So, let me start being very clear about one thing: I love motorsports. I do. I really do! More than anything else. Are we clear with that? OK. Now, this is of course, my opinion. My way of seeing things related to this issue. I don’t usually write about subjects like this, because honestly, sometimes (OK, almost always) people don’t agree with us and since this is the internet, I don’t feel comfortable about being shouted at for something that it’s my right to do: Having an opinion about something. But this time I just felt like I needed to write it down.
I’m here at iRacing for almost four years. And I’m not lying when I tell you that I discovered this service a couple of months after buying my first wheel, a Logitech Momo, back in 2010. I live in Brazil and I got to try a proper simulator in a computer fair, one year before. All I had done until then was sim racing with joypads, keyboards and eventually, driving in an indoor go kart race with some friends. I didn’t have much money (still don’t!) to be racing, even if that meant indoor go kart races. So I saved a little to buy my first wheel and to be able to play with it whenever I’ve wanted to. I started with rFactor and soon enough I was hooked. But when I got to join my first virtual championship, somehow, it felt like something was missing. I’m more the “hardcore” kind of simracer, and I wasn’t 100% happy on that competition. To be brief, when I met iRacing, that void was filled. Now I had not only a simulator – I had a fully committed service, with online races every hour, sporting code, official championships and a great community.
Well, years after this, I’m still around here and I always renewed my subscription. In fact, my account is good to go until 2016 (!). And meanwhile, I had many great adventures on real racing. I was able to move up from “indoor go karts with friends” to “real racing car.” If money wasn’t so important in motorsports, I would probably have gone even further. Motorsports taught me many things, and one of these lessons was to how to approach a sponsor: How to get a deal with some company to be able to race. In 2011 I started to do my own proposals and I was fearless, did my best and reached more than a hundred of companies in one year. I’m not exaggerating here. I heard many times the “No” word. Too many times.
But I also heard some positive answers and that made it possible for me to jump in a go kart more times. One of these times I even got to share a free ride with Hugo Luis. I got an opportunity and called him to come aboard with me. We did this two times, one for free, and the other one we split the expenses (for that second time I sold my Xbox 360 to pay the bill). I got to test a race car at Velopark . . . for free (I had to pay for my trip to the racetrack). And this year I got again a few chances to test a go kart for free. When I look at the pictures of these days, I can’t believe how much I lived my dream, and I hope to keep living it, because I love motorsports.
With all that said, now let me tell about the sad part: It’s all about money. This may sound like “oh my, here we go again,” but honestly… if you don’t have it and you want to race, things are going to be massively hard. Right now I’m an unemployed freelancer and I’m still thinking about racing. I’ve been living some not-so-good days and I can’t control myself when I hear an engine on high revs. I get the chills, every time I hear ’em and my mind takes me on a trip where I’m on the track, driving around, feeling that awesome sensation that it is to be driving a racecar.
My last time in a go kart, wasn’t a very happy one. For the first time I left the track feeling like trash. And it was a great opportunity to have some fun, just a practice session. To be able to participate, I offered my services to the team as a mechanic (no, not a good one) and a social media analyst (that was the deal). But that Saturday wasn’t a good one. As you say in English, the kart owner and me were like oil and water. Not a good mixture.
Now, I ask you, wasn’t that about having fun? Doing what you love? So why did I feel like that? It was because, when you put a go kart on your truck, you are already paying for this. At the end of the day, the bill gets much bigger than it was. It wasn’t my money there, and when you are doing business, things can get ugly. Luckily, everything was resolved and I’m not having to worry about anything. But it was one opportunity that went down the sewer and I lost it.
Which leads me to my main reason of writing this: Is simracing the future? What if it is? Of course, right now you can’t compare the feel of a racing car with simracing. But simracing takes you very, very close to a racing weekend. To really take advantage of a racecar you must be fit, you must have good budget and you must be ready to comeback home with a bitter taste of failure. Yes, because you not only can fail, but you eventually you will fail.
In Brazil now even Trackdays are getting even more expensive. Would you pay $350.00 USD to only purchase a license? No, driving school is not included. It’s just to have your name on a plastic license saying that you can be on a track, with your car, to drive around. Really. And as the time goes by, it gets even more expensive. Don’t get me wrong here, I want to race, I want to be there . . . but I have to be honest with myself.
I don’t have yet the Oculus Rift, but thanks to iRacing and iRacers — and Youtube — I was able to experience a little bit of what this can be. It’s all early stage, but we get even closer to sit in a racecar without actually sitting on it. Look back and think when you could imagine that kind of thing actually coming true, while playing Super Monaco GP II? Or, if you are not that old, how about when you were playing GP3 or Nascar 2003? We’re talking about 10 years ago, when big CRT screens were cool. “Soon” enough, when you look back again, you will find yourself on this same situation.
Can you imagine how big this could get? We already have the chance to compete with anyone in any place of the world. And we just breached a whole new level of experiencing sim racing. If you have some great hardware in your house, you are even more ahead than many of us. I, for example, only have a G27 without modifications and a 23″ screen, and I have a blast every time I log into my iRacing account.
Try this: Think of yourself with your dream’s rig. Now try to think of what’s missing there, something that don’t exist yet. If you had your hands on a superb wheel, you’d feel any simulator in a way you didn’t even knew that could be possible. And believe me, it doesn’t matter what super ultra rig you might have – it won’t cost as much as one racing weekend.
We, motorsports lovers, racing enthusiasts, are lucky. Because we are many. And among us there are people who could develop great stuff like iRacing, special rigs and devices like Oculus Rift, so we are able to live (somehow) our dreams. We are not only fanboys doing “kids” stuff. We are Simracers. Racers from the future.
And we just started.