The good news is that, as advertised, iRacing superbly replicates virtually all of the physical and psychological challenges/excitement of “real world” racing.  The bad news is that, as advertised, iRacing superbly replicates virtually all of the physical and psychological challenges/excitement of “real world” racing.

Allow me to explain . . .

Back in 1976 and ’77, I spent two summers racing Formula Ford 1600s in SCCA regional competition.  While I was certainly not the worst driver to ever don a Bell Star and Nomex, I can say with equal certainty that I was – at best – a competent club racer.  Somewhere in my basement resides a pair of trophies marking the highwater marks of my competition career, one seventh place at Nelson Ledges and another at Summit Point.  (In my defense, I would note that in the mid- to late-70s, it was not uncommon for SCCA regionals to attract Formula Ford fields of 45 cars or more.)

Me in my Formula Ford (68) circa 1977

As I was saying, the fact that iRacing is so realistic is good news/bad news for me.   Good news in that it provides a remarkably authentic racing experience; bad news in that the mediocrity that distinguished my “real” racing career also characterizes my online racing efforts.  While I’m not the worst sim-racer to have steered into Turn One at Indianapolis with a Logitech G27 in my sweaty hands, suffice to say the NiSWC and iGPSWC regulars have little to fear from me . . . unless they cross my often wayward path in a “lesser” series, that is!

That should come as no surprise, given iRacing’s high degree of authenticity – although it tends to confirm my suspicion that my chronic lack of pace in FF1600 was not due to a terminal lack of cajones.  Back in the day, I was no slouch in the fast stuff like The Chute and Turn Ten at Summit Point or The Loop at the Glen.  Likewise, I’ve found that I’m reasonably quick in the fast stuff on iRacing.  So it’s no coincidence that some of my best races have come at Mosport, Brands Hatch and Watkins Glen (Cup), where medium to high speed turns dominate and there’s only one or two hard braking spots per lap.

But those slow speed corners – rather the transition from high to slow speed and rotating the car into the apex – get me every time.  Just as they did when I was losing gobs of time into Turn One at Summit Point in my Royale RP21; so much so that I tend get a little gun shy in online races when I find myself in a pack of cars, as fast or faster than most of my competition in the quick turns but anticipating a solid “crunch” from behind – along with a 4X — when I overslow for a tight corner.

An all too often occurence, me, overslowing on entry, causing an issue.

The good news is that I’m getting better, thanks to the iRacing driving school and the fact that I can practice to my heart’s content without running-up engine mileage, tire bills or worrying about crash damage.  What’s more, after each of the driving school’s braking exercises at Lime Rock or Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, rather than driving a complete lap before a “re-do,” I’m actually encouraged to execute a U-Turn, drive against the normal flow of traffic and do it again and again and again.  Got trail braking for Turn Two at Laguna down pat?  Able to deftly balance a Late Model around each end of Lanier by modulating the brakes?  No, actually, but let’s pretend . . .  With a few clicks of the mouse, I can do the same exercises in everything from a Pontiac Solstice to a Williams-Toyota FW31, a Sprint Car to an Impala Class A.

In that respect, iRacing does not replicate the “challenges” of real world racing.  That’s not just good news: it’s great news.

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About David Phillips

David Phillips is the editor of Phillips, 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


Nice piece. However, I find it odd that there seems a tacit acceptance here that if you are rear ended that it is somehow your fault for not being fast enough into the corner. The guy following needs to not hit you, it’s as simple as that, they have a brake pedal and they can use it. Getting a x4 for someone being unable to effectively race with other people without making contact is the worst kind of x4 you can get. To then hear that other person besmirch your driving because they felt that you somehow caused the collision is outrageous. It’s fine that the driving school might help drivers get faster, but perhaps there needs to be a special school that teaches proper racecraft.

Jon Denton
July 2nd, 2012 at 9:09 am

Amen Jon, I couldn’t agree more, a fine article Mr. Phillips but Jon has a point and probably could have elaborated more on how the system decides who is at fault, or more applicable how it seemingly does not and just gives a penalty to all involved parties. Having said that I LOVE iRacing with all my heart and am happy to have it. The frustration of perceived ill gotten x4’s aside…

Chris “Fast Willy” Williams
July 5th, 2012 at 12:16 am

Couldn’t agree more about how great an opportunity it is to be able to learn on iRacing. Like everything else in life, perfection is fleeting, but what an awesome experience, great fun and massively rewarding for the persistent, objective mind.

And to those filled with regrets, bitterness, resentment….

Where there are RULES, there GAME will exist. Find yourself enjoying the participation and interaction or find yourself somewhere else, but one can never find one’s self in someone else.

Paul Hieb
July 31st, 2012 at 9:28 am

Fantastic article and fond memories of the old Formula Fords of the 70’s. I had a chance at a March FF in 1979 / 80 time frame that was from 1975, cost for the car, trailer, spares, jigs, etc., etc., etc. was only $4000. The sad part was that I didn’t have the $4000 and those who were going to help me backout because I didn’t know what was ment by blipping the gas on a down shift! I had never drove a race car at that time and except for sim racing I still haven’t. Even though iRacing has been great and it’s nice to know that it’s as real as I thought it was.


August 18th, 2012 at 8:03 am

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