Maybe you’re just getting started as a sim racer, or maybe you’ve been away from racing for a while and you’ve just come back. Maybe you’ve simply fallen into a rut you can’t pull yourself out of. Consider that you may be racing in the wrong series before giving up. We all have our favorite motorsports and the types of racing we love most. Maybe you love real F1 so you want to race F1 right off the bat. Maybe it’s GT3, Indy, or Prototype cars.
Let’s look at “where we want to be” vs “where we actually are”.
Where we want to be
We all want to drive the fastest cars possible. We first got our new wheel and pedals. We don’t fire up American Truck Simulator (most of us anyway). Instead you jump straight into racing. We want to feel the rush of fast corners and high speed braking zones. We want to fly through the gears while making passes and eating up somebody’s slipstream. The thing we don’t envision is puttering around a track in slow and mostly unexciting track-day cars or worse, turning painfully long laps while trying to gain seconds with a car that seemingly won’t move.
The problem is as a newer driver, you probably aren’t ready for the top class of cars. You’d be doing well to turn decent laps in a high-downforce, high-performance car. After all, the racing that you are simulating requires the best drivers in the world. Why would a simulation of that be good for beginners?
But, even if you can run the laps to keep up you are not a seasoned driver yet. To compete against other drivers or AI you have to know how to attack, how to stay off of somebody’s rear bumper, how to pass cleanly, and follow the basic rules of racing.
Let’s say you’re racing an F1 car, a Prototype, or an Indy car. That means you have to make all the judgements and decisions of a respectful racing driver in a fraction of the time allotted in slower cars. You are trying to learn the most extreme type of racing in the world without even knowing how to drive like that yet.
The truth is, you’d be better suited to stay in a “beginner’s class” while learning how to race. Yes, it seems less fun at first. Yes, it’s less speed and less impressive cars. But trust me, it can be just as rewarding as the higher classes. The hours spent driving in these cars allow for you to learn racing lines, learn how to pass properly, how to follow the track’s limitations, and even how to follow a pit strategy. This will make you a better driver later in your career. If you skip this part you may never learn a lot of the finer points to racing.
If you put in the time to learn how to be a good, clean competitor, then you will be able to slowly move your way up the racing ladder. But be warned, you may fall in love with some of the slower classes of racing. They are ultra competitive and offer some of the best close racing you’ll find anywhere.
Where we actually are
It can be tough to swallow the fact that you just aren’t cut out for your favorite type of racing yet. What you have to remember is that the guys who race in real life had to move their way up too. There are very few people who can fly up the flag pole to the top of Motorsport. Have an honest conversation with yourself and do some testing. Run some slower classes of cars and
see how you like them. You’re most likely going to land in a class that trains newer drivers how to race. We were all there at some point. Some of us never moved on from the slower classes of racing. You never know, you might find a new favorite class or even type of motorsport such as rally, drift, drag and so on. I’m a big fan of the lower level formula cars; open wheelers that are less aero dependent, and a lot slower, but still offer quick-twitch racing. Give them a try. Tons of drivers run the MX-5 cars in iRacing and other sims. They are a great entry point for new racers.
My point is: find a level of racing where you can learn as you go. If you dive into the deep end, it can be overwhelming and can take the fun out of racing.