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  • David Phillips
    Editor And Chief
    David Phillips is a long-time contributor to print and electronic publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Racer, Autosport, AutoWeek, Motor Sport and SPEEDtv.com, oversees the daily updating of news stories and assigns, edits and contributes feature material for inRacingNews.com.
  • David Judson
    Contributor

    29 years old, Dave Judson lives in Mentor, Ohio. Dave has grown up with racing, watching his father win races and championships at the local go-kart track as a youngster and continuing his love of racing while watching NASCAR, Indycar, Formula 1 and sports cars.
    Judson has enjoyed a successful sim-racing career of his own in the IZOD Indycar iRacing Open and Fixed Setup Series. He has race wins to his credits as well as the Division 1 Championship of the Open Series in Season 1 of 2013 and the Overall Championship of the Fixed Series in Season 3 of 2013.
    Dave has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University and is looking to expand his horizons by writing for inRacingNews.

  • Matt A Kingsbury
    Contributor

    Kingsbury lives in Fairfield, Connecticut where he currently attends Sacred Heart University. He is a fan of any form of racing, from NASCAR to IndyCar, Formula 1, and especially endurance racing. The summer of 2013 saw Kingsbury attend IndyCar's return to Pocono Raceway as well as the ARCA race at Pocono which Corey Lajoie won and got some pictures (including the accompanying mug shot) in Victory Lane thanks to his aunt!

  • Raymond Kingsbury
    Contributor

    Ray Kingsbury is a motorsport enthusiast and full-time university student, born and raised in Connecticut. He started his own racing career in BMX, riding bicycles competitively on the state level. In eight years he claimed the state championship and was ranked nationally before moving away from the sport. This void of activities led him to rediscover sim-racing in the form of NASCAR Heat. After a championship in the game's most competitive league Kingsbury started focusing full-time on his involvement in Live for Speed. There he founded Last Lap Motorsports which today has more than 20 members worldwide.

    When a few Last Lap Motorsports members decided to give iRacing.com a chance to feed their desire for more oval racing, Ray teamed with his brother Matt, Nathan Lamothe and newcomer Jimmie Jones to enter the ETV! Live Team Series and claimed the title after a dominating performance at Watkins Glen. To this day the team continues in both Live for Speed and iRacing.com and Ray still takes much delight in his own sim-racing career. A reporter for his high school newspaper before moving to university, Kingsbury keeps-up his writing activities by contributing to iRacing News.

  • Jeff Jacobs
    Contributor

    Jeff Jacobs started autocrossing with the SCCA in 1990 while a student at the University of Florida. He has competed in the SCCA's National Tour and ProSolo series since 1995, winning a ProSolo National Championship in H-Stock in 2011 driving a 2010 MINI Cooper. Jeff completed his SCCA Club Racing drivers' school in 2012 at Roebling Road in a Spec Miata. He currently writes a column for the SCCA's Northeast Division in SportsCar Magazine and is the Region Executive of the Philadelphia Region SCCA.

    Jeff joined iRacing in October 2012. After starting with the MX-5 and SRF cars, he has been concentrating on the Ford Mustang FR500S, competing in the iRacing.com Mustang Cup series and the Continental Endurance Sports Car Series.

  • Jordan Hightower
    Contributor

    Jordan began sim-racing in 2005 with the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season sim and then joined the iRacing community in June of 2008. He hails from Fort Smith, Arkansas where he is currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, after which he plans to attend the University of Arkansas to earn his MBA. Although he enjoys watching and playing basketball, most of Jordan's focus is on motorsports, particularly NASCAR: "Anything that burns gas and goes fast, I like."

  • Scott Kelly
    Contributor

    Born and raised in the greater St. Louis, Missouri area, Scott Kelly has had a love for motorsports ever since his father did the right thing by introducing auto racing into his life. No longer able to quench his need for speed by spectating NASCAR races on TV and watching dirt track stars slide around local tracks, Kelly eventually picked-up sim racing in his teens, wheeling cars found in Ratbag Games' "Dirt Track Racing" and "World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars" while also becoming introduced into multiple Papyrus sim-racing series. Joining the iRacing ranks in late 2011, Kelly set his sights on the short track racing he was familiar with, focusing on the sprint car, while also driving the Legends and street stock in multiple iRacing.com leagues.

    Kelly brings not just his enthusiasm for racing to the highest-rated motorsports simulation, but also his B.A. degree in English; he covers the action seen in the iRacing.com Sprint Car Series, while also placing the spotlight on various leagues within the service. Enjoying his start to a career in motorsports journalism, Kelly also doesn't mind visiting victory lane from time-to-time.

  • George Wood
    Contributing Writer
    After beginning his racing career with go-karts at age seven, George then turned wrenches on street stocks until he could finally turn the wheel. Following the successes of his friends and family, George has since retired from real-world racing, where he is now a science and mathematics faculty member for several local community colleges. When George isn't grading laboratory reports or iRacing, he is performing at bluegrass festivals in the Northeast, making fishing lures, playing golf, and rooting for his beloved Baltimore Orioles.
  • Chris Hall
    iRacing.com Series Writer
    Chris Hall has been writing since the nineties and moved into motorsports reporting in 2005, covering series such as ALMS, British GT, FIA GT, Le Mans and 2CV racing for Full Throttle magazine, Motorsport.com, The-Paddock.net, GTGateway.com, L' Endurance and, of course, inRacingNews. During 2008 and 2009, he worked with the RSS Performance Porsche Carrera Cup Team (and former British GT(C) champions) as a data engineer for a variety of drivers and models of 997s.
  • Jason Lofing
    iRacing.com Series Writer
    Jason is 21 years old and was born and raised in Elk Grove. California. A big time NASCAR fan, he hasn’t missed a race on Sunday in years. Lofing is also a huge San Fransisco Giants fan and tries to take in at least a couple games a year. Other than sim racing, his biggest (and far more expensive!) hobby is photography. Although he is rather new to sim racing, Lofing has already accomplished some pretty impressive results, qualifying for the 2011 iRacing Oval Pro Series in Season 1, 2011, winning the inaugural Landon Cassill Qualifying Challenge and finishing runner-up in the second one.
  • Dylan Sharman
    Contributing Writer
    I was born in Adelaide and we moved-out for Angle Vale for a few years until I was about 7 years old, when we moved to the Barossa Valley where I live now. I'm 19 years old and currently traveling back and forth weekly as I'm studying for a Diploma of Furniture Design and Technology.

    I've always had a love for racing as my close family did some racing and we were always out at the local dirt track. I joined iRacing back in 2010 and slowly but surely got the hang of it as this is my first experience with sim racing and am loving it each time I race. I've won two SK Modified titles (almost had three in a row but finished P2 in 2011 S4), an iRacingNews Challenge championship (2012 S1 Mazda) and was also an AustralAsian Intel GT Series Finalist.
  • Katier Scott
    Contributing Writer
    I am a veteran sim racer who first started racing way back in 1993 on the SPRTSIMS section of Compuserve with a league who can trace themselves all the way to the present. Within that league I act as Chief Steward and try to bring the unique viewpoint that this experience gives me into my articles.
    I have a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Editorial design and have been writing for seven years and currently cover the Lotus 79 CTC and Radical series alongside my freelance work. Living in the UK, as well as motorsports I love Photography, Arts and Crafts and reading.
  • David Ifeguni
    Contributing Writer
    I was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1988 and moved to Midland, Michigan when I was two years old. I stayed there until third grade when I moved to Farmington Hills, Michigan and now I currently live in Naperville, IL where I'm attending Metea Valley High School as a 9th grader. In the past, I have participated in soccer and this year I plan on joining swimming or water polo. My family includes my 15 year old sister, a 7 year old sister and my mom and dad. I have been writing since 6th grade and have participated in many writing contests in my school and have received several awards for writing.
    My fascination for motorsports began when I was nine. The first NASCAR race I watched on TV was the 2009 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, won by Kasey Kahne. My favorite NASCAR drivers are Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Jimmie Johnson. I have watched all the races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series since 2010. I currently have three wins on iRacing, two of them in the Nationwide car at Daytona and one in the Street stocks at Charlotte. My favorite car and type of track on iRacing is the Nationwide Series (B Class) car and superspeedways.

My VW TDI Experience

by Sean Siff, Marketing Manager, iRacing.com on December 26th, 2009

November 16th was a warm, sunny, picture perfect fall day in Alton, Virginia – home to Virginia International Raceway – and as chance would have it, I was climbing into a Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup race car!  The flu had struck one of my colleagues at iRacing, and I was given his opportunity to test drive one of the Jetta TDI Cup cars at VIR’s Patriot Course.  As a proud sponsor to the VW TDI Cup Series, we at iRacing feel that we have delivered a super-accurate version of the VW Jetta for our members to race against one another.  My goal was to put that belief to the test.

When the idea to bring the VW Jetta into iRacing was first being discussed, none of us here knew for sure how the car would be received by our membership.  Let us look at the stats for a moment; the race version of the Jetta tips the scales at a portly 3,000 lbs and it is front wheel drive!  However, once the car launched in our service, it quickly became one of iRacing’s most popular cars.  Every member I have spoken with enjoys the car and comments on the close racing since the set-ups are fixed.  It is a personal favorite of mine to drive in iRacing, so the chance to actually climb in the car and race it around the Patriot Course in reality was an opportunity I could not pass up.

The question was

"We at iRacing feel we have delivered a super-accurate version of the VW Jetta for our members to race against one another. My goal was to put that belief to the test."

In preparation for my inaugural Jetta TDI Cup experience, I did what any amateur racecar driver does . . . fantasize for the entire drive from Boston to Virginia on how I would be the fastest driver at the event and most likely be given a free TDI Cup ride from the motorsports manager of VW – Clark Campbell,  himself!

OK, back to reality for a moment.  What I actually did was practice in my spare time at home on iRacing in the Jetta at the Patriot Course so that the time I had in the real Jetta at the track wouldn’t be spent learning the racing line.  The second reason for practicing on iRacing was so that I could conduct my own experiment on how accurate our software is versus racing in the real world.  Since I work for iRacing, you may think I am a little biased, but we do accurately replicate tracks and race cars  down to one millimeter, and we have many more than a handful of pro drivers that use our software for training!  Anyway, the best time I could muster at home on iRacing was a 53.180 lap time.

Our intrepid reporter takes to the VIR Patriot Course.

Our intrepid reporter takes to the VIR Patriot Course.

Now, two days later, with my borrowed VW driver suit and trusty – albeit smelly – race helmet on snuggly, I was actually climbing in to the #18 iRacing-sponsored Jetta TDI Cup car for my first session.  Minutes earlier, Jan Heylan, the VW Jetta TDI Cup chief driving instructor, gave me a fast (emphasis on FAST) ride around the Patriot Course.  He took a slow lap and then a fast lap, emphasizing proper gear selection and braking technique.  The car was on two tires through at least five corners and when he hit the brake pedal my insides were quickly rearranged!

Now it was my turn.  My first impression was that the care wasn’t all that quiet inside.  With a VW-tuned exhaust, the diesel engine’s noise was clearly audible, especially as it approached the top of each gear.  Thanks to the driver who preceded me in the car, the tires were already warm, so I didn’t need to take it very easy.  The car shifted at exactly the same points as the iRacing version, and I liked the smooth steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.  My Spec-Miata redlines at about 6,800 rpm, so it took me a few sessions to get used to shifting at around 4,000 rpm in the Jetta.  The shift lights and gear indicator were exactly where they are in iRacing, so it was easy for me to adjust to the car.

My first session on the Patriot Course had me following the 2009 VW Jetta TDI Cup Champion, Timmy Megenbier, in his Jetta.  By following him, I was able to learn from his braking and shifting points.  Despite my best efforts, I was not able to stay with him, even when I got comfortable enough to try.  After completing my first session in the car, my best lap time came down to about 54.300.  Not fast enough for my imagined fantasy free ride in the Jetta TDI Cup in 2010.

In my second session I went out by myself to see if I could combine my iRacing practice with the instruction I had been given by Timmy and Jan.  Once I got in the groove I turned a 52.617.  It was the fastest I dared to go on the technical and tight course, but FASTER than my practice time on iRacing.  On warm tires the car was confidence-inspiring; it stuck through the corners to the point where I could hop it up on two wheels as much as I dared through some of the sweeping “S” turns, and the brakes were, in a word, Dynamite!  The Jetta TDI Cup car has the same brake rotors and calipers as the Audi R8 (with ABS) and I never experience any brake fade.

Two sessions later, Siff -- and the iRacing.com VW Jetta TDI -- are unscathed.

Two sessions later, Siff -- and the iRacing.com VW Jetta TDI -- are unscathed.

After the session, I went to speak with Jan and Timmy about my fastest lap.  They handed me a slice of humble pie and explained the track record is a 49-50 second lap.  Well, not bad for an iRacer/ SCCA club racer.  I was only two and a half seconds off the track record.  And the eternal optimist in me reminded myself there is plenty of room for improvement.  Overall, the experience was awesome.  The Jetta was fast and handled as predictably as it does in iRacing.  The torquey diesel willed the car up the hill and through the corners with ease.  I was impressed.  It felt faster in real life than in iRacing . . . maybe because when I run out of talent in the real world I can actually get hurt or stuff the car into a wall.

Racing the Jetta TDI Cup car around the Patriot Course was an experience I will not soon forget.  To bookend my experience, when I got back my home I loaded up the Patriot Course on iRacing to see if I could take what I learned from reality and apply it to iRacing.  I ended-up running a 51.235 on iRacing as my fastest time.  I was certainly more daring in iRacing than in reality as errors are solved by the convenience of a quick reset button.  More importantly, after driving the course in the flesh, I was able to go a little deeper into the braking zones and be a little more aggressive over some of the curbing in iRacing.  The Jetta handled brilliantly and I can attest that it is a digital replica of the real car!

A big Thank you to Clark Campbell and entire VW Jetta TDI Cup crew who provided the cars and the track time.  Thanks also to Ryan and Parker at 3-Wide Life/LVRG for some great photos of the event.

11 Comments or Trackbacks

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  1. Peter Read
    December 26th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Way to go Sean!! :D

  2. Steve Claeys
    December 26th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Nice read and also great to see that you learned from the iRacing experience and back.
    You improved your virtual time immensly by racing the real thing.
    The link between the virtual and the real thing is getting more important by the day.

    Yea, I am jealous. :-)

  3. John Prather
    December 26th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Awesome, I’m really happy to see Sean get this kind of opportunity, he’s a great guy. The Jetta in iRacing is really very, very good compared to the real thing.

  4. Robin Clarke
    December 26th, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    What a great experience all round for you. Thanks for the great story behind it. Good luck in your future RL and virtual endeavors :)

  5. Steve Myers
    December 27th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Good story Sean! I was the unfortunate sap that got sick and went home or I would have embarrassed Sean. :)

    Keep your eyes out for a 3 Wide Life segment in February about this day when we had one of their hosts run this same experiment.

    Steve

  6. peeH
    December 27th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    See that! Always be prepared, you never know when the flu will struck. That’s what I tell myself when I go watch a Nationwide race. “Hey you! You know how to drive a Class B impala?” “YES!!!”

  7. Lincoln Miner
    December 28th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    That was a great story. I’m always impressed by how close real life and iRacing lap times can be. Often I see the times in sim racing are significantly faster as in 5 seconds or more, but iRacing always seems to be just about identical.

    Well written article and glad you got a chance to run the Jetta in real life. Lucky you! :-)

  8. Shawn Murphy
    December 28th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Very cool.

    Perhaps something will get signed with BMW someday and we’ll see a Spec3 series so a car similar to what I’m becoming familiar with will show up in Iracing.

  9. Sam Hazim
    December 29th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Great story – unlucky Steve, presumably you’ll get a chance to do something similar soon (always the bridemaid, never the bride it seems!)

    Was this the reason why we had a 24HdF featuring the Jetta at Patriot Reverse some time ago? And I guess the next question is, was Sean using the reverse layout of Patriot or not?

  10. DarioF
    December 29th, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    “was Sean using the reverse layout of Patriot or not?”

    Judging by the photo, it wasn’t the reverse layout.

    Great read!

  11. Sean Siff
    January 1st, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments on this article. I was quite lucky to have this opportunity and greatly enjoyed sharing it with all of you. To answer your question, Sam, we drove the Patriot Course at VIR… which in iRacing is currently labled as Patriot Reverse. So, yes, it was the iRacing Patriot Reverse course that we drove in November.

    I hope to complete another experiment like this later this spring and look forward to sharing it with all of you.

    Have a great New Year!

    Sean