I thought I’d give you a little story. It's nothing spectacular, trust me, but for those of you that like a good simracing related read, here’s to you. Below you will find the first part of a story I’ve entitled “A Drive for Glory", which chronicles how I first got started with simracing and the events that brought me here to wonderful RaceDepartment. But you should know, I'm no ex-racing pilot. In fact, I don't even have a drivers license. (Why I just told you that, I don't know.) So if you want to read that cool story where Timmo IDroveFormula3forFiveYears transforms into a simracing god, so do I. Sadly, this isn't that story. (Don't say I didn't warn you.) So without further ado... A Drive for Glory Part 1: A driver with no feedback It all started some four years ago. I was eighteen at the time (yes, yes, now you think back to my "I don't have a license" comment and hear crickets...crickets...crickets...) Well, I had grown tired of the usual sports games us Americans get hammered with. Madden Football, MVP Baseball, NBA 2k, and the occasional Fifa Soccer. It had all become boring to me. So I had been thinking about changing it up a bit, trying a different sport. I had played games like Forza 1 and Project Gotham Racing 2 and 3 casually, but nothing serious. I had remembered having a fun time with those games, so with Forza Motorsport 2 having come out earlier in the year, the idea came to me to try it out with an actual racing wheel. Then I thought better of it. “I’m a man. I'm not getting a 'play' wheel. Those are for kids," I told myself. But no matter how much I tried to throw the idea away, I kept returning to the thought that I should give Forza Motorsport 2 a try. Damn it all, I thought. "Just do it!" So one day while coming home from work, I decided to just to do it and put my money down for one of those dorky wheels. And truth be told, I instantly felt like a dork when I told the guy at the gamestop I wanted one of the Xbox wheels. He gave me a strange look, something akin to holding back laughter, and said, "Okay buddy." I walked out of the store with my head low and feeling more than a slight tinge of embarrassment. I could just feel the eyes on me. (Let's just say where I live no one buys this stuff. Heck, you say F1 to people around here and they think you've just cursed at them.) So I rushed home, lugging the two and a half foot box along with me through public transportation, getting weird looks along the way. Well, I got home and made a b-line to set everything up. Popped Forza into my Xbox and was ready to roll, so to speak. I turned my first ever "sim-laps" on Laguna Seca in a Mazda--I forget exactly what model, but it was something slow. My first impressions: THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I EVER WASTED MY MONEY ON. I was quite disappointed, and to some degree annoyed. Well, to a very high degree annoyed. Pissed, really. I had bought a used wheel, and those money grubbers at Gamestop said something about no returns. Great. Anyhow, I turned the thing off and went to sleep, the whole time thinking of what a stupid decision I made. The next day at work I was scheming up how exactly I would play Madden Football when it came out. Tactics and the like. Blitz this, and run defense that. You know, the American football stuff. The same old same old. In a way, it cheered me up. It wasn't until I got home later and saw that damned wheel again that my mood changed. I once again thought about my wasted money, and how immature I was to buy something so childish on mere impulse. After all, I needed to learn how to drive in real life, not on some damned game. But I turned the thing on again, just to make sure it really was as retarded as I thought it was. After these next few laps, I'm going to junk this wheel for good, I thought. Well, Forza came on, but the wheel didn't. The batteries were dead. Great. Just great. Not only does this thing suck, but it eats batteries like gas, I thought, with a curse or two thrown in. So after running all over my house searching for some double A goodness, I returned to my little driving setup empty handed and completely defeated. Time to scrap this stupid thing. Then I saw the cord on the floor. Apparently you could plug the wheel directly into the wall. I had missed this cord yesterday when I pulled it out of the box in a frenzy. I plugged the cord in and... WHAM! The wheel started turning and jiving and twitching, this way, then that way, then again. I thought I did something wrong or broke it. After a minute, when the damned wheel calmed down, I pulled the car on the track. Went for the first corner and... what the heck? It was completely different. The wheel was resisting me. It was providing what I later found out was called "Force Feedback". And it was night and day. Unlike the day before, where I wanted to stop before I finished the first three corners, I took lap after lap after lap after lap after lap, fighting the car around each corner, learning how to brake and THEN turn. It was insane. A few hours passed and finally I stopped, utterly blown away. Before long, I was at work counting the minutes before I went home and could get back to action, back to driving. A week of this brought me to a place where I wanted to go against other cars. So I did some rounds with the CPU. It was fun, but I came away feeling that actual human drivers couldn't drive like them. The computer drivers drove so closely together without hitting one another. I said to myself that it was impossible to do that. Maybe real life driving was different, but on the games I deemed it utterly unachievable. I went online shortly after that. I did a day of lobby racing with random people. After quite a few races, I proved my hypothesis true: you can't race close with another car. The closest you could be was about five or six car lengths away (and you'd be lucky to maintain that for two corners) otherwise you'd hit them. I was a BAD driver at the time, if you couldn't figure it out. But you have to understand, I had no grasp of things like racing line and braking point. So the idea of two cars running close together seemed impossible, because you'd never know where the car in front was going to brake. Hell, I didn't know where I was going to brake for each corner. I was just sort of eye-balling it, as were most of the people I was racing against. Needless the say, crashes were the norm, and completing our three lap races with no damage was as likely as God himself coming into my room and telling me I needed to set my cars up for a little more oversteer. So I was a little discouraged that the actual racing (although fun) wasn't like how I saw it on TV. I was now about to do one of my final races for the day. Then these two guys joined up to my lobby. They both had a very high Forza rank. I thought the whole ranking thing was for show, because I had seen guys with pretty high ranks crash like the rest of us. But these dudes were different. These guys were race drivers. The lights went green and they stormed off in the lead and it wasn't two corners before the rest of us (banged and battered) couldn't see them. By lap three both of them were lapping me and the rest of the strewn out field. I was in complete awe at how close they were driving. They streamed past me, only feet separating them. I kept thinking, how are they that close on lap 3?!?!?!? Impossible!!! I can't tell you how amazed and impressed I was by their driving. To see them go past was stunning--pushing their cars to the limit, making maneuvers, attacking and defending, both drivers chasing the victory. There was something glorious about it all. It made me realize the amount of skill it takes to simrace. You couldn't just pick it up and do what those guys were doing. This wasn't Madden, or NBA 2k, or Fifa, or any of that stuff. This was simracing. And this was a hobby. My new hobby. And from that moment on I wanted to be good. From that moment on I became a race driver. From that moment on I've chased the glory. Little did I know what that meant... Part 1 End Thanks for reading! And if you didn't read all that, thanks for the scroll--hope you didn't sprain your finger getting down this far. I’ll post something else once or twice a week to the blog. And occasionally, if there’s interest, I’ll continue the story. The next part gets into how I started with league racing, which is an adventure in and of itself. Anyhow, feel free to comment below! How did you first get started with simracing?