By

Jesse Will

Nov. 12, 2015 12:34 p.m. ET


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Illustration:

Dan Matutina

THE FIRST TIME that Brendon Blake, a 41-year-old earthy therapist from Flowery Branch, Ga., careened around a circuitously Road Atlanta racetrack, his instructor was taken aback. Mr. Blake, notwithstanding being a sum beginner, was fast. That’s because, prolonged before he’d enrolled in a one-day racing class, he’d “driven” a same march hundreds of times. It didn’t matter that he had finished so virtually, in a Xbox car-racing diversion “Forza Motorsport.”

“The instructor sitting in a newcomer chair pronounced he was astounded we knew where to place a automobile on a track,” pronounced Mr. Blake of that lass drive, about 4 years ago. “I famous each singular dilemma and knew where a foe line was and where all a apexes were—all from a game.” Since then, Mr. Blake—who plays regulating a force-feedback steering circle and ridicule pedals like those shown below—has taken his 291-horsepower Mitsubishi
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Lancer Evolution to courses all over a country, from Tennessee’s Nashville Speedway to Talladega in Alabama. He pays about $250 a day for serve pulling instruction on “track days,” when normal Joes can lease time on a march that’s not being used for a race.

The practical versions of a famous racetracks featured in games for a Xbox and PlayStation as good as personal computers are some-more picturesque than ever, replicating even cracks in a pavement. The source of a verisimilitude? Laser scanners, that diversion developers lorry to a racetracks to painstakingly capture, down to a millimeter, each curve, bump, cove change, rumble frame and railing. Programmers use a millions of GPS-tagged points collected to re-create a lane virtually, and afterwards supplement photo-realistic weed and a tarmac until a rendered chronicle is scarcely uncelebrated from a real.

“These are a distant cry from simulators 10 years ago. The realism is removing utterly close,” pronounced Ian Prout, who founded a Sports Car Driving Association and teaches performance-car owners how to commander their vehicles on racetracks like Lime Rock Park in Connecticut and Watkins Glen International in New York. “At a really least, a games give we a catalog of mental imagery to know what a subsequent spin is,” he said. “That can be really beneficial, generally if you’re still reckoning out how to expostulate your mint Ferrari.”

For some drivers, a recreated marks are a possibility to make a practical event to motor-sports meccas they’re doubtful to have a possibility to visit—let alone drive. In December, “iRacing,” a diversion for PC and Mac, skeleton to recover a mock-up of a Nurburgring, a famed 12.9-mile German lane that’s so prolonged and punishing that rigging heads caring some-more about a sports car’s fastest available path time there than a manufacturer-reported tip speed. The routine of recreating a lane was labor intensive, according to iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations boss Tony Gardner. He pronounced by a time a plan is completed, it will have taken a homogeneous of a 10-person group operative full time for a year.

And when a marks demeanour perfect, what’s next? Imperfections. In a sixth and many new book of “Forza Motorsport,” expelled a few weeks ago, we can foe in a rain, with puddles collecting in a same spots as they do on a genuine tracks. The developer of a game, Turn 10 Studios, built hydrodynamic models to establish how several cars hoop while aquaplaning.

I famous each singular dilemma and knew where a foe line was and where all a apexes were—all from a game.

The practical cars themselves have turn some-more realistic, too. So many so that Lamborghini’s newest dealership, in Paramus, N.J., non-stop final month with a $35,000 simulator using “iRacing” and a PC-based “Asseto Corsa” that allows business to knowledge a opening differences between a new Huracan GT3 ($427,328) and a 60s-era Lamborghini Miura on a racetrack.

Kevin Conway, a motorist in a Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series, uses identical setups to manager “gentleman racers,” who compensate tens of thousands of dollars to compete. “The simulators get we used to a boundary of your tires and your brakes. And given you’re memorizing turns, we come to a real-world lane with some-more confidence,” pronounced Mr. Conway. But a shade knowledge will usually get we so far. “You usually don’t feel a G’s or comprehend how earthy lane pulling is until you’re pulling it in a genuine car,” he explained. “You could be really quick on a [simulator] though terrible on a track.”

Last year, Nicolas Hammann, a 22-year-old sophomore during a University of North Carolina, Charlotte, won Nissan
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’s GT Academy, a foe that puts some of a fastest drivers in a PlayStation “Gran Turismo” videogame into a chair of a foe car. This past summer, Mr. Hammann, who estimates he’s spent 5,000 hours personification “Gran Turismo” and other simulations, found himself racing behind a circle of a genuine Nissan Nismo 370Z in a Continental
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SportsCar Challenge during Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., in a two-hour continuation race.

“I was mid through, settling into a good gap, perplexing to keep cool, cranking a laps out,” pronounced Mr. Hammann, who has competed in 8 races for Nissan this year. “For a notation there, we felt like was behind home, personification in a basement.”

Driven to Perfection // Four rip-roaring ways to get adult to speed on a racetrack


The Hardware

Logitech G920
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Logitech G920

Logitech G920 | This ridicule steering circle and pedal section for Xbox One uses motors to copy a insurgency you’d feel while pulling an tangible car, while a apart throttle, stop and purchase pedal section rivet your feet in a game. With a hand-stitched leather circle and stainless-steel paddle shifters, a G920 has a finer finish than most. A chronicle built for a PlayStation 3 and 4, called a G29, adds shift-indicator and RPM LEDs. $400, gaming.logitech.com

The Software

Forza Motorsport 6
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Forza Motorsport 6

Forza Motorsport 6 | This pretension was grown to be a showcase for a considerable estimate energy of a Xbox One and is as easy to collect adult as an arcade-style game. There are over 450 vehicles to select from, all modeled after tangible cars, aged and new, including some that aren’t even expelled yet. The Ford GT in a game, for example, won’t boat until subsequent year. Available for Xbox One, $60; xbox.com

Gran Turismo Sport
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Gran Turismo Sport

Gran Turismo Sport | This franchise, that originated in 1997, is a granddaddy of picturesque pulling games (more than 75 million copies sold). Next year, it kicks that realism into high gear: “Gran Turismo Sport,” slated for beta recover in 2016, will be a initial to underline orderly online foe authorised by a FIA, Formula One’s ruling body. The leader will be crowned in a ceremony, like an F1 champion. Available for PS4, gran-turismo.com

iRacing
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iRacing

iRacing | If you’re looking for despotic realism, this computer-based diversion is your ride. Unlike with many console games, in “iRacing” we can usually expostulate cars that are from authorised series—so don’t design to take a practical Ford Focus on a racetrack. Competition in this diversion is fierce: some-more than 60,000 online users, some of whom are tangible pro racers. Available for PC, Mac and Linux, from $6 a month, iracing.com

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