Skippy; new driver guide

Ian Bevan is one of the most prominent and popular Skip Barber “aliens” and probably one of the best to talk about the series. He has been racing with Skip for a long, long, long time and he knows exactly where and how the car has changed over time. This guide was first published in 2011 and since then has been growing and adding new valuable info about the car and everything that surrounds it. Let’s take a look.

Greetings
It’s that time again when we see an influx of new drivers. This is excellent, the more the merrier You are joining the most popular road series, good choice! This is my humble attempt at offering some tips for new Skippy drivers who have just come from Rookie. I think I’d have found this useful when I joined in January, so I hope you will too. In here;

  • List of useful forum threads
  • Going faster
  • Car setup
  • On-track behaviour
  • Accidents
  • Racecraft
  • The Real World Skippy

There’s probably a bunch more things I could add, but I don’t really want to just repeat stuff posted by John Bodin and others.

Last updated for 2016 Season 1

List of useful/recommended forum threads

Going faster

There’s a bunch of guys who have been racing the Skip for a fair while and their pace may seem very daunting. The truth – proved by analysis of the qualifying results – is that all these guys took over a year to start posting top lap times. It took me six months to even get into the top 5% of qualifying lap times, and I practiced for a couple of hours per day at a minimum, every day. So if it seems like you’re too slow, don’t be put off, we all were at one stage and in fact, in comparison to the best of the best, pretty much all of us still are!

The good news is that many of the fast guys also post very helpful threads in this forum, as well as replays of fast laps. They will also critique laps posted by others to help them get faster. Don’t be shy, ask for help on this forum and I guarantee you’ll get it. The better news is that we have thousands of drivers in this series, and you will always find races with guys of similar ability to yours, whether you are a total rookie or a seasoned old-hand.

This is a training video released by Skip Barber themselves. Well worth a watch.

Benjamin Lindsay, an iRacing Pro license holder with the TNT race team, has made an excellent video about driving the Skip. It’s part of a wider series of articles on their website, the TNT Racing School. There is also an accompanying Android app I think.

Other useful tips:

  • If you are very new to the car, know that you are going to need a little patience. The Skippy is a ‘school car’, purposely sensitive and unstable in order to teach new drivers in the real world what it takes to be competitive at the highest levels. Give yourself time to get used to it, and understand that we all thought it was unpredictable at first. Keep off the grass! And the rumble strips too, at least while you are starting out.
  • In my experience, the first and simplest thing you can do to improve your lap times is to ensure you have set your Field of View correctly. FOV controls what iRacing shows on the screen, and is calculated from the size of your monitor(s) and how far away from them you sit. With the wrong FOV (and the default FOV will almost certainly be very wrong) what you see will be distorted, and your brain won’t be able to figure out speed or distance properly. Here’s a great video:
  • Get your wheel’s force feedback working for you, more info in this thread.
  • We often get feedback here that the fast drivers are drifting around the corners. They are not but we do understand how it can appear that way. Martin Peck wrote an excellent forum post about this in this thread. See also my comment a little further down about using Force Feedback to judge available grip.
  • Turn off auto-clutch. It’s considered a driver aid and has a lap time penalty. More information in the Braking and Changing Gear guide.
  • Others may disagree, but I don’t think new drivers should try to copy the laps posted in this forum by the fast guys. Those videos are great to watch, but most new guys are going to fall off the track trying to make the car behave the way that the much more experienced drivers do. Instead…
  • … check the How To Drive The Skippy thread. There is general advice, replays for most tracks, videos and iSpeed irlaps. The laps are all driven on warm tyres, a single setup that doesn’t change from track to track, and race fuel.
  • Martin Peck has created some excellent training material showing his progression from “new driver” to “fast driver”, including replays and iSpeed analysis. Find it in this thread.
  • If you don’t know how to watch or record replays, learn how to do that – section 4 of the official Beginner’s Guide has step by step instructions. Watch other people’s uploaded replays. If you run a sector better than your optimal, go back and watch the replay and see what you did differently.
  • Also, if you spin or crash, consider immediately watching the replay to make sure you understand why it happened. If you’re too ticked off to look there and then, save the replay and watch it when you’re calmer
  • Although jumping into the cockpit with other drivers in a race or practice session can show you roughly the lines they drive, it can also be VERY misleading. The internets and lag will make it look like they are braking later than they actually are, and it will make them sometimes look like they going off-track when they are not. What you are seeing is the guesswork of the “netcode”. This can also, sometimes, make cars jump around or up and down. The only way to be sure about braking points and lines is to watch replays where the brake and accelerator are actually showing (the red and green bars on the replay). This means your replays, and replays that others have recorded and uploaded for you to watch.
  • Consider using iSpeed, an iRacing addon. I have found it extremely useful – and still do today – and you will often get valuable feedback from experienced drivers who can look at your laps too.
  • Because we can’t physically feel what’s going on in the simulator (‘seat-of-your-pants’ driving), iRacing tries to use tyre squeals to indicate what’s happening with with the tyres and grip. For this reason, turning up the tyre sounds and turning down the engine sounds can be a good idea. Do this in the Sound options – have the Tyres slider all the way to the right, and the others all the way to the left.
  • Watch the iRacing racing school videos here: http://members.iracing.com/membersite/member/DrivingSchool.do
  • Don’t aim to get an A license as fast as you can. The higher the license you have, the harder it will be to maintain your SR. A class D license holder winning top splits is much more impressive than a class A license holder coming 5th in a bottom split.
  • Read this book written by the real world Skip Barber instructors.
  • Learning new tracks can be a challenge. iRacing has a ‘driving line’ you can follow, which can also indicate braking points. The driving line is not perfect and the braking points are a tad optimistic, but this is still a very useful tool. I still use it for new tracks.More information in this thread.

Car setups

  • Rookie is a “fixed” series, meaning you cannot change the car setup. However that restriction does not apply here. You can change tyre pressures, brake balance, fuel load, rear roll bar (ARB), and spring perch offset (SPO, or ride height). Do this by clicking the “Garage” button when you join a session. But before you get worried or carried away…
  • …there is no such thing as a fast setup for the Skippy. However, if you are going as fast as you can, consistently, a change to your setup may enable you to go faster. That same change may be the complete opposite that somebody else needs to make them go faster, because their driving style is different to yours.
  • In 2016 season 1, the iRacing baseline setup is actually quite decent. It is stable and surprisingly fast. It does understeer a little, you can tune that by increasing the SPO as you gain confidence. In the right hands, this setup could be used to lap within a few 10ths of a second of the very fast guys. Make sure you reduce fuel though – 3.1G is enough for all races this season.
  • If you want to know how to increase the downforce of the car to improve grip, prepare for disappointment. Although the Skippy has front and rear wings, they provide little downforce and are not adjustable.
  • The definitive guide about setting up your car is the Skip Barber F2000 Tuning Guide: http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1851220.page. It not only walks you through the different setup options, but also explains what they do to car behaviour. It also includes a troubleshooting section to help you figure out issues with understeer or oversteer for example.

On-track Behaviour

I’m not looking to lecture anyone, but there are some courtesies that we try to afford each other that are worth knowing. These are true of all the series, not just the Skippy.

  • Pit exit – please use F3 and see if there is any traffic coming. Use your mirrors. You wouldn’t pull out onto a road in the real world without seeing what was coming, please do it here too. If you are forcing the guy behind you to slow down or take avoiding action, you’re causing a problem. This is especially true in qualifying and of course races. If in a race, do not pull out in front of a car that appears in red on F3 unless there is a several second gap. He is likely faster than you and about to lap you, no need to make it harder for both of you.
  • Turn on your spotter. It’s in the Sound options. It will tell you if there is a car on your left or right that you cannot see. The driver you just wrecked does not care that you think the spotter is “unrealistic” or “annoying”.
  • Language. Foul language is not tolerated by iRacing, you can be banned for it. Swear all you like – just don’t hit the “push to talk” button!
  • So make sure you have voice chat assigned to a button (‘push-to-talk’), instead of voice-activated, so you can rant as much as you like
  • Never abuse other drivers. You can be banned for that too. If you have an incident in a race, even if you believe with all your life force it wasn’t your fault, keep the rant to yourself. 14 other drivers probably don’t care about your incident and they need to concentrate on their own racing.
  • On-topic voice chat is common in practice sessions. But the other drivers may not care what you and the mate you’re driving with did last night, or what music you like. Again, they’re probably trying to concentrate.
  • Chatting in qualifying or time trials is generally a bad idea, most drivers need to concentrate pretty hard in those sessions.
  • General voice chatter is usually frowned upon in races, and especially higher splits. Also, don’t start chatting as soon as you cross the finish line – unless you’re in last place – the rest of the field is still racing.
  • Voice chat is sometimes used for passing, like “pass me on the next straight” or “pass on the left now” and so on. However this becomes much less common in the higher splits, so try not to rely on it. Thanking somebody when being allowed to pass happens in all splits though. Obviously you can voice or text chat ‘thanks’, but you can even just press your push-to-talk button without saying anything.
  • If you cause an incident with another driver, a quick “sorry” on voice or text chat is usually a good idea.
  • Voice chat only allows one driver at a time. If you are talking and somebody else’s name is showing on the screen, nobody can hear you.

Accidents

If you have an accident, you need to forget about your race and think about the race of the other people on the track – although this is easier said than done.

  • This is a D license series. That means you get one fast-tow for repairs. If your car is stuffed, hit the ‘reset’ key as quickly as possible. It gets you back into the race quicker, and gets your munted car out of the way quickest too!
  • If you do spin or crash, you should make yourself easy to avoid. If you’re out of control, lock the brakes up. When you lock your brakes, your car will slide in a single direction, which makes it easier for people behind you to avoid you. If you don’t lock up, your car can be sliding in one direction, and then suddenly lurch off in a different direction.
  • If you stop in the middle of the track facing sideways/the wrong way and there is on-coming traffic, DON’T MOVE. It is usually much easier to avoid a car that is not moving. All too often you hear “sorry man, I was just trying to get out of your way”.
  • Use F3 to see what traffic is approaching and wait for a gap before rejoining the race. Again, if the following driver has to brake or otherwise avoid you, it’s your fault, you are in the wrong.
  • Remember we might be half a world apart. My ping time to a US server is about 0.2 – 0.3s. As good as the iRacing netcode is and as good a driver as you (think!) you are, if we are nearly bumper to bumper going into a heavy braking zone, it may end very badly. Allow for it; leave a gap.
  • When you are behind another car heading into a braking zone, brake when they brake, not where they brake.

Racecraft

No matter how fast you are, if you want to do well in progressively higher splits, you will have to learn racecraft: how to follow, pass, drive defensively, drive on lines other than the racing line, and even simply drive in traffic.

  • Go and watch the top split of a large field. 7.15PM GMT on Sunday or Monday is a good time. Do this by going to Events>Spectator Sessions from the members website – look for the race with the lowest session ID. Watch how they race. Don’t be concerned with racing lines or braking points, because those won’t be quite right (see elsewhere in here about that). What you will learn from the Division 1 drivers is how to race, not just how to hotlap.
  • Don’t use practice sessions only for hotlapping. Hook up with another driver or two, and try following each other around the track at race speed, overtaking, side-by-side driving and so forth. (Ask first though, some people may not want to do it)
  • Make sure you do at least some practice with race fuel (usually 3.1G), not minimum fuel. Especially right before a race, if you practice with 2.1G and hit the grid with 3.1G, the car may behave differently and you’re just increasing your risk of problems.
  • You can do practice races by joining races as a spectator as above, but then jumping in your car. Nobody can see you or hit you, but you can practice your race pace. You start from the pits.
  • Back to real racing. For the first couple of laps your the car is fuel-heavy, and you may well be suffering from race nerves. This is not the time to try to win the race. I say again, this is NOT the time to win the race. It can, however, be a very good time to LOSE a race and possibly wreck somebody else’s race too.
  • Turn 1 pile-ups. I’ve been in many. I’ve caused a few. These things happen. But you can increase your first lap survival chances by turning on your spotter, and also by practicing starts in offline testing. Or in a practice session with a couple of other drivers. Start from the grid with full race fuel, and do T1 over and over and over again! Most importantly, practice staying wide, and practice holding the inside line. Learn the braking points. Learn how the car feels.
  • It’s worth practicing driving other lines in practice too. Try all the corners pretending there is a car on either your left or right. Do this a lot and you will become much more confident about passing people, and being passed.
  • When on the grid, have a routine. It will settle your nerves and ensure that the car is ready to go. I do this: press F4 and make sure I have the race fuel load, and I un-check the added fuel. I press F5 and un-check the tyre pressure. These two things ensure that if I have to do a pit stop/reset for repairs, I don’t spend extra time in the pits getting fuel I don’t need and having my tyre pressures reset. I then press F3, and sit with my finger on the clutch. I’ve caused a pile-up on the grid by pressing the wrong button and failing to find 1st gear, so I double-check it’s the clutch button I’m pressing. Then I wait for the lights. While I wait, I think through T1 and T2, to keep my mind focussed.
  • Starts: Here’s what I do. At the gray lights, I change to first gear. Make sure you keep your finger or foot on the clutch, or you’ll go forward and get black-flagged! On red lights I push the accelerator all the way down, revving the hell out of it And on green I simply dump the clutch and take off. As long as I’m quick on the green light, I’m as fast as most other people off the grid. However I’m sure there are other ways people start, and there may well be faster ways. YMMV
  • GO EASY THROUGH TURN ONE. I may have mentioned this before.

The Real World Skippy

Finally, since iRacing prides itself on being a simulation, here are some tidbits about the real-world car. All of this is from my understanding, I have never seen a real-world Skippy, please feel free to point out errors or extra info you think would be useful.

  • The car is the Skip Barber Forumla 2000. It’s a modestly powered, entry level, open-wheel racer. It is used by the Skip Barber Racing School and actively raced in different series in the US.
  • By handing over the appropriate amount of cash, you can go drive one yourself at various locations in the US. http://www.skipbarber.com/
  • I understand that there are two versions of the car, the Nationwide and the Regional. We drive the Regional here. It has road tyres instead of slicks. The other notable difference is that the Nationwide has a gurney flap that’s designed to increase drag massively to increase the draft so drivers will learn to use it and work together. (The result is that while in the regional car you need to draft down a huge straight to even get alongside, 2 seconds of drafting in the national car are enough to blow right by). Unfortunately most of the videos you can find on Youtube are the Nationwide car.
  • The real-world car has a pedal clutch, although you don’t need to use it to change gear. See the guide to Braking and Changing Gear in the Skippy for more information.
  • The placement of the steering column makes it difficult to left-foot brake in the real car. If realism is your thing, learn to heel-and-toe (video), which apparently is what the Skip Barber racing school teaches.
  • The real car has a sequential shifter
  • Real-world Skip Barber forums (not related to iRacing)

4 thoughts on “Skippy; new driver guide

  1. I just want to say thanks for putting this together. I finally got my d licence after more than a year in mx5s and this guide shaved 2 seconds straight away from my pb at road America but more importantly I can lap much more consistently to my pb instead of either going fast or going off track.

  2. Hi, love the guide and will definitely be using it as I make my way through the Skippy series. However, after just being promoted to D class, I was wondering what tracks I should purchase for the best value for money. I’ve heard that there are forums where they discuss track rotations but I can’t seem to find them for the life of me. Thanks again.

    1. Official iRacing forums, Skip Barber section and usually 3 or 4 weeks before the end of the season a new thread to discuss schedule is created if needed.

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