Comments by Chris in the PCA Sim Racing Discord server, October 2021
I think sim racing can teach two main things to real-life driving/racing: 1) Racecraft and 2) Where the track goes/line. Unfortunately, racecraft isn’t applicable to HPDE (we are not supposed to be racing!), so the only real overlap is the line.
Of course, car dynamics and how to get the most out of your vehicle are important in both Sim racing and HPDE, but there are so many different variables that the lessons learned can be quite different. For example, car control in real life comes from being able to “feel” what the car is doing under you. Loss of grip from the rear comes from your seat whereas lost grip at the front comes through the steering wheel. G-Force also tells you things like slip angle, maximum grip, etc. This is before talking about the difference in the cars being driven, track states, tires used, etc.
As an example, if you look at video footage of me behind the wheel in real life, I’m moving the wheel quite a lot to ensure that I know where the limit of grip is. That doesn’t happen in sim mostly because the information I get through the wheel is nowhere near as high fidelity as in real life (even though I have a direct drive wheel).
In the sim, we only have our eyes, hands, and ears. Sim racing tries to get all that information that real-life driving gets you through those three sensory channels. There’s no G-Force, and vision is limited (even in VR). Can one discipline teach you things about the other? Absolutely! But good sim drivers are not automatically good race car drivers and vice versa.