Motorsport or Sim Racing: Which Came First for You?

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Motorsport or Sim Racing - Which Was First for You?

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For most, Motorsport and sim racing are inseparably linked: Whenever we are sat in our sim rigs for the latter, we are trying to emulate the real deal - it is in the name, after all. It is safe to say that the majority of sim racers are fans of or at least interested in real racing, and, to a lesser degree, vice versa. But how did it start? We want to know: Which of the two disciplines came first for you?

Being a racing fan can be a slippery slope: Motorsport is one of the few disciplines that Average Joe cannot usually try for themselves, unlike soccer/football, darts, tennis or other sports - the costs are simply too high. So, what does a fan who wants to feel like he is in the driver's seat do? Play racing games, of course. And once the bug bites them, the next step is wanting to get a wheel and pedals - the rest does not require much imagination.

Sparking Fascination Both Ways​

While this is likely the way many of the older sim racers found their way onto the virtual grid, it does work the other way around as well. Gamers might get hooked on a racing game, dive deeper and get properly into sim racing - which then raises their curiosity about the real racing series and cars they are throwing around the virtual circuits.

Personally, I am not quite sure where it all started for me. I have been playing racing games (which later evolved to sims) and watching motorsport events, particularly Formula 1 races early on as I grew up in the peak Schumacher years in Germany, as long as I can remember. Both were so closely linked that they built off of each other, meaning I could get a better understanding for what I was watching on TV by racing virtually myself, and picking up on techniques or small facts from the broadcasts to try and apply on the digital circuits.

What's Your Story?​

How about you? Let us know where your sim racing and motorsport journey started in the poll and share your story in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D


simracing was first, if you can call Test Drive or Turbo back in the late 1980s early 1990s a "sim".
born 1980 guy here. I think i went go-karting when i was around 15, so that was my first taste of actual motorsport. needless to say i was hooked in seconds.
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Games first, namely Indianapolis 500 and F1 GP on the Amiga 500 in the early 90s, then with the 1993 season I started watching F1.
I am gonna narrow it down a little more from what I've written in the article - really not certain what came first, it could have been both :D

One of my earliest gaming-related memories is how I used to play a racing game with my dad on a joystick on a super old computer, and I could not have been older than 4 or 5 at the time. Stronger memories followed from Formula 1 on PS1, then Grand Prix 2.

I am fairly certain that I watched F1 by that time already since it was immensely popular here in Germany as Michael Schumacher won his first World Championships. Add in an uncle that raced in regional rallyes and even the Nürburgrin 24 Hours back then and it makes it very likely that I was already a lost cause back then :roflmao:

The earliest memory I have from watching racing on TV is the 1997 F1 season finale at Jerez, but I am pretty sure that I was watching before that to see what the real versions of the dozens of toy race cars I had could do on a track.

Either way, I am glad I caught the bug early on and have amassed unhealthy amounts of racing-related trivia in my brain over the years :)
Motorsport. What got me into simracing was the possiblity to drive Jim Clark's Lotus Grand Prix car, an Aston Martin DBR9, a Maserati MC12, a Porsche RS Spyder, ... all the cars I loved.
For me it was Motorsport. Being a 2000s kid I grew up with Disney Cars. Then grew up with F1 on ITV and the BBC when it was on. Then MotoGP when it was on the Beeb.

The first time I remember playing a racing game was when the Toyota GT-86 (still my dream car because of this) was given free on GT5. Then got into Mariokart on the DS.

Started with PC racing in 2016~ with Assetto corsa, then got into rFactor1 as it was all my PC could handle at the time. Then in late 2020 I got a gaming PC is when the shift from PS to playing on PC started.

And now almost religiously play on PC now.

However Racing games have influenced my likes and what I watch. I got into GT3 because of ACC.
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Concurrently in the early 90's. Growing up in Finland, with JJ Lehto and Mika Häkkinen coming up through the ranks in F1, and Keke Rosberg being present in the popular imagination long after his retirement... I simply was in a world where I couldn't imagine F1 not existing.

What sim racing has done since is that it has expanded my motorsport horizon.
Motorsports for sure. I remember learning to count by the nascar field back in the days of Rick mast driving the 1 car lol. Started watching F1 with my dad around kindergarten in 92. PS1 was when I started playing racing games that were on the more serious side of simcade in their day. Cart world series for PS1 is Imo one of the most underrated racing games ever made.
For me it was motorsport and the Indianapolis 500. I was a major Rick Mears fan, along with Emerson Fittipaldi, Danny Sullivan. Those were the days. before that ridiculous feud which led to a split. I soon became a reluctant NASCAR fan following the rise of some California kid name Jeff Gordon. I played various driving games on the Sega Saturn and the PS1. But it wasn't anything serious until I got into Gran Turismo 3.
Yes, Gran Turismo . . . it opened my eyes. My thirst for motor sports expanded exponentially, thanks to that game. I built my first 'racing rig' with a Logitech Driving Force Pro and 2x4's because of that game. I started watching Formula 1, DTM, V8 Supercars, Le Mans and more because of that game.
Soon, PC racing followed with GTR2 and rFactor.
So, for me it was the INDY 500 during the 90s. But a video game in the early 2000's got me to wake up and pay attention to all the other motorsports throughout the world and to take driving sims more seriously.
Sim racing for me. 14 when me and my mother went out looking for a racing game for my dad to play as he was a motorsport fan and always watched F1. We found Geoff Crammond Formula One for the Amiga. So i learned how to play it for him then got seriously hooked. Then my dad got me to watch the highlights of the 1992 round 1 Kyalami GP and then i was instantly hooked. :)
I'm 49 and my father watched NASCAR so I 've watched it since I was 4 or 5 years old along with a yearly viewing of the Indy 500 and the Rolex 24. I got into F1 in high school and have been a fan ever since. As for categories like Touring Cars, V8 Super Cars, WEC, and GT3 stuff, I really got into them a lot more since Sim Racing.

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