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iRacing World Champion Gets a Shot At the Real Thing 168

Posted by samzenpus
from the greger-was-race-car-driver dept.
jamie sent in a link to the story of iRacing World Champion Greger Huttu, who caught the attention of the Top Gear guys and got a chance to drive a real Star Mazda racer. iRacing is a realistic driving simulator that recreates the exact physics of race cars and tracks from around the world, and nobody is better than Greger. Top Gear wanted to see how the virtual champion would do with the real thing. Even though he was eventually unable to put up with the physical demands, Greger drove really well.

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iRacing World Champion Gets a Shot At the Real Thing

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  • WTF wants to READ about something like this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:46PM (#34368682)

    The exact physics? Unlikely.

    From what I hear, these simulations break down as your racecar approaches the speed of light. And they didn't even get the Higgs Field right.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:02PM (#34368834)

      From what I hear, these simulations break down as your racecar approaches the speed of light.

      True. However, real racecars also break down as they approach the speed of light.

    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      On a serious tone, they have been saying it's exactly the same for ages now :D

      Well, waiting until they can simulate on a per atom basis, then recreate the physical sensations as a driver too... Then we can say it's approaching exact :P

      Racing myself has shown how huge the gap actually is, even on the best of today's technology has nothing compared to the real thing. But still good fun, occasionally, in the lack of the real thing ;P

  • 12 pages!?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:47PM (#34368704)

    They seriously expected me to click through a 12 page slideshow to read a two page article?

    • by Dalzhim (1588707)

      I agree with you. Was about to read the article, but this is so stupid I stopped at page 1.

    • Re:12 pages!?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Vorghagen (1154761) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:43PM (#34369076)
      Full article for karma whoring.

      On a normal Thursday, Greger Huttu sits in the blue glow of a computer screen, in his bedroom in the teeny town of Vaasa on the west coast of Finland. In the afternoons, he joins his fisherman father to land a catch of perch netted from Arctic waters. But not today. Instead, he's wedged into the cockpit of a single-seater race car, in the boiling heat of Road Atlanta raceway, Georgia. He's never driven anything like this before - his regular drive is an old Ford Sierra - yet an empty track awaits him, a full race team is at his service and he has full permission to drive as fast as he pleases. Slippery fish suddenly seem a million miles away.

      Why? Because TopGear is conducting an experiment. Back on that computer in Finland, Greger dominates the world of online racing. He is the undisputed grandmaster of iRacing, a fiendishly difficult driving simulator that recreates the exact physics of scores of race cars and circuits from around the world.

      It's not some gimmicky graphics-fest, but a serious way to hone racecraft and learn about car control. And in the last six years, in iRacing and earlier online sims, Greger has conquered all - leading 2,339 of his 2,581 laps and winning every race from pole. Just a week ago, he clinched the iRacing World Championship, earning himself $10,000 as he crossed the line. No wonder fellow iRacer and NASCAR king Dale Earnhardt Jr is Greger's biggest fan. He is untouchable. Today's test is to see how such digital dominance translates into real life.

      We'll soon find out. Under the searing morning sun in Atlanta, Greger squeezes into his car, a Star Mazda racer provided by the Andersen Racing team. The Mazda is a slicks'n'wings single-seater powered by the same rotary engine as the RX-8. It weighs just 607kg, has 260bhp, a six-speed sequential 'box and adjustable wings. And it's really, seriously quick - as quick as a GT car around some circuits.

      In other words, it's a proper car that needs to be driven in the sweet spot where the tyres and aero do their thing. If our thinking is right, Greger could be the man to put it there. Because iRacing's physics programme is so accurate, he already knows the car well - the way it steers, the way it grips, even the way it sounds and every tiny intricacy of its set-up, from wing angles to suspension bump and rebound rates - and he's lapped this track thousands of times online.

      As engineer Alan Oppel briefs him on the controls, Greger displays some typical Finnish cool. He's a humble bloke, a quiet 30-year-old with a hint of podge around the midriff and, if we're honest, everywhere else too. Despite the cameras and attention, he doesn't strut like a superstar. Instead his head is bowed, his words softly spoken. He appears thoughtful - analytical, measured - and as he digests instructions, he simulates a gearchange and angles the wheel, like he's sat here a hundred times before. Which he has. Virtually.

      After one installation lap to check everything's working, he starts his first flyer. All eyes turn to the final corner, a swooping downhill-right with a vicious wall on the outside, ready to collect understeery mishaps. Here comes Greger. The engine revs high and hard and his downshifts sound perfectly matched. Then he comes into sight and, to the sound of many sucked teeth, absolutely bloody nails it through the bend, throttle balanced, car planted. His only hiccup is a late upshift, that has the rotary engine blatting off its limiter. "Time to crank up the revs," says Alan. "He's quick."

      The telemetry confirms it. His braking points are spot on. He's firm and precise on the throttle. And in the fastest corner, he's entering at 100mph compared to an experienced driver's 110 - a sign of absolute confidence and natural feel for grip. Remember, this is a guy who has never sat in a racing car in his life - he's only referencing thousands of virtual laps. Then, on lap four, he pops in a 1:24.8, just three seconds off a solid time around here. He recko
      • UFC legend Randy Couture is 47 and still beating up other elite athletes. I'm 38 and I spent the last year getting back in shape. I allowed myself to get out of shape over the years and now I'm back to a 30" waste with a six pack after a modest exercise program.

        For a guy who doesn't work out, Greger doesn't look half bad. What that means is that if you put him on a conditioning program, he would have a good athletic body in a year. I'd be interested in seeing how well this guy does after he addresses
        • by Builder (103701)

          Ok, so you post on Slashdot which means you have a browser, which means that you have limited time - care to expand on your exercise program ?

          I can't run (busted up knees playing ice hockey as a yoof) and this time of year, cycling on British roads is a bit too suicidal for me. But I _have_ to drop about 8kgs and get back to a 32" waist - you sound like you may be able to help :D

          • by George_Ou (849225)
            I used the laziest way to get back in shape without dieting. I packed on 10 lbs of muscle in addition to dancing 3 days a week. I was a professional ballet dancer until 2000. I was already dancing that much before adopting the weight lifting program, but I still weighed 195 and wasn't dropping weight. My professional dancing weight was 155 in 2000.

            I had refused to lift since the early 1990s because I didn't want too much bulk, but I wasn't losing weight. I knew that the secret weight loss without gi
            • by Builder (103701)

              Thanks - that's a really interesting read. I've been on a 1700 kcal diet per day for a good 6 weeks now, but damn, I'm hungry all the time!

              I'm starting to think it's time I found a good gym - I have the free time these days so I should stop making excuses.

              • by George_Ou (849225)
                You need to ask yourself a very simple question. Do I want to lift weights for 10 to 20 minutes a week (the actual exertion time) and be able to eat 2500+ calories and still lose weight, or do I want to starve myself to lose weight. For me, I'd be willing to lift 7 days a week and 10 minutes a day if I could eat what I want, but it turns out you only need to lift 4 days a week and 5 to 10 min a day to eat what you want. Now when I say "lift", I don't mean doing as many of the ladies do with those 2 pound
                • by Builder (103701)

                  You've sold me - honest :D

                  Now I'm just looking for a gym with a decent free weights section and parking somewhere near me :D

                  • by George_Ou (849225)
                    Make sure you know the proper form. If you don't know it, most gyms offer at least 1 free training session and you can learn the correct form there. Also, do the full stroke. These guys that slap 1000 lbs on an incline sled and raise it 2 inches are fooling themselves. It boosts their ego, but doesn't do much for their muscle development. 10 good form full range squats with 135 lb free weight barbells beats those machines any day of the week.
          • by George_Ou (849225)
            If you can't run, maybe try the elliptical or cycling machine for cardio. Again, it's not that important for weight loss since 10 minutes is only good for 100 calorie burn, but it is good for your lungs and heart. What makes the difference is the weight lifting and the muscle mass to jack up your base metabolic rate to several hundred or even 1000 calories higher than it is now. Once you jack up that metabolic rate, you can keep eating whatever you want and still lose weight.
      • Yeah, but what about the sweet pics?

    • by MarkRose (820682)
      Did you not notice the pictures? Top Gear often presents a series of pictures without text at all. Their site is more about pictures than the articles, unlike Playboy.
      • by jhoegl (638955)

        Did you not notice the pictures? Top Gear often presents a series of pictures without text at all. Their site is more about pictures than the articles, unlike Playboy.

        Quick, someone inform this guy about the internet!!

      • by cgenman (325138)

        Those Top Gear guys need to discover this whole video thing. I bet they'd do pretty well.

  • Nice story. It was also nice of the photographers to let him clean the vomit off his face and uniform before taking the "victory" picture.

  • Physically demanding (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bork (115412) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:51PM (#34368732) Homepage

    Did some racing at the local level where I live and can attest to the physical demands needed to race well. I had to do a lot of running and weight lifting to build up my endurance and strength to race well. There are time I came off the race track after a 45 minute race so spent that my arms and upper body would have exhaustion tremors, unable to even operate the release to get out of the seat.

    • Coming here and showing off with your luck and genes. We can't all be poor AND stupid you know? [southparkstudios.com]

      You insensitive clod!

    • by w0mprat (1317953)
      I drove a shifter kart for 15 minutes and had to come off the track with neck pain.
    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      Yeap me too a little bit, but in fact WAY shorter cycles, i had to remind myself constantly to let loose of steering wheel because i knew i would wear out really fast.

      I do drifting, so it's quite a bit different, where you are racking in extreme to extreme steering angle in extreme speeds, but because it took so much energy to do that i learned a new car way faster, how to balance it perfectly with mainly using the accelerator.

      I think my max flat out was 6laps on a 800m lap, only backend and main straight w

    • I'm glad the article pointed out the physicality of racing. I've only raced Karts, and those are strenuous enough to require a guy to work out 3-4 times a week to keep up.

  • I would love to do the same experiment with some Counterstrike gamer, just to dispell the myth of "kill training" in those games. While i noticed the virtual reality approaching the real stuff with cars over the years, shooting is still (and luckily) completely unrealistic.

    • by nelsonal (549144)
      Something like a force on force with miles gear? It's tough to get too realistic with battles, because people are kinda squishy.
      • I imagine those MILES gunfights would have the same strategic differences as a paintball / FPS game to some extent. The consequences of even the most serious and realistic MILES training exercise are still far less than death, and players will adjust their strategy accordingly, even if only subconsciously.

    • At least racing games have realistic controllers that the hardcore players can buy. I don't know of any realistic gun controller, and that's a shame because it would make for some really awesome rail shooters. Games can be as realistic as they want, but until they get the controller, they'll never be able to properly simulate gun fights.

      As far as "kill training" goes, I recall a game violence episode of Bullshit where they had a 10yo gamer try out a real semi-auto rifle. Not only was he no good at it, bu

    • by Cylix (55374) *

      The problem with shooters is that they will not teach accuracy. Even switching to something such as America's Army which is targetted more at realism and training. Invariably, it is difficult to teach and simulate hand eye coordination from a mouse to firearm. However, what a simulator can teach are tactics and procedures for various scenarios. However, because the field of engagement varies in real life it is difficult to create experience which can be applied over a wider range of areas with a handful of

    • True. I think CS would help in paintball though, and vice-versa. People just need to understand that shooting in a game where you can respawn and a round lasts a few minutes is totally different than an IRL gunfight.

      I played paintball once with an ex-military guy and he was pretty good right on his first play - not as good as experienced non-military players, but far from a noob.

  • Success (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:43PM (#34369078) Homepage Journal

    It seems this was a stunning success. The guy had never driven a car anything remotely like an actual race car, he had never flown on a plane or even ridden a roller coaster. Yet he was able to hop into a high performance racecar for the very first time, and have lap times within 3 seconds of the best and handle 100 MPH turns within 10% of experienced drivers' speed. Yeah, he was totally physically out of shape for anything remotely like racing, the temp was over 110 F inside the car, and he threw up. But he didn't wreck after 15 laps. So I'd call this a total success, and does prove, at least to some extent, that experience gained playing games can directly translate to real-world performance, assuming the game simulation is realistic enough.

    • Re:Success (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cptdondo (59460) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:50PM (#34369150) Journal

      Well, if nothing else this might motivate him to get fit... I mean, the physical demands aren't that great compared to the skills needed to drive that car.

      • Re:Success (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Comen (321331) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:23PM (#34369466)

        I agree, I would say that the part of driving these cars he is good at it the hardest part to be good at, know he needs to decide if he wants to really drive these things, or just be kind of the online car racign world I guess.

        On a side note, if you check the iracing website you will see Dale Earnhardt Jr allot, I am not in to racing at all myself, even though I live in Charlotte NC where Nascar is pretty big, I used to work for a telephone company near the raceway, and Dale Dr. lives close to there, anyway he had a T1 line put in from us awhile back (sure something better now adays) but he was having issues with his Nascar game connection from his PC to play the game, I did not do phone support, but a guy that did the install, and as you would expect really liked Dale got me on the phone and had me try to help, as it turned out dale had setup NAT port forwarding correctly in his router for the game to work, but the guy that installed our T1 router also had turned on NAT in that router and it should have just been giving Dale a public IP not a NATed private one that Dale was then NATing again.
        Anyway, one thing I can say is that Dale was smart about reading what he was supposed to do forwarding ports etc in his router (that was back before everyone had these NAT routers) and he was a really nice guy about everything while I talked to him and was happy we fixed the issue quickly. Talking to the guy that did the install he said Dale had a steering wheel hooked up and was all setup to race in his house, and was totally in to racing online! now like I said I am not in to racing myself, but I love to play games online, and even though Dale might not think of this as a game, older racers would probably think online racing is silly, and I thought I was pretty cool that he races online all the time like this, abd was a down to earth guy.

      • by bledri (1283728)

        Well, if nothing else this might motivate him to get fit... I mean, the physical demands aren't that great compared to the skills needed to drive that car.

        Driving a real car that level, undergoing constant changing G forces, takes a great deal of core strength. Otherwise you flop around like a rag doll and it is impossible to employ the required skills with any finesse. No doubt, there is a marketing angle, but Jimmie Johnson won the Associated Press Athlete of the Year of 2009. [go.com]

        • by cptdondo (59460)

          Agreed... Any sport at that level is demanding. But I can guarantee that if this guy was to sign up for Crossfit, or at one of the gyms where I teach, he'd be fit in a lot less time than it took to learn all the ins and outs of racing.

          Pretty much anyone can develop core strength and decent endurance. Me, I'm the original white guy with no rhythm, and I have the natural physique of Mr. Potatohead, and yet I can pretty much drive guys half my age to exhaustion, mostly because I work out regularly.

      • by bmajik (96670)

        Certainly the mental skills are probably more important.. but your post seems to discount physical development. It shouldn't. The drivers of Formula 1 cars are some of the most physically perfect specimens in the sporting world. I'm not aware of another sport where the atheletes heartrate is sustained at the 180-200bpm level for 90+ minutes _continuously_. Many F1 drivers will lose several kg of water during a race. The neck muscles will be subjected to 5x the normal weight of head+helmet, and they wil

        • by cptdondo (59460)

          I'm not aware of another sport where the atheletes heartrate is sustained at the 180-200bpm level for 90+ minutes _continuously_.p>

          Cycling? A 90 minute stage in the TDF would be considered a rest day.... Marathons? Ironman triathlons? Most any endurance sport, actually.

          At that level, athletes are pretty much specialized for their activity.

          Anyway, the idea wasn't to make the guy into an F1 driver but rather to make him physically fit enough to drive the car for a few laps without puking. Pretty much anyone can do that given the motivation and gym time.

    • by Das Auge (597142)
      You don't have to tell me! Because of GTA I can kill hookers almost like a professional!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PachmanP (881352)

        You don't have to tell me! Because of GTA I can kill hookers almost like a professional!

        But where's the money? I've tried it a few times, but there's never any money on the ground afterwards. I mean what's the point.

        • They won't have any on them if they've been to their pimp recently. You have to cruise for them around the right time. Also if their purse is zipped up, the money won't fall out, and there's no green glow to help you find it so you gotta look carefully.

    • It'd be nice to have a control, for example someone who has played racing video games a lot, but hasn't used this "exact physics" simulator. Otherwise, you don't know how well/bad someone would have done without the sim.
      • by Bakkster (1529253)

        A car like this needs to be driven with confidence. For the wings to generate enough downforce to make the corner, you must be going fast. Some corners either need to be taken incredibly slow, or flat out in order to have enough grip. Heck, lifting off the throtle (especially in the first or last corners here) can send you into a spin as the car's weight transfers forward off the rear wheels. Without that confidence they either would have driven significantly off-pace or wrecked the car. That said, I ag

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:07PM (#34369276)
    Now, I want to see what happens when a flight sim buff gets in the cockpit of a real fighter jet.

    Will they take off and do acrobatics easily?
    • Do you realize the g-forces involved in doing acrobatics in a fighter jet? Pretty unlikely.
      • by nhtshot (198470)

        G forces are directly related to how tightly and how fast a maneuver is performed. It's simply a matter of knowing what your limits are and not exceeding them. That's a pretty recurrent theme in all things aviation.

        • But in an aerial dog fight if your ennemy is able to do tighter and quicker manoeuvers than you then your are most probably dead meat. But in 'normal' aviation you should never get next to your limits to have an 'easy' flight.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Jstlook (1193309)

        Do you realize the g-forces involved in doing acrobatics in a fighter jet? Pretty unlikely.

        Oh c'mon, the g-forces of doing acrobatics in a fighter jet is no worse than flying a fighter jet! I mean sure, standing on your head or doing a triple flip might *seem* complicated or dangerous in a cockpit, but I think the worst part is trying to avoid knocking yourself out on the controls. Seriously!

    • Done it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nhtshot (198470) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:15PM (#34369980) Homepage

      Now, I want to see what happens when a flight sim buff gets in the cockpit of a real fighter jet.

      Will they take off and do acrobatics easily?

      I'm a licensed pilot and a flight sim buff. Some time ago, I had a chance to fly a T-34 Mentor (military trainer, that prior to an AD was legal for aerobatics). I flew the heck out of one in the sim, and then tried it in the real plane to test exactly this theory and to hopefully be more comfortable in some of the really unusual attitudes that aerobatic flying can produce.

      Granted, a T-34 isn't a fighter jet, but it's as close as anybody with a realistic budget can get.

      I was able to perform nearly all of the maneuvers that I'd practiced in the sim and other then a headache afterwords was also quite pleased with the outcome. Pleased enough that I flew it subsequently.

      To answer your question directly, I wouldn't suggest someone with only sim experience trying to fly without proper training. I also wouldn't advocate trying aerobatics without a proper aircraft, some solid previous real world training in recoveries and a parachute. All of that being said, YES, sim experience definitely translates to the real world up to the point that you have the balls to test it.

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        Awesome. Thanks for your answer. Too many /, posts are from people who've only had sim-time rather than done stuff in real life, whether it's flying a plane or configuring an enterprise network
  • His Face? (Score:5, Funny)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:17PM (#34369388)
    Is it just me, or does this dude resemble Emperor Palpatine in glasses?
  • ... an Apple product? Clearly, we are approaching Dec 21 2012 quite fast.

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