From time to time I enjoy doing some digital racing and I have found several driving simulations (Sims) that do a good job of this. In recent years, I have been using SIMBIN’s GT series (GTR, GTR2, GT Legends and others). There is a passionate group of people out there who use these Sims for both enjoyment and to practice the skill of driving in competition. I have found them to be a way to keep some of my skills going when I can not get on the track in real life. Recently I have been using the Sim called iRacing.com to practice and compete.
This Sim has some interesting differences that have moved the motorsports Sim industry along. The biggest is that when you drive on it you are racing against other real people not the computer, so like in real life you have to deal with all of the decisions and mistakes that real drivers make. iRacing also has a process where they laser scan real tracks from around the world and re-create them for people like us to drive on. They have both oval and road racing cars and tracks, and like in real life you have to work your way up to the faster more complicated cars and series.
Here is a video of a race that I did at Mid-Ohio; I am driving a Volkswagen Turbo Diesel Jetta running in a multi class race session. I did not know the driver (who I think was from Russia) so I did not take advantage of some of the passing opportunities because I was worried that he might turn into the side of me.
While working on a NASCAR marketing tour program during the 2008 season I was stationed near the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. When I had a day off I as able to sign up for one of the single day Performance M Driving Schools. We got to drive the M3, the M5 and the fast M6 in a range of settings that included a wet skid pad, a road racing environment, an autocross and others.
I started out with a skills program that began with shifting exercises in an M3, and then I moved to an oval car control program where we were dealing driving on wet and dry surfaces. I was also able to drive an M5 on a wet skid pad where the goal was to get the car into a slide and then control and maintain the slide all the way around the pad. The pad was polished concrete about 90% covered with water and and with the power of the M5 (and the traction control turned off) it was easy to get into the slide (and my time with Ohio winters) I was able to maintain the slide for most of the way around.
After lunch is when my group was to move to the high speed part of the skills program. We started out by lapping the road race track in the M5's where we were taught about acceleration, braking and turn in points. It was interesting to hear the instructors coaching us over the walkie talkies while we were driving. My group ended the day with the autocross section in the M6, it was a small course that was on part of the road track that used cones to mark out the track we were to drive. I did not mention to anyone (till after it was all over) that I had any experience with autocrossing. It was a good course that was fast but required a lot of accuracy. I was able to turn in the fastest time of the day by a good margin.
All of the cars had cameras and data acquisition systems; they caught our responses as we were driving. As you can guess it was fun to watch what we were doing. Here is three videos (that I have re-edited) that they gave all of the students from the time we had in the cars. The first video is of a second Skid Pad session, then the Track session and then end with the AutoX session where I recorded the fastest time of the day.