Many of us experience the need for speed, but the cost of sports cars, their maintenance and trackday passes add up very quickly indeed! For those of us who aren’t in the position to own the car of our dreams, or for someone who just wants to squeeze in extra practice ahead of the racing season, the latest racing simulation technology may be of interest.
While mainstream gaming has been the killer app for virtual reality thus far, the realism achievable with VR was always going to appeal to car driving simulation fans. Obsessed with re-creating the most realistic racing experiences at home, racing sim fans have built up an online community, which innovative small companies are battling to serve with VR compatible games, high-tech hardware, peripherals – and racing simulator cockpits to mount them all in.
VR has made racing sims more immersive than ever, offering a huge benefit over the three-monitor option serious simulation enthusiasts used before. As the resolution of VR headsets continue to climb, we edge ever-so-slightly closer to an experience that is indistinguishable from the real thing.
If you’re already sim racing using VR and a wheel/pedal set, why not consider housing all this hardware in a cockpit? Tying your VR setup and the racing sim hardware together, cockpits are the final word in realism when it comes to racing sims.
Getting Yourself into a Cockpit
There’s no point investing in a top-tier VR system and a steering wheel with realistic force feedback if you’re still going to be sat in an IKEA desk chair at an old office desk.
With the typical gaming enthusiast spending between 30 and 40 hours per week on their hobby, investing in appropriate seating doesn’t just add to the fun and realism of VR driving simulations, it could benefit your health if you’re suffering from any lower back problems.
Below, we explore which cockpits may fit your needs for the ultimate real racing experience.
Racing Simulator Cockpit Options
There are a plethora of options in terms of racing sim cockpits, ranging from bodged together DIY setups to full-motion simulators that use motors to move the seat, mimicking g-forces in time with the action. Here, we run down a couple of options at different price points.
The cheapest cockpit option – a DIY setup
If you’re just experimenting with racing sims or have a limited budget, a DIY option may work best for you. With the VR headset and wheel/pedal kit doing much of the heavy lifting, you can enjoy a lot of what racing sims have to offer without a purpose-made cockpit. Finding a creative way to correctly mount your wheel and pedals can save you money and get you racing right away. Searching online will reveal other people’s DIY cockpits which can offer some inspiration on how to achieve the same in your own home.
The entry-level racing seat – Gaming chairs
If building your own cockpit isn’t your idea of a laugh, perhaps an inexpensive racing chair could help.
GT Omega Pro claim their racing inspired office/gaming chairs are the best on the market, and they certainly are a budget-friendly option for slightly more realistic and much more comfortable racing simulation.
While racing/gaming seats are an upgrade from a normal office chair, they don’t closely mimic the seats found in the cars you’ll be racing and thus detract somewhat from the sense of realism.
The ultimate in simulation – Purpose-built cockpit
If money isn’t an issue, you may choose to dive in at the other extreme for the best experience in racing simulation.
The RennSport Cockpit v2, for example, is a highly realistic and customisable cockpit that can be fitted with state-of-the-art hardware and peripherals.
The only catch is that this setup is seriously pricey. At around £1000 for the cockpit alone, you’ll be well into the thousands by the time you’ve added your bucket seat, wheel/pedal set, shifter, monitor (for spectators) and a VR headset.
Our Favourite – Trak Racer’s RS6 Racing Simulator Cockpit
Trak Racer’s tagline is “refined gaming”, and their RS6 racing simulator cockpit certainly offers that and more.
The company’s cockpit also has one distinct advantage over others we’ve tried – rigidity. Some less expensive cockpits (and pricer ones too) are made with lesser materials and can flex when you’re fully engaged with the action, which really reduces the realism and could leave you worried about breaking your expensive setup.
As well as a rock-solid, all metal construction, Trac Racer have made their cockpit highly adjustable and customisable. Whether it’s the amount of recline on the bucket racing seat or the exact height and angle of the steering wheel, the Trac Racer cockpit can be adjusted to your personal preference.
There are a bunch of optional extras too, such as a floating shelf for using your keyboard and mouse in between races.
Overall, we believe that Trak Racer to offer the best overall VR racing simulator experience, which is why we’ve decided to use this option as part of out VR Sim Racing rental package.
Whichever cockpit option you choose, you’re sure to have the most realistic experience with a VR headset!