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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.

Tips from a Human Sim-Racer

by Ryan Terpstra on July 1st, 2010

Welcome to tips from a human sim-racer.  Unlike the alien iRacers I only have two eyes, two hands and two feet.  I don’t have eyes in the back of my head and my reflexes are only slightly better than average.  This article is designed to help you increase your iRating and lower your lap times.  While many of you don’t know me as I am relatively new to iRacing sim racing isn’t an entirely new concept to me.  The techniques that I use to be fast should be able to help anyone improve their times.

The first thing I like to do is start with a base setup depending on the type of track I’m driving.  A track like Road Atlanta with a lot of elevation changes and some fast corners is going to need a similar setup to a track like Virginia International Raceway.  Once I’ve run a few laps in my base setup I’ll start to consider making changes based on the specific track I’m driving.  I won’t go into all of the specifics about setting up the car as there are many far smarter people out there than me who can help on that front.  I would advise you seek advice from them if you’re looking for tips on how to actually set-up the car.

Road Atlanta has many of the same characteristics as . . .

Road Atlanta has many of the same characteristics as . . .

VIR.  Which means they require similar chassis set-ups.

VIR. Which means they require similar chassis set-ups.

After I’m comfortable with how I have the car set-up I usually watch a couple of lap replays to make sure I’m not missing anything obvious with my racing line.  I prefer to do this after I’ve run a few laps and I’m comfortable with my line.  My reasoning is simple: In some cases my driving style doesn’t lend itself to the same type of line the people from another planet are running, and I don’t want to prejudice myself against the line I would come up with.  With replays there’s almost always something for me to learn.  It could be something as simple as I’m taking a corner in the wrong gear if the car has a fixed gear setup, or something as complex as missing an apex by a significant distance.  For example, the two fast right-handers on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit have a rumble strip on the inside, allowing you to cut them significantly.

I try to get most of my setup changes done on Monday night.  The goal is to be comfortable with the car so that I can spend the rest of the week focused on my driving.  If I’m going to make any changes after that they will be extremely minor, such as increasing or decreasing the anti-roll bar one click.

Now that I’m comfortable with my car it is time to practice.  I get faster by developing muscle memory.  For example, there are a lot of blind apex turns on Brands Hatch and the only way for me to get fast with turns I can’t see is to run laps.  The more laps I run, the more my body remembers the timing . . . and the more consistent my laps become.

Brands Hatch is famous for its plethora of blind turns.

Brands Hatch is known for its blind turns.

I can’t jump into a race early in the week without risking a lot of incidents or a poor race.  I wouldn’t expect to finish in the top half of the race on Tuesday when my average lap time is at least a full second slower than it will be by Saturday after I’ve practiced.  Once I’ve left a track, even if I go back to it 10 weeks later, I need to start training all over again.  The second time is certainly easier than the first, but there’s still some work to be done.

My lap times on Monday compared to my lap times on Saturday will be significantly improved.  The most recent examples I can provide are from the Skip Barber series on Brands Hatch, Sebring and Road Atlanta.  On Brands Hatch my fastest lap time on Monday was a 1:45.  This was a brand new track for me, so I had more work to do than normal.  By the end of the week I was running laps in the 1:40s.  At Sebring I was quite proud of my Monday night lap time of 2:27.5.  Unfortunately for the next four days I couldn’t even get into the 2:27 range.  I already have a lot of experience on Sebring from other sim-racers, so there was no track learning curve here.  But on Friday I found some stability in the last two sectors and by the end of the week my best lap was a 2:26.5.

Last week at Road Atlanta my best time on Monday night was a 1:38.3.  The week isn’t over yet, but as of Wednesday night my best lap is a 1:37.1.  Why would I want to race on Monday night when I know I’m going to be more than a full second faster on the weekend?  As the week wore on my times came down.  Finally on Friday I reached my goal, getting under 1:37 with a 1:36.844.  I set a great qualifying time and with the four races I ran I found myself starting in the top  four in every race and on the pole for one of them.

Depending on my comfort level with the track I may start doing some qualifying sessions as early Wednesday or Thursday.  I can always go back and improve my qualifying time if I get faster.

I hate it if my fastest lap of the week comes in practice when it would benefit me more if I had been able to run it in qualifying.

The most important thing for qualifying is fuel.  Unless you’re forgetful and will forget to refuel before the race run the lowest possible fuel load.  Exiting Turn Seven at Road Atlanta in the Skip Barber F2000 with 1.7 gallons of fuel I can lose over .1s on my optimal sector time even if my exit is better than my optimal.  My current optimal sector was set with .8 gallons of fuel in the car.  I can gain time until I start going uphill and as soon as I hit that slight incline before the sign I stop gaining time and start losing time.  Sometimes I lose as much as .1s and all I’m doing is going straight.

Anyone who has taken the time to keep reading to this point probably has the dedication to take the time to use my advice!

Next comes race strategy.  The most important thing is to remember to fill your car to the proper fuel level.  Once you’ve checked that and you’re on the grid preparing for the race, remember it is better to give than take in Turn One.  You might lose a spot (or two) in Turn One, but that’s far better than losing a race.  It’s also critical to remember how a car handles on cold tires.  Trying to run your qualifying speeds and line on cold tires is a sure fire way to ruin your race.

As the saying goes. you can't win the race in Turn One . . . but you can lose the race there.

As the saying goes. you can't win the race in Turn One . . . but you can lose it.

This past week at Zandvoort is the perfect example of why this information is important.  I had a very busy week and was unable to practice much.  I set my qualifying time on a lap in which I ran out of fuel entering the front straight.  I would have been a minimum of 0.34s faster had I not run out of fuel on that lap, and, instead of starting second I started eighth.

Naturally, “the big one” happened in Turn One.  The second place car was a bit slow into the turn, unleashing the dreaded “concertina” effect.

The driver in sixth dove onto the grass trying to avoid the car in front of him, only to come back onto the track and spin, completely blocking the road.  Although I stopped in time, the car behind me just ran straight through me like I wasn’t even there.  In the end mine was one of two cars with significant damage and after that my race was pretty much over.  Despite getting a tow, in a race with a strength of field over 2200 people just weren’t making mistakes.

Once you’ve made it through the first couple of laps it is time to evaluate your position.  Are you gaining time on the car in front of you?  Are you pulling away from the car behind you?  Do you have to ignore the car behind you in order to focus on running your line?  There’s no point in pushing your car to the edge of your ability if you’re not going to catch the car ahead of you and you’re pulling away from the car behind.  However, if you’re doing everything you can to hold on to your position, then you’ll certainly want to consider taking a more aggressive line.

I had a race at Brands Hatch where I was behind three UFOs and with another human being behind me, running at my pace.  Two of the UFOs shot each other out of the sky and I finished second in the fastest race I’ve ever run relative to my qualifying pace because I was pushed by the car behind me.”

Last week at Sebring I was losing 0.5-1.0s to the car in front of me while I was gaining 0.7-1.0s on the car behind me.  By the start of Lap 11, I was 10 seconds ahead of the car behind me and 10 seconds behind the car in front of me.  There was no point in trying to run qualifying lap speeds that could cause me to spin out on Le Mans or Sunset, (Turns 16 and 17), so I just ran a comfortable pace and finished third.

I hope you find this advice useful.  Tune the car, practice first, qualify, time trial, and finally race.  You should find yourself being much more consistent and having a lot more success in races in no time.

12 Comments or Trackbacks

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  1. Luis Babboni
    July 2nd, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Interesting comments Ryan!

    But I want to comment my situation.
    You said that you use the week to practice and the following weekend to race.
    Sadly, my weeks are usually quite busy and then I must use the weekend to practice and the following Monday to race, before the week work let me on the nights too much near to sleep than to race.
    But this order implies that I need to practice offline! Thats why I suggested more than once, in the corresponding forum, if theres not exist the posibility to add on line practices at least on the previous week end in the track that begun on the following Monday.



  2. Steve Claeys
    July 2nd, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Nice read and I agree completly.
    I often race without too much practise and it hurts too often.
    But I simply want to RACE, not my bad that I am addicted. :-)

  3. Ryan Terpstra
    July 2nd, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Yeah I hear ya Steve. It all boils down to your goals. If you’re competing in the championship then figuring out what works best for you is going to be helpful. If you’re not racing for points then hopping in the server and having at it is certainly more fun.

    One thing I strongly recommend though is qualifying. Do everything you can to position yourself in front of potential turn 1 incidents.

  4. Dean
    July 2nd, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    @Luis – I’m not 100% sure at what you’re saying here but if you can log in and drive at your sim racing computer, how is practicing offline any different than practicing online in the many practice servers (with other drivers to help)?

    The practice servers are open 24 hours a day, I think Ryan is suggesting you go into a practice server every week day for as much time as you can spare but save your race sessions til the weekend when you have practiced enough to get your best results.

    Then of course are the Private Practice sessions you have to drive alone any time you are logged in, any track or car. I can not understand a need to not be online when iRacing is always online to serve your needs.

    Did I misunderstand?

  5. Doug
    July 3rd, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Ryan is telling us exactly what all professional racers know; that nothing beats seat time!
    Thanks for the reminder Ryan.

  6. Elmar Erlekotte
    July 6th, 2010 at 11:10 am

    nice read, Ryan :)

  7. Mark A Warmington
    August 7th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Nice read Ryan,

    I start practicing the week before so that I can give myself that extra weeks preparation throughout the season. I will load up the setup from a track I think is the most similar to the track I will be racing and then run a few laps to see how the car feels. If the car is way off I will switch to another setup and see if this baseline is a little closer to the mark. Once I have one that feels as though it is holding the road I will then start trying for lap times and tweak the setup.

    But I aim for the first official race of the week not the last, as I should already have a week of practice behind me. If I get a decent result in race one I know I can start practicing for the track I’ll be racing next week, whilst everyone else is still aiming for the race that will be held on Saturday: thing about Saturday races is that some people have pinned all their hopes on that race and might be a little more aggressive.

    If my prep is going well each week and I haven’t been able to pick up a good result in race one I have the option to jump into the Saturday race if I think I might be able to get a better result.

  8. Richard K.
    November 3rd, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Excellent article…

    I add one extra requirement to my race build up regimen.. I aim to have at least one practice session and two testing sessions where I go an entire race distance incident free. This has been the deciding factor in every race I’ve run in every sim I’ve used. This echoes Ryans main point.. practice, muscle memory, consistency are true keys to success. In real life racing professional drivers don’t win every race.. but they ARE consistent.

  9. Anthony Ockman
    November 8th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    awesome listing you possess

  10. Jeremy Gunterman
    November 13th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    This should… So, why am I dedicating a whole article to ?

  11. satilik konteyner
    December 16th, 2010 at 12:16 am

    great thanks \o/

  12. Dave Morrison
    December 6th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Good article Ryan, I have found that I get burnt out or something, my fastest laps usually occur on any new track within the first 50 laps of practice, then after that I slow down. My fast laps are quick mind you, usually in the top 3 or 5 overall, (I am a roundy round oval guy so this might not relate) I think it is my age, I used to drive real race cars for many years and so when I started iRacing this expeirience helped. Kind of backwards I guess, considering most people want iRacing to help them in the real world and I used my real world to help me with the sim.
    But alas I am not as young as I used to be and so muscle memory does not develop as easily, I think at my age too much practice just causes me to learn some bad habits because I already may have found the fast way around but keep searching for more, and it is not there, causing me to try things that develop into bad habits, then I have to unlearn those things.
    So I guess what I am saying is that you really have to learn about yourself through practice on the track when you get older, more than about the car, or your expeirience may be working against you.