Sim racing rig

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MostMint
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Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:50 pm

I have seen a lot of iRacing on TV which kind of reminded me it exists. I chained that together with the idea I should get Rachel on there for driver development. If you have not seen it yet iRacing is a racing game that runs over the internet so you can race other people.

They have a decent system where you can obtain different level licenses, and events require different levels of license so if you get good your not stuck in a race full of rookies.

In order to get started first I watched some videos and learned none of the computers I had at home met the minimum requirements to do iRacing.

Ended up spending about $700 on an HP gaming PC that had a graphics card way above minimum and middle of the road processor. Also spend $200 on a steering wheel and pedals. I have enough monitors for now but there is another $30-40 in adapters to get them all connected to the PC. So far using just one monitor. iRacing is not free either so about $60 gets me a 12 month subscription. It comes with plenty of cars and tracks but of course there are more to obtain and they all cost around $12-$14 each - one time purchases.

Not many low end cars in there - quite honestly a lot less choices than Forza 6 which I have lots of experience with. There is a Jetta TDI that looks pretty comparable to the Saturn. Once I get acclimated to this game I may start buying vehicles. In the meantime I'm reacclimating myself to video game racing (I'm sure the iRacing purists would say it's totally different) and learning the nuances of the application.

I also learned for nominal fees I can host racing events ($1 for 2 hr event for instance) and so I'm looking forward to exploring that a bit more. I think there are several other people I know I can get into this.

I've also done some research on fabricating my own rig to hold the equipment. That will come for now I'm just figuring out what I want so when I build there won't be much re-engineering.
Attachments
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Rig setup # 2
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Rig setup # 1
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:38 am

As an experienced ChampCar Endurance Series racer, I want to share the main concepts I learned along the way to getting started in iRacing and running a ChampCar iRacing event. I'm not going to explain how to do all these things, there are YouTube videos and plenty of internet articles for most of this stuff. However, I did not locate a master checklist or walkthrough that was direct and explained what was possible without all the details. So here goes:

Getting started checklist:

* Its important to know what you want to do with iRacing - what type of racing you want to do, what tracks you want to race on, how much $ you want to spend. All this stuff will affect your decisions. (at the start my goal was to work on driver development for Rachel and me. It has since expanded to include doing some sim racing with ChampCar and getting my D license for road and oval racing)
* Realize that this is a computer simulation of driving and racing - which means the physics is not going to be perfect, and people are not always going to behave the same as in real life.
* You are going to be paying for the iRacing subscription, and eventually you will want to buy tracks and cars - so you'll need a little extra $ for that. In the digital world this may seem expensive, but in real life all of this would cost a lot more

* Get a gaming PC (check iRacing site for minimum requirements) I am not an expert but if I were to upgrade anything it would be the video card
* Get a monitor (I used an old PC monitor to start - want to figure out what I want before I make a big investment. Most TVs now will accept input from PC)
* Get a steering wheel and pedals (Thrustmaster T150)
* Get some speakers (optional - can use headphones or earbuds)
* Decide where to put your racing setup (I advise a temporary setup as you will change your mind on what you want after you use it)
* Set up the PC (regular PC stuff - connect everything, initial configuration, download updates)
* Install the drivers for the wheel and pedals
* Go to iRacing website, sign up
* Download iRacing software. Download updates (you can use the website or the beta app. I find the beta app to be decent so I am using that mostly at the start)

* Get familiar with the cars and tracks offered with your subscription - know what they are and how to see them
* Get familiar with these activities: test, practice, time trial, racing
A test is just you in your car and the track. Great learning tool, does not count toward your safety or iRating
A practice is you in your car with other drivers on the same track. Again great learning tool. Best I can tell does not count toward safety or iRating
A time trial - well I see it listed there I don't know what it is yet
Racing is you and other drivers going through a sequence of activities: practice session (see practice above), then a practice within the event, followed by qualifying, entering the gird, then the actual race.
You can race against AI drivers which is another great way to get up to speed without wrecking your safety rating
* Get familiar with how the iRacing interface works

* iRacing has a license based rating system and a performance based rating system, which are not related. These ratings are kept separately for four categories of racing: road, oval, dirt, dirt oval. (seems relatively structured like SCCA or NASA)
* license based is your Safety rating. Safety rating is used to determine if you are eligible for the next level license. You start as a rookie, and can move up to D, C, B, A, etc. It monitors the number of times you go off or have contact as compared to the number of turns you have completed. If you do well you gain points.
* performance based is a rating of how good you are and is called iRating. In races with large # of entrants they will use this number to group you with similar rated racers. This is not very relevant at the beginning.
* I've experienced delays in getting the safety rating updated after races

First test:

* calibrate the wheel and pedals to the game
* it takes quite a while to get used to virtual driving, so don't get discouraged if you crash a lot. Just learn from your mistakes and soon you will understand the limitations of the car and you will improve. It's like learning to walk all over again. Treat it like you are driving someone elses car you had no input on setups, tire choice, etc and learn what it can do for you.

First practice:
* There is no driver meeting! There are rules: no speeding on pit road, stay below the blend line when entering the track - they will black flag you

First race:

* Be sure to choose a race that will/will not count toward your safety rating as you prefer. A column on the race selection menu tells you.
* Make sure you can hear your crew chief
* When you sign up for a race, it will automatically redirect you to a practice session.
* After the practice session, you will go to a very short practice, then qualifying, following by grid, then the race itself. Along the way it will tell you hundreds of people have signed up but don't worry they just put a small number of you in an event and they run multiple races off the same sign up.
* When the green rectangle at the top starts counting down to grid, it means you have that much time to press the button to be put on the grid. if you fail, the race will start with you in your pit stall. Once the pace car comes by they give a short countdown and you can go on track. If you are focused on safety rating this is a legitimate way to avoid start of race melee that often ends up wrecking cars and affecting your safety rating.
* If the race has a rolling start your spotter will instruct you which line you are in (inside or outside) and who to pass and who to follow. Be careful on the ovals you can get lulled into speeding up to the field then rear end someone as the pace car is fairly slow
* In each race there is a maximum number of safety violations allowed. They start counting this as soon as you get on the grid. Accidents during the pace lap count. Wheels off, loss of control, contact with other vehicles. Once you exceed the max you are disqualified from the race.
* iRacing spotter is OK but sometimes late to give you information. Can't rely on it exclusively. Also when wrecks are ahead it will try to guide you but the advice is not always great

Sim racing upgrades beyond the basics:

* Get the crew chief app: https://forum.sector3studios.com/index. ... hiny.2516/
* Get the iRacing manager app: https://youtu.be/w1GLdEAiu-I this will allow you to start Crew Chief app automatically when you start iRacing. Set this guy up to bring up iRacing Manager, then set up Windows to bring this buy up minimized when booting up the machine
* Learn how to access the in game menus. Controls pit stops - refueling, tire changes. Also can see tire temps, relative position in the field. Default for fuel is F4 and tires is F5
* Allow someone to spot for you. To do this you have to go into your profile and allow it. I have made this change to allow my friends in iRacing to get in with no password
* Program key functions into the buttons on your steering wheel
* Explore other overlays - overlays are programs that you run when you are in iRacing to assist you with various things. For instance I have one that in addition to showing my position on the track and gap to cars in front and behind, it shows the drivers iRating and safety rating. This info can help you understand the probabilities of being able to race close or negotiate a safe pass.
* custom setups. like Forza, Gran Turismo console based games you can modify car suspension setups. There are tutorials and even access to baseline setups for a vehicle at a specific track that can be obtained if you do some searching
* Join a league

Getting involved with ChampCar iRacing

* get your D license and keep your safety rating above 2.0
* apply to join the league
* go on forum.champcar.org and learn the schedule
* get on their Discord as you can learn about practice sessions they have days before the race

For the record, it was 11 days from the time I purchased my PC until my first ChampCar iRacing event. While my finishing results were not great, I finished and did not need to make repairs on the car.

Things I think I still need to do:
* Get a gaming headset or a microphone/ method to communicate
* Finish configuration/cables on 3 monitor setup to expand field of view for better peripheral vision
* how can people watch iRacing
* set up a league for our group
* find out if private races count toward safety rating
* investigate apps - position tracker

Note: I will update this as I learn more/have time
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

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MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:51 am

1) Last night I got my D license for road racing - took just three races.

This opened my mind to looking at what races I could do next. There are a bunch, but none are on tracks that come with the subscription, which means I'll have to buy some tracks if I want to move up to C. Not sure I care yet. As you move up the chain the cars are faster and faster and that kind of wrecks what I want to do with iRacing. Also this subscription model is also going to require additional purchases

2) Rachel coming by next week to try out the rig

3) Kurt has the subscription and I have access to an old wheel and pedals he can use to drive

4) Next ChampCar sim race is 4/29 and I plan to attend. This is not a team race

5) The three monitor system will require a wider table than my rig. I have a nice heavy folding table in the basement it's 8' long going to use that . Started clearing the necessary space.

6) Decided to try from my oval D license. This has you starting in Street Stock - 3000 lb car with 375 hp. Your choice of tracks is Charlotte. Car is very stable and easy to drive by yourself. Getting in traffic there are all kinds of problems - biggest is leaving room up top on the small bends in the front straight, also washing up the track when someone passing on the outside on the high banks. Still have some learning to do with that. Started working on it last might but it is hard to practice that by yourself. After three attempts my rating move from 2.5 to 2.61. 3.0 is the number you need to move up

7) made some updates to the getting started list - most is around first race type things.
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[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:19 am

Updates:

1) Cleaned out the space, moved in the new table. it is 1" higher than the card table. Had to cut the metal support under the table so the sim racing wheel could clamp down properly on the table, and shorten the wood block spacer for the pedals by 3". The spacer is temporary but it does a decent job keeping the pedals from moving away from you when you press on them

2) Brought in the three monitors. Put them on the table. Sitting in front of this I can say the side coverage is going to be so much better with this setup. Appropriate adapters are on order for the peripheral monitors. Will have to align the monitors height wise - waiting to see what projects on them before making the adjustments.
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3) Quickly learned that I need a side table, so the card table will be back on the left holding the keyboard (not pictured)

4) Been hearing about this app called Crew Chief - so I downloaded, installed and tested it last night

5) Put Discord on my phone which we can use to communicate with each other. There is this capability in iRacing but I really don't want to hear the dialogue of other drivers I don't know while I'm racing

6) Still planning to do the ChampCar event at Charlotte on Wed 4/29 - does not look like this will be on ChampCar Live on YouTube. Put in a question on the forum to see what options there are for spectators

7) I have connected with people I know on iRacing so I can compare stats
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Sun May 31, 2020 8:55 am

Pedals had been held in place by a piece of 2x8. I decided I wanted them higher so I made a small pedestal and attached them to it.

Next upgrades:
- some written scripts on the wall for what to do pre-race, regular pit stop, crash pit stop
- a permanent seating arrangement that will not swivel, rock or creak
- table modification to allow me to get close to the monitors.

Last night I completed the required 4 races at D license road racing along with enough safety points to get my C road racing license.

In other news:
- Rachel now has her rig at home and has made a few test laps.
- Made my first serious competitive pass due to driving skill. Sure I've passed cars who have crashed or made mistakes and were off. This guy was just slower. it was at WGI with the CTS-V. Once I caught him I decided I would pass him on the back straight by getting a better run through the climbing esses. It worked. There is no award for this in iRacing, but it is the first sign that I'm getting some footing in this game. Still a ways to go!
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:27 am

Made a board to go under the monitors, also modified the center monitor stand creating clearance for the power cords for the wheel. This allows the whole monitor setup to get about 2" closer to me.

Also fixed the old chair. It's quite comfortable with good back support, but the tilt mechanism was quite worn out. It had a 3/8" metal pin that was about 1/2 worn through and the holes it went through were quite elongated. For that I had Kurt weld some washers on to reduce the free play. It's a lot more stable now.

Also bought a 3' extension cable for the headset (earbud/mic combo that came with my phone). Been using the radio communications feature with my friends so I need a way to talk to them. Might actually have to get a gaming headset

However, there are two issues with this rig at the moment
1) the steering wheel does not always boot up properly when I turn on the PC. Once it turns on and completes its boot up cycle it is fine. Going to try installing the drivers software on another PC and see if the problem persists.

2) the taskbar has problems. Default is to put it on the left, but when I boot the machine, about 80% of the time it is across the top, and all the icons are missing except the Window icon. I can use task manager to close it and restart it and it works fine after that. I've searched the internet for this one but I'm either not using the right words or this is not a common problem.
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:09 pm

Big investment today. Spent $15 on a couple seats. They are from a truck and were made in November 1996.
Attachments
58B1A6A5-BC6E-4BDA-AD92-DC21D4112324.jpeg
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:02 am

Here is the latest - side table and raised pedals. Will change again after the seat setup is done
Attachments
3E336633-F679-4764-8455-C9640D11F579.jpeg
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Sat Jan 30, 2021 11:46 am

Updates:

I did install the swap meet seat -took some doing as I had to fabricate a box for it to sit on and get the sliders working so I could get in and out easier

Over the winter break between seasons I upgraded to triple 27" monitors and 32gb RAM. I also moved the whole set up left on the table for easier entrance. My feet were catching on the right table leg a bit.

Also had a repair - the throttle torsion spring broke - luckily it was failing during the practice event which left me a week to get it fixed. I learned online that the manufacturer will send you a new spring while under warranty but that was going to take more than a week. There is a writeup here: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2289

IMG_6063.JPG
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]

User avatar
MostMint
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: Sim racing rig

Postby MostMint » Mon Feb 01, 2021 9:50 am

Besides all the ChampCar iRacing Series, I've also been participating in iRacing open events. This experience allows me to see how I compare to all the other active participants in iRacing.

In these open events iRacing tracks your performance using their iRating system. This system is used to match you with drivers of similar skill level in an event. For instance my most recent races were with the Corvette C8.R in the IMSA online Championship Series and the track was Daytona. Their races have a lot of participants! I recall over 270 registering for an event. Well you can't put 270 cars on the same track, so they divide them up equally - allowing up to 40 in a single event. In this example there would be 7 splits. So rather than randomly assign people to splits, they break it up by skill level. FWIW at this level I am routinely showing up in bottom split.

When you join iRacing they start you with an iRating of 1350. Each race points get redistributed based on your performance in the race. If you do well you gain, if you do poorly you lose points. The system is closed. This means that the sum iRating of all drivers is the same after the race as it was before. Kind of like a poker cash game some people win and some lose but no extra money is created during the game.

With this information, I kind of assumed that the average iRating would be above 1350. That was a bad assumption!

In road racing my current iRating is 1318. I was much lower for a while but have brought it back in the past 6 weeks or so.
What I found fascinating is that of the 127,896 road racing participants, I am ranked 53,429.

For oval racing my current iRating is 1298. Of the 108,367 oval racing participants, I am ranked 47,065.

So despite have lower than my starting iRating I am above average in both categories.
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]


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