Every motorsport fan has spent time behind a Playstation or XBox setting fast times and winning races. They call those games “simulations”, but in reality just how close are they? EFTM took a ride with V8 Supercar driver Garth Tander and checked out some of the best simulators available to answer that very question.
When I took a hot lap with Greg Murphy at the Sydney 500 at Homebush late last year, I described it as violent and realised that my experience with computer games would never feel real again.
So when the opportunity to do it all again came about last week, I had an idea. On the Gold Coast there’s a fully equipped racing simulator experience centre called “RaceCentre” and through fortunate timing, this week they’ve opened their doors at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
With Garth Tander and team setup at Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek Raceway) I got into the hot seat for another 250 kilometre per hour experience.
The Eastern Creek circuit is a much better place to experience V8s with less violent turns and braking, and more visibility over where the track actually goes. That said, the experience is still an extreme adrenalin rush that takes your energy from you quickly as a passenger and nothing can really prepare you for the speed along the straights, and deceleration when braking.
With supreme control, Tander took the circuit with apparent ease, plenty of slip and slide and opposite lock, plus a small lock up around the back of the circuit that took he and I a little closer to the kitty-litter than we’d have hoped.
After a good chat with both Tander and team-mate James Courtney about the ins and outs of their jobs, I jumped back into the EFTM Mazda 2 and drove down the M4 into Darling Harbour.
The team at Racecentre were busy putting the finishing touches on the eight race simulators in the shop before opening the doors the next day.
A quick chat with the team made me realise I was not about to get behind the wheel of an over equipped Playstation. The Racecentre simulators are high powered PC’s hooked up to VRX iMotion Simulators from Canada which include a full racing seat, surround sound and as the name suggests, full motion simulation. Add to that a Logitech G27 wheel and pedals for control and a price tag of around $40,000 each, these eight simulators are a serious racing investment.
Using RFactor simulation software, the team can dial up almost any track, and put you behind the wheel of almost any car. From V8s, to Formula One and Rally there’s a range of options.
I immediately jumped behind the wheel of Garth Tanders Holden V8 Supercar, at Eastern Creek. The driving experience was like nothing I’ve tried before. More difficult to control, while being shaken and stirred by the full-motion seat, this was giving me the ride of my life – outside the real thing that is.
The adrenalin might be missing and the movement doesn’t shake your bones as much as the real thing but it sure does help with the difference between the couch and the car.
RFactor requires a level of control and race craft that very few simulators in the mass market deliver. You need to focus and you need to work hard, and it’s that which makes me realise why teams of people get together at Racecentre to drive competitively against each other, either in the same room or with competitors at the other RaceCentre on the Gold Coast.
Not everyone gets the chance to share a ride with a V8 Supercar driver, but I can tell you if you love motorsport, RaceCentre is something you have to try.
Sydney-siders can check out Racecentre at Darling Harbour any day you like, and with the Sydney Motorsport Park round of the V8 series now behind us, your next chance to smell the fumes from the V8s and enjoy the action up close will be at the Sydney 500 at Sydney Olympic Park (Friday 30 November – Sunday 2 December).
It’s a special year for Aussie motorsport fans, this will be the last time we see Holden vs Ford because next year Nissan join the circus as part of the Car of the Future program to expand the sport.
For your chance to get close to a V8 Supercar get down to Olympic Park and check out the best pit paddock on the V8 Circuit.
To experience driving a V8 Supercar, RaceCentre is your best option!