When you take to the sim racing track for the very first time, it’s easy to feel a bit out of your depth. With so many racing techniques to master, and rules of the track to learn, it can leave new players wondering how long it will take to become good at sim racing and compete in races.
It can take a long time to get good at sim racing, as with learning any new skill. It may take you 2-3 weeks of solid practice, or even many months until you feel confident in races. By practicing effectively, you can learn much faster, while also making the learning process much more enjoyable.
If you spend time enough on the track you will no doubt begin to see improvements in both your performance levels and your consistency. In this article, we will discuss how long it takes to become competent around the track, as well as list some techniques to speed up the learning process.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Good Sim Racer?
There are 3 main ability milestones in sim racing, each taking a different amount of time to reach. Becoming a ‘good’ sim racer is also very much a broad and subjective goal, as different people will have varying performance-based aims.
Becoming Comfortable Around A Track
Being able to navigate your way around a track at a decent speed without spinning out or crashing is the main aim for many as they step into a car for the first time. This likely won’t take too long to achieve, although getting to this point will require a bit of research into the fundamentals of racing, as well as getting used to the physics of the game.
All in all, it won’t take too much time to be able to navigate a track efficiently, especially once you get used to the physics of the car and how good it is around corners and down straights.
The Fundamentals Of Racing
By fundamentals of racing, I mean racing lines, braking points, and vision. The racing line is arguably the most important aspect of racing, as it is the quickest route around the track with the least amount of steering required. Most sim racing titles will have built-in driving assists which will map out the line for you, which can be a very useful tool for early beginners.
It can take a bit of time to fully grasp the concept of a racing line, especially when you factor in geometric and fluid apexes, but in order to get around a track in one piece, this information isn’t vital for a beginner. It does help for a beginner to get to know the braking points around a track, as this will help to generate more speed when getting round corners, leading to better lap times.
Braking points are areas before a corner where a driver will begin to slow down before they accelerate out of the turn. It will take a little bit of time to gain a consistent knowledge of braking points because each corner has different variables, but it is very important knowledge for a beginner to have, as it will reduce the risk of spinning out due to taking too much speed into a turn.
The last fundamental skill a new driver must learn is the ability to shift their focus when driving. It is important that a racer has one eye on what they’re doing, as well as one eye on what is coming up in front of them to prepare themselves for any possible maneuvers they may have to make. Improvements in this vision will come with gaining more experience on the track.
Becoming Competitive In Races
Once a driver has nailed the fundamental aspects of racing, it will then be time to start competing against other sim racers. This is a completely different ball game as it requires a lot more focus on your surroundings in order to avoid collisions. A knowledge of overtaking maneuvers is also necessary, for the benefit of your position on the leaderboard, and for sportsmanship reasons.
Unless you have an insane amount of natural racing talent, it will take a while to consistently reach the podium, especially with the number of veteran sim racers that play in public lobbies. It is important to focus on your own performances in public races rather than the performance of the other drivers and hone your skills under the pressure of competition.
Although it may seem like an obvious statement, the more races that you take part in, the better you will become. High-quality opposition will cause you to raise your game because of both the competitive nature of racing, as well as the fact that you will be able to observe what they are doing and add elements of their technique into your own racing.
The step up from learning the basics of sim racing to then taking that knowledge into competitive situations can be quite daunting, but you will quickly see an improvement in your own performance once you have taken part in a few races.
Professional Level Sim Racing
While you may be able to get up to a good standard of sim racing in a reasonable amount of time, becoming a sim racer at a professional level will take a lot of time and effort. There is very little margin for error in professional races, as leaderboard places often come down to tenths of seconds, and to race at this level requires a very strong level of commitment and dedication.
Some professional sim racers will be able to turn the hobby into a full-time job, meaning they will spend hours each day perfecting their strategy and ability. Getting to this level is unobtainable for many, as they will have to balance their practice time around work or education as well as a social life and relationships.
6 Steps To Get Better At Sim Racing Faster
1. Race On Your Own
There’s no better way to witness your own improvement than to race against yourself. Driving without any chance of being crashed into or getting stuck in traffic will help you to train yourself in the fundamentals of racing. Doing solo runs will also benefit you when learning tracks, which will ease the pressure on your mind going forward, allowing you to focus more on technique.
As well as practicing racing lines and braking points, taking to the track on your own will help you gain a greater understanding of the capabilities of different cars, meaning you will feel a better sense of control once you are ready to jump into the cauldron of competitive racing.
2. Disable Driving Assists
Although driving assists are a good tool for understanding the basics of racing lines, it can be easy to become reliant on them. As they are a guideline rather than a rule, it will be beneficial to go out on your own once you have gained a basic understanding of how lines work. This will help you to become a more adaptable driver and you will quickly feel less rigid around a track.
3. Watch Real Life Racing
Sim racing is designed to be an accurate representation of the real thing, and there are no better people to learn racing techniques from than those who do it for a living. Once you have found your preferred style of racing, whether it be F1, touring cars, rally racing, etc., try to focus on how the pros adapt to different situations on the circuit as well as their overall racing technique.
Watching professional sim racers will also provide a great learning platform as you can learn from their technique and replicate it in the same cars on the same tracks, helping you to gauge where you may be going wrong as well as where you are getting things right. There are also plenty of tutorials available online to help you out with tips and tricks for becoming a better all-around sim racer.
4. Get A Good Racing Wheel
Using a good force feedback racing wheel will help you with accuracy in steering as well as provide you with detailed information about the track’s surface. Good quality wheels are available for around $150-$250 and will immediately provide you with performance-enhancing benefits.
As well as greater levels of immersion making games even more enjoyable, racing wheels have a higher degree of rotation, meaning you will be able to take corners with more precision. The force feedback that these wheels include will also help you work out the nuances of individual tracks, helping you to learn where the bumps and cambers of the track are.
5. Take Part In Ghost Races
Ghost races are collision-free races against either the computer or online racers. In these races the other cars will be visible but opaque on the track, allowing you to race against opponents without having to worry about crashing into them. These races will allow you to see how you are developing in a competitive atmosphere while allowing you to work on your driving technique.
6. Enjoy It
As with any skill you may try to learn, the most important thing is to enjoy the road to improvement. As cheesy as it may sound, it is important to remember why you started sim racing in the first place, as applying too much pressure on yourself to go faster will inevitably end in a loss of motivation, stunting your growth.
It is easy to get disheartened when seeing yourself near the bottom of the leaderboard, but with enough practice in both solo and competitive races, the gradual climb up the rankings is inevitable. Everybody’s got to start somewhere, right?
The amount of time it takes to become a ‘good’ sim racer depends on what your definition of ‘good’ is. It will take time to become competitive in races, but the main thing is to enjoy it, as having fun will make the time that it takes to become a good sim racer feel irrelevant.