This shot illustrates the...
This shot illustrates the angle that the simulator moves through during acceleration. While your car may not change attitudes to this degree, this is what is required to "fool" your brain as the car makes the transition through acceleration to speed. This photo was taken at the Barrett Jackson auto auction with a Formula Ford racer behind the wheel.
From first glance, what looks to be an accessory for the video gaming industry has a much more important and significant value to individual racers and to the racing community at large. The introduction of the Blue Tiger motion simulator is just what the doctor ordered for developing communication pathways, also known as team chemistry, along with sharpening driver skills and reactions. The best part is that all of these benefits can be accomplished without leaving the shop and without traveling to the track. So how does the Blue Tiger motion simulator accomplish this transformation from a recreational device to racer development tool? We're about to find out, but first a little background on the philosophy of the system's development.
Developing solid communication within a race team is a difficult process at best. Team owners seemingly trade personnel trying to obtain that chemistry component, one of the most critical and sought after commodities in motorsports. The developers behind Blue Tiger asked "Is there a better way to create the needed chemistry in a team? Or, is chemistry something that can only be developed over time?" The problem is that in today's "do it now," "need it now" mindset, the time to develop complex communication structures and personality cues is just not available. But can that communicative ability be learned at an accelerated rate? They theorized that it may be possible to compress the time required to develop that chemistry.
The transfer of complex physical inputs to the driver through the car's actions on the track into and through the spoken word is not as simple as one would think. For example, just how do you communicate with the spoken word, the degree of push or at what point in the corner the car starts to get loose? It becomes more difficult when what you're trying to communicate is as subtle as a feeling that only one person experiences. It would be much simpler if we could quantify that feeling into a number or an action that is understood from a universal perspective. Or, if we could duplicate or "simulate" the same feeling for another person so that cycles of learning can be communicated to multiple people in the same fashion in real time. Instant communication!
Until now, that kind of additional instant communication was just not possible. However, the utilization of the Blue Tiger motion simulator facilitates just that type of communicative ability. The Blue Tiger places the driver (or any other team member) in a controlled situation that simulates the same type of situation you would find on the track. Only this can be completed in the relative comfort of the shop or even in the home.
It's now possible to establish and define a setup and have the driver go through the practical execution of driving the setup in a simulated track experience. The driver can then go through the required physical inputs, experience the feelings, and then communicate the experience to the crew chief or race engineer, instantly. The crew chief or race engineer can watch the experience real time, see what the car is doing through the motions and the monitor and if that isn't enough, he can change positions with the driver and actually experience the simulation himself.
Using the correct software, such as that from iRacing.com or others like it, you can replay the situation in question multiple times and walk the rest of the team through a replay of the racing condition in question. It gives a whole new dynamic to engineering a car and communicating with the driver. Not to mention, very realistic seat time for the driver. It's just this type of spaced repetition that fosters accelerated learning cycles in the driver and the team. What would take multiple days to set up and many hours to accomplish at the track can now be accomplished in minutes at the shop. And, it can be repeated multiple times with no additional costs.
The Blue Tiger ready for use....
The Blue Tiger ready for use. Notice that there are many real race car parts used to complete the simulator. Racing seat, seatbelts, and real computer simulation programs complete the equipping of the simulator. The use of three monitors gives the user a realistic view during the simulation.
From this view you can clearly...
From this view you can clearly see the detail and structure of the simulator. There is a standard floor-type shifter that is capable of up to six speeds. The steering wheel is also equipped with a paddle shifter depending on the game or the simulation you are trying to portray. Instrumentation specific to a type of car is omitted due to the fact that most games have the instrument clusters included in the video portion of the game. The pedals and the steering cluster are completely adjustable to fit the driver.
The pedals are a single unit...
The pedals are a single unit that is adjustable for a variety of different configurations. The clutch and brake pedal are adjustable for feel by changing a series of different durometer bushings that will help the pedals have the correct "feel" for the car you're trying to simulate.