Isn’t just a game

Eric J Smith wrote a motivational note about simracing and oval racing. How a competition feels, how adrenaline flows, what a winning means…

“Every time I see that iRacing is just a game, I nearly roll my eyes. For me, it isn’t just a game. Better than any other output of my time, iRacing gives me the best opportunity to find the compelling and adrenaline-pumping facets of competition for a nerdy, untalented (at any other sports) high school senior like myself. The reason I spend hours on this hobby of mine is because of the races that I end with my ears red, my heart racing, and my body nearly shaking. Yes, I do know how to have a life. I currently go to school as a full time student, have a teenager job in retail, and still find time to do volunteer work and see friends.

That’s another story for another time.

Earlier today, just now, actually, I took part in the NASCAR B-Fixed race at Phoenix. It was filled with a few talented drivers, up-and-comers, and guys working on their game. Normally, I don’t get caught up in how powerful I can feel inside a virtual car, but this race reminded me how much I love the competition and how passionate I am about racing.

For the first 25 laps, I ran third in the top four until the caution came out. The four of us up front had been fastest all race and it looked to be a four horse battle for the lead. Upon entry to pit road, I made the mistake of speeding- something I’m great at (making mistakes). And on the restart after, I had to line up at the end of the line with the second place driver, whom also sped.

Before I knew it, the final 25 laps had rocketed into action. I was finding new lanes, different inputs, and I was still getting nowhere from the massive traffic in front of me. When, on lap 30 or so, the caution came out. Unlike most of the leaders that pitted for four tires, I decided to take two. A handful of guys stayed out, a handful took four, and a handful took two. I thought about how interesting THIS restart was going to be.

And so we were off, and into the first turn, the entire field checked up so that I split them all down the middle. I was in fifth place with 20 to go and a second and a half to gain. The laps wound down. I took fourth, then I caught up to the final three cars with two to go. Into the first turn, we were lined up side by side two rows deep. By now my blood was pumping. Down the backstretch I cleared third, then set my eyes on the two leaders, feet in front of me. They made contact, and the moment every oval racer dreams of took shape. I seized the opportunity and found the lane under the both of them. My heart was racing and my hands were hardly in my control as I spun the rear tires like wild off turn four. I drag raced down the front stretch but it’d been too late- I’d done it.

This is just a virtual world with real people. It is a world where there are no winnings for the 99% of us and there are no real life forces other than my hands on my video game steering wheel. But I feel it. I feel the way the car moves through the screen, and I feel how close I am on edge for this thing, this moving image, to moving off my one, fast, line.

iRacing is all of this, but it is not just a game. To everyone that feels the power of competition and the joy of winning against all odds at whatever they do, stick with it. Live through it. It is imperative to your happiness.”

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