In Nascar, Simulators Arent Tjust Toys Anymore
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In Nascar, Simulators Arent Tjust Toys Anymore Document Transcript

  • 1. 11/17/2009 NASCAR.COM - In NASCAR, simulators… Official Search Engine NASCAR.COM ACCOUNT LOG IN | SIGN UP 2010 Diecast Gift C enter Holiday C atalog AUCTIONS Bid Now Learn More | Sign Up Kyle Busch must be a sim-master: he won 21 races in 2008. Sim Factory In NASCAR, simulators POPULAR ALERTS aren't just toys anymore Auto Service | Angels or Create Your Own By David C aravie llo, NASCAR.CO M De ce m be r 30, 2008 12:24 PM EST type size: + - They communicate just as they would on the race track, depressing a button on the steering wheel as they barrel into a corner at 160 mph. Except they're not at the race track. They're at home, in jeans or T-shirts or pajamas, connected via the Internet, looking not out of windshields but into computer screens. Some have spent thousands of dollars to build cockpits accurate to the tiniest detail, with pedals and gearshifts and seats that perform just like the real thing. On any given W ednesday night, Michael McDowell or Brad Coleman or A.J. Allmendinger might be there. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. have made appearances. It's all part of Columnists an invitation-only simulation league featuring NASCAR drivers who battle just like they're at Duane Cross Michigan or Kansas. No, it's not real. Asphalt and Running second should not tire dust are replaced by pixels and code. But it be overlooked in NASC AR performs very much like the genuine article, a fact that's drawing more in the NASCAR community to Joe Menzer simulators, once dismissed as just toys for kids. Superman will fly into Homestead a champion They're not toys anymore. The cars, programmed with data supplied by crewmen from actual David Caraviello Finally, some signs of life at NASCAR teams, perform like real cars. The tracks, “ old North Wilkesboro built off satellite imagery and input from actual drivers, perform like real tracks. These aren't video Mark Aumann games, but serious performance tools that more PIR played big role in title and more drivers are using to try and gain an battles involving Earnhardt edge on the competition. "What I like about it is, just being familiar with the With some of these race track when you get there," said Mike Dillon, tracks on the game Photo Galleries director of competition for Richard Childress Racing and whose sons Austin and Ty use simulators to -- and I really Checker help further their racing careers. "Looking out the O'Reilly Auto windshield, seeing the bumps on the track, most shouldn't call it a Parts 500 of them are pretty accurate. Heck, it's tough enough to get out of the garage and get on and game -- you start in View Archive off the track for a rookie at a track you're not the garage and you familiar with. W ith some of these tracks on the game -- and I really shouldn't call it a game -- you even learn what start in the garage and you even learn what gates gates to go through. to go through. You get to learn the race track before you get there, and it's pretty accurate." You get to learn the Most Popular Headlines Videos The industry has benefited from a generation of race track before drivers that grew up around video games, and in you get there. News ” general are more computer-savvy than their predecessors. People took notice when Denny NASC AR watching, but not policing, Hamlin-BK feud Hamlin credited simulation training with helping nascar.com/2008/…/story_single.html 1/4
  • 2. 11/17/2009 NASCAR.COM - In NASCAR, simulators… him win at Pocono his rookie season on the Cup Hendrick: No deal for Danica; nothing Series tour. Michael McDowell, who trains in a full- MIKE DILLO N, R CR dire ctor imminent scale cockpit with a 52-inch plasma monitor meant Earnhardt's crew uninjured in traffic crash to mimic a windshield, opened eyes when simulation work helped him win four near PIR races in ARCA in 2007. Before Clint Bowyer started this past season's Nationwide event at Montreal -- an event he began without a single lap of practice, because of the concurrent Sprint Cup weekend in Pocono -- Dillon asked Sim Factory, a Features company that makes a title popular in the NASCAR industry and hosts the North Wilkesboro alive and well, even invitation-only Wednesday night series, to put together a simulated Circuit Gilles without racing Villeneuve. Bowyer finished ninth, despite never seeing the track before the day of Point System the race. Johnson, Martin should lead the way at Phoenix Page 1 Opinions Superman will fly into Homestead a Page 2 champion Running second should not be overlooked Kyle Busch spoke on behalf of Sim Factory at a conference earlier this year in San in NASC AR Jose, Calif. Drivers like Allmendinger, Coleman, Colin Braun, Brandon Whitt and Finally, some signs of life at old North Willie Allen train in simulators regularly. Before open-wheel driver Tony Kanaan Wilkesboro tested a Formula One car in Juarez, Mexico, he had Sim Factory put together a custom simulation of the road course. Austin Dillon prepped on a simulator before More News a test at Iowa Speedway, and had developed such a base of knowledge before getting to the race track that his team was able to trim a full day off the schedule. Ryan Newman estimates that drivers can achieve on a simulator 60 percent of Cup Series News what they'd get out of a live practice session on the race track. Homestead season finale just the first of Accounts like that are helping simulators become many lasts more established within the NASCAR industry, Montoya eighth at Phoenix, makes move on where even people who aren't professed "game top five guys" are seeing the results. Robert Coulter, one Burton, RC R improve as season nears the of the founders of Mishawka, Ind., based Sim end Factory, sees a parallel to engineering, which a decade ago was still struggling for acceptance in a Martin, Gustafson come up short in Phoenix, sport full of drivers and crew chiefs who drove and 2009(?) set up cars solely by feel. Now, engineering is Johnson rolls at Phoenix, ups C hase lead to standard practice. 108 "We have tons of people who come in here. Scott Speed prepares for his first full Earnhardt's crew uninjured in traffic crash Allmendinger, that kid is in here every day, and he season of Cup racing. near PIR “ does it to get his skill set up. You're around 40 View All other people, real people, and you learn to get to the front," said Coulter, who has a background in military flight simulation. "I think it will get to the point where it is in the military and in general Nationwide News aviation, where you don't fly until you have hours and hours in the simulator. If you're going off on a I don't think you Hendrick: No deal for Danica; nothing imminent sortie, you'll go over the entire mission in a simulator, right down to the bomb run. That's can make a race car Keselowski meets with France after latest driver in a sim. But incident where we're going." NASC AR watching, but not policing, Hamlin- Racing simulators are nothing new; there was I think you can BK feud even a NASCAR-licensed racing sim on the market from 1999 through 2003, and the developers of make one better. Edwards wins at Phoenix to delay title that title recently formed a new company, iRacing, celebration that launched a broad-based simulator last By far, you can Sorenson confident at PIR as he looks to the make one better. ” August. Sim Factory has been around since 2006, future but its first attempts to get NASCAR teams to Busch docked 25 points, Ratcliff fined for share data about how the race cars handle were violations met with closed doors. That kind of information was considered secret, and organizations weren't View All R O BERT C O ULTER , Sim Factory giving it out. That began to change once NASCAR introduced its new Cup car. Suddenly there was a treasure trove of information on the old car that teams didn't need anymore, and Truck Series News Coulter was successful in getting some organizations to part with it. The result Hornaday clinches fourth title; Harvick claims was the vehicle in Sim Factory's popular ARCA title, a car that experts say performs the win very much like the real thing. Harvick has a lot on the line when the green "The timing was ideal. All the spoiler stuff became outdated just as the game came falls at PIR out," said Mike Logan, a veteran in specialty fabrication who's worked for top Cup teams for a decade, and provides Sim Factory with much of the technical C armichael signs to drive for Turner information it uses to build its race cars. "Teams are opening up to them. We Motorsports converted the suspension, chassis, everything. They did a full body scan so they Bliss replaces C ook in the No. 25 for HT can run the 'twisted sister.' It's a real car, an actual car that raced in 2006. All Motorsports setups actually matched. It behaves the way it should behave. All that stuff Busch wins in Texas, holds off C rafton and translates perfectly." Hornaday The result is a simulated car that's set up very much like the real thing, down to Busch has Truck owners' title in mind for the smallest detail -- from shocks and suspension, to engine telemetry, to tire Ballew integration data. Programmers have even been able to mimic the car's aerodynamic handling characteristics "within 90 percent of real life," Coulter said. View All Very little of that would have been possible without input from teams. Time was, programmers had to build sims off driver recollections -- which are notoriously unreliable, as it turned out -- and their own assumptions. The degree of reality Remember To Check Out suffered greatly as a result. Not anymore. "Teams bring everything to the table," Coulter said. "It's almost like sim racing has The Fan Starts Here! Check-out the new Com m unity been locked in a cage, been a seed that hasn't been given water to grow. As NASCAR moves away from testing, and as more kids come up who are more used to games, it's only going to improve." NASCAR Hologram Enter Your Codes Now Page 2 Live In-Car Audio Free this Weekend! nascar.com/2008/…/story_single.html 2/4
  • 3. 11/17/2009 NASCAR.COM - In NASCAR, simulators… Page 3 In-Car Audio Listen to Every Driver Simulating a race track is painstaking work that takes three or four months to complete. While some companies use laser-scanning methods, Sim Factory's preferred practice at the moment is to schedule flyovers of high-resolution Shop by Driver satellites, and augment that information with blueprints, interviews with Official NASCAR Merchandise contractors who built the facility, and monitoring cars on the track for real-life data. They interview drivers, who might remember a certain dip or bump, or whether they drop down into a corner or swoop in. The goal as always is to make the finished product as realistic as possible, so drivers can prepare for the real thing without actually having to be there. That certainly helped Bowyer this year at Montreal. Mike Dillon, aware that his RCR driver was going to hit the road course with no practice, and seeing the progress his sons were making on a simulator, approached Coulter at Gateway International Raceway and asked for help. Sim Factory found a version of the Montreal track, and fine-tuned it. Bowyer went to Dillon's house and drilled on the simulator, making lap after lap on Circuit Gilles Montreal. During a caution in the actual race, Bowyer radioed in that he felt like he already knew the race track. "This driving thing, for somebody who has already raced some, a lot of it's about confidence, of having a lot of confidence once you get to the place," Dillon said. "Everybody has certain tracks they're really good at, and a lot of that is due to “ confidence. If you've never been to a race track, you're not going to have it until after you've made your first laps around the track, and you've wasted some practice time trying to get there." If there's a knock against simulators, it's that they Now that we're not might produce drivers who are a touch too aggressive, and carry that mind-set onto the race going to be testing track. It's easy to see why; Coulter said the Sim Factory cars have a tremendous amount of grip, anymore, it's going almost inviting a three-wide pass in the corner. They're driven "down to speed," which means as to be an ever bigger fast as a driver can take them until he hits tool. ” something, and the exact opposite of how cars are driven on a real race track. And many of the drivers who prefer sims are young, relatively fearless, and more willing to take chances on an actual or virtual track. MIKE DILLO N "Drivers drive in a sim pretty much how they do in real life," Coulter said. "The lack of patience is definitely there in every young driver. I think that's a product of their generation. Whenever they can get experience, it leads to their heads growing. Drivers are very cocky people, and they need to be. If they go into a sim and they find that comfort level to where they can push it this way or that, then when they get onto the race track, they may take more chances. You've got to transfer that to the real thing, where you face fear and the possibility of injury." The simulation industry may have received a boost from the recent NASCAR ban on testing. "I think more next year than any time, they're going to be used," Hamlin said. "The more realistic they can make these games, the better it's going to be for these race teams and drivers." Dillon agreed. "Now that we're not going to be testing anymore," he said, "it's going to be an ever bigger tool." Sim Factory has seen a small increase in sales since the testing ban was announced, and more top drivers like Carl Edwards have inquired about custom setups. It's another step forward for an industry that for years has tried to make inroads in NASCAR, and appears finally on the verge of becoming mainstream. "I don't think you can make a race car driver in a sim," Coulter said. "But I think you can make one better. By far, you can make one better. I come from military sims, and you don't put a pilot in a sim and make him an F-18 pilot. But you can make an F-18 pilot better. You can help him learn to make better decisions, decisions that help pilots get home, and keep race cars from getting wrecked." Also Homestead season finale just the first of many lasts Running second should not be overlooked in NASC AR Montoya eighth at Phoenix, makes move on top five Superman will fly into Homestead a champion Burton, RC R improve as season nears the end Sponsored Links "DO NOT Bleach Teeth" 1 simple trick, discovered by a mom, dentists DON'T want you to know. Racing Fans: Make $88/HR nascar.com/2008/…/story_single.html 3/4
  • 4. 11/17/2009 NASCAR.COM - In NASCAR, simulators… Make $5,320/Month Working Part-Time on the Internet. Limited Time Offer. Buy a link here Site Info A bout NA SCA R NA SCA R Communications Other Features A ll E xternal s ites will open in a new A bout N A SC A R.C O M N A SC A R 1 0 1 RSS G ames brows er window. N A SC A R.C O M does not H elp/C ontac t U s A bout N A SC A R M obile Sweeps takes endors e external s ites . T erms of U s e J obs Widgets O ffic ial N A SC A R M embers © 2 0 0 1 - 2 0 0 9 N A S C A R | T urner S ports P rivac y P olic y H ome T rac ks C ommunity C lub I nterac tive, I nc . A ll Rights Res erved. A dvertis ing O ffic ial Spons ors E mail A lerts D ie- C as t Rac e C ars Rac e T rac ks N ews letter N A SC A R P erformanc e T urner E ntertainment D igital N etwork N A SC A R Foundation E s panol N A S C A R.C O M is part of the T urner S ports D euts c h and E ntertainment D igital N etwork. Powered by Ask - Official Search Provider nascar.com/2008/…/story_single.html 4/4