Have you ever used a really good driving simulator? I’ve spent a bit of time in a proper CXC sim, and while the smells and the G-forces aren’t quite right, it comes about as close to driving a car as you can get without actually driving a car. Most of the times I’ve been in them, I’m driving a digital facsimile of a car I’ll never be allowed to touch in real life; typically open wheelers and prototype race cars. So how close to the real thing it actually is, I’ll probably never know, but it feels really convincing.
The feedback through the weighting of the wheel, the heft of the brake pedal, the chunkiness of the shifter, and the motion of the articulating seat really do a lot of work toward making the experience feel real. For this newest machine, however, CXC have gone to the nth degree to make a very specific driving experience replicable with its machine. This is a historic rally Porsche 911 simulator.
If there is anyone you’ll need to convince that an old aircooled 911 is happening in the ones and zeros of your simulator machine, it’s Patrick Long. The guy has been racing Porsches for a couple of decades, and is absolutely ingrained in the vintage Porsche world. He knows what it’s like to drive a race car, and he knows what it’s like to drive an old Porsche. Put him in the cockpit, and is he satisfied with the result?
“Simulators tend to be used to replicate a racing experience, to learn a new track, or to acclimate to a new vehicle. It ends up being about using the “machine” to get your mind and body ready for something that is new.
“But this sim is trying to do something different, in using all of the digital tricks to replicate an analog experience. And an older 911 on a rally stage is as raw and analog an experience as you can get. The details have to be right – the touch points have to feel like an old 911, and you have to be able to perceive the changes in the loose surface. This setup really matches the software and hardware to give you a full experience”
If it’s good enough for Long, it’s good enough for me. Obviously this was built specifically for a single customer, so that they could practice driving their rally car in an apartment in Manhattan. They used the Dirt 2 engine to replicate the world of vintage rally racing, and used exact measurements from the customer’s actual car to get everything right where it should be. This is an extremely cool project that I can absolutely get behind. Rally is so marginal in the real world that practice is almost impossible. If you hit a tree in this simulator, you can just press a reset button.