I was always into racing games as a kid. The first was probably Wacky Wheels, a program accessed from MS-DOS. I eventually moved on to games like NASCAR ’99 on my N64, and Gran Turismo once I entered the PlayStation realm. But the one desire that never changed, the one game that stood the test of time: “Cruisin’ USA” at any local arcade, which is essentially a racing simulator.
Since I’m a big kid now, and needed to find a way to learn the tracks, I decided to fab up a racing simulator of my own.
I had a few different steering wheel setups as over the years. The first was pretty cheap and basic. It had no sort of feedback what-so-ever, but I was seven, I didn’t really care. In my early teen years I eventually got my first taste of force feedback when I bought my second steering wheel. The added feedback made the game that much more immersive. Fast-forward to the present day, and I currently own a Logitech G29 combo. This is by far the best steering wheel I’ve owned to date. One of my favorite features being the cross-platform compatibility.
I will say that the 3 different sets of pedals I used all had a common flaw: the pedal angle is incredibly awkward and unrealistic when sitting upright in an office chair. The difference now that I was creating my own setup is that I had the means to do something about it.
I hopped online and searched far and wide for a quality, but reasonably priced, racing simulator. I quickly found out that there weren’t a ton of options I really felt compelled to buy. A few months passed and Hassan bought himself a TIG welder. I then decided that a custom setup would be the way to go, plus it was a project I could use to develop my welding skills.
We headed to our local metal outlet and bought some 14 gauge 1.5″ square tube to lay the ground work for the project. Let it be know that there was very little planning leading up to this project. You can see the original doodle of a blue print below; it was scrapped within an hour.
We already had our first parts car at this point so pulling the passenger seat was the first item on the list. Once the seat was removed we uninstalled all of the mounting hardware to get the easiest mounting solution possible. The project then progressed from the seat mount, to the side rails, the wheel mount, and lastly, the pedal box. It was time consuming, but with a welder, grinder, and a little bit of trig knowledge, it was quite simple. I won’t bore you with the details, so here are some visual stimuli to entertain your silly brain.
After a couple of weekends we started to grow tired of working on the DIY simulator, especially with the Chumpcar Civic project waiting to get underway. We got the seat to a functional standpoint and brought it inside to set-up. Project Cars on PC was our first choice, and since they didn’t have Mid-Ohio as a track option, we decided to get a lot of early practice for the Chumpcar race at Watkins Glen that June. We hoped it would give us the motivation to finish, but instead, it was too fun to even consider disconnecting it.
It was over a year and dwelling-relocation later, and we still never “finished” the racing sim. I have, however, set a rule that it can’t come into the new house until we at least shorten the laundry list of things left to do. Simple tasks include some paint and securing the floor panel, while other more involved tasks include making a shifter mount and installing some sliders for people of the taller variety.
Who knows, with a lot more space at my new place, a parts car sitting around, and virtual reality making prominent strides, the sky’s the limit for how realistic we want to be; but we’ll file that away under a theoretical, undecided future for now.
Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can take some measurements and make some pseudo build plans for any interested readers out there.