Who knew playing video games can actually help drivers prepare for real life races?
Parker Kligerman is both a NASCAR driver and an analyst for NBC Sports, and he insists in a new profile by Wired that the game iRacing helps him become a better driver and analyst.
Created in 2008, iRacing is a race simulator game where drivers can compete on tracks that seem lifelike. Drivers can compete at various tracks with different cars, and the driving itself is supposed to simulate what it’s like to drive in a real race car.
“My main job is the TV side, so a lot of times I take my mind out of thinking like a race car driver and I have to think analytically,” Kligerman said. “Then I’ve got to jump back into being Parker Race Car Driver. This helps.”
Ty Majeski is the No. 1 ranked iRacing driver in the world, and he is making his debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this summer. He told Wired he felt like he will be a “step ahead of the game” when he gets in to his real race car this summer.
The game also helps drivers enter and exit pit row, and it gives an actual simulation of how fast or slow drivers need to go when approaching the pits.
Before competing in a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the Camping World Truck Series, Kligerman was able to race in a simulated version of the track on iRacing. He claims it’s an advantage for him to be able to get a feel for the track before actually racing.
During the actual race at Charlotte, Kligerman led for six laps before having some trouble at a pit stop and with a restart. He finished tenth in the race, which was a satisfying finish for a part-time driver.
“Because I was doing the sim stuff I felt prepared enough to go out and go flat out in turn one and felt like Parker Race Car Driver,” Kligerman said.
A one month membership to iRacing is currently 40 percent off the regular price of $13, so gamers can get the first month at $7.80. All new memberships are 40 percent off.
The fee for three months is currently $19.80, and the fee for one year is $66.
It will be intriguing to see if more current or aspiring NASCAR drivers use race simulators to help practice before races. Veteran drivers might not see the point, but it could certainly help younger drivers who don’t have as much experience at every track.