I'm going to show you how you can get into the sport of sim racing. Yes I call it a sport because now even simple things like playing dodge ball with my 4th grade students leaves me limping off the court. I gotta have something! Sim racing is physical, but not "I gotta be warmed up and in shape level of physical." Just about everyone can do it!
The Big 5 - If you're going for sim racing on a budget you only need 5 things.
Number One: You need what in the community is lovingly referred to as a "Chassis". This is what everything attaches to. For us it is a metal frame, with a car seat, wheel, pedals etc. For you, I would recommend a desk, a good solid computer desk. You heard that right, a desk. A table would also work, but please don't waste your money on a stand like the one below. The problem is everything moves when you move the steering wheel. Just imagine trying to drive a car when the whole steering column wiggled left and right on every turn. Garbage! You just want something that will lock your steering wheel in place, so nothing but the wheel moves when you spin it.
Number Two: You need a screen. What kind of screen? It really doesn't matter if you're just getting into the sport, then go with a T.V. or a monitor you already have. It is that simple!
Number Three: You need a gaming PC, an Xbox, or a Playstation. What kind? Start with whatever you have! What is considered to be one of the best true rally simulators is Richard Burns Rally. That came out in 2004! For example, I have an Xbox One. I would search for all the wheels and pedals (see four and five), that are compatible with my console. You can find great deals on used Logitech wheels on eBay. PC gives you more options but you do have to make sure it can handle the simulators you want to run.
Number Four: You need a wheel and wheel base. The wheel is just that, the steering wheel. The wheelbase is usually a motor of some kind that spins the wheel and provides resistance. I am not going to get too far into the weeds on this today, but we recommend that at the very least you have a force feedback wheel. This will make the car feel alive, and more importantly give you more control. This is what sets sim racing apart from an arcade, or a video game.
Number 5: The last thing you need is a pedal set. These often come bundled with the wheel, especially at the entry level price points. Don't underestimate the importance of pedals. Brake control is one of the biggest indicators of a fast driver.
The video is a nice representation of what you see as you drive a racing simulator.
That's It! This won't be the perfect or most immersive setup but you will be able to start driving and build your skills.
A final not from Tim - There is a movie that came out about a year ago called Grand Turismo. I haven't seen it yet but it is about a guy who started sim racing, won a competition, and became a real life professional driver racing in famous races such as Le Mans.
I bring this up, because I purchased coaching from Suellio Almeida, who won a sim racing competition with a wheel attached to his desk and pedals on the floor. He now races Formula 4 cars in real life. Skill matters far more than what setup you have!
Want to learn more about sim racing? Check out our free guide! There is a lot to sim racing that can be overwhelming, so we carefully split our guide based on what your goals with the sport are most likely to be. That way, you can make the best decisions for you! If you have any questions, or want to test our simulators, we are happy to help.