24 Hours of Lemons iRacing

The 24 Hours of Lemons has decided to get in on iRacing. ChampCar and LuckyDog have been doing this for a while, but it took a pandemic for Lemons racers to join in the fun. It just got started this week, and will be going through some growing pains as it optimizes its operations, but it’s already headed in a good direction. Let’s look at some details.

Cars

The cars in iRacing aren’t very Lemony, but the organizers have picked the most Lemony cars available. Each race is limited in the number of cars that can be run, and the organizers have done a nice job distributing these between A, B, and C classes.

  • Class A: Street Stock (Camaro) vs. Mustang
  • Class B: ND Miata vs. Jetta (diesel)
  • Class C: NC Miata (RHD) vs. Solstice

iRacing offers various ways to balance cars, such as using fixed setups, ballast, and power modifier. For now, they are using open setups and ballast. I expect some tuning over the first few weeks.

Class A

There weren’t any Mustangs in the race that I saw. My experience in the past was that the Mustang was a good deal faster. It certainly handles better. But the Camaro is definitely more Lemony than the Mustang or any other car, so that’s my choice. If you want the Mustang, it’s $11.95.

Class B

I think this class offers the best racing. FWD vs RWD. Diesel vs gasoline. Japan vs. Germany. 4 seater vs. 2. Sedan vs. Convertible. If you want to drive FWD, this is the only choice you have, so prepare to fork over $11.95. If I wasn’t racing the Camaro, I’d race the Jetta.

Class C

I think it’s a strange choice to use a RHD car in the US, but that was the decision for the NC Miata. While, the NC Miata is faster than the Solstice in the right hands, the Solstice is much more forgiving. If you’re just getting started with iRacing, you’ll have better success in the Solstice than the 2010 Roadster.

Tracks

There are quite a few tracks in iRacing that Lemons visits, but most are paid content. These are the 4 tracks penned in so far.

  • Summit Point – Lemons has been there a few times, but not recently
  • Laguna Seca – Lemons has never been there, but many Lemons racers have in Lucky Dog and ChampCar
  • Lime Rock Park – Lemons has never been there, and I doubt they ever will
  • Barber – A regular part of the Lemons schedule ($14.95)

I think that the organizers have made a good selection of tracks to begin with. I think the next track they should add is NJMP. This is a “Tech Track” that was laser-scanned but never finished. At $5 it’s cheaper than standard tracks, but the quality is good. It’s probably the most Lemony track available because it’s unfinished, and should definitely be part of the series since Lemons goes there regularly.

Trading Paints

While there are no Lemony cars, you can dress them up with Lemony skins. The Trading Paints service allows people to view custom paint jobs. If you’re not running their program, you can’t see custom paint jobs. While Lemons is usually rules-light, in this case they are rules-heavy, and require people to have custom paints. I’m all for it.

Practice

Last night I joined one of the practice events. It was great seeing the rainbow tiger stripes of “Sorry for Party” and the rusty Camaro, for example. It definitely feels more Lemony with custom skins. How was the racing? About what you would expect. Cars flipped and ran off course into the treesĀ before turn 1. I was gridded randomly at position 29 of 30 and had a front row seat for lots of crashes. I made my way through the field and took the lead with a few laps to go when the race leader made some mistakes. I didn’t make a great pass. I just inherited the lead after the guy in front overcooked a corner. We were running the same lap times, so it would have been hard to pass him otherwise.

Mario’s iRacing Challenge

Mario (twin brother) has finally installed iRacing and is starting to drive in the virtual world. He’s got my old computer, a single 1080p monitor, Logitech G29, and a bean-bag chair for a cockpit. It’s not exactly ideal, but at least he’s on board. His first couple sessions were at Lime Rock Park (Classic configuration) in the Global MX-5 Cup. That’s a great place to start. He reported that his best laps were 1:01.6 and then 1:01.3. For a first-time iRacer with a janky rig, that’s pretty good.

We were talking about the Rookie placements and when to do them. I suggested he wait for a track he wants to do. Charlotte roval is next week and then Tsukuba 2000 Full the week after. I mentioned that I had never driven Tsukuba before. It wasn’t in iRacing when I was active. At which point he threw down a challenge.

The Challenge

Mario has driven Tsukuba many times in Gran Turismo, but not iRacing. I have never driven Tsukuba, but I have a lot of hours in iRacing. The rules: 10 laps and post your times.

Mario

  1. 1:11.877
  2. 1:09.288
  3. 1:09.752
  4. 1:08.647
  5. 1:07.838
  6. 1:08.241
  7. 1:07.909
  8. 1:07.381
  9. 1:07.416
  10. 1:07.846

In his next session, he posted a 1:06.658. From the lap times, it doesn’t look like he’s crashing. There’s pretty consistent improvement. This safe, consistent pace will work well in the Rookie races.

Ian

  1. 1:06.553
  2. 1:06.493
  3. 1:06.294
  4. 1:06.210
  5. 1:06.182
  6. 1:06.174
  7. 1:06.183
  8. 1:06.678
  9. 1:06.401
  10. 1:06.543

In my next session, I posted a 1:05.694. I drove the first 10 laps with the racing line on. Sometimes I do this when learning a new track. But it definitely interferes with my driving. I turned it off in the next session and dropped 0.5 seconds. I still don’t know the track very well, and I’m not very well tuned in to iRacing. I’ll improve if I work at it.

Thoughts

I haven’t been on iRacing in a while. I actually created a new account so I could go through the Rookie experience again. For my reintroduction to iRacing, I did some lapping at Lime Rock (59.883), and also tried out the new-to-me Rallycross offering. At the intro level, that’s just the VW Beetle and either the Daytona rallycross course or Phoenix. I have to say that the iRacing rallycross is pretty fun, especially when you switch cars. MX-5 on dirt is a hilariously fun.

Back to the challenge. First off, it’s pretty unfair. Every part of my sim rig is superior to his, and I have a lot more time in iRacing than he does. However, he has more time in Gran Turismo than I do in all of my sim racing combined. How valuable was that? Not much I think. Playing Gran Turismo or Forza with a hand controller is not the same as a force feedback steering wheel. And also a FFB wheel is not a real car. But the similarities between a sim rig and a real car are a lot closer than thumb-operated joysticks and any wheel.

So do yourself a favor and get a sim rig and hop on iRacing, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally, etc. It’s fun and useful. And feel free to boast when you beat whatever time I post.

Viral Memes

I made a meme about COVID-19 that I thought was pretty clever. Then Mario challenged to make a new meme every week. And then Daniel said until the end of the pandemic. As someone who likes a challenge, I’ve decided to give that a go. I posted the first one before, but it’s buried behind 10 posts on sim racing, so I’ll post it again. I’ll post the new ones here every week as I’m sure I’m not Facebook friends with many of you.

 

 

Suck Less at Sim Racing (10/10) advanced training exercises

When I started this series of daily posts, I had thought that after 10 days we would have a much better understanding of how the world is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. After 10 days, I don’t think it’s any clearer to me. I have no idea if this is going to last 1 month or 1 year. The only thing that is clear to me is that the Dunning-Kruger effect is in full force. Everyone is a pandemic expert. It comes down to training. Are you a PhD virologist with a decade of experience? If the answer is no, shut the fuck up. I don’t care which side of the societal rift you’re on. Shut the fuck up.

Advanced Training Exercises

What exactly is the advanced level of driving? To me, it’s when your lap times are better than 90% of the drivers. That generally puts your lap times within 1-2% of the lap record. At that point, you know your virtual car and track pretty well. For some drivers, the journey to get to the 90th percentile doesn’t take long. But breaking through that barrier can take forever.

Once you have your reference points and corner geometries optimized, there’s only more thing. No, it’s not heel-toe shifting or left foot braking. The advanced level of driving is really about optimizing the slip angle of your rear tires on corner entry. Honestly, that’s where the last 1% of the speed is.

In order to break through the intermediate barrier, you have to learn to back up the corner. That is, you need to get your steering inputs done earlier. This can only be accomplished by driving with yaw early in the corner. By early I mean before the apex. Yaw after the apex looks cool, but doesn’t make you fast.

The practice drill I have for you is this:

  • rFactor 2
  • Lime Rock Park
  • Skip Barber F2000 (Regional tires)
  • 4th gear only

The Skip Barber is modeled beautifully in rFactor 2. Every input has an effect on the handling. The car is pretty fast, but the tires are not grippy. By driving in 4th gear only, you can focus entirely on coordinating your braking and steering. Also, your entry speed and angle will be critical to your lap time because you can’t make up for a poor entry having 4th gear power. You will run into the speed limiter on the straight, but if you’re doing things correctly, you should be able to break 1:02. Watch your delta timer like a hawk. After 1000 laps, you’ll have figured out what works and what doesn’t. 1000 laps? Not all in one session, but if you really want to improve, you have to train. 1000 laps in one car at one track is a start.

Suck Less at Sim Racing (9/10) intermediate training exercises

The next 2 days are somewhat pivotal in the history of the health of the US. We haven’t faced a pandemic in 100 years, and the exponential spread of COVID-19 is very concerning. Lots of events are being cancelled from the local schools to the NBA. During this time of social distancing, one activity that is seeing a surge in popularity is sim racing. So I thought I would do a short series of daily posts on sim racing as we buckle down and survive these next 2 days (or whatever it is).

Types of Corners

One of the problems intermediate drivers have is not understanding the 3 types of corners. They may think they understand the 3 types, but when it comes to driving, they fuck it up. So let’s just review the 3 types of corners to make sure we’re on the same page.

  • Type I corners are the most common type of corners. They have a straight before and after, and people think in slow, out fast as they navigate them.
  • Type II corners are the most rare. They are driven the opposite of Type I: in fast, out slow.
  • Type III corners are complexes of corners where it’s important to throw away the ideal line, possibly several times in succession, in order to prepare for the last corner.

Type II Exercise

Most sim racers can drive a Type I corner reasonably well. The problem is that they drive all corners like they are Type I corners. For this exercise, go to the following tracks and work on your technique in Type II corners.

  • Lime Rock – Everyone on iRacing has driven Lime Rock Park because it’s one of the free tracks and always featured in the Rookie placements. And almost everyone does T1/T2 wrong: they overslow the entry, speed up in the middle of the corner, then slow down as they run out of room at the exit. The Turn 1 & 2 complex is a basically one giant decreasing radius corner, not two independent 90s.
  • Summit Point – Another Type II is T4 at Summit Point (another track all iRacers know). Many racers try to take both T4 and T5 as Type I corners. Go through T4 fast and throw away the entry to T5.
  • Other Type II corners include VIR South T1 and Willow Springs T9.

Drive on Dirt

Drive on dirt tracks. When there’s less grip you have to fight understeer and oversteer more often. Get used to it because achieving balance is the key to speed. So the more time you have in an unbalanced state, the more you’ll be able to get out of your vehicle on any surface.

  • DiRT Rally is dirt-cheap on Steam. The courses in Greece are my favorites.
  • Assetto Corsa has some nice dirt tracks, like Karelia Cross. The NA Miata with default setup is a great training vehicle here. 1:05 is a good target.
  • iRacing has dirt tracks, but I can’t comment on them since I never drove them.

Tomorrow: advanced training exercises

Suck Less at Sim Racing (8/10) novice training exercises

The next 3 days are somewhat pivotal in the history of the health of the US. We haven’t faced a pandemic in 100 years, and the exponential spread of COVID-19 is very concerning. Lots of events are being cancelled from the local schools to the NBA. During this time of social distancing, one activity that is seeing a surge in popularity is sim racing. So I thought I would do a short series of daily posts on sim racing as we buckle down and survive these next 3 days (or whatever it is).

Novice Training Exercises

  • Downshift after corner – Shifting takes mental energy and can be difficult to coordinate with braking, so don’t downshift in the braking zone. Use 100% of your concentration for braking properly, and then downshift on the straight. An alternative is just to leave the car in high gear all the time.
  • Hard on, soft off – In order to drive a corner fast, the suspension must be quiet. Work on a soft brake release to ensure that your car is composed on corner entry. Check your brake pressure trace to make sure you’re actually releasing the brakes progressively. Your trace should look like a right triangle with high pressure at the start and a gradual release. It’s better to go soft on, soft off than hard on, snap off.
  • Reference points – Since it’s difficult to drive by the seat of your pants, you’ll need to use reference points to help you get around the track. Go to a simple track, like Lime Rock Park or Brands Hatch Indy, that doesn’t have a lot of turns. Figure out exactly where you need to start braking on every corner. Now switch cars and do it again.
  • Drive off track – Practice driving off track and back on again without losing control. This drill will probably earn you more points than working on any techniques that make you faster on track.

Tomorrow: intermediate training exercises