Suck Less at Sim Racing (7/10) those who can’t do

The next 4 days are somewhat pivotal in the history of the health of the US. We haven’t faced a pandemic in 100 years, and the exponential spread of COVID-19 is very concerning. Lots of events are being cancelled from the local schools to the NBA. During this time of social distancing, one activity that is seeing a surge in popularity is sim racing. So I thought I would do a short series of daily posts on sim racing as we buckle down and survive these next 4 days (or whatever it is).

Those who can’t do, teach

Assuming you’re new to sim racing, the person who can’t do is you. So that means you’re going to have to teach. Who are you going to teach? Yourself. To not suck at sim racing. So, yeah, you’re both the teacher and the student. How are you going to do that? With specific training goals, exercises, analysis, and reflection.

It starts with a racing journal

Even though you do your sim racing on a computer and have access to spreadsheets, word processors, etc. I’m recommending that you have a physical journal that you write in. It doesn’t have to be a leather-bound Moleskine, but that would be a good choice. You want something you’ll be happy writing in and referring to. For that reason, don’t just use a pile of scrap paper. Personally, I like a medium-sized Black n’ Red, but I’ve also used laboratory notebooks with graph paper. While you’re at it, get yourself a nice pen.

Every time you sit down for a session, have a goal, and write it down. The easiest goal you can have is “go for a personal best”. But let’s imagine a few other goals.

  • Go for a personal best
  • Do 10 laps all in the same second
  • Do 3 laps in a row, all withing 0.5 sec of personal best
  • Learn a completely new track, writing notes about each turn
  • Try a different car on a favorite track and note all the changes you have to make
  • Try a completely different setup (possibly intentionally terrible) and note how you adapt to that

Regardless of the goal, one of the things I do is to write down my 3 best laps from every session.  Also, I don’t drive really long sessions. 30-60 is good. When you’re drivng, be really focused and then take a break to recharge.

Why do you have to write down your goals and lap times?

  • Positive feedback – Learning to drive in the virtual world can be frustrating. Seeing your lap times improve can be very helpful.
  • Critical feedback – Sometimes it helps to get a little mad at yourself, and stagnating lap times can be a source of motivation.
  • Recall – Writing stuff down fixes it in your brain.
  • Reflection – Looking back at your notes is instructive and you may be surprised how insightful you can be.

Tomorrow: novice training exercises

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