With no motorsport due to coronavirus, now is a great time to get into sim racing

Playseat Challenge
Playseat Challenge (Image credit: Windows Central)

Like millions around the world, motorsport is a huge part of my life. And as with so many parts of daily life thanks to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it's been completely shut down globally for what could be a long time. Formula 1, endurance racing, Moto GP, all the way down to small, local club series. Everything has stopped.

But, in light of no on-track action, many eyes have turned to the sim racing world. A whole new audience is being turned on to what many of us have known for some years: Sim racing is brilliant.

And now is a great time to get involved yourself.

What's actually happening right now

F1 2019

Source: Codemasters (Image credit: Source: Codemasters)

In light of the global situation right now, many in the motorsport community have turned to the virtual world. It's not limited to esports pros or influencers, though, real-life drivers are right in the mix.

In recent days, McLaren's F1 driver, Lando Norris, has been the top stream on Twitch on different days. The most recent, highest-profile was the first "Virtual GP" backed by Formula 1 and broadcast not only on sites like Twitch and YouTube but premium TV services like Sky Sports in the UK. Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in online alone.

Naturally, at least for now, it hasn't been entirely serious in a lot of cases, there's a lot of entertainment value though in seeing names like Lando Norris go up against golfer, Ian Poulter, and popular shed-based YouTuber, Jimmy Broadbent. F1 already has an official esports series, and hopefully, this newfound audience may translate across to that when it gets going again.

There's plenty to look out for away from F1 as well. Similarly celeb-packed events have been taking place in games like Raceroom, rFactor and iRacing, too alongside the more serious, pre-arranged races. Did you know, for example, that every year there are virtual versions of the Le Mans 24?

How you can get involved as a viewer

If all this sounds like fun and you're down to watch some virtual racing in lieu of the real deal, there's plenty of content out there. The easiest thing to do is head to Twitch and follow channels like iRacing and Raceroom as well as their related game categories on the site. It's also worth dropping a follow on Lando Norris because he's a regular streamer of iRacing even when his day job hasn't been canceled.

There's also an official Formula 1 channel, too, and there's always a bunch of people streaming F1 2019. Generally speaking, racing games have a bigger community on Twitch than Mixer, so it is worth looking there first. Don't forget to enable channel notifications as well if you want to know when they go live.

Also be sure to drop a follow on the related social media accounts for the games, as that's usually the first place you'll be able to hear about upcoming races. As the drought continues it's likely that there'll be more and more of this type of content to keep us entertained.

How you can get involved as a racer

Thrustmaster TS-XW

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Watching is fun, taking part is even better though. And the good news is that in many cases you won't have to fork out for a wheel and pedal setup to have some good virtual racing. Whether you play on console or PC, there are a lot of great games you can play with both a wheel or a controller.

If you're looking to perhaps get a bit more serious, then a wheel and pedal setup is definitely a sound investment. All of the top titles on both console and PC support wheel, and if you have a console (be that PS4 or Xbox One) then a bunch of the wheels for each also support PC.

You don't have to spend a fortune, either. There are some excellent wheels from Thrustmaster like the TMX which cost less than $200 and have everything you need to get going.

Share your favorites

If you're already into your sim racing and have some great channels worth following, drop them into the comments below!

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine