I recently realized that I had fallen into a bit of a dilemma. I spent so much time in test sessions making setups, testing other setups, that my actual racing skills became atrocious. I was spending hours upon hours and thousands upon thousands of laps in test sessions working with setups for six or eight different cars. After entering a couple of races I realized quickly that this wasn’t going to work. Everybody knows I can build a great setup, and I know I can turn a pretty fast lap sometimes. I also know that I could not place in the top five in a race. The first thing I had to do was narrow down and focus more on cars that I really enjoy (Dirt Late Models and the occasional UMP Modified). Second, I had to get on the track with other cars. So I have been doing that. So you can see how I fell into what I call the “setup testing quagmire.”
Quagmire – a situation from which extrication is very difficult: a quagmire of financial indebtedness. Synonyms: predicament, dilemma, quandary, scrape, jam.
I see a lot of people in the “practice quagmire.” It’s pretty much the same thing. You have people in practice sessions hitting that fast lap, but you rarely (or never) see the guy in an actual race. Of course you do have to practice. If you want to be proficient in any endeavor, practice is a necessity. If you’re like me, a LOT of practice is a necessity. Also, similar to other endeavors, there are some guys on iRacing who have an innate ability for racing simulations and don’t need as much practice. I’m not one of those. I need a lot of practice, but now I’m careful that I don’t fall into another quagmire.
Why are you practicing?
Are you chasing some hot lap you saw somewhere in another session? That’s not what practice is for. Focus on turning smooth, consistent, clean laps. If the car is doing something funny in the corners you’re probably overdriving it. Slow down in the corners until the car stays straight and smooth and your lap times will improve more often than not.
Most drivers would say that they are practicing for some race or to improve in a certain car or on a certain track. Then why is it that I see so many piles of wrecked cars in practice sessions? That’s not practice. You don’t see that in real race practices. If you did, there wouldn’t be any cars left to race. Yes, it’s “just practice” but if you want to be an idiot go run a hosted demolition derby and have fun.
Then you have a few guys running two or three lap runs over and over. Okay, so you’re practicing with your qualifying setup. But you’re not really practicing and everybody knows it. You’re trying to compensate for the paucity of your penis by turning a faster lap than anyone else. You’re not fooling anyone. Qualifying practice is done in test sessions where there are no other cars on the track, as it is in actual qualifying. So if you’re practicing for a race, actually practice for a race.
One thing about practice is, you get infinite fast repairs. This isn’t like most races on iRacing. So in practice it doesn’t matter. You can go around and bang into walls and wreck other cars and crash and burn and die. Or, you drive the car so hard trying to get that magic lap that you wear out your junk in 6 laps. That’s not really race practice either. In races you have to survive. So I ask again: Why are you practicing?
My approach to practice.
- If I’m going to make a setup, I go in a test session and get that done. I get a lot of good laps and a good feel for the car, and I should learn more about setting up the car. If I already have a setup, I go in a test session and run about ten laps to warm up. You can run 8 or 20, just don’t wear yourself out in the test session before you get to the actual practice session.
- Then I join a Time Trial Session on iRacing. This, in my opinion, is absolutely the best way to do your initial practice laps. If you’re not familiar with Time Trials, they are 30 minute sessions. The objective is to complete ten clean laps as quickly as possible. Back in the olden days we always called this a Quick X. When I say clean laps, they have to be 100% clean. Even a 0x nullifies your run and you start all over at lap one with ten to go. This scenario forces your mindset into a zone. You know that you must run clean laps and you must be smooth and fast. It’s called discipline. It will get your mind right. In addition to the great disciplined practice, you also earn TTRating and points. Yes, there is a Time Trial competition on iRacing. You can find your results under Series Stats on the Time Trial tabs.
- After I run as many Time Trials as I feel like running, I join an official practice session and try to find other people who are actually practicing and get better with other cars on the track. I don’t spend a lot of time in this because, honestly, it’s hard to find enough people who are actually practicing for a race. After that I go racing.
Time trials are often overlooked on iRacing, but I think they are one of the best things going. I also use them for A/B testing setups. If I have two or more setups that I feel are pretty good, I’ll run a TT in each of them. iRacing gives me a ten lap average time and that really tells me a lot about which setup performs best over a ten lap run.
In the near future, I think I would substitute practicing with the iRacing AI drivers for step 3 above, and skip the official practice sessions. It just depends on how good the AI drivers are and how iRacing has it configured.
So, practice, but don’t fall into a quagmire. Keep your practices serious and use them to run normal race laps. That’s the way to improve. Best of luck. Giggity.