by Dean Chapman, Northern New Jersey Region PCA

Congratulations – Welcome to Installment 9!

You have found yourself on the pole position at the Dean’s List!

The Dean’s List is the place for me to ask questions of fellow PCA Sim Racing competitors, hopefully gleaning tidbits of information about their likes, dislikes, and equipment.

As we head full bore into summer 2021, we’ve just been given the green light to run the newest Porsche in iRacings garage…the 911 GT3R.

I’m sure we are all aquiver with nervous excitement to get this beast out on the track and test its prowess against the other marques….of course, if anyone has one IRL?  lmk and we’ll give you a spotlight to air your opinion on the feel of SIM versus real life!

Dave Kraige, Keystone Region, 2001 garden-variety 996 – does that count as a Porsche, or am I dismissed now? 😊

Dave, we love them all, though, some more than others ;-)

Jim Legault, Central Indiana Region, my car is an Indiana street legal 1985 944 DE car.  It’s probably not street legal in your state!

Matthew Kuekes, Carolinas Region (I live right on the Carolinas/Hurricane region border). 2014 Cayman (Base trim)

Todd Panek, Pacific Northwest Region, 2018 GT3

And now, the questions!

“What is your favorite car-specific movie or documentary?”

Dave Kraige, “I think Le Mans is the best movie about racing, although some of the chronological things in the race don’t make sense if you’re thinking about it too hard.  The Truth in 24 movies about Audi’s Le Mans efforts is also really good.”

James Legault, “Steve McQueen’s Le Mans.”

Matthew Kuekes, “Truth in 24 was SUPER influential on my love of endurance racing. It was also one of the first full-HD things outside of football I remember. As an engineer it really touched off on the brilliance of the design of the car combined with the talent of the drivers and team to make a 24 hour race happen.”

Todd Panek, “Senna.”

“What is your favorite movie with a car featured? (i.e action scenes: James Bond, Baby Driver, 6 Underground, Mission Impossible, Bullet, etc.)”

Dave Kraige, “For car chases, Bullitt still hasn’t been beaten.  It’s got a lot of editing errors in it, but it’s the standard.  Ronin is my other favorite.”

James Legault, “Vanishing Point. It really struck a chord with 16 year old me..”

Matthew Kuekes, “The Blues Brothers. The sheer scale of this movie both in terms of the talent of actors/musicians and the number of cars crashed is amazing. Talladega Nights is a close 2nd as a North Carolina boy who was deep into NASCAR of that era.”

Todd Panek, “Ronin.”

“What equipment do you use for your Rig? (Be as specific or brief as you like)”

Dave Kraige, “I recently upgraded from a Logitech Momo Force that I’ve been using forever, to Fanatec ClubSport wheel and pedals.  My fastest laps are no faster, but I make fewer and smaller mistakes, so my slowest laps are faster..”

James Legault, “I have a very basic setup.  From 2008 until December 2020, I used a Logitech G25 wheel and pedal. My 2020 Christmas gift, from my wife and two adult sons, was a Fanatec CSL Elite wheel base with the PlayStation wheel.  (Yes, I am a lucky man!) What a revelation that was! I’ve modified the pedals with a set of springs from GT Eye and that has improved brake modulation considerably.  I’d love to go to a load cell brake setup, but need to build an actual sim racing chassis to support it. My desk doubles as my chassis at the moment with a single 27” monitor.”

Matthew Kuekes, “My current setup has evolved to the list below after killing some hardware over the years and as the cost of direct drive systems has come down:

  • Self-assembled 80/20 aluminum rig based on some existing designs
  • VRS Direct Force Pro wheel base
  • Ascher F64-USB and Fanatec BMW GT2 (USB converted) steering wheels
  • Heusinkveld Sprint pedals
  • Sparco R100 seat – leftover from an old autocross project
  • VR Headset – A HP Reverb 1 v2.”

Todd Panek, “HTC Vive VR, Trak Racer RS8, G27 with Perfect Pedal Mod.”

“If you could, what Car would you like to drive? (Any era, any value)”

Dave Kraige, “How about a first-gen 996 GT3, and an Audi RS4 Avant?  I’m perpetually attracted to cars that are hard to get in the US.  I don’t think I’m too far away from starting to lust after electric cars.  If Porsche or Audi offered the Taycan or e-tron GT in a wagon form (and I could actually afford it), I might only need one car.”

James Legault, “Porsche 935 K2.”

Matthew Kuekes, “1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe, 2001 NASCAR Cup car, 1973 IROC Carrera 3.0 RSR.”

Todd Panek, “McLaren F1.”

“What’s your favorite non-Porsche iRacing car?”

Dave Kraige, “The VW Jetta TDI is a blast.  It’s so low-stress to drive.  You’re not going to lose control of it, so you can focus on seeing just how hard you can fling it through every corner, which makes for some fun and close racing.  Plus, I hear they don’t pollute much!”

James Legault, “I’ve always enjoyed driving the Skippy.  But since starting PCA Sim Racing last year, it is clear to me that it doesn’t prepare you for heavier cars with a lot of horsepower. I’ve been on a real learning curve the past year..”

Matthew Kuekes, “The ARCA/K&N/National Chevrolet Impala.  This model is based on an old Busch series car and has since been adjusted as the NASCAR cars have evolved. It represents the racing era I grew up watching every Sunday on TV. It also has a low barrier to entry on iRacing with shorter races and the occasional road course, which only adds to the fun.

The Lotus 79 (for fun and unofficial races)

I’ve had some ridiculous genuine fun driving the Lotus 79 in fun leagues and week 13 racing. I don’t have the time to commit to being competitive in official racing with it, but always hop in for an unofficial event.”

Todd Panek, “Hmm, maybe the Audi GT3, or the MX-5… or maybe the Radical…  Yeah, the Radical.  Although it’s so fast and sometimes hard to drive….”

“What’s your favorite iRacing Porsche?”

Dave Kraige, “I’ve only driven the Cup and RSR, and I like them both. The Cup probably makes me feel better about myself when I get a good result since it has such a reputation of being hard to drive..”

James Legault, “The RSR is certainly growing on me!.”

Matthew Kuekes, “The Cayman GT4 Clubsport. GT4 cars have amazing speed but are slow enough for you to more easily recognize and correct mistakes before they become massive incidents. They’re just a really comfy area for me where I can easily see where I can improve but still have fun and be fast at the same time.”

Todd Panek, “GT3 Cup…  Hard to drive, but I love it.”

“Do you have a favorite iRacing circuit?”

Dave Kraige, “Nordschleife.  This question is confusing; there are other circuits?  😊”

James Legault, “Road America, though my results there are not great, so far.”

Matthew Kuekes, “Coming from the oval racing background, I typically like shorter circuits that allow you to both get in a rhythm easily and get you a lot of practice on each turn in a short amount of time. Some of my favorites are:

  • Road Atlanta
  • Nurburgring GP
  • Long Beach
  • Richmond Raceway
  • Iowa Speedway (which was designed based on Richmond, go figure)
  • And for some reason, I enjoy both the Auto Club Speedway road course and oval.”

Todd Panek, “VIR Grand west…  again, difficult, but I love the challenge.”

“Shoes, socks, or slippers when you drive your rig?”

Dave Kraige, “I waffle between socks or driving shoes.  I prefer socks, but shoes might take care of my feet better.”

James Legault, “I’m evolving on that.  I always drove in socks until I installed the spring upgrade on the brake pedal and found I needed more support, so I began driving in LL Bean slippers. They are fine but I’m going to try using my Simpson driving shoes soon.”

Matthew Kuekes, “Shoes – Puma Drift Cats. I started wearing an older pair of Puma ‘driving’ shoes when I moved to load cell pedals. I picked up my current pair on clearance from for something like $40.”

Todd Panek, “Socks.”

“Gloves (what brand?), au-natural, or …mittens??  when you drive your rig??”

Dave Kraige, “OMP gloves I have from karting days, partly to help with grip and partly to keep my steering wheel from getting grimy.”

James Legault, “I don’t use gloves.”

Matthew Kuekes, “My current favorites are Troy Lee Designs ‘Air’ gloves. Full finger MTB gloves that have a thin palm with no additional padding. I’ve always liked my cycling gloves with no extra gel pads and naturally went to those when I started wearing gloves with my first ‘Alcantara wheel.”

Todd Panek, “Au-natural.”

“How long have you SIM raced?”

Dave Kraige, “20+ years with various games/sims.  But iRacing only since mid-2020.”

James Legault, “I started in 1989 with Papyrus’ Indy 500: The Simulation.  Then, when Grand Prix Legends was released, I soon discovered online racing.  It was through my involvement with the Grand Prix Legends community that I was invited to participate as a beta tester for iRacing in 2008, in believe.”

Matthew Kuekes, “I started playing Gran Turismo 3 with a wheel in 2001? I moved on to Gran Turismo 5 after college and played a ton while my now-wife was abroad. GT5 has a NASCAR section and I started looking for how to do more of that racing in other games. That led me to find iRacing and I started in 2014, mostly with oval racing content. I got into road racing and Porches more heavily in 2015-16 from the influence of a family friend who ultimately raced a 997.2 GT3-R in Pirelli World Challenge.”

Todd Panek, “Off and on since 2012.”

“Is there another SIM car race platform you’ve tried? (Like?)”

Dave Kraige, “I played Need For Speed games on PC back when I was a kid, using arrow keys or a mouse to control the car!  The Need For Speed:  Porsche Unleashed game was fun.  I got the above-mentioned Logitech wheel/pedal set in 2007 because I had an opportunity to go to Hockenheim and drive the new Audi R8, and I wanted to learn the track before I went.  So for 13+ years, a used Momo Force controller and a secondhand copy of the GTR2 simulator fueled my sim racing needs.  Many, many hours were logged.”

James Legault, “Assetto Corsa is very good for offline racing, plus there are so many mods available. You can even get Putnam Park, my real-life home track!.”

Matthew Kuekes, “I’ve played around with Assetto Corsa some and enjoy the historic and mod community available in that game. The LA Canyons mod has probably captured most of my time in AC, especially driving the ‘74 RSR. Assetto Corsa Competizione also looks great and I’m intrigued by many aspects of it, but the combination of me not switching between sims super easily (from a competitive side), some issues getting it running perfectly on my hardware, and time keep me from investing more time for now.”

Todd Panek, “Not really…  Unless you count the old Gran Turismos, but those aren’t very simmy.”

“What are your most used Steering Wheel Hot Keys (mapped buttons)?”

Dave Kraige, “I have a 4-way button set up to navigate the black box, and dedicated buttons to call up the Relative and Fuel pages.  Pit speed limiter.  Push-to-talk!  But I try not to talk much because it slows me down.”

James Legault, “Well, for a while it seemed like the “Tow” button got an awful lot of use!  But I’ve begun doing some iRacing endurance events with my CIRPCA colleagues recently and the engine map and brake bias adjustment keys are very useful.”

Matthew Kuekes, “The F3/Relative box button. This is my home black box and I navigate from there for any other black box info.”

Todd Panek, “Pit speed, Black box.”

“What’s your favorite tipple (drink)?”

Dave Kraige, “Coca-Cola and German beer.  Not at the same time..”

James Legault, “Highland single malts, but I’ve begun to explore Islay whisky.  Lagavulin is my current favorite.”

Matthew Kuekes, “Mostly beer – some local favorites are Red Oak and Old Tuffy. Otherwise some nice Scotch. I’m not an expert, but some Glenlivet 12 or similar is what I usually have around. I also recently got a really good Rye and Rum blended mix called “Hercules Mulligan” after the revolutionary war spy/tailor.”

Todd Panek, Fuzzy water.”

“Given a few hours locked away, what would you prefer to watch…”

Dave Kraige, “Nürburgring 24 Hours, at night, is mesmerizing and I can watch, well… all night.”

James Legault, “IndyCar, closely followed by IMSA..”

Matthew Kuekes, “I’d watch any car race you put in front of me to be honest. We’ll go with NASCAR cup at Martinsville or the Daytona 24.”

Todd Panek, “IMSA – multiclass racing is really fun…  Although I do like Rallycross too, or Rally.”

“Does SIM racing ’scratch your itch’ for car racing? or would you always prefer to race in real life?”

Dave Kraige, “For the competitive part, yes, and it’s so much cheaper and more time-efficient!  But the g-forces on the body, the smells, the camaraderie of hanging out with friends in person, and the fun of seeing students “get it” are missing, so I’ll be back at the track when it feels right again.”

James Legault, “I never thought it would but I am enjoying PCA Sim Racing so much that it probably soon will. Being 66 years old might have some influence on that, as well!.”

Matthew Kuekes, “Yes. Financially I’ve not been able to swing the start into real-life racing yet. I’m looking at driving schools on and off as I’m pretty sure just doing HPDEs wouldn’t be satisfying enough.”

Todd Panek, “I would love to race in real life, but Sim racing and track days are enough for now. Until I decide I want to throw away $$$$$ on racing.”

“If you were the boss at iRacing command, what new feature, improvement, race category or class would you make?”

Dave Kraige, “Some kind of a guided, coached academy for novices, both on the mechanics of the interface, and the etiquette of racing. I feel like you’re kind of just dumped in the pool in hopes you’ll learn to swim, which leads to lots of flailing and splashing without any coaching or direction, making the pool a bit less pleasant for everybody..”

James Legault, “I love driving in the rain!  It’s about the only time my 944 gets a legitimate point-by during a DE!  It would be fantastic to have it in iRacing.”

Matthew Kuekes, “Re-scan VIR and Watkins Glen.  Raise the 1) car type limit and 2) the field size on the Nurburgring for a truly crazy sim racing event.”

Todd Panek, “Rain – I am from the Pacific NW after all.”


Thank You Drivers and see you out there on the track!

Closing the garage door on today’s event, I’d reflect that at least one of our drivers will likely see a penalty for their poor choice in the tipple category. Apart from that, they kept a clean set of wheels and stayed – for the most part, within track limits …

Read other Dean’s List Installments here!