I know what adjustments I can make to my dampers or spring rates to encourage more oversteer, I know how my camber will affect straight line and mid-corner grip/stability, I know to brake in a straight line, I know how to clip an apex, I know how to counter steer, blah blah blah.
Believe it or not, I learned this all from a video game.
The game is none other than the racing simulator Gran Turismo, a long standing benchmark to which other ‘simulators’ compare themselves. The developers of Gran Turismo have prided themselves on realism both in graphics and simulation physics. The game starts you off in amateur races and each racing series has requirements and limitations such as drivetrain, power, modifications, or even make/model. As you progress and gain the skills to take on faster cars, trickier courses, and better competitors, you will move into various racing series such as NASCAR, GT 500, F1, 24 Hour races, and even Rally Cross.
If you want the best learning experience, the game is most effective with a steering wheel set up compatible with the game. Logitech makes one of the best set-ups out there and includes a wheel with force feedback and an optional 6 speed shifter. It can even be mounted to a DIY simulation chair or one of the pricier options available online. See below for a play seat example. I made an almost identical one for $45!
The game’s largest emphasis is on real driving techniques. This could be anywhere from how to avoid understeer to dealing with lift-throttle oversteer. Tackling double apexes, off camber corners, wet conditions, endurance races, and drifting are all advanced tactics you learn about while playing this game. If it weren’t for Gran Turismo, I wouldn’t know how to modify my own car to cater the handling and engine characteristics to my liking. I wouldn’t have learned about race series, technologies, or the vast array of makes/models out there that provide an incredible driving experience.
At the end of the day, this video game made me a great driver. I’ve managed to excel quickly on a real track due to the fundamentals I learned playing this simulator, and if real road racing is out of your budget, why not give a racing simulator a try. That way when you crash your Porsche GT3 into several other expensive cars, it only hurts your pride, not your wallet.
I’m sure there are others out there who understand the fun of racing simulators as well! Please share your set ups or favorite games in the comments section, I’d love to hear what others are doing.