How can you be making progress in a race car (even a virtual one) when your lap times aren’t improving? I’ve asked myself that a lot the last few days, and yet, I do feel that I’m making progress. Dare I say, I think I’m improving as a virtual racer.
“But, Captain Slow,” my brain argues, “you’re not going any faster.”
“Neither are you!” I shoot back.
But gaining a scrap of emotional control (thank god a steering wheel and pedal set is too clumsy for an old man to chuck across the living room…it’d have been chucked a long time ago otherwise), I step back and as my mom always told me to do: I look at the big picture. Not the actual living room, that’d be too depressing with empty cans of Red Bull and Gatorade piled on the floor at my feet.
No, for progress I look at the fact that every session now ends with me setting a time very close to my personal best. And — perhaps I’m only fooling myself — but I feel that I know how to make up those two seconds. It might be impossible for me, but at least I can see where they are at in the lap. Where, my best lap consists of several moments where I am easing on the throttle coming out of corners, the best laps run by the fast guys are all about solid, immediate and unflinching throttle input. My hats off to Tidgney and the guys at the top of the time charts.
I’ve cut down a lot of the see sawing on the wheel. My inputs are much more controlled and economical. It feels as if I’m moving the wheel half as much as I was a week ago. I know the braking points to within a yard. I need to know them to within a foot. But the main thing is solid throttle application coming out of every apex. I’m not there yet and I don’t think I can get there by Sunday.
Right now, that type of driving sends me into a wheel spinning spiral into the virtual Silverstone weeds. I then try to chuck my G25 wheel into the ravine behind the house, but my old body just can’t do it. And, maybe that’s the final lesson from GT Academy 2013.
My old body just can’t do it. But, in the end, racing is a young man’s sport. And, honestly, SIM racing (for driver development) should become an even younger man’s sport. If there are kids out there with as much enthusiasm for racing as this old man, then they will make it in racing as far as their money can take them. Racing is a lifestyle. Sim racing is also a lifestyle. Not a glorious lifestyle filled with pit girls and boozy Red Bull sponsored after parties. More a monkish lifestyle filled with funky smelling living rooms, a lack of close personal relationships, and the people around you wondering if you’ve finally, deeply, truly, gone mad.
The maddening thing about each new lap? There’s always that possibility.