The most famous racecar driving program in the world is probably the The Skip Barber School. In 1975 they started training drivers in Formula Ford style cars which later became codified as the Skip Barber Formula 2000 (aka SBF2000 or “Skippy”). The cars are not very powerful, have hard tires, and minimal aero. This makes them excellent training cars that provide a direct interface between the driver, car, and track. Although the Skip Barber School operated out of several locations, it originated at Lime Rock Park, and the combination of the SBF2000 and Lime Rock Park is an absolute classic for driver education. What’s true in the real world is often true in the sim world, and one of the best ways to develop your sim racing skills is in the Skippy at LRP.
There are several simulators that offer this combination, including my favorite hardcore trio of Assetto Corsa, iRacing, and rFactor 2. Let’s take a quick look at each package as a virtual trainer.
- Available on Steam for $20 or as little as $5 when it goes on sale
- Official DLC (downloadable content) is cheap
- Huge amount of community-created DLC cars and tracks, most of which are free
- Supports Race Studio Analysis, Track Attack, MoTec i2, and others for telemetry analysis
- The Russell Alexis Formula Ford Mk 14 is an even better model than the Skip Barber F2000 (I think)
- You can modify the grip level of the track to simulate rain, for example
- Community-built DLC is highly variable in quality (Lime Rock is good)
- There is no way to automatically keep your DLC up to date, so you’ll have to manually search for updates
- Both the Skippy and Lime Rock were just updated in December 2019
- All tracks are laser scanned
- Best match-making if you want competitive racing
- Supports MoTec i2, Track Attack, iSpeed, and more for telemetry analysis
- iSpeed has a huge database of telemetry data, which is useful for comparing your laps to others
- Costs $12 for each additional car and track
- Costs $12 per month
- The SB model has way too much grip
- Available on Steam for $32 and much less when it goes on sale
- Growing amount of community DLC that is easily installed and kept up to date in the Steam Workshop
- Supports MoTec i2 for telemetry analysis
- SBF2000 model is the best model of any car in any game
- Some good DLC is not in the Steam Workshop
- Not as many cars and tracks as Assetto Corsa
- Least popular for online racing
Comparing the SB2000s
If I’m going to sit down for a serious sim training session, my first thought is rFactor 2. The Skippy feels perfect. Every input has an effect on the handling no matter how subtle. I wish every car in every sim had this feel, but they don’t. Some cars are totally broken. Some sims are totally broken. The rF2 Skippy is the best that sim racing has to offer.
The Assetto Corsa Skippy isn’t quite as wonderful as the one in rF2, but it’s still pretty good. However, my favorite trainer in AC is actually the Russell Alexis Mk 14 Formula Ford. It’s a free download, but you can PayPal the author to say thanks (I gave him $10).
I was really excited when I heard that both the Skippy and Lime Rock would be updated in the latest build of iRacing. That excitement didn’t last long. iRacing force feedback offers very little feel compared to AC and rF2. Also, the car grips way too much and there isn’t a way to turn that down far enough to make the car a good trainer. Overall, it’s a real disappointment, and I can’t recommend it.