Our last driver was Darren Young. His experience in race cars spans the full range: Karts, road racing, and short tracks in everything from Open Wheel to Dodge Vipers. Currently, Darren is racing in the ASA's Speedtruck series and is a three-time series champion.

CT: Darren, what did you think of the virtual experience?

Darren Young: This thing is unreal. It should be a mandatory part of any new driver's training. I can see where it would benefit the weekly racer by being able to keep the racing reflexes sharp and in tune. I want one of these. If I had one of these, I'd probably never leave my house except to go to the track. This is an incredible tool for developing drivers and the ability to adjust the car.

CT: Do you think this would've helped you when you were first learning to race?

Darren: Yes! The fact that you could accumulate hundreds of hours of seat time in such a short period of time would be a great thing for a new driver. That would be a real competitive advantage to the new driver and to an experienced driver as well.

CT: How would you evaluate the ability to develop communication between a driver and his crew chief?

Darren: This is as big a jump in learning to communicate with the crew chief. Just as big as when we started to use computers to help define and develop chassis setups. I think this would not just help with the crew-chief-to-driver communication but it will help with the whole team. The more people on the team who have developed the skills to understand just how the various adjustments on the car make it work, either better or worse, is just leveraging the team to be more productive. Every crewmember could be learning and getting a more complete understanding of vehicle dynamics as they relate to the tracks the team races on a regular basis. I need one of these things.

The results for the most part were very positive, all of the drivers could see real advantages for learning, training, and developing stronger pathways for communication between the driver and the crew chief. Several of the drivers had some difficulty seeing past the video game aspect of the simulator. And, even they felt that they could overcome this issue with time.

The big question that all the racers had was how much does BlueTiger cost? The simulator is available in various level of completion that allow a large range of owner-upgradeable options, or you can buy it complete with a computer, ready to plug in and go racing. The cost ranges from $7,500 to $12,000. While that may seem like a good bit of money, keep in mind what it costs to rent a racetrack and all of the cost to bring the car and the crew to the track. The last time I checked it was $7,500 to rent Phoenix International Raceway for one day, and that doesn't include the cost of the ambulance. So the cost is not that far out of line with what it would cost to rent a major racetrack for a day.

The only other cost is the software, a good deal of which is already compatible with BlueTiger, including: iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations (www.iRacing.com); rFactor from Image Space Incorporated (www.rfactor.net); ARCA Sim Racing from Sim Factory, LLC (www.arcasimracing.com); and several others.

There are more and more software vendors making their games compatible with BlueTiger every day. You can also program the BlueTiger to run flight simulation games. So after you learn to race and get the big high profile ride, you can use the same simulator that improved your raceday performance to learn to fly your Gulfstream G500 Jet.

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