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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, oversees the daily updating of news stories and assigns, edits and contributes feature material for
  • Wil Vincent
    Contributing writer

    Wil is a 25 year old student, town planner, and sim racing commentator, most well known for his work as the lead commentator for GlacierTV. Wil got into commentating through his college student radio, where he also worked as a journalist and interviewer, covering gigs and festivals within the UK, and joined GlacierTV in February 2012, becoming lead commentator a month later. His work culminated in him commentating on the 2013 World Championship Grand Prix Series, iRacing Indy 500, and iRacing All Star Race. When he gets in the virtual cockpit, you'll normally see will taking on the thrill of IndyCar Oval racing, or trying his hand in GT action

    Outside of iRacing, Wil's an avid IndyCar fan, having watched the sport since the late 1990s, and always looks forward to the Month of May. He also enjoys watching NASCAR, Formula 1, and V8 Supercars.

  • Jeff Jacobs

    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 Mustang Cup series and the Continental Endurance Sports Car Series.

  • Cam Stark
    contributing writer

    I began taking sim racing seriously about a year ago, but have loved motorsports from a young age. I began following Formula One first, then realized there are a huge variety of motorsports to watch. iRacing has opened my eyes even more to the diversity and volume of “real world” motorsports, let alone on the sim itself. With the huge varieties of series to choose from, you're spoiled for choice!

    Ever since I began iRacing, I wanted to improve on my ability, be it road or oval. Having not really heard about oval racing prior to November last year (blame the UK press), my mentality towards it has totally changed from what it would have initially been - it's awesome! I recently began road racing again - in the Star Mazda - and have been having a blast ever since. On top of racing the series I have the privilege of writing the articles for iRacing News.

    In all honesty I have surprised myself on iRacing. From being a fairly casual gamer/racer, it's been a world of difference, but it has far exceeded my expectations. I had a very brief stint driving in rFactor leagues, but I found my place of sim racing on this service, and I can't see myself stopping anytime soon.

  • Justin Sutton
    series contributor

    Justin is 29 and lives in Texas with his girlfriend and three dogs. Although always a fan of road racing growing up, Sutton never got the chance to participate in Sim-Racing until 2012 and didn't join iRacing until 2013. The son of a writer, and former resident of Connecticut and Philadelphia, his interests vary. Currently Sutton is a co-owner of YouTube channel focused on racing games and simulators and more specifically Formula One along with his partner Mikko from Finland (BoxBoxBoxGaming). Currently Sutton writes the Skip Barber F2000 and Lotus 49 articles (and the occasional F1 article) for iRacing News, and doesn't get nearly enough time to race the cars he writes about.

    Gaming is a big part of Sutton's life as well as he is both viewer and broadcaster on Twitch along with his girlfriend of seven years. In addition to being an aspiring writer he is a skilled speaker with a focus on commentary of races and hopes one day to do commentary for road racing of some kind.

  • Matt Holden

    Matt Holden began his involvement in motorsports at an early age, moving to Charlotte, NC when he was 6 months old. Growing up next door to a NASCAR TV personality, racing has always been a major part of his life. Currently studying Mechanical Engineering at UNC Charlotte, Matt works for US Legend Cars International as a technical inspector and race official at local tracks such as Charlotte Motor Speedway and Concord Speedway. Within iRacing, Matt is the Crew Chief for Gale Force Racing's #05 car in the NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series, as well as Chassis Engineer for the team's R&D program.

  • Paul Slavonik
    iRacingNews Series Writer

    For all intents and purposes, Paul Slavonik was a late-bloomer to racing. Growing up watching NASCAR drivers such as Davey Allison and Earnhardt Sr. was the furthest extent of Paul’s racing aspirations at the time. Fast forwarding 20 years, Paul began watching the UK show Top Gear and thus ensued a fascination with all things fast. Soon after, Paul stumbled upon and has been hooked on racing ever since.
    A United States Army Veteran, Certified Audio Engineer and aspiring author, Paul spends his time hanging out with his wife and working on his first book. Currently residing in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), TX, his favorite racing series is the Australian V8 Supercars (go FPR!) and he has recently joined a local ChumpCar racing team. Paul began writing news stories for iRacingNews in January of 2014 and currently covers the GT3 Challenge Series and the V8 Supercars Series.

  • Thiago Izequiel

    Born in 1985 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Thiago Izequiel is a graphic and web designer, go kart racer, aiming to get a career in motorsports. He started racing in 2007 and joined iRacing in 2010. Thiago lives in Maricá, a little town located in Rio de Janeiro state, around 60km far away from Rio de Janeiro city. In 2014 he started to write for iRacing News and also started to design layouts for racing cars.

    Working as a freelancer today, he started working as a designer in 2006. After a few years working in web design agencies, Thiago decided to follow his dreams and quit his job to work with a racing driver named Suzane Carvalho in 2011, on her driver's school. Things didn't worked out as expected and Thiago, after getting jobs as a front-end developer and social media content developer, went back to the dream path as a freelancer so he could have more time to focus on his driving career.

  • David Moulthrop
    NASCAR Contributor

    David Moulthrop is an award winning motorsports photo journalist and has covered auto racing since the mid-seventies. While he is most well known for his NASCARimages he has also covered F1, American Road Racing, and IndyCar on a regular basis. He has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers and online news sites including, National Speed Sport News, Area Auto Racing News, Auto Racing USA, Stock Car Magazine, Sprint Cup Dateline, and Jayski. David joined the iRacing team in 2004 as a contract photographer and became iRacing's Laser Scan Project Manager in 2005.

  • Jack Davidson
    Staff Videographer

    Jack is a recent grad from Boston University with a passion for filmmaking as well as racing. He grew up playing games such as the Need For Speed series, Gran Turismo, and more recently, the GRID and DIRT franchises.

  • Jason Lofing 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.
  • 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, 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 VW Jetta TDI -- are unscathed.

Two sessions later, Siff -- and the 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.


  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!