How to get into SimRacing!

I’ve gotten several requests to detail my SimRacing setup so I thought I’d create an informative piece on how to get started. Before I begin, I spent a lot of money on this setup. That doesn’t mean you have to match it, this is just what I thought was the best for the money and met my requisites. It is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive setup on the market, but in my opinion it’s the best.

First thing to get started is what system(s) you would like to build this for. If you’d like to play on PS4 or XB1, it’s much cheaper, but you do sacrifice some of the higher end perks such as high frame rate (kind of needed for racing games), VR, and triple monitor support. However, the main drawback to consoles is the game selection. They have Forza, GT, and others, but PC really shines because of mod support. One of my goals is to practice tracks that I will actually race on. Forza is the only console option that has Sebring, VIR, Road Atlanta, and most other US tracks, but the physics in the game are pale compared to others. Right now I am racing with Assetto Corsa, which has all of those tracks available through user created mods. I am mainly practicing Mid-Ohio for NASA this year. Once I get a little more serious I’ll look into iRacing.

Once you decide your system, then decide on a cockpit. For this choice, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there is not a single product better than what I’m going to recommend: GT Omega Cockpit.

The one I bought is here.

I got the top of the line Supreme cockpit with the RS9 seat. You can save some cash by going with the RS6 seat and with a single monitor if you’re using it with your TV or VR. I am doubling down this cockpit as my computer desk, so I went 3 monitors. I did some searching online and there is nothing of this quality in the $700 range. This includes tax, shipping, the seat, and everything seen in my pictures. It is predrilled for almost all setups on the market so installation is easy. When I was putting it together I frequently couldn’t figure out how they’re making any money. Everything is steel, powdercoated, and hand welded. It’s expertly designed in ways that allow easy installation and adjustment. They’ve really thought of everything on this one. It has extensions for tall people as well. In the standard configuration I (5’11”) and my girlfriend (5’5”) was able to sit comfortably with the pedals and wheel. I’ll explain some more of the features individually in the pictures.

Overview 1.jpg

Overview of my entire setup. The posts behind the seats are for computer speakers, which I have not gotten yet. The shifter can mount on either RHD or LHD sides. It’s a very modular setup with easy configuration. You can also pass on the monitor stand if you’re putting this in front of a TV.

Desk 1.jpg

The keyboard drawer slides/rotates out of the way when racing, but can be brought back quickly when in PC mode. At the top left of the picture, that is a static shelf for a main speaker.

Desk 2.jpg

Rear view of the monitor stand. Everything looks complicated, but it can be broken down quite easily and without any tools. I wouldn’t be worried about moving this if I were to move again.

Slider 1.jpg

The seat has a slider and recliner just like a regular seat would. Both work very well. The seat is a really nice vinyl. Looking at the back of the seat, a lot is made of hand turn setscrews so it’s really easy to take apart and readjust without tools. Top right corner shows the cupholder, not even my S2000 has that!

All in all I very much recommend this cockpit. I don’t think there is a better one for the money. Please send me the link if you find one.

Now I’ll get started on the electronics. This is where things get a little complicated as there a multiple manufacturers and options. Before I dive in, when you nail down what you plan on buying, look on your local classifieds and see if anyone is selling. These things are like treadmills where half of the people buy and never use it. It’s an easy way to save some money.

From my research the quality goes Logitech -> Thrustmaster -> Fanatec. Fanatec is by far the best stuff on the market, but pricey for sure. I tend to buy higher end stuff so I went Fanatec. I wanted something as close to a real car as possible as I want to practice during off weeks.

What I ended up buying was the Fanatec CSL Elite bundle (S700) found here. I bought the PS4 F1 version as I wanted the option to play on my PS4 if the need arrived, but I doubt I will ever do that. One thing to make sure to buy is something with the loadcell equipped. This makes braking very realistic and you have to actually stomp the pedal. For a little more money, you can piece the CSL wheel and the Clubsport V3 pedals, which are superior. If I were to start over, I would go that route over buying the CSL kit with the added loadcell upgrade. This is the upper middle class of racing wheel setups before getting into the $1k+ range. The force feedback is very realistic as is the wheel weight. It changes for every car and road surface. Going over rumble strips will shake your soul just as in real life. It’s a really top class setup and I have no regrets going this route. I went with the F1 wheel because I’m a F1 fanboy, but the circular wheel works just as well. They are swappable should you want a few.

If you have a quick release on your wheel you’ll know exactly how to operate this setup. Everything is expertly constructed and metallic. There is a reason this stuff is this price, it’s not your average plastics. The wheel is real suede, just as my Personal wheel in the car.

Here are the pedals with the loadcell kit. The bushings are replaceable so you can fine tune your brake pressure. Everything is machined aluminum, then powdercoated.

I also bought the Fanatec shifter. This might be my favorite piece of the setup. Paddles are included in the wheels, but I like to practice rowing gears and heel/toe. This thing is incredibly high quality. Metal gates, push down for reverse and 7th gear. It comes with not one but two real aluminum shifters. I plan on putting the taller one in my S2000 as I’ve been looking for something taller anyways. The shifter turns into a sequential with the flip of a switch and also has adjustable shifter tension.

To give an account of how realistic this is, my girlfriend is using the setup to learn how to drive stick. You can stall, and the wheel shudders as the car would when you’re not smooth enough. This would’ve been awesome when I was 16. In the short time I’ve had this, I have already gotten much better at heel/toe. I had it down on the S2000 but would have some trouble in cars I wasn’t familiar with. I can now do it on demand even driving around town. Highly recommend adding this to your setup ($200).

Comes with two anodized aluminum shift knobs. Really makes you appreciate the price as that is $100 alone.

Shifter 2.jpg

With the turn of the knob you can change the height of the shifter position and slide it futher toward/away from you. This is great for having friends over and everyone being comfortable.

The final thing I want to go over is if you want to get into VR. I think this adds a great dimension to the setup and I really enjoy it. It’s not perfect since racing has such fast frames, but it’s a nice to have. It’s an easy way to entertain guests as well. The current requirement is a GTX 1060 graphics card. I run a GTX 1080 so I would recommend getting something a little future proof. I am using a Microsoft developmental VR headset, but if I were to buy I would get an Oculus. The sensors/controllers aren’t needed for racing games. Here is a video of me playing in VR:

If you have any further questions feel free to comment or email me directly. I usually research like crazy before buying so I have a lot of knowledge stored up. If my article helped in your purchase, please comment with the setup you decided on and why. Knowledge sharing will benefit us all!

Happy (sim)racing from Baero!