I Am A Race Car Driver is a series of diary-like articles by Xero based on his experiences of Gran Turismo 5, plus a short analytical review of a specific section of the game and a lap time to beat for those who already have the game.
I am now an International A License holder, have a solid assortment of mid-power vehicles in my garage and have firmly positioned myself amongst the racing community as making a strong come back to the competitive scene. I have driven many of the tracks the world has to offer me, own a small mine’s worth of element AU and am secure in the re-learned knowledge of vehicular tinkering. It had become time then to take a break from the everyday competitions that make up my waking hours and instead an opportunity to gain some valuable exposure and face time with a number of the more exotic areas of racing.
Like Ricky Rudd and Lewis Hamilton before me it is the world of Karting that I begin with, a difficult change of pace initially, especially as I had never experienced this distinct motor sport previously. The first major difference is just how low to the ground the driving position is, making most corners blind, course memorisation a pre-requisite for placing firmly on the podium. Yet it is the need to forgo a reliance on brakes that is perhaps the most daunting, as the softest squeeze on the stopping pedal can send the machine spinning wildly out of control, pushing you to the back of a constantly scrapping pack. This initially proved troublesome to me, my driving style is aggressive, braking late into turns at sharp angles to force other drivers to react, sacrificing a smooth exit from a turn for dominance over other racers. As a consequence of a temperamental back end, using this technique was largely impossible, so I steeled myself to cutting deep into corners as finely as I could, shaving valuable time off of my laps.
Next up was a quick trip to The States and the NASCAR scene, to see if it was something I’d be interested in pursuing. During my one on one sessions with the phenomenal Jeff Gordon – he’d no doubt heard of my meteoric rise through the ranks – I was underwhelmed. For me, the thrill of driving is in the unknown, pushing the boundaries of what one thinks the human body can tolerate and how powerful a car can be, yet NASCAR felt too dry, too technically minded and while I didn’t mind the lack of course variety, I did yearn for a vehicle that didn’t feel like driving a tank.
Returning to British soil, a little despondent, I was greeted to some wonderful news, that I would be appearing on the classic middle-aged-men-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands-dicking-around-in-sports-cars television show Top Gear. I’ve always been a fan of the presenter’s passion and program’s basis of cars as an excuse to set up elaborate adventures, so it came as no surprise when I lined up my VW Camper for a low speed race around the Top Gear track. When the filming ended I felt as if I really was on the path to being a star and surely this would propel me to new heights in my career.
I was even starting to make contacts, with the formidable Antman, a driver who was clearly further along the road to racing fame than I was, providing me a wonderful gift of a Dodge Challenger to help me on my way, a message perhaps that he saw potential in my skills. Or perhaps potential as an opponent? Who can say right now, either way, I was sure to find out…
This week’s single lap time: Unmodified Dodge Challenger SRT8 ’08 at Superspeedway Daytona – 54.191
Audio: GT’s atmospherics are world class, faithfully replicating the sounds of race day, building a heady excitement before races. Engines pack punch, or purr or putt putt but whatever their note, it is a sweet one. It’s a pity then that the soundtrack is so lacklustre, cluttered with beard twiddling bad jazz that would fit a dinner party better than high speed competition. There are some decent electronica and rock numbers too, but it’s drowned out by limp saxophones and screeching clarinet more often than not.