Can Videogames Make You a Better Race-Car Driver?

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

A few years ago Top Gear put an iRacing champion in a real race car and found that he was virtually prepared — but not at all physically prepared.

The Wall Street Journal now reports that videogames can make you a better race-car driver:

The first time that Brendon Blake, a 41-year-old physical therapist from Flowery Branch, Ga., careened around the nearby Road Atlanta racetrack, his instructor was taken aback. Mr. Blake, despite being a total beginner, was fast. That’s because, long before he’d enrolled in the one-day racing class, he’d “driven” the same course hundreds of times. It didn’t matter that he had done so virtually, in the Xbox car-racing game “Forza Motorsport.”

“The instructor sitting in the passenger seat said he was surprised I knew where to place the car on the track,” said Mr. Blake of that maiden drive, about four years ago. “I recognized every single corner and knew where the race line was and where all the apexes were — all from the game.” Since then, Mr. Blake — who plays using a force-feedback steering wheel and mock pedals like those shown below — has taken his 291-horsepower Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to courses all over the country, from Tennessee’s Nashville Speedway to Talladega in Alabama. He pays about $250 a day for further driving instruction on “track days,” when average Joes can rent time on a course that’s not being used for a race.


  1. AAB says:

    There’s also GT: Academy that’s been running for a few years and broadcasts on Channel 4 (UK). It takes Gran Turismo computer game drivers and puts them behind the wheel of a racing car.

    Here’s the blurb from their website:

    About GT Academy
    GT Academy is an international virtual-to-reality contest that allows the best Gran Turismo players to compete for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a real-life professional racecar driver. Any player who proves his or her skill in the virtual world has a chance to go wheel-to-wheel in a real racecar on a real circuit to achieve the grand prize – a spot on the Nissan racing team, and all the training and licensing needed to race in international events.

    Created in 2008 by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and Polyphony Digital Inc., in collaboration with Nissan Europe, this competition has grown in popularity all over the world, with the launch of a U.S. GT Academy in 2011. The journey from Virtual to Pro starts with a download of the contest via the PlayStation®Store.

    The top Gran Turismo gamers are identified in a series of online time trials using pre-selected Nissan vehicles. Thousands of hopefuls are narrowed down to a selected few, who will then participate in a National Final Event where they battle in special racing pods during a series of live Gran Turismo elimination rounds.

    The top performers from these National Finals are then invited to take part in the Final Selection Round – an intense Race Camp competition held at the famous Silverstone Racing Circuit in England. Here, the action jumps from the virtual cars of the PS3™ game to actual Nissan sports cars, as competitors are tested on their strength, stamina, mental agility and driving skills. Judges look for pure talent, drive, passion and dedication to determine who really has what it takes to become a professional racecar driver.

    A television show documenting the intense competition and training for the final GT Academy competitors in Europe and North America is aired on national television channels. Follow the official GT Academy page on Facebook for the latest updates on the competition and status of all GT Academy Champions.

Leave a Reply