to race in the comfort of your own home and choose your own game and rig, try sim racing at home.
If you want to start sim-racing, you need to choose a racing sport, the right game for that sport, and the right racing setup. We will cover all these ends in this article.
What is sim-racing?
Sim racing or simulation racing is a video game that simulates the real aspects of racing as best as possible. Sim racing games use the latest technologies to recreate the physics of driving in the real world. Combined with devices such as a steering wheel, a gearshift, a hand brake, a racing seat, a giant monitor and more, sim-racing can mimic racing to the point where it is no longer different from real racing.
Sim-racing has improved so much that even F1 world champion max verstappen uses sim-racing for practice. With a good setup, sim-racing can improve your real driving skills, no matter if you are a professional or an amateur.
Professional sim-racers usually race on PC, because there are more sim-racing games available on PC than on consoles. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t simulate races on a console. One of the best sim racing games, assetto corsa, is available for PS4, xbox one and PC.
What sim racing should you choose?
Just like in real racing, there are many types of sim racing that you can participate in. Although you are essentially racing a car in all of them, these sports are drastically different. Being a brilliant F1 driver doesn’t mean you’re also a great rally driver.
- Formula racing: race with extremely fast formula cars with open wheels. F1 races are often up to 370 kilometers per hour fast. Formula races take place on special formula race tracks. When you race at such a speed, your car’s tires will be heavily stressed, and you will have to make pit stops to get new tires and get back into the race.
- Drift racingdrifting with the car is the essence of this sport. In drift racing you have to intentionally oversteer and lose traction to drift the car. these races have a judge-based system where you earn points in each round depending on how well you drift. Formula drift is one of the most famous tournaments in which you compete with powerful cars built for drifting.
- Rally racing: racing in rough terrain, with rugged cars. tarmac is one thing rally cars rarely drive on – rally races take place on gravel roads or even on snow. these races have a point-to-point form, where you drive from the start to the finish instead of lapping on a race course. Next to the main driver sits a co-driver on the passenger side to navigate, telling them where to turn and how hard to turn.
- Tour race: racing with modified road cars. Teams are beefing up tour race cars to withstand more stress and deliver higher performance compared to their stock versions. Tour races usually take place on circuits where you have to lap the circuit and finish first.
Racing is of course not limited to the four sports mentioned here. There are many types of racing, of which the ones mentioned are among the most popular ones.
Which sim racing games are the best??
There is a wide range of sim racing games to choose from. The decisive factor here is the gaming platform on which they play (PC, xbox, PS) and the racing sport they want to play. Some of these games offer less realism than others, but are still reasonably realistic for simulation racing.
- Assetto corsa: assetto corsa has one of the most realistic physics and even has annual championships with enticing prize pools. The title is available for PC, xbox one and PS4. Assetto corsa has an enthusiastic community that creates new mods for tracks and cars for public use.
- Iracing: super realistic racing physics and cars. Iracing has a wide selection of manufacturer-approved cars, including streetcars, open-wheel cars, and more. The only thing you may not like about iracing is that it is subscription based and you have to pay extra money to buy additional cars. Iracing is available on the PC.
- dirt rally 2.0: the full rally simulation experience. This title has a fantastic array of legendary cars that come with the base game, and some more that come with the DLC. Dirt rally 2.0 is available for PC, xbox one and PS4.
- Rfactor 2This is the simulation used by professional racing teams and NASCAR manufacturers. It includes a limited number of cars and tracks in the base game, and you will have to pay extra money to buy more tracks and cars separately or in packages. Rfactor 2 also has a very active community that adds new cars and tracks to the game as mods. Rfactor 2 is available on the PC.
- F1 2021: the official F1 game. This game has a story mode plot among other modes and features real race tracks, cars and teams. F1 2021 is available for PC, xbox one, xbox series X/S, PS4 and PS5.
- Forzamotorsport 7: forza motorsport is not an absolute simulation game, but it has a good sense of realism in its physics. the franchise awaits a makeover that will feature brand new racing physics. Forza motorsport 7 is available for PC and xbox one. The game is not available in digital form, and you will need a physical copy if you want to buy it.
- Gran turismo sport: the full-fledged racing simulation game exclusively from sony. Gran turismo offers a wide choice of tracks and cars and is a fan favorite among playstation gamers. The series gets its newest addition this year, gran turismo 7. Gran turismo sport is available for PS4.
See also: this is how racing games feel faster
What do you need for a real sim-racing-rig?
photo credit: jim makos/flickr
Of course, you can get into sim racing by simply installing a sim racing game and playing it with a controller. But that would defeat the whole purpose of the simulation, as driving a car with a controller will likely shatter the realism of your sim experience.
so to get the full simulation experience, you need to get a suitable sim-racing rig. this part of the setup for sim racing is the most expensive and the price increases depending on how realistic you want your setup to feel.
- Game platformfirst things first, you need a platform to install the sim game on. If you decide to get a PC, get a high-end PC. Sim racing games are demanding and frame-drops and other issues like this can seriously affect your racing experience.
- Gaming monitor: in a real race, you look at the road through the car’s windshield. In a sim race, you look at the road through your monitor. This means that ideally you will need a gaming monitor as big as a windshield to achieve full realism. Multi-monitor setups and curved monitors are popular options for sim racing. Besides the size, the refresh rate and the reaction time are also crucial.
- wheelhere you can convert your gaming setup into a sim-racing setup. There are many types of bikes at different prices. One thing you should pay attention to is feedback. When you accelerate in a real car, the steering wheel wants to return to the neutral position. Sim racing bikes have engines in them that do just that. Depending on the wheel you buy, this feedback can be very realistic, weak or even non-existent.
- Pedals: pedals are the next actual sim racing equipment you need to get. Depending on the type of racing you want to get into, you can get either a clutchless pedal set (gas and brake pedal only) or one with gas, brake and clutch. you can also get each pedal separately according to your wishes.
- Sim-racing cockpit: this is the piece that will take your setup from amateur to professional. A racing cockpit includes a racing seat, as well as stands and mounts for the monitor, steering wheel, and more.
- Periphery: there are other instruments you can add to your setup. If you are not happy with shift paddles that usually come with your wheels, you can invest in an H-pattern shift stick. Or if you want to get into drifting, you should get a handbrake.
See also: the best beginner sim racing bikes for PS4, xbox one, and PC
Driving and practicing
There are many elements to consider if you want to get into sim racing at home. Once you have chosen your sim racing game and the racing sport you are most interested in, you will need to purchase the appropriate sim racing equipment.
finally, when you have everything set up, it’s time to get in the driver’s seat and put your foot on the gas pedal. from now on it is up to you and you alone. Getting a top-notch sim-racing setup won’t make you a racing champion, but practicing definitely will.
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About the author
Amir M. Bohlooli
(68 published articles)
Amir is a pharmacy student with a passion for technology and gaming. He likes to play music, drive cars and write words.
More from amir M. Bohlooli
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