Short Oval Racer's First Time Experience With IndyCar

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Full contact and rough and ready. That's banger racing. However, IndyCar swiftly taught me that short-oval racing and long-oval racing have very little in common... Or do they?

Hello! My name is Connor, and I compete in short oval racing when I can. Specifically the back-to-basics banger racing class at Greater Yarmouth Stadium and United Downs Raceway in Cornwall. I made a short documentary on the entire experience of starting a motorsport journey in one of the country's roughest disciplines - you can watch it below.


Despite the fact I ended the last race on my roof, I have had minor success on the UK's short ovals. But can any of it be applied to sim racing? Are there any transferable skills to virtual IndyCar?

Behind this piece is a newly found interest in IndyCar, specifically the Indy 500. It's a race I haven't particularly interacted with in real life or the sim. It was about time that that changed and, so far, the experience has been very eye-opening.

The real Indy 500, at the time of writing, is in the midst of its many practice and qualifying sessions. The coverage and the online hype are building and I'm getting that Indy buzz! Having had some experience in what it is like to drive these cars, albeit in sim, the real race is even more appealing. I urge you to go and give these awesome race cars a go so that you can know what to expect from the racing at the real Indy 500.

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Indy 500 Starting Line, Assetto Corsa

My Experience With IndyCar​

As a sim racer, I spend a lot of my time in touring cars. From TCR cars to NGTC and Supertourers... So what business do I have on the long ovals in IndyCars? With my real-life experience, I should have been up to speed relatively quickly. However, in the build-up to this piece, I quickly gathered that I had much to learn.

Whilst the two disciplines are completely different forms of motorsport, IndyCar has surprisingly similar tactics to short oval racing... without the full contact. The idea of a 'high line' and a 'low line' is present in both sports and the apron is present as well, albeit for different reasons. The major difference is the speed and, of course, the financial backgrounds of the championships.

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Wheel To Wheel Racing, Assetto Corsa

Long ovals is a format of racing I very rarely took part in within sim racing. However, in researching this piece I discovered the skill and precision it takes to get these stupidly fast open-wheel cars to do exactly what you want. Battling against thirty-plus AI cars at such high speeds was some of the most intense AI racing I've had in sim racing in quite a long time.

I stuck to AI racing in Assetto Corsa for the majority of my testing. The thought of online racing and wrecking a field of experienced oval racers was not at the top of my to-do list. Throughout the races, the AI were brutal and went for moves that I never thought would work. 90% of the time they would pull it off, clearly showing my inexperience.

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IndyCars At Indianapolis, Assetto Corsa

Two Similarities And Two Differences​

The rolling starts were something I was well versed in. Picking the right space and being aware of what every car next to, in front and behind you is doing is essential to survival, whether in my banger car or an IndyCar.

The major similarity that the IndyCar experience gave me was that feeling of nervous excitement and 'Butterflies'. Sat on the grid, awaiting those lights to go out with loads of other drivers around you gets my heart rate up, whether that be at a real track or in a sim. Rolling starts are always chaotic, regardless of the series, and my virtual IndyCar testing certainly showed me how well each of the sims I listed earlier captured the essence of that chaos.

Differing Attitude. My headspace for a short oval race couldn't be further from where my head was at for my IndyCar races... In short oval, I'm looking to bury my car in the boot of the driver in front to avoid the same happening to me at the first bend, whereas in IndyCar I'm keeping all sides clear and just trying to survive the first few laps of shuffling without contact sending me into the wall at over 130MPH.

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Indy 500 Crash, Assetto Corsa

The use of drafting and slipstream is non-existent in short oval racing, at least in the banger classes. The circuits are too short and a lot of the time the cars have pieces falling off them, they couldn't get any less aerodynamic! Whereas the IndyCars I was racing, 2020 spec, were simply incredible feats of engineering. This also made slipstreaming a vital element in overtaking rivals on the track, something I normally just use the front of my car to do on the short ovals.

Summary​

Creating this short piece has shown me that the similarities between my discipline of racing and its top-level professional brother have a surprising amount of similarities. Whilst they are, of course, very different; Banger Racing and IndyCar share a lot of the same blood. You will often find a lot of fans seep into short ovals from long ovals and of course the other way as well. This is the beauty of the oval racing community.

The transferrable skills from real-life short ovals to the virtual IndyCar ovals is awareness and patience. Knowing when to make a move and when not to is something that i found myself doing and planning subconsciously. The rolling start procedure also came as second nature.

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#72 Connor Minniss, Greater Yarmouth Stadium

I am not a professional racing driver, nor an experienced oval sim racer. I wanted to create this piece so that I could show the similarities between real attainable motorsport and the top-level equivalent. I could have chosen NASCAR, but I feel like IndyCar was a better pick to completely throw myself in at the deep end in terms of trying something new.

Have you ever tried real oval racing? Or any racing at all for that matter? Let us know down in the comments below or over on X @OverTake_gg!
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About author
Connor Minniss
Website Content Editor & Motorsport Photographer aiming to bring you the best of the best within the world of sim racing.

Comments

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What is missing in AC is a bugfree rolling startmod, with the matching for that period, safety car in front. Sorry to say but the rolling start app you find on the internet is not without troubles.
A recurring issue i had whilst researching... The RealPenalty rolling start for AC is alright, no safety car though
 
If I well remember: Try it in a grid with more then 20cars, in my case it were 32 and you notice the grid will be divided in two. The fist 20 are driving away and in a perfect line. While the rest stays behind in driving in a completely different adjusted speed, without any order.

Then the other rolling start mod, thats a part of a track made by 777 or something like that, does not work.

Let me know if you found something useful for offline single player mode.
 
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