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iRacing World Champion Gets a Shot At the Real Thing 168

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

    by Vorghagen ( 1154761 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:43PM (#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
  • by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:07PM (#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?
  • Re:Success (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Comen ( 321331 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:23PM (#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.

  • Done it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nhtshot ( 198470 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:15PM (#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 Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:34PM (#34370984)

    Well to start with the physics of racing are a bit simply because they involve large objects with relatively predictable parameters, in addition, most gaming "physics" is designed to be impressive. People like seeing heads explode and bodies fly 20 feet backward, reality would seem boring.

  • Re:Killer Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by edremy ( 36408 ) on Monday November 29, 2010 @10:34AM (#34374158) Journal
    That's one of my favorite "Bullshit!" episodes. It choked me up a little too; here was a kid who gibbed countless npc's and avatars of real humans, and it hadn't turned him into a desensitized monster. He seemed crushed by the reality of a noisy, heavy gun that does horrible damage. It restored a little of my hope for humanity.

    A large part of military training is teaching people to overcome their natural revulsion towards causing another person harm. It's hard- studies showed that the majority of soldiers in WW2 never fired their weapons at the enemy. The percentage has gone up since then, but whether that's due to better training methods, volunteer troops or different sorts of battles is (to my knowledge) unknown.

    You see the same thing with drive-by gang shootings- you get these incidents where 30-40 rounds are fired and only a couple of them hit- they're just randomly spraying the area rather than actually looking down the sights directly at their target.

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