Before I ever stepped out onto any track, I had years of "experience" playing various racing sims/games.

I started playing racing games around 1997 after our family got internet access. I download and tried out every racing game I could find. Some were horrible. A few of the best were NASCAR Racing and Indy Car Racing II, from Papyrus. I spent a good deal of time pounding on the arrow keys with these games.

Eventually I got a wheel and pedals, and started playing Grand Prix Legends (GPL), another Papyrus title. The game was a real challenge; a test of car control. Soon after, I started playing Live for Speed (LFS), while at college with high speed internet access. Live for Speed had some intense multiplayer online racing, which allowed me to work on racecraft - setting up passes, etc.

How much will my "experience" playing racing simulators help in real racing? I believe they will help at least somewhat. I've gotten up to decent speed in indoor karting pretty quick and I think part of the reason is the time I've spend on the sims.

I'm planning on getting some decent practice on the sims before racing schools this spring in as close of a sim environment as the real thing. Right now I'm only practicing on LFS with the Formula BMW. I'm also planning on trying rFactor or iRacing, to gain some sim track experience on the track I'll be driving (VIR). Right now, I need to upgrade my computer hardware though...

The usefulness of sims as training for real racing is something that's always intrigued me, because for the longest time sims was the closest I could get to real racing! However, I haven't been able to find too much written on the topic. I'll be sure to provide insight on how much (or not) my sim practice helps my real racing endeavors in the future.